Kalv’s Runestone


Driving through Hagby parish in Uppland on a tiny road Friday, I was lucky enough to cross the bridge at Focksta right at the moment when the afternoon sun hit this lovely runestone straight on. I didn’t even have to get out of the car to take the photograph.

Dating from the early 11th century, the stone is an unsigned work of Åsmund Kåresson (U 875). It’s unusual in that it has a couple of Bronze Age cupmarks too. The inscription reads, “Tyrvi and Ingegärd and Tjälve had this stone erected after Kalv, Tyrvi’s husband. May God and God’s mother help his spirit.”

Note the cross and the prayer. Did you know that a huge majority of the runic inscriptions date from after the Christianisation of Scandinavia? The neo-Pagans should do their scrying in Roman capitals instead.


  1. #1 Steven Blowney
    July 12, 2011

    Nice photograph. Thank you for posting it. Yes, I did know that a great many runestones were erected by Christians and had Christian messages on it. When confronted by neo-Pagans and other interested folks, I usually recommend Birgit Sawyer’s book.

    Yet what is interesting to me is the picture–not the runic text (please pardon the phrase). While I’m willing to acknowledge the importance of the text, I’ve not really encountered many folks discussing the picture. Then again, I’ve not really studied that in any depth.

  2. #2 Nariane
    July 12, 2011

    Beautiful photo!

  3. #3 Deborah
    July 12, 2011

    Also, how syncretistic was early christianity in the north anyway? It’s a bit of a blurred line.

  4. #4 Martin R
    July 12, 2011

    Scandy paganism was highly synchretist long before the Viking Period, to the extent that some motifs in the mythology can easily be traced back to the Bible. But Christianity demanded exclusivity, and Scandies knew this when conversion started.

  5. #5 Thomas Ivarsson
    July 13, 2011

    I can see clearly that this is another astrological measure device – NOT

  6. #6 Birger Johansson
    July 17, 2011

    Thomas, all the rune stones were obviously inspired by an oral tradition describing mysterious Black Monoliths from space 🙂

  7. #7 John
    August 6, 2011

    As an offshoot of our historicgraves.ie project we have come across the Rathdown Stones (http://www.askaboutireland.ie/reading-room/environment-geography/physical-landscape/man-and-the-landscape-in/stones-and-slabs/). These are probably 10th Century Hiberno-Norse gravestones.

    Is this the Sawyer book mentioned above? http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2620000-the-viking-age-rune-stones

    (must now go away and look up synchretism)

  8. #8 John
    August 6, 2011

    I presume there are quite advanced methods for recording runestones and other forms of rock art. In community archaeology workshops we mostly use paper rubbings (sponge and carbon paper) as the least impact method. We also teach powder application https://plus.google.com/photos/117379984642719845165/albums/5637472608299310225 but prefer to ‘play with’ light.

    I wonder Martin, could you or your readers point us at some methods for recording stone carvings which might be of use in historic graveyards?

  9. #9 Martin R
    August 7, 2011

    I’ve never worked with carved stone myself. But I know Sweden’s best rock art surveyors. They use oblique lighting and chalk powder mixed with water, then full-scale tracing on transparent plastic film, which they then scan into a computer and trace yet again.

  10. #10 John
    August 9, 2011

    Thank you Martin! Is there a particular type of plastic film used? Is there a brand name and dimensions available?

    Seems there should be an opportunity to formally share field techniques across EU countries. Sounds like a ‘fundable’ idea to me.

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