One of the most recent additions to the on-line catalogue of the Museum of National Antiquities in Stockholm is deliciously enigmatic. It’s a little sandstone tablet (SHM 18011:100) measuring 73 by 60 mm, covered on both sides with vaguely script-like and architectonic graffitti. The edges are neatly notched, prompting a museum curator to suggest in the inventory notes that the tablet may have been intended as a yarn spool, nystvända. But no-one really knows.
The tablet was found by Sigurd Curman’s team in 1919 during excavations among the ruins of the nunnery of Vreta in Östergötland. The find spot was in the south-west corner of the nunnery’s smaller quad. Vreta is within sight of my late-1st Millennium site in Kaga parish. A Benedictine nunnery was founded there c. AD 1110 as Sweden’s first documented monastic institution. In 1162 it was handed over to the Cistercian order, and remained so until the Reformation. The last documentary mention of nuns at Vreta dates from 1562.
My buddy Göran Tagesson has recently re-opened excavations at Vreta to study something that may have been a baptisterium, an subterranean baptismal pool. Check his site out!