The durability and longevity of the material of the Scandinavian runic memorial stones were considered important aspects of the monuments, as is occasionally attested in the inscription. Together with their size and weight, this can create the impression of static monuments. At the same time we know, however, that individual monuments were adapted and transformed, some more than others, and that the runestone tradition as whole changed over time.

This paper will explore the different kinds of changes runestones were subject to, from natural forces to human influences. There are of course many examples of memorials on which secondary inscriptions were carved, or that were re-used, relocated into a church context or museum environment, or subject to restoration, conservation or reconstruction practices. Also if runestones themselves have not been altered on purpose, their appearance and the spatial context are affected by weathering and changes in the landscape.

Runic monuments preserve a communicative act from the past, but at the same time they are continuously subject to change and changing surroundings as well to interactions with a changing public. Even efforts to reconstruct and preserve the original communicative act influence and add to the chain of meanings assigned to the runic monument. This prolonged, fluid and multilayered process influences the perception and decipherment of these monuments.