Harris's Reviews > The Hooked X: Key to the Secret History of North America

The Hooked X by Scott Wolter
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bookshelves: history, minnesota, folklore, non-fiction, usa

The Kensington Runestone is an interesting and unique curiosity of Minnesota history and folklore that was for decades seen as little more than a goofy Scandinavian-American roadside attraction of no real historical importance. A Scandinavian runic inscription discovered in 1898 in the most heavily Scandinavian settled region of the state, it’s authenticity has been a perennial topic of heated discussion. Recently, however, researchers like Scott Wolter have vividly revived the debate regarding the origins of the stone, which purports to date from the fourteenth century.

Wolter, a forensic geologist, claims his analysis indicates the age of the carvings predate the nineteenth century. Even for those who, like myself, remain skeptical of a medieval origin for the runestone, this continued study into the stone can only increase understanding. In “The Hooked X,” Wolter continues his study of the runestone, drawing on a variety of cross disciplinary research, to make the case that, since he believes his findings indicate a medieval origin, some unknown group must be responsible. It is here that Wolter draws the infamous Knights Templar into the runestone story, through the linking symbol of the mysterious “hooked x” and at the same time, goes completely off the rails.

Unfortunately, Wolter’s thought provoking science is drowned in a sea of new-agey conspiratorial claptrap, calling into question his entire credibility. As the book attempts to connect the stone and other North American anomalous archaeological sites with that current standard of conspiratorial lore, the Knights Templar, it becomes increasingly laughable. Written in a breezy, conversational style, the work is organized rather haphazardly, jumping awkwardly between discussions of various esoteric subjects related to Templar and Masonic lore, which maybe, just maybe, might have something to do with the Kensington Runestone. In addition, it relies a bit too heavily on personal anecdotes that further detract from the books main arguments. Like much of fringe research, “The Hooked X” relies on coincidence, hearsay, and creative speculation to link ideas as diverse as sacred geometry and goddess worship and connect it all into a great narrative. While it is an interesting and amusing thought to picture a minor piece of Minnesota folklore as linked to an ancient and influential secret history that shaped the destiny of nations through the centuries, “The Hooked X” does not provide solid evidence.

Wolter and Richard Nielsen’s “Kensington Runestone: Compelling New Evidence,” is a much more useful pro-runestone resource that can be of interest to people on both sides of the debate. While at times an amusing read, “The Hooked X” is far too speculative to recommend, except purely as forteana. This book, and his later writings and television programs, will add nothing more to anyone's understanding of Minnesota history.
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Reading Progress

December 16, 2010 – Started Reading
December 16, 2010 – Shelved
December 20, 2010 – Finished Reading
December 22, 2010 – Shelved as: history
July 18, 2011 – Shelved as: minnesota
July 24, 2015 – Shelved as: folklore
May 26, 2017 – Shelved as: non-fiction
May 26, 2017 – Shelved as: usa

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