A number of runestones have been found in Oklahoma. All of them are likely of modern origin, some of them possibly dating to the 19th century "Viking revival" or produced by 19th-century Scandinavian settlers.
The oldest find is the "Heavener runestone", first documented in 1923. It is the most credible candidate as being of medieval date, but it is most likely a 19th-century artefact made by a Scandinavian immigrant (possibly a Swede working at the local train depot). Two other "Heavener runestones" are most likely not runic at all but exhibit incisions of Native American origin. Two other runestones, found in Shawnee and Pawnee, respectively, are of modern date.
The Heavener runestone is located in Heavener Runestone Park in Le Flore County, Oklahoma near Heavener, Oklahoma. The inscription is in Elder Futhark and reads gnomedal (either "gnome valley", or a personal name "G. Nomedal"). Archaeologist Ken Feder notes that unlike the situation in eastern Canada where evidence has been found that proves a Norse presence, nothing similar has been found anywhere near Heavener or even in the American Midwest. He suggests that "it is unlikely that the Norse would get significantly more fastidious about leaving any evidence behind of their presence in Oklahoma."
Archaeologist Lyle Tompsen in a 2007 Masters Thesis for the University of Leicester (published in ESOP 29 2011:5-43) examined the rune stone and noted:
- There is no cultural evidence of Vikings in or near the region.
- No Old Norse approach to translation fits this stone.
- The stone's most likely translation is 'Gnome Dal' (Valley of the Gnomes).
- Scandinavian presence in the nearby town of Heavener is early and the likeliest source of the carving of the stone.
- Other purported rune stones in the region are modern creations, or misinterpreted Native American rock art.
"Barring any new evidence, the stone is best considered a modern creation."
It is 15 inches long. There are seven characters in a straight line, 11⁄2 to 2 inches high. The runes showed very plainly because the bottom of the grooves were in a lighter colored layer of the stone, while the surface was dark. Tool marks in the grooves showed that the letters had been made with a punch, like the Heavener Runestone. Four of the runes are duplicates of those on the Heavener Runestone, and three seemed to be variants of others on it. From the site of the Poteau runestone, the Heavener Runestone on the side of Poteau Mountain lies about 10 miles to the southeast. The original sites of Heavener Runestones Numbers Two and Three fall in a line between them.
The runes on the Poteau stone is ᚷᛆᛟᛗᛖᛞᚨᛐ. Most of these characters belong to the Elder Futhark , but the final "L" is reversed compared with the second to last "A", and the second character is an a from the Younger Futhark . The transcription is then gaomedal.
Professor Don G Wyckoff. an archaeologist at the University of Oklahoma, examined the Shawnee stone and noted that it is a soft red Permian sandstone, writing that "the inscription is... remarkably fresh and certainly not as worn or weathered as the stone's natural surface. The Survey staff has viewed other exposures of this Permian sandstone which have carved dates as la te as 1957 that are more worn and weathered..." Both the Shawnee and Pawnee runestones are products of the modern period. The inscription reads either mldok or midok in standard Elder Futhark lettering.
- Kenneth L. Feder, Encyclopedia of Dubious Archaeology: From Atlantis To The Walam Olum, page 137 (Greenwood, 2010). ISBN 978-0-313-37919-2
- Tompsen, Lyle. "An Archaeologist Looks at the Oklahoma Runestones ESOP 29, 2011: 5-43 | Lyle Tompsen". Academia.edu. Retrieved 2013-03-27.
- The Heavener Runestone (Midwestern Epigraphic Society)
- "The Heavener Runestone".
- Wilson, Steve (1989). Oklahoma Treasures and Treasure Tales. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 33. ISBN 0-8061-2174-2.
- Wyckoff, Don G, "No Stones Unturned:Differing Views of Oklohoma's Runestones" in Popular Archaeology, 2:16-31, no 12, 1973, reprinted in Ancient Man: A Handbook of Puzzling Artifacts, compiled by William R. Corliss, The Sourcebook Project, 1978, ISBN 0-915554-03-08
- Lyle Tompsen, An Archaeologist Examines The Oklahoma Rune Stones, Epigraphic Society Occasional Papers (ESOP) 29:2011.
- Nielson, Richard, The Runestones of Oklahoma, Epigraphic Society Occasional Publications (ESOP), 16:1987.
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