Sö 32 Skåäng

Sö 32 Skåäng

The Skåäng stone (KJ 85) is one of Sweden’s most remarkable rune stones with its brief inscription in the older futhark and its considerably longer Viking-Age inscription from the 11th century. The inscription with the Viking runes is known since 1830 while the older one was discovered during a visit by Hans Hildebrand in 1866. How the older inscription’s two names harija and leugaR may be read and interpreted has been discussed since Sophus Bugge 1887 publication (he examined the stone in 1885). The discussion still goes on. The reading is positive, but it is unclear how the character ᛡ after the first name and the symbol 7 after the second should be understood. The difference in time between the discovery around 1830 of the Viking Age inscription and Hildebrand´s find more than thirty years later, can be relevant to an understanding of the coming into being of the inscriptions on the Skåäng stone.

In 1962 an app. 20 cm long quartzitic Jotnian sandstone with an inscription in the older futhark was found when dismantling an iron stove from the 1870s (Carl Gustaf Blomberg) or 1920 or later (Elisabeth Svärdström) in a house in Strängnäs. The inscription reads from the right: …ril=aR ∙ wodinR. Due to the apparent freshness of the inscription and the unclear circumstances concerning the find there has been long‑lasting doubt about the authenticity of the inscription. Several recent geological and technical investigations indicate, however, that that the inscription most probably is authentic. If the inscription is a late fake, which Sven B.F. Jansson and Elisabeth Svärdström thought in the 1960s, the carver must have had a very good knowledge of runes and of North Germanic. Because of Jansson’s and Svärdström’s opinion the inscription was never published by them. The first part of the inscription can be interpreted as erilaR, a word that has been frequently discussed and is found in at least seven other inscriptions. The lexical morpheme of the second word is most probably *wōð– to which belong the u-stem, Old Norse óðr ’furious, obsessed’ but also ‘thought, poetry’, and the n-stem * wōðīn-‘ inclined/disposed to (divine?) obsession’ but also Old Norse Óðinn the name of the god Odin. A possible interpretation of the text is ‘the eril with disposition for (divine?) obsession’.

In 1993 a rune stone was found during an archaeological excavation of an outland site of the Middle Ages in Skramle, Gunnarskog, not far from the town Arvika in the province Värmland. The stone is a fine-grained, greyish gneiss with a distinct parallel structure. It exhibits obvious weathering damage and has several pits where the biotite has weathered away. Due to the damage it is difficult to read the text with the naked eye only, and because of that a laser scan of the entire inscription was made in 1996. The laser scan and computer treatment of the data by Jan Swantesson have been helpful for the safe (/reliable?) reading of the text: – – jþa…ah=arf̣arkano. The reading differs somewhat from earlier ones made by the Swedish Runverket and by Bengt Odenstedt. They studied the inscription without the aid of modern technical equipment. By comparison of the graphic form of the runes with other runic forms of inscriptions in the older futhark, the Skramle stone may perhaps be dated to the seventh century. It is almost impossible to interpret the first part of the inscription. Here the weathering is most severe. The second part can be a feminine n-stem or possibly a weak –ōn verb.

During the excavation in 2001 of a burial ground in Tomteboda near central Stockholm fragments of at least three pictorial stones in red quartzitic Jotnian sandstone were found. On one of the fragments one can read a short runic inscription e : ru The find of the rune inscribed fragment is the first instance of a picture stone with runes in the Swedish mainland. Technical analysis show that both ornamentation and runes have been carved at the same time by the same master. Other finds from the site indicate that the inscription can be dated to the seventh century. The very short text gives, of course, no ground for a safe interpretation. It might, however, be a part of the words wurte runoR ’made the runes’. Analysis of the fragments of the stones by the archaeologist John Hamilton showed that the runic picture stone was deliberately destroyed in the seventh century, when fragments of it were used to build a stone circle.

The four rune-inscribed stone monuments highlight various problems in the interpretation of runic inscriptions in the older futhark connected with the find circumstances.