Van Buren, Arkansas: Grave of a Viking, Maybe

Known locally as the "Mystery Grave," it's been around so long that a cemetery was built around it. Is it a 14th century Viking? A 16th century Spaniard? A 17th century Frenchman? Experts disagree...

Fairview Cemetery

Address:
Fayetteville Rd, Van Buren, AR
Directions:
Fairview Cemetery. Enter cemetery from the east side of Fayetteville Rd/Hwy 59. You'll see the grave beneath a big tree, on the left, several rows back, just before you get to the first cross-street. The headstone is to the west and the footstone to the east, and it's enclosed on all four sides like a bathtub. The headstone is to the west and the footstone to the east, and it's enclosed on all four sides like a bathtub. I-40 exit 5, then drive south on Fayetteville Rd/Hwy 59 for 1.5 miles. The cemetery entrance will be on the left, between McKibben and Poplar Sts.
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Old grave in the cemetery. Grave of a Viking, Maybe

It's not a small cemetery, and there are lots of really beautiful, unique, and just plain old headstones. However, the one of interest is closest to the walk in gate near the intersection of McKibben St. and N. 8th. Walk in there and turn right at the second lamp post.

[Elfyre, 10/06/2012]
Grave of a maybe Viking. Grave of a Viking, Maybe

After we visited this site, I became more interested in the history of the grave and did a little further reading. I wish that I done the research before our visit. The markings to look for are on the back side of the headstone. Going back to photos I took, I was able to see their faint lines. But had I known what I was looking for, I would have been able to view the markings while I was there and get better photos. Earlier photos show that a plaque had been attached to the outside of the footstone. The plaque is no longer there, which no doubt accounts for the 4 round spots now left behind.

[Gary Epperson, 09/19/2011]
Maybe Viking grave. Viking Runestone

Another Viking Runestone has cropped up in Arkansas. It's a grave in the Fairview Cemetery in Van Buren. It's four stones propped up to form the walls of a rectangle. A fifth stone forming a roof over the other four has been removed. A couple of runes described as "connected double X's" were found on it. The cemetery itself was built around the mystery grave in 1846. A plaque says local legend holds this to be the grave of one of DeSoto's men, but in the 1970's runestone enthusiasts declared it to be a Viking grave.

[Russell T. Johnson, 10/26/1999]

MAy 2011: Photo added. Known locally as the "Mystery Grave," its boxy construction reminds us of another cryptic old tomb. Did this one belong to a 14th century Viking? A 16th century Spaniard? A 17th century Frenchman? Experts disagree...

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