School’s fake rune stone makes media the fool

A Swedish school has admitted that a rune stone it advertised for sale last week – causing much media excitement – was faked as part of an exercise in source criticism. News of the apparently rare artefact spread rapidly across Swedish internet, TV and radio after the local media in Filipstad were first tipped off about the online advert.

The notice, which was deemed by onlookers not to be an April Fool’s joke despite being posted on 1st April, gave a detailed history of the stone which lent credibility to its authenticity. It also, however, gave the impression that the seller did not fully understand the historical value of his lot.

In actuality, the artefact and the advert had been faked by children at Spangbergs High School in Filipstad as part of a project on the history of the Swedish language.

“Later we discussed source criticism. So on April 1, we sent a few anonymous tips, and the reaction was immediate,” the children’s teacher, Torbjorn Stromberg, told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper. “It’s a little scary that so many wrote about it, without having checked it properly,” Marcus Anderson, one of the pupils, said to public broadcaster SVT.

Eventually, the National Heritage Board concluded that the stone was a recent creation and the game was subsequently up for the mischievous pranksters. The class was, however, offered SEK 5000 (EUR 553) for the creation, but decided not to sell.

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