These days you could say that Heavener Oklahoma is off the beaten path. The town, which sits nestled under the Poteau Mountain, is a little out of my cell phone range. So risking breakdown without the help of Triple A feels like an adventure. But if I feel a little lost in the wilds of Oklahoma, how much more lost would the Vikings have been if they had indeed settled here?It sounds a little bit like the plot of a Hollywood movie starring Antonio Bandaras. But residents of Heavener maintain that around 900 A.D, Vikings paddled their longships down the Eastern Seaboard, around the tip of Florida, through the Gulf of Mexico, up the Mississippi and Arkansas rivers and thentraveled overland into Eastern Oklahoma – where they put up a billboard.Okay, they may have built settlements and planted crops, but none of those things have been found.
What has been found is a large flat stone – twelve feet high, ten feet wide, sixteen inches thick, rectangular in shape and sitting in a mountaintop ravine – with six-inch high Norse runes carved deeply into it.
of the runes vary. Some people maintain that they're a date – November
11, 1012, while others say that they read “Glome's Valley,” as either a
land claim or a kind of early Viking graffiti.
Whether Vikings actually
were in Oklahoma, they came and left long ago. And the evidence that
they were here might have lived on in obscurity if not for a few key
Flash forward intime to
1838, when thousands of Native Americans were forcibly moved from
Tennessee into Eastern Oklahoma. The new arrivals noticed the stone,
which became known as Indian Rock by European settlers – even though
the carvings were not recognized by anyone as either Native or Latin
In the 1920's a Heavener
resident sent copies of the runes to the Smithsonian for
identification. The Museum wrote back to say that the writing was
Norse, but that it didn't make sense for Norsemen to have made them. In
all likelihood, museum officials reasoned, a Scandinavian settler must
have made the carvings by working from a primary school grammar book
from his homeland.
As settlers moved into the
area, they found more and more of these engraved stones. However most
of them were destroyed by treasure hunters. The same fate might have
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