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The Last Kings of Norse America: Runestone Keys to a Lost Empire

Overview

These are the first words in a rigorous translation of the 1362 memorial poem inscribed on the Spirit Pond runestone, found on the coast of Maine in 1971. This translation climaxed a decade of historical investigations by authors Johnson and Westin in which they address a 450 year-gap in North American history between the 1492 voyage of Columbus and the Vinland voyages of Leif Eriksson and Thorfinn Karlsefni shortly after 1000 ad. After the Vinland voyages the Greenlanders developed a lucrative trade in North ...

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Overview

These are the first words in a rigorous translation of the 1362 memorial poem inscribed on the Spirit Pond runestone, found on the coast of Maine in 1971. This translation climaxed a decade of historical investigations by authors Johnson and Westin in which they address a 450 year-gap in North American history between the 1492 voyage of Columbus and the Vinland voyages of Leif Eriksson and Thorfinn Karlsefni shortly after 1000 ad. After the Vinland voyages the Greenlanders developed a lucrative trade in North American furs, marketed in Norway and taxed by the king. But after 1300 a cooling climate caused the Green-land merchants to migrate to North America and the trade died. To regain the trade and expand his empire, in 1356 King Magnus of Norway and Sweden sent his son, young King Haakon VI, on an expedition to North America with Commander Paul Knutson. The inscriptions on the Spirit Pond and Kensington runestones enable the authors to reconstruct the fascinating story of Magnus and his expedition, more than a century before Columbus left the shores of Spain.

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What People Are Saying

Herbert R. Cederberg
Epic in scope, insightful, imaginative, venturesome, and provocative—if this groundbreaking book about the Norse in America before Columbus does not cause a paradigm shift in your thinking, you need to check your pulse. (Herbert R. Cederberg, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of History, University of Wisconsin)
Marguerite Ragnow
. . . Excavations in Greenland in the 1990's at Gård Under Sandet of a farm complex also reveal contact with North America. . . .Excavators found fibers from bison and brown bear fur, which 'suggest that these Greenlanders traveled to North America.' . . . Coupled with the artifacts and trade materials found in the Canadian arctic, it seems increasingly likely that there was a larger Norse presence in North America than originally believed. Johnson and Westin suggest that we consider an even larger archaeological footprint. (From the Foreword by Dr. Marguerite Ragnow)
Roger A. MacDonald
In The Last Kings of Norse America, authors R. G. Johnson and Janey Westin present the case for a vibrant presence of Norsemen in North America centuries before Columbus. By calling on linguistics, by extensive study of medieval Scandinavian history, by a working knowledge of stone calligraphy, by field work over several years, and most cogently, by application of the scientific method, they flesh out an obscure part of American history. The authors demonstrate meticulous care and logic, and the result is a fasc-inating read. (Roger A. MacDonald, MD, author of A Country Doctor's Casebook, Minnesota Historical Society Press)
Sue Carlson
The Last Kings of Norse America explores a plausible 14th-century visit to North America by young Haakon VI, heir to the Norwegian crown. The authors weave excellent historical research and controversial Norse findings in North America with an in-depth linguistic study to present an adventure of travel and tragedy. (Sue Carlson, editor and president of the New England Antiquities Research Association)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592984190
  • Publisher: Beaver's Pond Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/28/2012
  • Pages: 267
  • Sales rank: 811,511
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert G. Johnson received his Ph.D. from Iowa State University. After a puzzle-solving career in industrial research, he joined the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Minnesota to work on the mystery of past climate variations. The American runestone controversy was just another perplexing problem with a solution that resulted from a joint ten-year effort with co-author L.J. (Janey) Westin. Johnson has published many research papers and one book:_ Secrets of the Ice Ages:_ the Role of the Mediterranean Sea in Climate Change (Glenjay Publishing, 2002).

Initially a professional calligrapher, Janey Westin pursued paleographic studies of medieval manuscripts, stone inscriptions, the structure of letterforms, and the tools and materials of the trade. This work expanded into stone letter carving and sculpting. She has carved letters smaller than an inch and up to two feet high in limestone, marble, granite, quartzite, bluestone, sandstone, slate, and more. Westin is a longstanding Portfolio member of The Colleagues of Calligraphy, her regional guild. She has taught calligraphy, letter carving, and sculpting at international calligraphy conferences, at stone sculpting symposiums in Colorado and Indiana, and at local venues in Minnesota. Westin attended the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and has a B.A. in Japanese from the University of Minnesota. Her studio, Paper & Stone, is located in Edina, Minnesota.

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Table of Contents

Foreword vii

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction 1

Part A The Epic of the Last Kings

Prologue 9

Chapter 1 The Banquet 13

Chapter 2 King Magnus and the Plague 23

Chapter 3 The Plan, the Proclamation, and the Rebellion 31

Chapter 4 To Norombega and Beyond 39

Chapter 5 The Betrothal of King Haakon VI 51

Chapter 6 To the End of the Lakes 57

Chapter 7 The Storm 65

Chapter 8 A Search and a Massacre on the Graenaveldi 71

Chapter 9 Paul Knutson and the Kensington Runestone 87

Chapter 10 King Haakon and the Spirit Pond Runestone 97

Epilogue I 107

Part B Discoveries on the Graenaveldi

Chapter 11 Discoveries of the Kensington Runestone and "this island" 113

Chapter 12 Holestones and Settlements on the Graenaveldi 129

Epilogue II 155

Appendices

A Norse on the Continent: L'Anse Aux Meadows and Carbon 14 Dating 161

B Norse on the Continent: Whitemansland and the Fur Trade 167

C Norse on the Continent: The Bishop's Voyage 173

D Translation of Magnus's 1354 Proclamation, from the Danish 183

E Word-by-Word Translation of the Kensington Inscription 189

F Word-by-Word Translation of the Spirit Pond Inscription 203

G The Pentadic Number System and Runic Dating 229

H Abbreviated Words in an Icelandic Text: Paleography 233

I Medieval Abbreviation Practices 235

J Epistemological Considerations and a Case of Déjà Vu 245

Glossary 251

Bibliography 261

About the Authors 267

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