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TV show delves into Kensington Runestone

Runestone Museum volunteers bring a Viking-style boat to Alexandria. The boat is one used in a Science Channel TV series about ancient Viking travels in North America. The Kensington Runestone and the Runestone Museum will be featured in the fourth episode on Sunday, March 3. Contributed photo1 / 2
Pictured is Olof Ohman, a Swedish farmer living near Alexandria, who found the Kensington Runestone in grubbing an aspen tree in 1898. This photo was taken circa 1927. (Submitted photo)2 / 2

ALEXANDRIA, Minn. -- Fans of the Kensington Runestone may be tickled to learn that this century-old mystery will be featured in a Science Channel series called “America’s Lost Vikings.”

The show’s six episodes showcase a search for Viking travels in North America. The first episode, which aired last Sunday, focused on L'Anse aux Meadows in Canada’s island of Newfoundland, the only confirmed Viking settlement in North America. It’s available for free online on the channel’s website.

Alexandria’s Runestone Museum and the Kensington Runestone are set to appear in the fourth episode, which airs at 10 p.m. March 3. This episode will be available for cable customers who receive the Science Channel, which is available to 63 million households. The channel also airs the popular show Mythbusters.

The hosts of “America’s Lost Vikings” series, archaeologists and explorers Blue Nelson and Mike Arbuthnot, use state-of-the-art science as well as experimental archaeology to find clues about what the Vikings were doing, according to a news release from Discovery, which owns the Science Channel.

Embraced by some as proof that Vikings traveled as far as the Alexandria area, the runestone is dismissed by others as a hoax. The March 3 episode may fuel more debate as the team uses the latest technology to assess the runestone’s authenticity.

The Science Channel left behind some amazing freebies, including a 19-foot-long Viking-style wooden boat similar to those Nordic explorers would have used to navigate smaller waterways like rivers and lakes, museum Director Amanda Seim said this week. The boat was built on the East Coast, brought to Minnesota for filming and then given to the museum as a gift.

“We are very excited and thankful to get such a well-built sea-faring vessel and are looking forward to putting it to good use,” she said.

The boat will be available to view this spring at the Runestone Museum and may be used on Lake Agnes this summer for the museum’s educational programs, Seim said.

The museum also received a 3-D image of the runestone, which it will incorporate into its exhibit.

It’s not the first time the Kensington Runestone has received nationwide attention. In 2016, it was featured on The Travel Channel’s "Mysteries at the Museum."

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