Category Archives: Runes

Going places

A constant in life is that time is passing – at present the days seems to go with the speed of light. Since a week back I’m part of the excavating crew at the E22 in Blekinge, in the south part of Sweden, still employed by Kalmar County museum. The excavation concerns several areas, among them several Mesolithic settlements and activity sites, and some later Stone Age burials, Iron Age burial sites etc., etc. Lots of exciting stuff – though this post is not about that.

This has though meant that I transferred my living quarters to Sölvesborg – a new town means new things to see – among them are two rune stones. One is placed inside S:t Nicholai church in Sölvesborg. the oldest parts are from the 13th century. Inside the church are several interesting paintings from the 15th cen

  

Back to the rune stones. Its not everyday you see rune stones from the 6th – 8th century, e.g. rune stones with runes from the older futhark, and fewer still that you see two.

Just outside the church is the rune stone DR 356 (Sölvesborg 18:1).

The inscription on the stone in the church is:

Orti Vað[i] [ept] Ásmund, son sinn.

English translation should read some like; Vaði wrought (in memory of ) Ásmundr, his son.

The other rune stone, DR 357 (Sölvesborg 18:2) is placed inside the church and has been moved to Sölvedborg from Gammeltofta parish and is called the Stentofta rune stone.

<niuha>borumz <niuha>gestumz Haþuwulfz gaf j[ar], Hariwulfz … … haidiz runono, felh eka hedra, niu habrumz, niu hangistumz Haþuwulfz gaf j[ar], Hariwulfz … … haidiz runono, felh eka hedra, ginnurunoz. Hermalausaz argiu, Weladauþs, sa þat, briutiþ.

English translation: (To the) <niuha>dwellers (and) <niuha>guests Haþuwulfar gave ful year, Hariwulfar … … I, master of the runes(?) conceal here nine bucks, nine stallions, Haþuwulfar gave fruitful year, Hariwulfar …

I’ll try to take a few hikes and see some more ancient monuments in Bleking the coming weeks, my current employment last till the end of September so its also time to look for new employments – I’ve been on a couple of interviews the last weeks so its possible that its soon time for a new move.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Advertisements

The Karlevi rune stone, Vickleby parish, Öland (Öl 1)

I promised to get back to you with some further information on the Karlevi rune stone.

It is placed on the island Öland in Vickleby parish and has the signum Öl 1. The inscription is dated to ca 1000 AD. Part of the inscription on the Karlevi rune stone is written in dróttkætt, an Iron Age metre. It is the only rune stone with a complete dróttkætt on it. The name in itself is interesting; drótt is a collective word that can be translated into; a chieftain or someone who had sworn retainers. In other words dróttkætt could be translated into a verse or metre suitable for a chieftain or court of sort. It includes two  kenningar, a kenning is a euphemism for something, often euphemistically.

The inscription1:

s-a… –(s)- i(a)s * satr * aiftir * si(b)(a) * kutha * sun * fultars * in hons ** lithi * sati * at * u * -ausa-th-… +: fulkin : likr : hins : fulkthu : flaistr (:)* uisi * that * maistar * taithir : tulka * thruthar : traukr : i : thaimsi * huki * munat : raith:uithur : ratha : ruk:starkr * i * tanmarku : –ntils : iarmun**kruntar : urkrontari : lonti

Inscription in latin letters:  IN NONIN-  +HE… …

The first strophe is quite ordinary: “This stone is set up in memory of…” The second strophe goes as follows:

Folginn liggr hinn’s fylgðu

(flestr vissi Þat) mestar

Dáðir dolga Þrúdar

Draugr í Þeimsi haugi

Mun-at reið-Viðurr ráda

Rógstarkr í Danmǫrku

Endils iǫrmungrundar

Ørgrandari landi

Translation into English:

This stone is set up in memory of Sibbi Gódhi/Godhi, son of Foldarr, and his retinue set on … Hidden lies the one whom followed (most know that) the greatest deeds, Thrud’s warrior of battles, in this mound. Never will a more honest, hard-fighting ‘wagon-Vidhurr’ upon Endill’s expanses rule the land in Denmark. [This stone is placed in memory of Sibbi the good, Fuldarr’s son, and his retinue placed on … … He lies concealed, he who was followed by the greatest deeds (most men knew that), a chieftain (battle-tree of [the Goddess] Thrúdhr) in this howe; Never again shall such a battle-hardened sea-warrior (Vidhurr-of-the-Carriage of [the Sea-king] Endill’s mighty dominion ( = God of the vessels of the the sea) ), rule unsurpassed over land in Denmark.]  In latin letters: In the name of Jesus(?) …

The stone was erected for the chieftain Sibbe, Foldar’s son, on the stone he is called dólga Þrúdar draugur; the last word draugur is a well known kenning for ‘warrior, doer, performer of battles’, dólg means ‘hostility, strife, battle’ and Þrúdar is the name of one of Thor’s daughters, a goddess in norse mythology. According to Sven B.F. Jansson2 the translation should be something like; executor, performer of the goddess in battle or warrior, warlord.

