Did Norsemen and Vikings explore North America well before its supposed discovery by Columbus? Today it is widely accepted that they did, landing in the northeast at Greenland and then moving south into Maine. They named the new continent “Vinland.” The question now is: How far did the Norsemen explore?” In 1898 a Minnesota farmer discovered a stone entangled deep in the roots of a tree on a 50 foot high knoll at Kensington, MN. Olaf Ohlman and his son dug the slab of rock from the earth and discovered that one edge and one side were covered in marks. Runic scholars at the University of Minnesota and in Chicago confirmed that the marks were runes. The inscription read:
Eight Goths and 22 Norwegians on a journey of exploration from Vinland very far west. We had camp by 2 rocky islands one day’s journey north from this stone. We were out fishing one day. After we came home we found 10 men red with blood and dead. AVM [Ave Maria] save us from evil.
Later research dated the inscription to 1362! It is known that King Magnus of Norway financed an expedition to Greenland in 1355. While the inevitable claims of a hoax and forgery were raised at the time, it is now generally accepted that the Kensington Runestone is genuine. Since the find many other runestones have been found from Maine to Oklahoma. More information and links can be found at http://www.sunnyway.com/runes/americanstones.html
In my novel “The Watch” I needed a protagonist from America who could pass as an SS officer. He would be a man versed in the Norse traditions that the Nazis appropriated for their “Aryan” past. Creating a descendant of Norse (actually Danish) immigrants fit the bill nicely. Added to this, the Minnesota location allowed me to make ancient Norse explorations of North America a part of the story. History is not written by dispassionate professional historians dedicated to only the facts they research. Just like the guys at Fox News, they have their personal attitudes and the political directions they want to lead their audiences into. This is one reason why the factual discovery of America by Vikings is ignored in favor of Columbus. I l have a deep interest in the alternative histories that set the record straight–so a rune stone that predicts the distant future became a twist I was able to work into the beginning of my story.
In an opening scene the protagonist, Ben Størgaard, and his grandfather discover a runestone while plowing a long fallow field. The stone contains a prediction concerning a great future war. The discovery triggers events that lead to World War II-–and Størgaard’s role the secret war waged by Winston Churchill against the black magicians of the Nazi occult. “The Watch” was the name given to a group within the British Government that worked to counter Hilter’s astrologers and occultists—an actual event that is just now coming to light.