A new interpretation

the-last-kings-of-norse-america-runestone-keys-to-a-lost-empireRobert G. Johnson and Janey Westin offer a new theory on the presence of Norse explorers in North America

Kelsey Larson

Managing Editor

The Kensington Runestone in Minnesota, the Spirit Pond runestones discovered in Maine, reports of Native American peoples with light skin and eyes…could there possibly be a historic explanation for these phenomena, or are they simply hoaxes?

In “The Last Kings of Norse America: Runestone Keys to a Lost Empire,” Robert G. Johnson and Janey Westin offer their own hypothesis, backed up with years of research and a brand-new translation of the Spirit Pond runestones.

“Our hope,” writes Johnson, of the book, “is that it will eventually be recognized by the authorities of history as a significant contribution to the pre-Columbian period of Norse activity in North America.”

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 join ten-year effort with co-author L.J. (Janey) Westin. Westin, initially a professional calligrapher, pursued paleographic studies of medieval manuscripts, stone inscriptions, the structure of letter forms, and the tools and materials of the trades.

The two realized that no legitimate translation of the Spirit Pond runestones had ever been made; such finds are often considered hoaxes and brushed off by historians immediately.

Though most scholars do not debate that there was a Norse presence in North America, especially evidence at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, “Artifacts such as the Spirit Pond stones, found in Maine, and the Kensington Runestone of Minnesota have been met with both aclaim and derision. Sensible scholars tend to weigh in on the side of forgeries and fakes. Those who support the authenticity of the stones are often labeled cranks or conspiracy theorists or, more kindly, hopeless romantics who want to believe in the untold adventures of medieval warriors,” write authors Johnson and Westin.

With “The Last Kings of Norse America,” Johnson and Westin present an exciting, smart, and logical argument for the validity and reasoning behind a Norse expedition to inland North America. Written in an imaginative way as part historical account and part adventure, the reader follows King Haakon VI on his disappointing expedition to inland North American to rekindle old trade routes, and follows the authors as well as they investigate holestones and runes in the Midwest and East Coast, evidence that backs their theory.

“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,” writes Herbert R. Cederberg, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of History, University of Wisconsin, of the book.

“The Last Kings of Norse America” will appeal to a wide audience, including Viking enthusiasts, those with an interest in history or simply those who want to read a captivating story.

Order the book on Amazon.com, or to order directly from the publisher, Beavers Pond Books, go to: www.bookhousefulfillment.com.

In the search box type: “The Last Kings of Norse America.”

Then, on the menu below, click on “details.”

Click “add to cart.”

Then in the coupon box, type: “runestone” and click on “apply” to get the special 25% discount from the list price of $29.95.

This article originally appeared in the May 31, 2013 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.