Another interesting passage in the runic text is the word another kenning, devided into two strophes: reið-Viðurr + Endils iǫrmungrund. Endill is the name of a Sea-king, iǫrmungrund ‘mighty ground’, reið means ‘a wagon (chariot)’ and Viðurr is another name for the god Odin. This could be interpreted as; The God of ships (wagons of the sea) is the Sea-King (or warrior), according to Klaus Düwel3 – in this case Sibbe might be seen as the Sea King or perhaps that he sails with the sea-King or is with Odin. The word iǫrmungrund is also interesting as it appears in Beowulf and Grimnismál as well which puts it in a larger geographical context than just Öland as do the mentioning of Denmark.

The latin inscription is also interesting:  IN NONIN-  +HE… … It has been interpreted as In the name of Jesus(?) … … So the inscription is also part of a Christian context both regarding the letters and religion.

Magnus Reuterdahl

More information:

  1. The runic database Samnordisk runtextdatabas
  2. Jansson, Sven B.F. 1997. Runes in Sweden.
  3. Düwel, Klaus 2001. Runenkunde, dritte Auflage.r, troligen naturligt.

Kumlaby church at the island Visingsö

Last week I visited Visingsö, an island in Lake Vättern; it is an island with plenty of ancient remains and cultural heritage. If you happen to be in the vicinity it’s well worth a visit.

I’ve written about Visingsö here before so I thought I should show a few things that are easy to miss out on.

Just south of Kumlaby church is Visingsö folk high school and Visingsö Museum. The museum is situated in a building from 1633 built as a courthouse by count Per Brahe the younger (1602-1680). In 1680 it had lost its use as a courthouse and became the “new” school house for or the school Per Brahe established on Visingsö in 1636, it had previously been housed in Kumblaby church. In 1816 the school was moved to Jonkoping and is today known as Per Brahe high school. Today it houses a small museum. The collection isn’t big but relevant and hold finds and keys to the islands history, from the Stone Age and fourth. Within the museum two of four known rune stones from Visingsö are walled in (one is long since lost and the fourth at Jonkoping County Museum). It’s well worth a stop while you’re on the island.

A few pictures from the museum.

Rune stone SM 124

Inscription: : iskil : auk : kuna : (l)agþu : setn : …n : bunta sin : kuþ halb : se(l)u has :

Translated to English: Áskell and Gunna laid the stone … their husbandman. May God help his soul.

Rune stone SM 125

inscription: …n × lit : kaura : stain : þinsi ×: aftir : fiul:muþ : …

Translated to English: … had this stone made in memory of Fjôlmóðr ..

At the graveyard by the Brahe church, aka Ströja church (Per Brahe the Younger demolished most of the medieval Ströja church in the 1600s and built the Brahe church, the only remaining part of the medieval church is the tower), this piece of a stone cist, of Eskilstuna type, with ornamentations was found in 1988. These kinds of stone cists, or remain of them, are unusual and found around some medieval churches. These monuments are normally dated to the 11th or 12th century and may indicate an older church than the Ströja at the spot. Ströja church was built during the 12th century. On this some the colours are intact.

A model of Visingsborg castle, as it once looked. Today the ruin can be seen from the harbour, and is open for visits. As you will notice, if you visit only ruins, there are only ruins of the southern part of the castle, the west wing and the north wing have long since gone – but the ruin is impressive none the less.

The original school house was Kumlaby church. The church itself was probably built during the 12th century and is open for visitors during the summer for a small fee, you’re also allowed up in the tower to watch the view. Until 1811 the school used the church building at least occasionally but after 1811 it became a deserted church left to the forces of nature. During its use as a school the building went through some rather big changes: The entrances on the south side of the tower and the nave was walled up and a portal to the west was raised, the medieval windows of the naves north and south walls were also walled up and square windows were raised. The paintings on the inner walls and roof were covered by lime. The spire was removed and a patio made for astronomical observations. Though used as a school the burial ground was still in use until 1893, though not frequently, when a new burial ground was landscaped at Brahe church, by the harbour, on the island.

