Geologist Scott Wolter wants you to forget 1492.

While you're at it, forget the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria.

Forget all of it.

Forget Christopher Columbus because he wasn't the first European to visit North America and Wolter is out to prove it in his new book, "The Hooked X: The Key to the Secret History of North America."

Minnesota and the Great Lakes states play a key part in that history, Wolter said, as Vikings and Cistercian monks traveled here leaving behind inscriptions and evidence that they were here long before Queen Isabella hocked her jewels to finance the Columbian journey to the New World.

Wolter, a trained geologist, first became interested in North America's discovery by accident.

His firm - American Petrographic Services - was hired to analyze the weathering on the Kensington Runestone, a stone found by a farmer in western Minnesota in 1898 that had runic inscription on it.

For years, historians and archaeologists have argued about its authenticity. Many outside the area have claimed it was a hoax.

Yet, when Wolter, who had never heard of the stone, analyzed it in 2000, he discovered the weathering on the stone's inscription was at least 200 years old, meaning it was carved before 1700.

"I had originally told the Kensington Museum that they needed to understand that I will give you news you may not like and you'll still pay me," Wolter said.

When the testing came back, Wolter presented his findings at conferences and was asked to present it to archaeologists and historians.

"It was like I was talking to a wall," Wolter said.

He presented his scientific findings which had been reviewed by a panel of eight other certified geologists. All concluded the stone's carvings were more than 200 years old.

"They still said it was a myth," Wolter said. "I was stunned. I was completely dismissed."

It was that dismissal by people Wolter said should have most readily accepted the evidence that drove him to research more about the stone.

From there, he wrote a massive tome on the Kensington Runestone that included all primary source documents.

His latest book and a recent History Channel two-hour special chronicling his work, "The Holy Grail in America," take his initial work even farther than just lobbying for the Kensington Runestone's acceptance.

Wolter points out there are other runic inscriptions that have been found in the Great Lake states and even through the Midwest. He said when taken as a whole, they point to European exploration before Columbian expeditions.

Even more controversial, Wolter said the visitors weren't just Vikings - they were Cistercian monks and Knights Templar in search of new riches and minerals to help expand a secret society.

Wolter points out those groups were looking for minerals like copper, lead, nickel, zinc, gold and silver - all found abundantly in the Great Lakes region.

"We've found hundreds of places where they were mined hundreds of years ago," Wolter said. "Who did it? The Native Americans didn't do it."

Wolter said the backlash from the historical and archaeological communities comes from challenging a long-established paradigm.

"We treat it as a sacred paradigm that no one was here before Columbus. But it's stupid and wrong," Wolter said. "Our academics let us down and the public doesn't understand it. I am not trying to attack them, but if a rockhead like me can make progress, imagine what our best smart people in academia can do."

Though authors like Dan Brown and his work, "The Da Vinci Code," have made the Knights Templar a popular subject, it's more of a distraction for Wolter.

He said they arrived in North America for practical reasons, and the hooked X, a runic symbol that has greater meaning to the Knights proves it.

"I am all done listening to what people think," Wolter said. "If they want to prove me wrong, they better have evidence because that's what I have.

"I haven't said anything that I can't prove."

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