The medieval corpus of Danish runic inscriptions includes a group of 12 cast censers, one of which has been lost. The censers have been dated to the middle of the thirteenth century on the basis of several different typological characteristics:
- art historical style typology
- rune typology
- linguistic typology (Old Danish and Latin)
- text typology
The texts provide information about the title of the master craftsman, his forename, byname and profession. In one of the inscriptions the master says he comes from the Danish town of Svendborg in south-eastern Fyn. The majority of the censers have been gathered in from village churches in the area to the north of Svendborg and this points to a specifically local production. A single censer, however, was found in Tjørme church in Norway. The level of education of the master is suggested partly by the continental features of the items, partly by the language of the inscriptions, and not least by their content.
In comparison with many other runic objects and their inscriptions, this group of censers is an exceptionally homogeneous group, demonstrating a number of the characteristics typically found in a medieval Danish runic inscription. This is also the reason why the censers are a favourite subject for illustration in publications dealing with the medieval period and/or medieval written literature.
I have earlier in the course of my ph.d.-studies worked on this same group of censers and carried out a number of primary investigations at the National Museum in Copenhagen and the Cultural-Historical Museum in Oslo. This work was intended to be a pilot-project but ended up by occupying a substantial part of my thesis from 2007. My treatment there clearly reveals that this was my first forage into runology and I received a good deal of criticism from the third official examiner at the public defence of the thesis in 2008. In the present paper I shall give a presentation of the censers from Fyn and discuss them in the light of my experiences with them hitherto. I shall take account of the earlier criticisms and emphasise some of the points that have not been made in the standard works and discus issues concerning both discovery, decipherment and documentation.