Al Seltz, Fergus Falls, Minn., Published July 19 2012
Hjemkomst celebration opportunity to re-examine two historical periodsThank you, The Forum, for the fine review of the Hjemkomst and all it stands for. Very positive, very refreshing.
I make two assumptions about the current celebration. One is that the good ship Hjemkomst acknowledges the Viking era, the other is that the voyage of the Hjemkomst honors Norse explorations here in the middle of North America that are often associated with the Kensington Rune Stone.
I suggest it would be better if the Viking era and the Kensington Rune Stone era were separated more precisely. Most modern scholars date the end of the Viking era at 1050 AD. It’s estimated to have started centuries earlier.
The Kensington Rune Stone is dated 1362 AD. That difference – 312 years – is a heap of time when compared to how many generations of humans – mostly illiterate – came and went. For comparison, consider that the United States has been around for less than 250 years.
Here’s the rub: The Hjemkomst is said to be a replica of a Viking ship, which means the original(s) had to have been built before 1050. Therefore, any Viking ships still hanging around when the Kensington Rune Stone voyage took place were ridiculously old. It is hard to imagine that any Viking ships still in existence would be chosen for a visit to North America. Also, the KRS voyage was one of exploration. Would they select a warship?
Could true Vikings have entered North America during the Viking era? Absolutely. Remnants of a village – dated at 1000 AD – have been found at Le Anse Aux Meadows, Newfoundland. My son and I have visited that site, and it’s not a stretch to say that North America is almost within sight, although I must admit we could not see Labrador on the day we visited. I later read that the closest the island of Newfoundland comes to the North American mainland (Labrador) is 26 miles.
Thus, to presume that real Vikings spent some time poking around that part of North America before 1050 AD is entirely rational. Did Bob Asp know about the Le Anse Aux Meadows site? It is possible. The Forum article says he got his inspiration in 1971; I think the Le Anse Aux Meadows site was just freshly discovered at that time. However, Asp was a scholar. It is entirely possible that he noted that discovery through academic channels long before he died Dec. 27, 1980.