A runemaster or runecarver is a specialist in making runestones. More than 100 names of runemasters are known from Viking Age Sweden with most of them from 11th century eastern Svealand. Many anonymous runestones have less securely been attributed to these runemasters. During the 11th century, when most runestones were raised, there were a few professional runemasters, they and their apprentices were contracted to make runestones and when the work was finished, they sometimes signed the stone with the name of the runemaster. Many of the uncovered runic inscriptions have been completed by non-professional runecarvers for the practical purposes of burial rites or record-keeping. Due to the depictions of daily life, many of the nonprofessional runecarvers could have been anything from pirates to soldiers, merchants, or farmers; the layout of Scandinavian towns provided centers where craftspeople could congregate and share trade knowledge. After the spread of Christianity in these regions, the increase in runic literacy that followed, runes were used for record-keeping and found on things like weapons and coins.
Most early medieval Scandinavians were literate in runes, most people carved messages on pieces of bone and wood. However, it was difficult to make runestones, in order to master it one needed to be a stonemason; some attributions were given to runic "skalds", or poets, indicating that many of the runemasters were authors of skaldic poetry and oral tradition who had connection to royalty by way of documenting their deeds and offering counsel. A number of historians have theorized that there may be a connection between the word erulaR in the proto-Scandinavian priesthood and the old Norse title "jarl"; this suggests that it is possible that those who were versed in runic arts formed their own secular upper class of learned runemasters. This claim is corroborated by the geographical distribution of runestones throughout Eastern Norway, but there is not enough linguistic or philological evidence to support it. Whether or not a linguistic link can be made, however, it is that the runemasters in Norway during the Viking Age would have formed an upper class due to their portrayal in ruins as near the top of the social hierarchy but still subservient to the chieftain.
Towards the middle of the 11th century, the practice of carving runes that depict figures in Norse mythology decreased, instead traditional religious imagery began to hybridize with Christian imagery. This continued with the increasing prominence of runestones that accompanied the rise of Christianity. Runemasters began to document the indulgences offered by the Catholic Church in exchange for public works projects such as the construction of bridges and roads, a donation to a church, or the beginning of a pilgrimage. Many of the runic inscriptions carved during this time were done so "for the pleasure of God," or to insure the safe passage of one's soul. Runes were erected by long-distance explorers seeking to document their visits or memorialize their fallen comrades. Runecarvers on commission or on their own carved gravestones more than anything else. In addition, memorial runes could provide additional details about an individuals death with more accuracy than oral tradition. Additionally, based on the runic texts recovered, it appears that the families who raised runestones had as many as six sons, but only one to two daughters.
This is most due to the practice of female infanticide, common in Iceland during the introduction of Christianity. Notable runemasters of the 11th to early 12th centuries include: Åsmund Kåresson Balle Fot Frögärd i Ösby Gunnborga Halvdan Öpir Torgöt Fotsarve Ulf of Borresta Visäte
Lund 1 Runestone
The Lund 1 Runestone, designated as DR 314 in the Rundata catalog, is a Viking Age memorial runestone located on the grounds of the All Saints Church in Lund, Sweden. The Lund 1 Runestone is a granite stone pillar nearly four meters in height that has inscriptions carved on its four sides. There are runic inscriptions carved on sides A and B of the stone, images of two animals identified as wolves and a man's mask on side C, the mask of a lion face on side D; the runic inscriptions are classified as being carved in runestone style RAK, the classification of the oldest inscriptions. This is the runestone style classification of inscriptions where the ends of the text bands are straight and there are no attached serpent or animal heads; the inscription, which has a Danish Rundata catalog number because Scania was part of the historical Denmark during the Viking Age, is dated as being carved after the Jelling stones of Denmark. The two wolves on Side C are armed with a shield and sword strapped to their bodies.
The depiction of the wolves show a mane and pointed ears similar to that of the wolf on inscription DR 284 of the Hunnestad Monument and on the DR 271 in Tullstorp. The man's mask between the two wolves is similar to those depicted on two other runestones in Scania, inscriptions DR 258 in Bösarp and DR 335 in Västra Strö; the lion face mask on Side D is similar to that depicted on the inscription DR 66 from Denmark, known as the Århus 4 image stone or the Mask Stone. Other inscriptions with facial masks include DR 62 in Sjelle, DR 81 in Skern, the now-lost DR 286 in Hunnestad, Vg 106 in Lassegården, Sö 86 in Åby ägor, Sö 112 in Kolunda, Sö 167 in Landshammar, Sö 367 in Släbro, Nä 34 in Nasta, U 508 in Gillberga, U 670 in Rölunda, U 678 in Skokloster, U 824 in Örsundsbro, U 1034 in Tensta, U 1150 in Björklinge, on the Sjellebro Stone; the runic text states that the stone is a memorial raised by a man named Þorgísl in memory of his two brothers, Ólafr and Óttarr. The text refers to "stones" that were raised, so the original memorial consisted of at least one additional raised stone.
