We were up early on Saturday morning. The winds were apparently too strong on Friday for the balloons to fly, so we hurried to the festival grounds to see if conditions were right for a lift-off. We weren't disappointed. One balloon was already aloft,
and these four weren't far behind. It was a lovely sight.
After breakfast we went exploring. We wanted to look at Lake Wister State Park, located a few miles from the town of Wister in Southeastern Oklahoma. On the way, though, we went through the town of Heavener (prounuonced Heevner). It was shown as the location of Heavener Runestone State Park. As we wound our way through the back streets of the small town, I remarked to John that this park would either be "nothing" or "a real jewel." Fortunately, it was the latter.
Created in 1970 and decommissioned as a state park in 2011, the location was turned over to the City of Heavener. A group of local citizens formed the Friends of Heavener Runestone to raise funds and assist the City in managing and maintaining the park. They are dedicated to protecting the visitor center and grounds, as well as the irreplaceable Heavener Runestone carvings.
During our visit, we learned that runes are characters used by Teutonic tribes of northwestern Europe. The Heavener Runestone is believed to be of Scandinavian origin, and several experts in such things think the carvings were made prior to 1000 A.D. That would support the claim that Vikings explored areas of southeastern Oklahoma at about that time.
The stone, thought to have broken off from the cliffs above and now resting in a beautiful little ravine, is protected by a shelter and a glass wall. In this photo, you can see most of the inscription.
And here is an exact duplicate of the carving, which is easier to read.
There is some controversy as to its meaning. It has been translated to mean "Valley owned by GLOME," and also "Valley of the boundary marker." It is similar to several other runestones which have been found in the area, and they continue to be a subject of study by experts in these things.
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Heavener Runestone Park, and hope that you'll stop by if you're in the area. If you're interested in learning more about this site, please visit www.friendsofheavenerrunestone.org.