Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada

The Runic Stone

Ever since 1812, when Dr. Richard Fletcher discovered the Runic (or Yarmouth) Stone on his property at the head of the Yarmouth Harbour, this artifact has been the subject of academic and popular controversy. Many theories have been proposed as to the origin and content of the 13-character inscription on the face of the 400-pound stone.

After Dr. Fletcher discovered the stone near a path that led to a primitive ferry dock, he moved it to a spot near his home, where it stayed for the next 60 years. Around 1872, it was moved to the grounds of a local hotel, and later put on display at the library.

Shortly before World War I, the Runic Stone travelled to Christianna (now Oslo), Norway, where it was shown at an international exhibition. It was then taken to London, England, where it would remain in storage at the offices of the Canadian Pacific Railway, as ocean travel during the war was hazardous, and it was deemed too risky to transport the stone. It finally returned to Yarmouth sometime after the Armistice of 1918.

After some debate in the 1960s over who actually owned the Runic Stone, the artifact was eventually granted to the Yarmouth County Historical Society, and moved to its current location at the museum. Although the nature of the inscription is still a matter of debate, the Norse rune theories remain the most persistent, thus giving the Yarmouth Stone its common name, the Runic Stone.

In the interest of scholarship, the Yarmouth County Museum prefers to remain neutral and does not support any one theory. Research materials on the Runic Stone are available in the Archives. To see the presentations from the International Runic Stone Symposium, please click here.

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