Ólafr and Óttarr are described as being landmennr góða, or "good landowners." A similar Old Norse phrase praising the deceased, landmanna beztr meaning "best of landholders," is present on the inscriptions on memorial runestones Sö 338 in Turinge and DR 133 in Skivum, Denmark. Landmennr is sometimes translated as "land-men." Some believe that the term land-men refers to a title, something higher than a simple free farmer, such as a rich farmer or squire, although there is dispute regarding this. The name of the father of the stones sponsor, Ásgeirr Bjôrn, has several name elements that were common at that time in Scandinavia. Ásgeirr means "Divine Spear" and contains a name element referring to the Æsir, the Norse pagan gods, while Bjôrn means "Bear." Þorgísl contains a god's name as an element and means "Thor's Hostage."The Lund 1 Runestone was discovered in the ruins of a monastery in 1682, where it had been re-used as material in the construction of that building. Before the historic significance of runestones was understood, they were used as materials in the construction of roads and buildings.
The stone was found broken at two locations, but in 1868 it was repaired and raised at the Lundagård. Since 1957 the runestone has been located outside of the library at the Lund University. Locally the runestone is referred to the Lundagårdsstenen. §A + þusgis ÷ biarnaʀ ÷ sunaʀ ÷ risþi ÷ sti ÷ tiʀ ÷ bruþr + §B + sino ÷ baþa ÷ ulaf ÷ uk ÷ utar ÷ lanmitr ÷ kuþa + §A Þorgísl, sonr Ásgeirs Bjarnar sonar, reisti steina þessa eptir brœðr §B sína báða, Ólaf ok Óttar, landmennr góða. §A Þorgísl, son of Ásgeirr Bjôrn's son, raised these stones in memory of both of his brothers, §B Ólafr and Óttarr, good landholders. Maskesten - Billedsten fra Vikingtiden - Arild Hauge webpage on mask stones Photograph of the inscription on side A - Swedish National Heritage Board Photograph of the mask on side D - Swedish National Heritage Board
Södermanland Runic Inscription 367
Södermanland Runic Inscription 367 or Sö 367 is the Rundata catalog designation for a Viking Age memorial runestone located in Släbro, one kilometer north of Nyköping, Södermanland County, in the historic province of Södermanland. The inscription has a facial mask and describes two men as being thegns and the owners of Sleðabrú, which today is modern day Släbro; this inscription consists of runic text in the younger futhark in three rows and in an arch around a facial mask. The runestone, made of gneiss and is 1.78 meters in height, is classified as being carved in runestone style RAK, considered to be the oldest classification. This is the classification for inscriptions that have straight text band ends without any attached serpent or beast heads; the facial mask on this stone is a common motif and is found on several other runestones including DR 62 in Sjelle, DR 66 in Århus, DR 81 in Skern, DR 258 in Bösarp, the now-lost DR 286 in Hunnestad, DR 314 in Lund, DR 335 in Västra Strö, Vg 106 in Lassegården, Sö 86 in Åby ägor, Sö 112 in Kolunda, Sö 167 in Landshammar, Nä 34 in Nasta, U 508 in Gillberga, U 670 in Rölunda, U 678 in Skokloster, U 824 in Holms, U 1034 in Tensta, U 1150 in Björklinge, on the Sjellebro Stone.
A small cross is at the bottom of the center line of text, it has been suggested that the facial mask represents Jesus Christ. Sö 367 was discovered broken in three pieces in a bathing area of the Nyköpingsån river near a farm in 1935, although it may have been noted in an earlier runestone survey conducted in the 1600s; this location was at an old crossing of this river, an important Viking Age waterway in Södermanland. The inscription on Sö 367 states that Hámundr and Ulfr raised the stone as a memorial to their father Hrólfr and were assisted by Hrólfr's spouse Eybjôrg; the text states that a man named Freysteinn were Þegns or thegns. The exact status of thegns in Scandinavia is unclear, although the term was borrowed from England, where it was used for royal or military retainers. Scandinavian thegns appear to have been powerful local landowners but it is unclear whether their status reflected royal sponsorship or power; the Old Norse phrase þrottaʀ þiagnaʀ or "þegns of strength" is written in a coded form using a combination of runes and cipher runes.
