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From the Echo Press: More evidence of Runestone's authenticity

Richard Nielsen, a linguistic expert who has been studying the Kensington Runestone for years, pointed out the different runes to George Gaffaney, a guest at the Runestone Museum's "A Night at the Runestone Musuem" fundraiser on March 20. Echo Press photo by Celeste Beam.

By Celeste Beam

Alexandria Echo Press

As technology advances, so does research on - and evidence against - the Kensington Runestone.

With each new test, there is more proof that the stone, unearthed in 1898 by Olof Ohman on his farm near Kensington, is authentic and not a hoax.

During the Runestone Museum's "A Night at the Museum" fundraiser March 20, Dr. Richard Nielsen, a consulting engineer and linguistic expert, shared his findings of the 3D imaging that was performed on the Kensington Runestone in October of 2008.

Nielsen, who has been studying the stone for years, was in charge of the 3D imaging project. The relief mapping was performed by Bill Mongon, president of Accurex, a dimensional measurement systems corporation.

At the fundraising event, Nielsen explained that the 3D imaging demonstrated that mud-filled grooves and punches, which are not easily seen by either photographs or the naked eye, could be detected by the imaging tools available with the software.

The new grooves and punches vastly increase the number of dotted runes on the Kensington Runestone, said Nielsen, explaining that dotted runes conform to medieval runic and manuscript practice. Medieval manuscripts were used between the 12th and 16th centuries or during the Middle Ages.

In addition, four new dotted a-runes have been found and two runes were found to have macron marks, which also conform to medieval manuscript practice.

In an e-mail to the newspaper Monday, Nielsen said, "Coupled with the discovery of a Latin grave slab from 1355 with a doubled dotted o-rune, conforming to the two on the Runestone, all dotted runes on the Kensington Runestone can now be shown to have medieval models and forms in either the runic corpus of records or the body of Old Swedish manuscripts."

A research team is now in place to further study the Kensington Runestone and to keep the focus on academic and scholarly work, not junk science or self-promotion.

Nielsen noted that Professor Henrik Williams of Uppsala University in Sweden has begun to analyze and hopefully identify the old dialect or dialects of Swedish carved on the stone.

In the future, Nielsen said, the carving techniques exhibited on the Runestone can be analyzed. He added that the 3D imaging process is perfect for this type of analysis since length, width and depth of chisel cuts are not easily identified.

The 3D imaging of the Kensington Runestone came to be because of a photo presented to Nielsen in March of 2008. The photo, which was taken by Jeff Roste of Creative Impact Designs of Alexandria, convinced both Nielsen and Professor Williams that the Kensington Runestone runes were first patterned by a small punch to outline each rune. The photo led the two to believe that certain punches had never been identified by the finders and subsequent investigators, and still contained their original mud and other trapped material.

In his e-mail to the newspaper, Nielsen said the 3D images show the full runic contours that can be shadowed from any direction by indirect lighting. This provides a permanent record that can be read by any Kensington Runestone investigator who can download them to his personal computer, noted Nielsen.

"It's remarkable to think that 110 years after the discovery of the Kensington Runestone, we are now blessed with a high technology solution to determine more clearly than ever what runic details of importance are actually carved on the stone," said Nielsen.

A comprehensive report identifying all new information with plans for future research is being compiled and prepared by Nielsen, who said the report will be made public sometime in 2010.

A new book is also in the process to update these new findings and many other findings of the Kensington Runestone, he said.