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Area runestone may have Viking roots

Image courtesy Tahlequah Daily Press
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TAHLEQUAH — Thanks to the television series, “Vikings,” on the History Channel, Norse history and mythology are gaining popularity.

But what few area residents may know is that Vikings may have very well been making their mark in Oklahoma as early as 800 A.D.

Gary Courtney, former president of the Oklahoma chapter of the National Speleological Society and the first cartographer of area caves, has studied runestones in the state, and is looking to have a recent find authenticated.

“There are seven of these stones in Oklahoma,” said Courtney, a Tulsa-area resident. “The one in Heavener has been translate by Scandinavian scholars. There are five in the Poteau/Heavener area that have been certified. The one on top of Cavanal Hill has been determined to be a burial marker; the one in Heavener is a territorial marker. Three others have been counted in that same area. There is another one near Shawnee, and most recently, one has been studied near where I attended school at Turley Hill near Tulsa.”

Courtney said he grew up in north Tulsa and never noticed the runestone at Turley because is was on top of the mountain above the school.

“But other kids who lived closer to the school grew up playing on it back in the 1950s,” said Turley. “I’ve been working with Bill Burkhart of the Tahlequah Archaeological Society on this site. We went up on a field trip to the Turley site back in April.”

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