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Documenting a 111-year-old mystery

Echo Press photos by Celeste Beam1 / 2
While filming a documentary about the Kensington Runestone that will air this fall on The History Channel, actors Corey Okonek (standing), playing the role of Olaf Ohman, and Michael O'Loughlin, who played the role of a neighbor, examined a stone that was found wrapped in the roots of an aspen tree on Ohman's farm. photo by Celeste Beam2 / 2
Morris,Minnesota 56267
Morris Sun Tribune
Documenting a 111-year-old mystery
Morris Minnesota 607 Pacific Avenue 56267

The Kensington Runestone is once again in the limelight.

This time, as part of a documentary set to air on The History Channel this fall.

Andy and Maria Awes with Committee Films, which is based in the Twin Cities, along with a crew of about 30, spent the day at Kensington Runestone Park recently - filming the story of the Kensington Runestone.

Maria Awes provided a brief synopsis of the film, which states:

"In 1898, a Minnesota farmer clearing trees from his field uprooted a large stone covered with mysterious runes. Now known as the Kensington Runestone, it details the journey of land acquisition and the year 1362. Thought by some to be a hoax, new evidence suggests it could be real, and a clue that the Knights Templar discovered America 100 years before Columbus, perhaps bringing with them history's greatest treasure...The Holy Grail."

The Knights Templar, often said to be nine in number, were a military and religious order formed around 1119 to protect Christian pilgrims traveling to holy places.

While on the set of the film, Andy Awes noted that the process of filming this story began three years ago when he did a piece on one of the Kensington Runestone researchers, Scott Wolter.

"He was very interesting," said Andy. "If he can prove that the stone is real, that's huge. There is a lot of controversy with this stone and controversy makes good television."

He added that the story of the Kensington Runestone is "very compelling."

Although the film has been a few years in the making, and has taken Committee Films to other countries, Andy said the past week was the last big week of filming.

Footage at the Kensington Runestone Park included a reenactment of the discovery of the stone with Corey Okonek playing the role of Olaf Ohman and Michael O'Loughlin playing the role of Ohman's neighbor.

In addition, footage was shot in the Olaf Ohman home located at the park. Filming also took place at the Runestone Museum in Alexandria and of the actual Kensington Runestone.

The History Channel special investigates a story that begins in medieval Europe and culminates in a present day search for answers, according to Maria Awes.

She noted that the Templar angle of the story is new and that it stems from erosion studies conducted on the Runestone. The symbols on the Runestone reportedly match Templar runes all over Europe.

History indicates that the Templars were massacred after King Philip IV of France ordered their arrests on Friday the 13th, 1307, but that a Templar fleet allegedly containing treasure was last seen off Scotland in the late 1300s. Stones with similar markings as the Kensington Runestone have been found on islands across the Atlantic Ocean - and in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

The story, according to The History Channel, begs the question: "Is it possible the Templars were leaving clues to an incredible journey to the New World?"

Andy Awes noted that a specific date for The History Channel special has not been set, but that it should air sometime in September.

When a date has been confirmed, the Echo Press will publish the information.


Committee Films is based in the Twin Cities and produces films, documentaries, national television commercials and music videos. The company is run by director/editor Andy Awes and has been in business since 2006. Before starting his own company, Awes worked for other Twin Cities-based post-production houses, and was an editor of the national PBS show, Dragonfly TV. Also working in conjunction with Committee Films as a writer/producer is Maria Awes, who has spent the past 11 years working in local television news in the Minneapolis market, most recently at WCCO-TV as an investigative producer. Both Andy and Maria are past Emmy Award winners.

Morris Sun Tribune Staff