Scott Wolter Blogs "Vikings in America," Reveals Show Left Out Key Information to Bolster Its Case
As I’m sure many of you already know, Scott Wolter has posted on his personal blog a further discussion of his “findings” about Viking runic artifacts on America. He posted this material on Sunday, and there are relatively few major revelations in it. However, Wolter did provide an important detail about the attempted “translation” of Nancy Millwood’s North Carolina rune stone that accidentally reveals how America Unearthed is purposely manipulating even their own “findings” to create innuendo rather than fact, more propaganda than fair presentation.
You will recall that the show (episode S02E04) made a big deal about archaeologist Michael Arbuthnot sending an image of the North Carolina stone, allegedly found by Nancy Millwood in 1971, to a colleague who is an expert in runes so it could be translated. A throwaway line at the end of the show claimed that the “translation” was “inconclusive” but that Wolter still felt it was genuine. Here are the exact words used on the show:
The stone Nancy found has similar runes [to the Heavener Rune Stone] […] Even though L’Anse aux Meadows is the only universally-accepted Viking settlement in North America, I believe they made it further south, to the United States. Mike did get me a translation for Nancy Millwood’s rune stone, but it was inconclusive. Even so, I believe it needs to be taken seriously. In fact, I believe many rune stones found across the United States make up the final, unwritten chapter of the Viking sagas.
Let’s leave aside the antecedent trouble with which “it” needs to be taken seriously. (Read literally, it would be the translation, not the stone.) It turns out that these lines, so carefully written to obscure Wolter’s own beliefs, hide findings that are much more damaging to the case the producers of America Unearthed tried to build, and also serve to purposely misrepresent to the viewer Wolter’s own “findings” about the stone while still giving Wolter a way of saying that he never actually said what the words clearly imply.
Anyone watching the episode would believe, given the context, that Wolter believes Millwood’s rune stone to be ancient, to have the same runes as the Heavener Rune Stone that he had already declared Viking, and to be an “unwritten chapter” of the Vinland saga. All of this is false, produced by verbal sleight of hand to fool the viewer. And Wolter tells us this himself!
On his blog, Wolter writes that he is not actually privy to the some of the “investigations” carried out in his name:
Nancy Millwood's stone is almost certainly genuine, but I don't think it's Viking in age. I suspect it's more likely medieval, probably carved sometime between 1200-1500 A.D. It reminds me of the Kensington and Spirit Pond rune Stones as it is filled with strange characters and numerous dotted runes. Like those inscriptions, the Millwood Rune Stone doesn't fit the standard runic traditions of Scandinavia, so understandably their translation was inconclusive. I was told that whoever tried to translate it (I still do not know who it was) eventually punted and said, "...it was probably modern." Why couldn't they have just said, "I don't know" and left it at that? That's OK too.
Yeah, why would an expert draw a reasonable conclusion based on knowledge and experience? One should never use words like “probably” and instead admit ignorance and do nothing more... Oh, wait: Scott Wolter himself draws exactly the same kinds conclusions in this episode, only without the knowledge or experience to support the conclusions.
Note the passive voice construction at the end. Compare this to the fanciful “translation” of equally-nonsensical runes he solicited his friend Mike Carr to produce in S01E02. This year, apparently after criticism over the bad rune translation last year, the show takes pains to find an expert Scott Wolter does not know and then ignores the expert. This, I guess, is progress.
So, in denigrating the work of an actual runic expert (assuming we can trust archaeologist Michael Arbuthnot’s spoken testimony in the episode), Wolter accidentally reveals that the show mislead viewers about the expert’s findings and that Wolter did not take an active role in soliciting or utilizing the work of the unnamed linguist. Also note that Wolter has no trouble with all of the runic inscriptions found in America being “non-standard” even though they were supposedly carved by standard-issue Norse who came from areas where “standard” runes were being used.