From1876-1884 the decay was temporary stopped as the church was being used as a missionary. Between 1884-1922 it was once again left to the forces of nature.

In 1922 a renovation was started, in the church the paintings from the 15th century was uncovered, some of the 17th century paintings have been kept. The work restoration is described in J.M. Danielssons book Kunlaby kyrka och kyrkogård på Visingsö 1929. (Kumlaby church and graveyard at Visingsö).

The paintings within the church and the hike up the tower are interesting but I believe there at least as interesting things that can be seen outside the church. Just under the roof of the north and south side of the nave, in the east end, one can see carved ornaments in the form of leaves and animal ornamentation. Another interesting detail is at the southern portal, made of sandstone, which has a zigzag ornamentation which indicates a probable influence from the west, from England. Furthermore, there are two clear stonemason brands in the portal. Walking around the churchyard I’m also struck by how well-preserved the gravestones are.

These are just a few of the things there are to keep an eye out for; I’ll probably come back to Visingsö again.

Magnus Reuterdahl


A rune stone in need of TLC

When I was in Västergötland a few weeks ago I passed this rune stone (Vg 195, Tranemo 3:1). As it stands, without a information sign, it needs to be repainted. Aaccording to the National Heritage database of ancient monuments (FMIS) it was last done in 1979 – if so the paint has lasted well, but it’s beginning to be difficult to read the runes not only due to the lack of paint but also due to weathering. Repainting is not always the best solution as it in some cases it seems to have hasted the decline of the stone surface, and painted runes is not in itself necessary for the understanding of  the monument. In most cases I believe that an information sign, if good, is better. It can help to give a context for the monument – why was it made? Who made it? Who could read or write runes? What does the runes say?  How it can be interpreted etc.

Behind the rune stone is a small piece that seems to have been chipped off. According to the text in FMIS this has probably been done before the stone was made into a rune stone. I would rather guess that it’s been done during the process of making the rune stone as I don’t believe that the stone stood on that spot on beforehand but rather has been placed at that spot. If the chip was accidental or on purpose is on the other hand another question.

The inscription should be as follows, translated into English; “Assur placed this stone after (in memory of) Anunde, his brother”, the inscription is formed around a cross.

According to the Nordic rune text database the transcription is (was); asur * sati * stin * þani * anuta * bruþur * si

Part of the inscription is no longer readable due to damages, as fas as my transcription goes these runes a readable today;…asu…  …(a)ni* iftiR * anuta * bruþur * si.

In other words this rune stone is in need of some TLC.

Magnus Reuterdahl


Summer vacation 2009 part 2

I’ll continue with one church and two rune stones;

Lohärads kyrka

At Loharads (Lohärads) church is U567. The oldest parts of the church are from the 13th century, it has been added to several times until it got its present looks during the 19th century. Within the church paintings from the late medieval times have been found and restored, sadly the church was looked so I have no pictures of these.

 U 567

The inscription on U 567 is, translated to English; Anund and Sven (?) and Ærnjjorn and Hægvid(?). Neither the runes nor the ornaments aren’t all that skilfully made, the inscription only holding names indicates that there might have been another stone.

 Lohärad kyrkas klockstapel

The bell tower is a bit odd and placed ca 150 m SW of the church next to a crossing of roads.

The next rune stone is U 573 at Kragsta.

U 573

Today it is very difficult to read as it is worn and it needs a new paint job. The inscription is interesting as it is a variant of a Germanic name giving principle where a part of the fathers name is a part of the sons name, it reads (translated to English); Alvgaut and Vigdjarf had this stone raised in memory of their father Vigi.

Magnus Reuterdahl


Summer vacation 2009 part 1

The last few days I’ve been on the road, as it’s me that means I’ve stopped at rune stones, churches and ancient remains. Yesterday we went NNW of Stockholm to Roslagen and Uppland and today we went through Sodermanland, Ostergotland to the northern parts of Smaland Counties. 

Karls kyrkoruin 1

Stop one, day one; the church ruin of Karl’s church ruin (Karls kyrkoruin) in Söderby-Karl parish (Raa 212:1).

