Pilgrimages played an important part in people’s religius life in the Middle Ages. The destination for these travels were sacred places like Rome, Jerusalem, Santiago de Compstela. The Scandinavian countries also offered more local alternatives for people who could not go that far, St. Olav’s grave in Nidaros being the most popular.
Pilgrimages are often mentioned in the literary sources. The abbot Niculás Bergsson compiled his pilgrim’s guide to Rome and Jerusalem, Leiðarvísir, in the middle of the 12th century. This was the first itinerarium for pilgrims composed in Scandinavia. Pilgimages are also mentioned saga literature and charters. In a charter from Oslo dated to “approx. 1300” Bård the craftsman refers to a division of his property that took place when he was in Jerusalem, meðan ek var til Jossala (DN III 45). Most of the literary sources, however, seem to imply that normally only the well situated could afford to undertake a pilgrimage to far off places.
There is a number of runic inscrptions that might refer to pilgrim activity. Where do we find these inscriptions? What do they tell? What kind of evidence can we infer from this material? Do they tell the same story as the literate sources or do they add supplementary information to the history of pilgrimages?