It should probably go without saying that there is no evidence of medieval Scandinavians in North Carolina, or any medieval Europeans at all. More damaging is the fact that the Vinland sagas (Erik the Red’s Saga and The Greenlander Saga) were composed in the 1200s, with the surviving versions from the 1300s and 1400s with none of the authors implying at all that there was any continued contact with North America, something we would expect to see should there have been a real “land claim.”
We learn directly from Wolter himself that the unnamed expert concluded that the runes were most likely a modern hoax because they were non-standard and did not form words or phrases that could be coherently translated. The show, speaking with Wolter’s narration, purposely misrepresents this conclusion and leads viewers to believe there was more doubt about the authenticity of the inscription than the actual expert they consulted believes by eliding his or her findings under the generic term “inconclusive.” There is a big difference between “inconclusive” and “probably modern.”
Wolter and the producers also allowed viewers to come away with the impression that the stone was somehow tied to the Vinland voyages described in the show (c. 1000 CE) when Wolter himself does not support the implied conclusion. The wording is very careful, probably at Wolter’s insistence, so it never says the stone is Viking in age; in merely implies it by sandwiching it between two alleged Viking artifacts and never specifying Wolter’s real beliefs about its date. This is propaganda, not documentary filmmaking.
Wolter previously wrote via email to a viewer who complained about the New World Order episode (S02E02) that the producers had chosen the topic, not him. I find it interesting that in four episodes Wolter has twice said, intentionally or not, that he is simply voicing ideas from Maria and Andy Awes, the show’s production team, that sometimes at odds with his own (equally fantastic) views.
So what are we to make of it when the show’s host admits that the show leaves out information that contradicts their case, and that the show’s conclusions are massaged to stay on message?
I guess I should just get out of the criticism business and instead put what Wolter says on America Unearthed in one column and what he says in his blog in a second column and let the manipulations speak for themselves.
12/24/2013 06:43:02 am
I think you should make it clearer for Steve Sinclair and his ilk: It is hypocritical of Wolter to criticize the unnamed rune expert for saying that the Millwood Stone "was probably modern" after saying himself that "it was probably carved sometime between 1200-1500 A.D.," a conclusion for which he offers no evidence. I would add that,. even assuming that his dating is correct, and given that Wolter admits that it "doesn't fit the runic traditions of Scandinavia," the "runes" on the stone might be symbols superficially resembling runes created by a native American culture that existed at that time and location. I don't know whether that is the case or not, but neither does Wolter.
12/24/2013 06:46:33 am
It just occurred to me that "ilk" is a Scottish term that means "those of the same name." Perhaps I should clarify that I used the term to refer to other fans of Scott Wolter and not to members of the Sinclair family.
12/24/2013 07:35:22 am
Thank you Harry, that means a lot to me.
12/24/2013 08:38:36 am
I just wanted to make the point, again, as has someone else before did on this blog, that the party of men making up the KRS expedition knew exactly where they were, starting from far west of Vinland, to the number of days travel (consequently, distance) to the area (14), most likely from Duluth, right down to one day's travel south to Runestone Hill from where the massacre site is located, where the men were camped.
12/24/2013 09:02:49 am
Yes, a quality relic must have quality provenance. In the case of the KRS, it has some provenance, just not the kind archaeologists require...and justifiably so. But it does have a degree of background that can and should be appreciated on face value, given the totality of circumstances. There are too many people throwing stones without being willing to look further into the whole matter. There are many, many layers to this onion, which almost seems to make some people tear-up in consternation.
12/24/2013 09:44:12 am
The KRS, at least, has identifiable runes and a date. If it is genuine (and originally laid where it was found), then it would be very good evidence of a pre-Columbian Scandinavian expedition to Minnesota. My objection is to the Millwood Stone which Wolter has yet to show is evidence of anything.
