The Kansas Mystery Stone
By Doreen Stadelman Wente
In 1913, a farmer from Beverly, Kansas, named Maurice Briand, was plowing his field. This field contained a limestone slab that he had plowed around for several years. He had grown tired of the extra work this stone had caused, so he went to get a hammer, pick, and shovel to remove it. The slab was 8 feet long by 4 feet wide. As he was clearing the debris, he found that a 12 inch long by 9 inch wide by 2 inch thick piece of the stone that contained a strange inscription carved in a 4” by 6” rectangular inset. The inscription was written with symbols that Mr. Briand didn’t understand. Mr. Briand’s first impression was that it must have been an old grave marker.
It is unclear what Mr. Briand did with the mysterious stone or its whereabouts for the next decade. In the early 1920’s, the stone was donated to the Kansas Historical Society where it remained in a back room for nearly 60 years. A representative of the KHS stated that it was never displayed due to questions about its antiquity. He felt the stone was too clean and un-weathered to be of any value.
In the mid 1990’s, historian Dean Jeffries began studying the stone. Mr. Jeffries focused mainly on translating the inscription. He agreed with Mr. Briand’s assumption that this stone was a grave marker and the inscription seemed to be a death chant. The inscription consisted of 16 symbols which he believes is from the Gaelic Punic language which was a common ancient language of the Iberian Peninsula. This language pre-dates the Latin alphabet and the Spanish language. He translated the inscription as follows:
“Thy Song. Strength which powers their journey. The one who strengthens all. Oh! Thy Song.”
If he is correct about the language, the people who inscribed it are Europeans he calls the Sun Worshipers. He believes that these were the first Europeans to cross Kansas. They would have been here roughly in 500 A.D., 1000 years prior to the Spanish conquistador Francisco Vazquez de Coranado who historically was the first European to visit Kansas in 1541.
We may never know who inscribed this stone or if it truly marked a grave, but it leaves one to wonder just who has traveled across our country in the past and just how long ago they were here. For now, we can study the stone ourselves by visiting the Kyne House Museum in Lincoln, Kansas. The stone was given back to Lincoln County in 1993 and has been on display ever since.