Karls kyrkoruin 4

Karls kyrkoruin 3

Karls kyrkoruin 2

The church dates back to the 13th century. The oldest mention of the church is from 1287 ” Ecclesijs meis parrochialibus ….. Karlungskirkiu 1287”. It is a very nice ruin but there are no information signs at all except from the road sign.

Karls kyrkoruin skylt

An odd thing is the well in the NW part of the church. It’s ca 3-4 m deep and only protected by a tree lid (no warning signs). I’ve never seen a well inside of a church before. I guess this it’s not unique but it can’t be that usual as I’ve visited more than a few during the last decade and I can’t remember another one. In the well finds of medieval coins and a war hammer has been made and according to national registry of ancient monuments (FMIS) a cranium belonging to an adult woman has also been found in the well or just by it.

Karls kyrkoruin brunn 1

Karls kyrkoruin brunn 2

In the old entrance to the church are several fragments of one or more rune stones (U 583). In Samnordiskruntextdatabas only one fragment is mentioned. According to FMIS there should be two fragments. I saw at least three possibly four. Fragment 1-3 seems to belong to the same stone and the fourth, that I am not possibly sure has runes on it though I got that feel when on location –though on the photo I can’t identify any, are from another stone, if it is a rune stone.

U 583 Fragment 1

U 583 Fragment 1

 

U 583 Fragment 2
U 583 Fragment 2
U 583 (?) Fragment 3
U 583 (?) Fragment 3
Fragment 4 (runes or marks?)
Fragment 4 (runes or marks?)

In the entrance is also a rock with cup marks (not mentioned in FMIS)

Karls kyrkoruin skågropar

More information about the church is available at Stockholm County museum webpage (in Swedish) and FMIS (also in Swedish). 

Magnus Reuterdahl


IARNSTORB

Järstorps kyrka

Yesterday I visited Jarstorp (Järstorp) church just outside Jonkoping to take a picture of a small runic inscription on one of the foundation stones at the NW corner of the ship on the outside. The church is not medieval but it stands on a medieval base.

 SM 119 M Runic

The inscription is IARNSTORB (SM 119 M) which is the place name and parish name of the Church; it’s covered by a steel plate.

 SM 119 M Runic_2

Jarstorp church is also a good example of how to make modern additions to a church, a ramp for wheelchairs has been added, this blend well into the church building. I think it is important to show good examples and I think this is a good example that function, architectonical elements and cultural values can work together.

Järstorps kyrka ramp

Järstorps kyrka ramp2

Magnus Reuterdahl


I am open to suggestions!

As it looks now; the coming Monday will be the start of my last month in Norrbotten County, at least for this time.  So in about a month I will be back in Stockholm – this has both pros and cons, it will be nice to come home but I will miss colleagues, work and newly acquired friends.

So it is high time to start job hunting. Luckily there are some openings, a few museums are looking for staff for the upcoming season and a couple of substitutes and also there are a few ads regarding employment at a couple of County Administrative Boards and at an archaeological entrepreneur.

This also means that it is time to update my CV and write something smart about myself. I’ve begun to contacting a few selected museums, archaeological entrepreneurs and County Administrative Boards that I would like to be associated with or work with.

This time around I’ve also turned to the international market and applied for a job at Museum of London; which could be very exacting.

In other words, I am open to suggestions! (Preferably regarding archeology or osteology).

Well I’ve got a month left of employment so I’ll know what to with my time, and luckly I also got a few days of vacation to use before March 31st; This will be used for among other things a trip to Thessaloniki in Greece at the end of the month.

Magnus Reuterdahl


Joy to the world (or at least to those who love runes)

Updated (2009-02-04) see red text and yet another update in green (2009-02-05)!

Good news from the National Heritage Board of (RAA) in Sweden; Runverket (The Rune agency) will get 2 trainees (link in Swedish). The posts are for five years and are open to those with a PhD in Scandinavian languages with a historic profile or a similar education. The aim is to develop new and deeper knowledge of runic writing, research rune stone makers, to do research on management and preservation, the climates impact etc.

Rune stone U 708
Rune stone U 708

These employments are possible by funds from Riksbankens jubileumsfond (the Bank of Sweden) and the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities.

I think this decision is one of the best news this year, so far, and I will salute it with a beer tonight (or I might just make a bridge to commemorate this decision).

I’d missed one thing; it is not two five-year openings but one for three years and one for two years.