Discovery of America
12/24/2013 11:35:54 pm
Nobody has produced any provenance for the KSR to date
Discovery of America
12/25/2013 12:23:02 am
"No contemporary evidence relating to the Kensington stone is known from the time of its discovery in November, 1898, until January 1, 1899. No letter or diary record of it, written within a few days or weeks after the discovery, has come to light. The stone was unearthed by laymen, not archaeologists. The details of the find were not at the time recorded in a scholar's notebook. No report was sent to any newspaper in November or December, 1898, as far as is known, or to the Minnesota Historical Society. No one seems to have photographed the stone at the site where it was found or in the Ohman yard or at the bank or store in Kensington. The first known letter written about the stone bears the date January 1, 1899, and the first known mention of it in print is dated January 14, 1899. No one has offered a satisfactory explanation of this contemporary silence of two months, which is difficult to understand on any hypothesis." (Blegen, 1968)
Discovery of America
12/25/2013 12:32:23 am
"The Kensington Stone, with its ludicrous parody of a Swedish runic inscription, emerged on cue in the 1890s in one of the most Scandinavian states of the USA, soon after public interest had been whetted by an epic voyage from Norway to America in a replica of the celebrated Gokstad ship." (Magnusson, 1976)
12/25/2013 06:14:52 am
We when trying to peg runes visually have to go by the extant
Discovery of America
12/25/2013 06:57:47 am
I am sure I could create "a long message
12/25/2013 07:41:41 am
having a carving showing age to a naked eyeball is easy for
12/26/2013 12:19:04 am
Gunn strikes me as a sincere and relatively reasonable guy who wants to believe in the KRS and in Scott Wolter. Whether or not the KRS is genuine is an issue to be judged by people with the relevant expertise and dispassion to do so. As I understand it, the weight of such opinion is against the KRS. So be it.
12/24/2013 07:54:21 am
Maybe we'll all get lucky and Scott Wolter will dig the show's grave himself with these repeated contradictions of the final product. Or they'll just get a new host, and we'll be stuck with someone worse. Robert Shoch, maybe?
12/24/2013 02:45:41 pm
SW is again sadly fighting the idea that maybe the runes
12/24/2013 03:34:15 pm
On the specific stone mentioned in the show, no. I'm not a runic expert but I have some familiarity as an artist with the way runestones are supposed to look. The biggest thing is that no authentic stone has word spacing the way the one shown in the show has. I even went online to look at photos of stones, and no. None. Even the KRS doesn't have word spacing the way that one does.
Discovery of America
12/24/2013 11:37:41 pm
Asians discovered America millennia before the Vikings, and it's not that important a subject matter
12/25/2013 06:29:59 am
I feel that the First People of Australia and N.Z about 50,000 years
12/26/2013 07:49:33 am
DoA, J.A. Dickey, what does Asian discovery of America have to do with the authenticity of the runestone in the episode? Yes, Native Americans are generally Asiatic in genetic descent. Yes, there were probably multiple routes taken to get to the Americas over the years. None of that is pertinent to "is that runestone possibly a copy of an older one?"
12/25/2013 05:41:18 am
Seriously, SW should have the show hire about five experts
I agree, further expertise is what is needed. The subject matter at hand is too important to just give a flippant, cursory look. Outcomes need to be clearer. The process of investigation needs to be strictly professional, and it needs to slow down at the point of drawing conclusions. I see a continuing problem unless more science is introduced into the show.
12/26/2013 11:25:05 am
The problem Scott and you will have convincing others will lie in the relative recent dating of these finds and the assumption that no other explanation can exist beyond your alleged proofs. Proofs which are mostly predicated on associative values within possible ranges and things that commonly fall to the wayside, routinely being found to hold no actual factual value in science. I think you guys should talked about all the ways in which your deductions are wrong or could be found to be and then counter with your tenuous assertions so that people can only then make up their minds.
1/2/2014 02:00:57 pm
"Why is this specific "stonehole heaven" area exactly in line with Duluth and Kensington?"
12/26/2013 07:55:36 am
That would require finding experts to TAKE contradictory stances on the stone, and they wouldn't because the things is way too obviously a fake. You could probably find contradictory stances for the KRS, but that one from NC is just so obviously a fake. I doubt it even dates back to the 70s, personally; I would not be at all surprised to find out that it was faked for the purposes of getting onto the show. ....just to be clear, I'm not making that accusation, it just wouldn't surprise me. If people will go onto the Maury Povitch show or Wipeout, or fake Bigfoot footprints to get onto some Sasquatch show variant, someone out there would be willing to fake a runestone to try and get onto America Unearthed. It's inevitable that attempts have been made, at least; whether this was one or not, I can't say, but the runestone was absolutely fake.
12/26/2013 09:52:09 am
Varika, the blogsite PatagonianMonsters has a way cool
12/26/2013 10:00:11 am
I am more of an optimist. if the N.C inscription mixes
12/27/2013 08:45:02 am
An earlier thread here has a direct link to Scott Wolter's blog at
The Other J.
12/26/2013 09:57:23 am
I'm not even sure what an inconclusive translation would me. Maybe if the text (stone) was incomplete the translation could be inconclusive, but if the entirety of the text is present, the translation either conveys linguistic content or it doesn't. And if it doesn't, then that suggests a lack of knowledge on the part of the person attempting to use that language -- which suggests it wasn't made by actual Norse explorers, who would have been fluent in the language.
12/26/2013 10:08:17 am
Scott Wolter glommed onto Augustus Caesar's M that is not Arab
12/27/2013 01:49:56 am
Here is another one from his blog:
12/27/2013 10:14:56 am
Scot wolter responded to my questions on the great copper heist episode. See his blog. He had an interesting take on my questions.
12/27/2013 10:23:13 am
12/27/2013 10:36:55 am
I'll give him this: Claiming that archaeologists say Native Americans didn't use much of the copper mined in America takes guts, especially since he's getting that from 1960s falsehoods disproved decades ago. The copper was traded across America and was used in many and varied ways.
12/27/2013 10:41:08 am
Interesting how much he repeats "the lack of evidence says nothing'. Great excuse there, with that logic he never needs supporting evidence only a theory.
12/27/2013 10:45:52 am
I think that even H2 will draw the line at a convicted Neo-Nazi sex offender. I'd guess they'd probably be a bit queasy about investigating Mormonism, too.
12/27/2013 11:03:12 am
There are two parts of his response that seemed interesting to me. "The fact is we don't have any European examples of comparable runic inscriptions that correspond with the Kensington, Spirit Pond, Narragansett and Millwood Rune Stones. This should not be a surprise as the parties who carved them operated in extreme secrecy" He admits that there is no comparable evidence on these inscriptions but then covers himself by explaining they were done in secrecy. He is using this idea so any nonsensical rune stone is in "secret code" and helps contribute to the overall conspiracy.
12/27/2013 11:41:33 am
His claim rests on the idea that runes are somehow more mysterious than other languages. Imagine if I said that in my six years of Latin training I gained enough knowledge of Latin to be "dangerous" to Classical scholars. You'd laugh at how silly that sounded. It shouldn't be different just because the alphabet is less familiar to audiences.
The Other J.
12/27/2013 12:48:01 pm
There is a little something to the idea of runes being "magical," or at least have a little more going on than typical letters (although I've never seen Wolter articulate this). A rune can stand for a sound, like our letters do, and also stand for a concept, like a hieroglyph. So when you spell something out in a rune, the collection of runes together may make a word, or tell a story -- the deeper narrative is encoded in the runes.
12/28/2013 01:10:13 am
At the risk of being "dangerous" with my background of taking one formal logic class at a community college 10 years ago, I must ask this:
12/28/2013 01:28:35 am
Re Scott Wolter's comment that he learned enough about runes to be "dangerous":
The Other J.
12/28/2013 04:50:19 am
I'm guessing that the more ancient "from across the ocean" mining of copper was accomplished in a different manner than how the Native Americans mined it. I question how any differences in technology would have made a significant difference. How was the copper mined...by significantly different methods?
1. There is no provenance whatsoever for the KRS.
12/28/2013 10:52:00 am
You know I was thinking about Christmas' of the past today while looking at my Christmas Tree and remembered one present my mother bought for me when I was around 10.
12/28/2013 11:28:35 am
I would like to see a tumbler big enough to tumble a 202 pound, rectangular stone. But of course we see what you are saying. Everything has to be considered, including the intentional aging of objects. (Just so we remember that not all strange items found and being found have been artificially aged.)
12/28/2013 11:45:34 am
Without citing a rock tumble that size I cannot attest to whether it would even replicate the condition of the stones in question.
12/28/2013 11:37:14 pm
Will, thanks for the comment. Please go to this site I hate, and see the "geography" and "other artifacts" sections.
12/28/2013 11:22:40 am
There is partial provenance for the KRS. You are foolish to believe otherwise. There are cases where it is not a matter of either having provenance or not, but how much. Part of the provenance of the KRS is the good reputation of the finder, a man you have purposely tarnished. You seem to have no remorse, I guess because you are so sure of yourself in your own mind. But aren't you guilty of judging? I suppose so, yes. You have attempted to separate the input of Ohman's good reputation from the totality of the situation, then you claim there is no provenance after doing so. Now, there is also the increasing runic evidence which increases the KRS's provenance, such as the Greenland Runestone discovered rather recently.
12/28/2013 12:57:09 pm
ISW was nice enough to respond to my multiple posts on his blog. No new information, really - although I thought his take on the Vikings' relationships with Native Americans vs the Templars' to be interesting.
12/31/2013 01:26:54 am
I was surprised to see H2 doing a reality show based on the speculative archeology periodical "American Archaeology". Much of the so called "evidence" has been long ago debunked as the product of attention seekers, side show operators, or zealots attempting to "seed" fake evidence in an effort to support the tenets of their religious faith.
2/1/2014 09:27:49 am
First, debating who arrived in N America first is a fools errand. Unless I've missed something no prizes are up for grabs to whoever crossed the finish line first.
2/2/2014 07:30:54 pm
Episode 4 14:30 miuntes in. ist that an ufo?
2/7/2014 06:37:43 am
I have info of a carving in solid granite 500 or more years old that no one can identify in Nova Scotia, Natural museums of History Halifax, England, Spain, Micma elders, surveyors, lumber co's, Dan Blankenship (Oak Island), no one knows.
W. E. Schuetz
4/23/2014 08:27:40 am
I read the entire column of comments about Scott Wolters and his show, but, I don't understand the vitriolic attitude of some of the bloggers. If you have already made up your mind, why don't you say that in the beginning so the rest of us can skip your comments. I do not accept everything I see and hear on these shows, but, I am intrigued by the subject matter and would like to see more research and digging to find definitive answers. If you have already made up your mind, why don't you change the channel and watch something else. I teach U. S. History and I am constantly finding mistakes on the history channel, but, I don't go ballistic and blog my little heart out about it. What are you going to say if it turns out that Wolters is correct? Consider how much our history has changed and been refined because we continue to research and uncover facts to correct what was written in the history books. I think open-mindedness is critical in this issue.
4/23/2014 08:32:13 am
I can't speak for everyone, but as the only blogger here (it's my blog--the other people are commenting on it), I can tell you that if Wolter turns out to right about anything he'll still have gone about it the wrong way. You can't expect anyone to take you seriously if you don't follow something resembling the conventional approach to science and history. If you don't think standards are worth upholding, you are welcome to sit in silence, but other people like to know what's wrong with claims. I don't see how you can advocate uncovering and correcting history without supporting the efforts of those who uncover and correct the mistakes of those who seek to rewrite it.
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