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Reinterpretation of the world's most famous rune stone

The smoke stone, perhaps one of the world's most famous Viking rune stones, carries a long and enigmatic, carved text and has now been given a new interpretation.
Researchers in text research, archeology, religious history and runology have collaborated on a multidisciplinary project and can now present a new interpretation of the runic inscription on the stone: It can be about light and darkness, worry and fear of a disaster related to the weather and climate.

The almost 4 m high Röksten was built south of the Tåkern son in Östergötland in the 8th century. The text on the stone has previously been translated to deal with war results and / or local existential issues.

The researchers now believe they have found 9 puzzles. In 5 of them the answer is the sun, 1 is about who was dead and who was still alive. The last 3 are about Odin and his warriors.

- The central theme is apparently the sun or the rhythm of light, says Prof. Per Holmberg, professor of Swedish at the University of Gothenburg and the leader of the study. He was assisted by Henrik Williams, professor of Nordic languages, Bo Gräslund, professor of archeology, and Olof Sundqvist, professor of religious history.

Concern for a new "fimbul winter"

About 300 years before Rökstenen was built, Scandinavia was hit by a climate catastrophe with reduced average temperature, misgrowth, starvation and mass death, according to new archaeological studies. It may have raised concerns about yet another "fimbul winter" (in Nordic mythology a 3-year-long winter that foretold Ragnarok, the doom of the world that lasted for centuries).

"It's a very complicated inscription"

Will we see more interpretations?

- Hopefully. It is a very complicated inscription, and at some points we are very uncertain. But in essence, we believe that we are pointing in the right direction, says Prof. Per Holmberg.

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