Thursday, 29 March 2012

STEFANSSON to News - Chronicle (1938) Suggests Committee Inquire Into the Beardmore Relics

From the Nipigon Historical Museum Archives
The Fenwick "papers"
The News-Chronicle Saturday, September 17, 1938
page 4

To the Editor of the News-Chronicle:
Sir, - A friend in Canada has sent me your editorial of August 19, (1938) , "Norsemen Here First." It is temperate and sensible. Particularly I want to thank you for not having misquoted me as badly as did some news dispatches which also have been sent me from Canada. I did not say, of course, that I was inclined to favor the view that certain "white Indians" on southwestern Hudson Bay were of Norse descent. The best I could do when interviewed was to say that the view, while not absurd, was highly improbable. I pointed out that since the days of Henry Hudson, who was abandoned on Hudson Bay in an open boat, there have been so many possibilities of European admixture that whatever whiteness the said Indians may have is much more likely to be from that source - unless, indeed, it can be established that they were there at or before Hudson's time.

I am writing, however, because of my interest in the rest of your editorial, the part which deals with your alleged Norse finds.

Danish archaeologists during the last few years have found Norse remains from the Middle Ages (though perhaps merely Norse things traded to Eskimos) in Greenland will north of Etah where Peary used to have his base stations during his northern work. The Sverdrup expedition considered they found Norse remains on Jones Sound. You will find mention of this in Sverdrup's New Land, Vol. 2, page 311, but the subject has been dealt with more in detail, and from a different point of view, by the Norwegian Geographical Society . The chief article was written by Sverdrup's second-in-command, Gunnar Isachsen - in translation the title is : "How Far North Into the Wilderness Did the Norsemen (of the Middle Ages ) Attain onTheir Hunting Expeditions?" This is in Vol. 4, Oslo, 1932.

No scholars apparently doubt that the European Greenlanders were in the habit of making voyages to Labrador for timber needed in Greenland for housebuilding and other purposes, and for sale of this timber to Iceland, as late as 1347, when one of the ships in this trade wrecked in Iceland. This is a sample of those elementary things which make it by no means impossible either that Norse relics may be discovered on or near Hudson Bay hereafter, or even that the finds to which you refer may be authentic.

That is the point. Your finds may be a spoof; - but they could be authentic. My suggestion is that your city, the origin of these reports, should form a committee of thoughtful students to investigate and to make an authoritative report. Should these be one at Port Arthur who is thought qualified for the technical side of the investigation, it will not be difficult for you to secure specialists from one or another of the Canadian Universities.

There are many throughout the world deeply interested in the possible authenticity of the Beardmore relics. An inquiry on them is far more easy than that on the Kensington Stone. The question these is whether the relic itself is genuine. It seems that no such point has been raised against the Beardmore finds - they appear to be securely authentic so far as concerns being of Norse origin and of great antiquity. The sole question for you is whether they were planted or whether they are an authentic discovery.
V. Stefansson, New York, September 13, 1938

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