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Runestone is fake, says new book

Is the Kensington Runestone an authentic artifact carved by explorers from Norway more than 650 years ago or is it a much more recent hoax? The mystery and theories linger. Pictured is Olaf Ohman, a Swedish farmer living near Alexandria who found the stone in grubbing an aspen tree in 1898. Photo taken c.1927. (Contributed)

After a steady stream of recent books and documentaries that support the authenticity of the Kensington Runestone, comes a book that calls the famous stone a fake.

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Paul Stewart, an independent researcher from Stafford, Virginia claims that the Runestone, which some believe was carved by explorers from Norway in 1362, was fabricated by Minnesota State Engineer and Hennepin County surveyor George W. Cooley. He did it to celebrate the establishment of the “General Grand Council of Cryptic Rite Masonry” at Detroit, Michigan in 1880, Stewart says.

The council became the national governing body for a little-known once-independent brand of Freemasonry for which Cooley was Minnesota’s grand master and general grand master for the entire country for two terms, Stewart writes in his new book, The Enigmatist.

Instead of leaning heavily on runology, linguistics, archeology or scientific weathering as past books on the Runestone have done, Stewart relies on numerology.

According to Stewart, Cooley used his surveying skills to locate the stone north of Kensington on purpose because it was “666” miles away from Detroit and “1,362” miles away from eastern, western and southern most points in the continental United States.

Stewart says that 1362 is significant because it is also the year on the side of the Runestone – a number that he believes is really a distance masqueraded as a date.

Jim Bergquist, manager of the Runestone Museum, which houses the stone, said the book is the latest in a renewed interest in the stone sparked by new research since 2000.

“We welcome new theories or evidence that people have about the Runestone,” said Bergquist, who talked with Stewart over the phone about the book. “It always creates more interest in the stone and when people become more interested, we have more visitors at the museum.”

Bergquist added that the museum has several books in its gift shop regarding Runestone research. He said that if enough people ask the museum to add Stewart’s book to the collection, the museum would gladly do so. “Museum members receive a 20 percent discount,” he added. The Kensington Runestone remains the most popular exhibit at the museum, Bergquist said. The Native American exhibit is also drawing a lot of interest, he added.

Stewart’s full theory can be found in his book, The Enigmatist, which was released this month on

According to “About the Author” information with the book: Stewart worked as an art director for Walt Disney Imagineering in California, Japan and France as well as a special effects artist for Landmark Entertainment. He’s contributed to numerous movies and television shows as well as providing artwork for high-profile publications and private corporations. For the last decade he has worked exclusively in the museum industry, providing his expertise on four presidential libraries and more than 50 nature centers, state/national parks and private organizations found throughout the U.S. He holds a degree in art design. The Enigmatist is his first book.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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