I have always been interested in the Vikings, especially their visits to North America and the encounters with the natives (Skraelings). As if to spur this on, I was commissioned to build a model of a Viking Longship for our Local Scandinavian Cultural Center. Near the same time I obtained a copy of the book Westviking by Farley Mowat (1965) and after reading it, Peg and I decided to take a vacation to Newfoundland where we would visit L Anse Aux Meadows, the only verified Norse site in North America. What we found there and the subsequent results of my research is remarkable.
|Cormorant Lake Axe View #1 (Photo permission Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, Decorah, Iowa)|
|Cormorant Lake Axe View #2 (Photo permission Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, Decorah, Iowa)|
|Cormorant Lake Axe View #3 (Photo permission Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, Decorah, Iowa)|
|Cormorant Lake Axe View #4 (Photo permission Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, Decorah, Iowa)|
|Cormorant Lake Axe View #5 (Photo permission Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, Decorah, Iowa)|
|Cormorant Lake Axe View #6 (Photo permission Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, Decorah, Iowa)|
|Draw Knife in Runestone Museum, Alexandria|
|Fish hook in Runestone Museum, Alexandria|
|Bone harpoon point in Runestone Museum, Alexandria|
|Large and small spear tines in Runestone Museum, Alexandria|
|Wood wedge in Runestone Museum, Alexandria|
|Pre museum photograph of the Lake Darling Halberd|
|Lake Darling Halberd beside Frog Point Halberd, Runestone Museum, Alexandria|
|Bardiche in Runestone Museum, Alexandria|
|Early bardiche photograph (Holand)|
|Medieval illumination of bardiche in use|
|Brooten sword (Holand)|
Cormorant Lake Axe Update
Proceeding eastward from the KRS we find some artifacts which we can now relate to what has already been found in the general area. First I'd like to do an update on the Cormorant Lake axe. See our December 2018 blog for our original coverage of this artifact.
This summer I was privileged to examine this axe in detail at the Vesterheim Museum in Decorah, Iowa. I must express my gratitude to the curator and staff for this courtesy.
The axe is forged iron and is quite heavy, weighing about 5 pounds. It is actually in better condition than the photographs show. A flaw can be seen on the lower right part of the haft (pictures 1 and 4) More flaws can be seen at the top back (pictures 5 and 6). It is very likely they occurred during use and made the axe unwieldy. There are a number of very old impact marks at the top of the axe. (picture 6).
Surprisingly, there is still a small sliver of wood attached to the iron. (Picture 5 and 6)
Should this be carbon dated or should it be preserved for the future, where testing might be done without any harm to the item whatsoever?
This is certainly a Christmas present waiting to be opened.
This could be the same one as the Milan Axe. (February 2019 blog).
Geographical location: 45.316,-95.625
Holand reports: "A Mr. Nelson (Jensen) had received it from an indian far back." Current location is unknown.
Geographical location: 45.965, -95.583
Geographical location: 46.261,-95.543
Reported 1920-1930. No further information.
Geographical location: 45.705,-95.521
Geographical location: 46.305, -95.520
Lake Latoka, Minnesota
Draw knife 1938
This is a woodworking tool. The pointed end is inserted into a wooden handle while the circular part is sharpened and used for carving grooves or making bowls and spoons. This knife was tested and found to be of wrought iron. This process of reducing ore in charcoal was known to be used by the Norse age metal workers.
This artifact was found in 1938 on the east shore of Lake Latoka.
Holand originally identified this item as a boat hook, thinking a pole would go through the circular end while the pointed end would be used to hook mooring stones or rings.
This tool is currently in the Runestone Museum, Alexandria, Minnesota.
This mooring stone is identified as Holand #10.
Geographical location: 45.874,-95.454
Yes, it is true. As of Friday the thirteenth I am retired from Bell-MTS where I have worked the last 10 years. I can now devote more time and effort to my bucket list where of course Viking research is near the top. There are many more artifacts to be researched and sites to be examined.
Here is more from our artifact list:
Small fishing spear tine
NOTE: All these items are currently located at the Runestone Museum, Alexandria, Minnesota.
This large fishhook was found west of Alexandria. Hand forged from wrought iron.
This bone harpoon point is nearly identical to ones found in archaeological sites in Norway. These harpoons are very commonly used for hunting seal. Being of bone, it is possible to be carbon dated but again we run into the argument, should this artifact be damaged for testing or should it be left as is with the expectation that future types of testing will be able to be done without damage to the artifact.
Small Fishing Spear Tine
Like the large tine we documented earlier, the small tine was found in the Alexandria area. It is of wrought iron and is about one third the size of the large tine.
This wrought iron wedge would have been used for splitting logs. The chisel like tip would be hammered into the wood and then worked loose with the assistance of the handle. Heavy use can be seen on the opposite end of this wedge from hammering with the blunt side of an axe.
There was an axe was reported by Anderson in 1994 but this could be the wedge.
Geographical location: 45.890, -95.378
South of Alexandria
There have been reports in the general area that the early settlers found a stone dam when they first came to the area. This drew particular interest with the pioneers as the natives of the area did NOT build dams, especially of stone. The location is estimated.
Geographical location: 45.827, -95.344
Lake Darling, Minnesota
A second report states this as being found in 1923. The halberd was discovered 3 feet underground tangled in oak tree roots.
The construction, weathering and manufacture of this item is identical to that of the Frog Point halberd discovered in 1870 by Estenson. They are as similar as two peas in a pod, most likely made by the same manufacturer. The metal appears to be of a high grade steel.
The handle was analyzed and found to be of arctic spruce.
Geographical location: 45.919,-95.414
Lake Jessie, Minnesota
This stone is classified by Holand as #11.
Geographical location: 45.863, -95.307
Holand located one complete stone as well as one incomplete with a hole only 3" in depth.
Geographical location: Geographical location: 45.898, -95.127
Norway Lake, Minnesota
A flat stone 300 lbs 4' high x 5' wide with runic writing has been reported a number of times. It is sunken into the lake and is viewable at only certain periods of low water.
It was first reported in 1888 by Henry Moen. In 1934 Foxy Anderson viewed it and in 1936 Colonel Anderson (not related) did as well. Elmer Roen, who discovered the Milan axe viewed this stone in 1938 during a drought.
A Bardiche is a type of battle axe used in the middle ages. The lower portion of the axe is secured to the pole while the upper portion tapers into a sharp point. Much like a pike it is for use against armored cavalry with the handle being much shorter.
This item was found on a peninsula which was traditionally native camping grounds. (Kandiyoki county).
A man by the name of Ole Skaalerud came across it. He thought it to be some sort of farm implement and left it propped against a tree. A few years later he heard about the KRS. In 1910 he retrieved the bardiche from where he left it.
It was loaned to Holand and is now in the Runestone Museum, Alexandria.
Geographical location: 45.309, -95.107
Farmer Andrew Stene found this sword close to an old fence while plowing a field. It was analysed in 1943 and found to be of high carbon wrought iron. It was described as having a brass handle with a zig zag pattern and no crossguard. Last known at Pennock, Minnesota in 1960.
Judging from the style of the sword in the only rather vague photograph, this does not appear to be Norse. It was stated to be similar to the Ulen sword minus the crossguards. The shape does have some similarities however to the Roman Gladius (short sword). Brass handles are very synonymous with many military short swords from the early-middle nineteenth century.
Geographical location: 45.499,-95.132
....to be continued.