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New, Must-See Kensington Rune Stone Park Display

Posted: 11/06/2023

Author: Julie Anderson

Category: Departments, Parks & Trails

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The Kensington Rune Stone Park in Douglas County just completed a new must-see display that shares the always intriguing story of Olof Ohman’s discovery of the Kensington Rune Stone. For those who are not familiar with the story, it will show where, when, and how Ohman says he found a stone with Nordic writings.

There has been a small display at the park for many years, but this new display, paid for with funds from the Greater Minnesota Parks and Trails Commission (Legacy Funds), is much brighter and in a location that’s easier for everyone to safely access.

 To find it, enter the park at 8965 County Road 103 SW, Kensington, and turn to the right when you see the visitor’s center. Make your way up the hill and look to your left. You’ll see a parking area and the new display, which shows, in a beautiful sculpture, how the rune was embedded in the root system of a poplar tree stump.

The welcoming sign and two panels that are also part of the display explain the history of the captivating hillside. Visitors will first see a photo of Ohman and the owners of the neighboring farm. The Discovery of the Kensington Rune Stone sign shares a brief narrative of Ohman’s discovery and the declaration that it remains a source of curiosity, fascination, and controversy.

The panel to the left of the sculpture is titled, A Landscape of Possibility. It shows an aerial view of the discovery site and information that Native Americans spent time at the location. That’s been documented by archaeologists who found traces of ancient campfires dating back 900 years. There’s also history that Metis fur traders traveled the area along with an historic photo. And then there’s information that Scandinavian immigrants, like Ohman, would have been interested in the land for its fertile soil. Ohman says he found the rune in 1898.

The panel to the right of the sculpture is titled Where Was the Rune Stone? There’s actually no exact location for where the rune was found, but the panel shares in photos and words that Ohman reported it was on a hill overlooking a nearby barn which still stands.  What makes the story of the discovery of the rune so interesting is, it’s the only apparent evidence Scandinavian explorers were in this part of Minnesota around 1362.

The display asks visitors, “Do you think the Kensington Rune Stone is authentic?” And “What does it mean to you?”

The beauty that surrounds visitors will provide a perfect opportunity to ponder those questions and photograph the 400-acre park that was once the homestead and farm of Olof Ohman and his family.   

The Kensington Rune Stone Park Foundation has worked with the Douglas County Parks division to create a comprehensive plan for the park which has become a site for all ages to enjoy in the county. If you’d like to learn more about what improvements have already been made, and what’s still to come, use this link.


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