My friend and colleague Johan from arkeologiforum.se informes me that it is 2 x 5 yrs after all; after the first two years there will an evaluation and if it falls out well then it will be another three years added. The more the merrier!

 

I’ve also been thinking about the term trainee;

In this case you’ll need a PhD to be qualified for the job. I personally connect the term trainee with something on a lesser level as a beginner or a novice. As I interpret the term trainee it is someone that is taught the trade from the inside, in this case I don’t feel that’s the case. Here RAA wants researchers to do research. Now learning and research is a lifelong process but when does the education stop and the work begin? To spend four years on post graduate program, getting a PhD and then get the title trainee feels a bit incapacitating in my view why not just call it a project employment or time limited employment as a runeologist.

Maybe I am in the wrong here; I’ll linger on it a bit longer and ponder over it for a while. Please leave a comment on your thoughts on this.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m still very pleased that Runverket gets more resources.

Magnus Reuterdahl


Three medieval churches, two rune stones and a mound.

I haven’t been lazy I just haven’t had access to the internet the last few days. I arrived in Luleå late Sunday night after a 10 hour drive and has since been working on an excavation, more on that later on. Consequently I will publish three post today of which this is the first.

Saturday I spent in Linköping with my fiancée, we took a drive in the countryside to watch some churches and rune stones, and we scored gold.

Our first stop was Ledberg church, the church is built during the 19th century on the place where the medieval one once stood. So the church itself isn’t all that interesting but ca 100 meter south of the church is a great mound called Ledbergs kulle (hill). The mound is the biggest one in Östergötland and it is probably built during the Iron Age (ca 800-1050 AD) but might be as old as from the 6th century AD.

As you can see the top is a bit flat, as one climbs the mound one can see a small fördjupning at the top and of course the great view.

At the information sign I learned that there was a rune stone by the church at the cemetery. I have to say that the lack of information signs showing where there are rune stones in Östergötland are really crappy. At several stones there is nothing that gives it away, here it is mentioned on a information sign regarding another monument, and this rune stone, Ög 181, is a real gem with carvings (images) from the Old Norse mythology.

The runic inscription on the front is as follows; (b)isi : sati : st(n) : þ(a)s(i) : iftiR : þurkut : u—–þ- : faþu(r)

Translated into English; Bisi placed this stone in memory of Þorgautr … his father.

 

The runic inscription on the front is as follows; : sin : uk : þu : kuna : baþi : þmk:iii:sss:ttt:iii:l(l)l

Translated into English; And Gunna, both. Thistle, mistletoe, casket. The last part has been interpreted as a spell or curse.

The pictures have been interpreted as images from the story of Ragnarök. On the backside is an image of Fenrisulven, the brother of Midgårdsormen, biting Odin in his foot.

At this sign I would expect an information sign with a bit more information than is available today, there information is very basic and only in Swedish, this one deserves more.

After this visit we went on to Björkeberg church, a very pretty church with a lovely small absid.

A thought that ran trough my head was that the small kor and the absid have the size of a stave church and that this possibly was the first Romanesque church and that the ship was built later on. At this point another negative comment; I miss information signs about the medieval churches in Östergötland like the ones in for example Kronobergs County.

 

At the doorstep of one to the small door to the sacristy an old grave stone has been reused a gotten a new function. The church was not open for visitors so we couldn’t see the inside.

The next and last stop was another gem; Kaga church and it was open for visitors. The oldest parts of Kaga church are from the 12th century, this includes the tower and the main building. The south entrance room was added in the 17th century and the sacristy in the 18th century.

A walled in rune stone, Ög 103, can be found in one of the outer walls. There’s no road pointer for this one either. Another rune stone has been found here but is now placed in the public library at Linköping.

The runic inscription on the front is as follows; tufi : raisti : stain : þinsi * iftiR : liþbufa * faþur * sin *

Translated into English; Tófi raised this stone in memory of Lið-Bófi, his father.

Well inside the church we was amazed by the beautiful paintings and relics. The southern entrance door is from the 12th century and one of the oldest in Östergötland.

A lion holding a man in his mouth, it has probably been part of the original south gate.

The paintings visible in the church are from the 15th century. There are also paintings from the 12th century but these can only be seen from the church vind. That’ll be for another time.

 

In conclusion a great day with great stops, in Östergötland county is lots and lots to see for those who are interested but the lack road pointers probably makes many miss them and the lack of good information signs at the sites is a loss for those who happens to stop at them.

Magnus Reuterdahl


%d bloggers like this: