s they drive into the town of Alexandria, Minnesota, visitors are greeted by a most unusual figure standing by the roadside. Big Ole is a 28ft tall, four-ton model Viking, sporting a jaunty winged silver helmet, a voluminous ginger beard, a yellow tunic and a flowing red cloak. In one hand he is holding a fearsome spear, and in the other a shield emblazoned with the words: “Alexandria, Birthplace of America.”
Wait a minute, wasn’t America discovered by Christopher Columbus, not Big Ole? Not necessarily. A new investigation reveals that America might in fact have been reached first by Viking explorers, centuries before Columbus, and central to this thesis is the Kensington Runestone.
This astounding artefact – which was unearthed in Kensington, Minnesota, and is now on display at the Runestone Museum in Alexandria 20 miles away – may overturn the previously accepted doctrine of discovery and compel us to rewrite the history of the US. This is a potentially seismic story which shows everything we thought we knew about the birth of America might be wrong. So, do we have to consign Columbus to the dustbin of history? To answer that we have to go back to where it all began.