Sunday, May 4, 2014

Ramblings Runestone Museum

When I checked a map to see how far away Alexandria, Minnesota was the first thing I saw on the map was the Runestone Museum.  Matt and I have an interest in Norse history and runestones so we were both excited to finally get to go there.  We've heard a lot on various shows about the Kensington Runestone that was found not far from Alexandria and have wanted to visit the museum.  We had an enjoyable afternoon at the Museum before heading back home.

For those that might not know what a runestone is Wikipedia defines a runestone as typically a raised stone with a runic inscription, but the term can also be applied to inscriptions on boulders and on bedrock. The tradition began in the 4th century, and it lasted into the 12th century, but most of the runestones date from the late Viking Age. Most runestones are located in Scandinavia, but there are also scattered runestones in locations that were visited by Norsemen during the Viking Age. Runestones are often memorials to deceased men. Runestones were usually brightly coloured when erected, though this is no longer evident as the colour has worn off.  

Wikopedia also defines runes as letters in a set of related alphabets known as runic alphabets, which were used to write various Germanic languages before the adoption of the Latin alphabet and for specialized purposes thereafter. 

The Runestone Museum had a short video about the Kensington Runestone and the family that found it.  So sad that their lives suffered so much from it.  They had items from the family and their home including an old sewing machine.  I didn't realize it was at first until I looked closer to the needle and presser foot.

The rest of the Museum were displays about the settlers of Alexandria who were mostly Norwegian or Swedish in origin.  They had several buildings outside of the Museum that had been moved there representing life when Alexandria was being settled.  There was a General Store, cabin, church, smokehouse, laundry house, school, barn and the stage coach stop/post office outside.  They also had farm machinery next to the barn.  
2 room cabin with loft bedroom

stage coach stop and post office with loft for sleeping

Snorri 40' Viking ship displayed in barn

Snorri's Rutter

1964 Arctic Cat Snowmobile displayed in barn
I also enjoyed the school room.  They had a huge number of books that would have been used that I could have stayed for hours and looked at.  There was an embroidered map of the US with the state flower embroidered inside that was impressive.

embroidered map

embroidered map showing state flowers for North Dakota and South Dakota

Ole Olaf statue across the street from Museum in a park


  1. Would you believe I found your blog through French Chic? Anyway, I really enjoyed this post and we'll have to stop there someday. Did you watch "The Vikings" on TV? I just completed Vilhelm Moberg's books (series of 4) about Norwegians settling Minnesota. Another book you might enjoy reading (it tells how the Swedish immigrants settled in the Dakotas) is "Giants in the Earth".

  2. Diane - Welcome! How neat someone from the French Chic group visited my blog. I started to watch the Viking series but dwindled out half way through the first season. I'll have to check out those books. Sounds like they'd be books we'd both like to read. I'd also like to read some on how the German settlers got here. There's an area south of us referred to as the Iron Curtain where they say nothing but German is spoken. Hopefully we'll get down that way this year to check it out.

  3. I was surprised at how violent the Viking shows were at times. I often told my husband to "tell me when it's over" and then look away. You can actually find all of the shows on the Internet. Have you been to Medora, yet? The area is like a mini Grand Canyon. I want to go over to Montana some long weekend ~ I-94 and a bit north ~ to visit the dinosaur diggings and museums. I've got to look up the area you're speaking about.

  4. I found this:

  5. I just want to let you know that I was excited to find someone else from ND on French Chic. I have a blog, it's private, so my picture (of our two dogs) doesn't show up unless the other person has a private blog, too. Another place you might enjoy visiting is Hodenattes in Lisbon. We've lived here almost 6 years and I didn't go there until last summer. It was a social event for our PEO chapter. You can eat lunch at Hodenattes and shop, too. They have some really unique home decor items and so much more.

  6. Have you been to see the Viking ship at the Hjemkomst Center in Moorehead, MN? The ship at the Runestone Museum is a miniature that was presented to a child but the one at the Hjemkomst Center is a replica that was actually sailed to Norway. I didn't like how violent Vikings was either. There were some problems with historical accuracy starting to appear. I know a lot of my friends loved how violent it was but it's not something I'm drawn too.

    No, we haven't made it to Medora yet. We've heard awesome things about it. Maybe next summer. We did know about the dinosaur site and we've talked about going there once we get a camper. There's so many places we'd like to go but the trips are longer than a day trip so it doesn't work well for us right now with the dogs.

    It is pretty neat to find someone on the French Chic group that lives in ND too. There was one on the group that lived close to me in Michigan before we moved here 2 years ago. I can't remember which city she lived in though. I've never heard of Lisbon or Hodenattes so I had to look it up. Looks interesting and that's close enough for a day trip. I liked Hodenattes on Facebook. I'm using this blog sort of like a journal of what we're doing here in ND since everybody asks us "Why in the world would you move to ND?" Once we get a camper I'm hoping the gypsy wandering type posts will be a lot more frequent as we explore.

  7. We dreamed of having a camper for about 12 years and finally bought one. This is our fourth summer with it and it's everything we wanted. I think I could live in it! Our little dogs love it as much as we do.

    We haven't been to the Hjemkomst Center. We've talked about it often, but haven't made it there and we're in Fargo often. Shame on us! We really need to do that.

    Have you heard of geocaching? You can look it up online at Our middle son introduced us to it a year ago and we have almost 300 caches. The thing we like about it is people hide these caches in places that allow you to learn more about where you live. We've seen some places in the last year that other people who have lived here all their lives haven't seen. Jamestown has a very active geocaching group. If you have a smart phone or iPhone, you can download an app and find all sorts of caches. It's just a fun thing for us to do together. Geocaching would provide a lot of photo opportunities. You can also go to the ND geocaching site and see what events are going on.

    Oh, back to the campers. I think that Outlet Rec in Fargo has rentals. I'm not sure if you can rent one for a week, month, or summer, but I overheard them talking to someone last year about renting one.

    I use my blog sort of like you do. I started it to keep in touch with family and friends when we moved here. I'm not good about writing everyone so it's easier for me to keep in touch through the blog. That's why it's private.


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