Midwest Vikings? Part 4

This part of my ongoing series has taken a little longer to write out than the others. I was hoping to get some comments from one of my former professors, but as I am still waiting to here back from him, I have decided to write the piece anyway. I can hope that I will here back from him soon and will post an updated piece if/whenI do.

This post is concerned with the book Michigan Prehistory Mysteries II by Betty Sodders. Within this book, Sodders argues the case that Vikings penetrated deep into North America, perhaps as far as the Mississippi and North Dakota. In past posts I have touched upon many of the evidences presented in the book, such as the Kensington stone and the supposed Norse-Indian connection. I invite readers to look over my previous posts concerning these items.

The two chapters of interest are Chapters 10 “A Striking Norse-Amerindian Relationship” and 11 “Norse Intrusion into Great Lakes Country.” Chapter ten largely reiterates what is in Viking Mettles and the evidences associated with it, as such I will be skipping the chapter and moving to 11.

Chapter eleven begins with a short tale about a Viking king by the name of Woden-lithi, who crossed the Atlantic and sailed up the St. Lawrence to a trading post in the area of Modern Toronto. The site was called Peterborough according to Sodders. Woden-lithi remained here for five months and left behind some petroglyph writing. The trading post may have been a religious center as well, and according to Sodders; “Modern scholars agree these glyphs record the king’s visit as well as a standard of measures for cordage and woven material, along with an astronomical observatory for estimating the Nordic calender year.” (Sodders, 171) I wish she had named the scholars.

Sodders claims that; “these petroglyphs, along with others discovered in the Great Lake’s territory, supply well documented evidence to support the theory the Nordic travelers migrated to Michigan as well as the surrounding states, oftentimes intermingling with local Amerindians. Please bear in mind, all this trading-exploring took place during the world’s bronze-age, thousands of years before Christopher Columbus sailed to discover America.” (Sodders, 171)

The so called Peterborough petroglyphs are an interesting case indeed. A quick search of the internet has this to say;”

After being lost for centuries, the Peterborough Petroglyphs was rediscovered by historian Charles Kingam in 1924.

The limestone at Peterborough is generally believed to have been carved by the Algonkian people between 900 and 1400 AD. Today, the First Nations people of Ontario call the carvings Kinomagewapkong, meaning “the rocks that teach.”

However, there are several other theories of the date and authors of the remarkable petroglyphs:

  • Retired Harvard professor Barry Fell believes the petroglyphs are inscriptions by a Norse king named Woden-lithi (Servant of Odin), who was said to have sailed from Norway up the St. Lawrence River in about 1700 BC.
  • Mayanologist David H. Kelley viewed the petroglyphs and declared that some of the symbols were European, dating perhaps to ca. 1000 BC
  • According to Andis Kaulins and Megaliths.co.uk, the petroglyphs are a sky map of the heavens from c.3117 BC based on European tradition; they have nothing to do with Native American traditions.

The area surrounding the petroglyphs was established as Petroglyphs Provincial Park in 1976.” (Sacred Destinations)

Some images of the stones can be seen on the mentioned website, as well as others. What is important to note is that there are several interpretations for the petroglyphs, though even the Sacred Destinations website does offer some support of Sodders’ conclusion on some of the boats images, which she thinks are Norse longships; ” The Peterborough Petroglyphs consist of more than 900 individual images, which are carved into a slab of crystalline limestone 180 feet (55 m) long and 100 feet (30 m) wide. About 300 of these are discipherable shapes, including humans, shamans, animals, solar symbols, geometric shapes and boats.

The boat drawings among the petroglyphs do not resemble the traditional boat of the Native Americans. One solar boat — a stylized shaman vessel with a long mast surmounted by the sun — is typical of petroglyphs found in northern Russia and Scandanavia.” (Sacred Destinations)

Another piece of evidence presented in Sodders’ book is a story told by Earl Sergeants’ wife Dorothy. On a Saturday in October of 1969 Earl was out hunting with five friends in Lake County Michigan, near Baldwin. Earl got lost while he was hunting and ended up falling through a roof of a room he describes as about “eight feet square with just enough headroom to stand up in.” (Sodders, 176) The was a fire ring at his feet, made of stones and filled with carbon. He thought it was a Viking shelter, because it did not look like an Indian shelter to him. He found his way back eventually, but further attempts to find the shelter again failed.

Several other types of evidence are presented in Sodder’s book. However, I will not continue to recount them all for space reasons. If the reader is curious, I advise acquiring a copy. Viking lore is fascinating, but the question is, how much of this is true? It seems to me that each piece of evidence presented has multiple interpretations and multiple explanations on how it came to be associated with it. Is it possible to know which is true? I am not fond of ambiguous endings, but the fact is in this case I just do not know.  However, my promise is that I will continue to search. I will seek out other views on the issue and there is certainly more material to search through.

If my readers have any more information on the topic, please let me know. Also, I am more than happy to discuss the topics in the comments section. Also, keep an eye out for the next section of this series!


Sodders, Betty. Michigan Prehistory Mysteries II. 1991



About Nicholas Haney

I am a writer, author, hunter, craftsman, and student of anthropology/archaeology. View all posts by Nicholas Haney

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