Letter - The Viking Age ended 250 years before the runestone was carvedI enjoyed last Friday’s Variety piece, Day at the Museum, written by Jim Belgum. His first-person account of his visit to the Kensington Area Heritage Society Museum caught me by surprise, especially the sentence following a description of the Runestone and Olaf Ohman.
To the editor:
I enjoyed last Friday’s Variety piece, Day at the Museum, written by Jim Belgum. His first-person account of his visit to the Kensington Area Heritage Society Museum caught me by surprise, especially the sentence following a description of the Runestone and Olaf Ohman, right after referring to Nordic explorers in 1362: “The term ‘Viking’ has been widely used, although the Viking Age actually ended long before that date.”
These words are like music to my ears. As an author, I’ve been busy telling folks around Kensington and Alexandria the same thing, and I’ve been catching a bit of dissension over it.
Mr. Belgum wrote something that many residents of the area positively do not like to hear, that their Viking ancestors had nothing to do with the Runestone. (However, that is not to say that Scandinavians did not deposit the Runestone. They did, even according to the stone document itself.) Mr. Belgum is astute enough to know that 250 years separate the end of the Viking Age from the Kensington Runestone.
I was so impressed by this newspaper’s nerve in confronting the issue head on that I decided to purchase a subscription to it, even though I hail from Bloomington. I’ve also decided to adopt Alexandria as my new home away from home, since I’ve been spending so much time here the last few years.
Therefore, now that I’m a part-time local, my main beef is that 28 foot tall statue of Big Ole, declaring Alexandria to be the “Birthplace of America.” This goof-off is the subject of my next book, tentatively entitled The Ransom of Big Ole. (If you want to know a bit of the plot, look up O. Henry’s The Ransom of Red Chief, where the victim of a kidnapping does not want the kid back!)