Did Vikings Travel To Ancient Oklahoma? The Story Behind The Heavener Runestone

By Sarah Norman | January 29, 2024

The Heavener Runestone

The Heavener Runestone, also known as the Oklahoma Runestone, is a massive stone carving measuring approximately 10 feet by 12 feet, located in Heavener Runestone Park in Oklahoma. This enigmatic artifact, adorned with eight symbols resembling Scandinavian runes, has intrigued scholars and visitors alike for decades. Some believe it is evidence of Viking presence in America over a thousand years ago, while others dismiss it as an elaborate hoax of more recent origin. So what is the Heavener Runestone? And how did it get here? Let's dig into it.

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Oklahoma Historical Society

The Heavener Runestone's history dates back to the late 1830s when a Choctaw hunting party stumbled upon the runes. Initially, locals referred to it as "Indian Rock," assuming that Native Americans were responsible for the inscriptions. However, the story took a turn in 1928 when Gloria Farley, a local resident, became captivated by the mysterious carvings. Her relentless research efforts led her to the Smithsonian, which identified the inscriptions as being in a Scandinavian language. The runes spelled out "GNOMEDAL," a term believed to mean "sundial valley" or "monument valley."

The Viking Connection

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Farley's curiosity expanded as she contemplated the possibility of Scandinavian explorers, namely Vikings, being the authors of these runes. This notion was not far-fetched, as historical accounts already detailed the travels of Norse explorer Leif Erikson to "Vinland," believed to be modern-day Newfoundland, nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus. Farley questioned, "If the Vikings had sailed to Russia, Ireland, England, France, and the Mediterranean, why not Oklahoma via the Mississippi River?"

Farley hypothesized that Vikings could have navigated from Newfoundland to Florida and eventually entered the Gulf of Mexico, coming ashore near Heavener, Oklahoma. Her theory gained traction when two more runestones were discovered nearby, cementing her status as the leading advocate of the Viking origin theory.