In addition, the word þrottaʀ uses a reverse-read bind rune that combines a þ-rune and an o-rune, although it has been suggested that this was due to an error in carving the runes. The phrase "Þegns of strength" is used on Sö Fv1948; the text uses a dotted form of the m-rune, considered to be a transitional form. The only other runestone in Södermanland that uses this form of an m-rune is Sö Fv1986. Hrólfr and Freysteinn are stated as being the owners of Sleðabrú, which today is Släbro; the name Sleðabrú when the runestone was discovered was described as coming from Slaiþa|Bru meaning "bridge for sleighs." However, it has been suggested that the first part of the name comes from the stem slaiðo which means "slowly gliding," and refers to the Nyköpingsån river. Sö 367 is known locally as the Släbrostenen. A second runestone, Sö 45, has been placed just south of Sö 367. Hamunr: ulfʀ raisþu: stain: þinsi: efti: hrulf: faþur: sin: ayburg: at: unir sin þaiʀ otu: by: slaiþa:bru + fraystain: hrulfʀ o=þrutoʀ þiakna Hamundr, Ulfʀ ræisþu stæin þennsi æftiʀ Hrolf, faður sinn, Øyborg at ver sinn.
Þæiʀ attu by Sleðabro, Frøystæinn, Hrolfʀ, þrottaʀ þiagnaʀ. Hámundr Ulfr raised this stone in memory of their father. Freysteinn Hrólfr, þegns of strength, they owned the estate of Sleðabrú. Photograph of Sö 367 in 1989 - Swedish National Heritage Board Photograph of Sö 367 and Sö 45 before the Nyköpingsån river - Swedish National Heritage Board Maskesten - Billedsten fra Vikingtiden - Arild Hauge webpage on mask stones
The Nasta Runestone, listed as Nä 34 in the Rundata catalog, is a Viking Age memorial runestone located in Nasta, 3 kilometers northwest of Glanshammar, Örebro County, in the historic province of Närke. The inscription on Nä 34 consists of runic text in the younger futhark within a runic text band that arches around the edge of the stone, a depiction of a beast and an intertwined serpent and a facial mask; the inscription on this granite stone, 2.25 meters in height, is classified as being carved in runestone style Pr3, known as Urnes style. This is the classification for runic bands with beast or serpent heads depicted in profile with almond shaped eyes; the question regarding the proper classification for Nä 34 is that the runic text band has no attached beast or serpent heads, but the depiction of the serpent and beast depicted have some characteristics typical of the Urnes style. The facial mask on this stone, just under the arch of the text band, is a common motif and is found on several other Scandinavian runestones including DR 62 in Sjelle, DR 66 in Århus, DR 81 in Skjern, DR 258 in Bösarp, the now-lost DR 286 in Hunnestad, DR 314 in Lund, DR 335 in Västra Strö, Vg 106 in Lassegården, Sö 86 in Åby ägor, Sö 112 in Kolunda, Sö 167 in Landshammar, Sö 367 in Släbro, U 508 in Gillberga, U 670 in Rölunda, U 678 in Skokloster, U 824 in Holms, U 1034 in Tensta, U 1150 in Björklinge, on the Sjellebro Stone.
The stone was noted as being on a pile of rocks during the initial survey of Swedish runestones in the 1600s by Johannes Bureus. As it was near a main road, the stone was raised in 1672 by Johan Hadorph for the Eriksgata of king Charles XI, it was noted that local people in the 1700s sometimes bit the stone as a cure for toothaches and left pins or nails on the stone as offerings for good crops. In 1952 the stone was moved six meters from the south side to the north side of the road; the runic text states that the stone was raised as a memorial by a woman named Þórheiðr for her son named Lyðbjôrn, described in Old Norse as being nytan, a rare word, translated as "capable" but may mean "bright and cheerful." The text is worn and was somewhat damaged in the 1840s when a farmer attempted to "improve" the inscription. The stone is known locally as the Nastastenen or, since it is the only runestone in the Rinkaby synod, as the Rinkabystenen.: þureiþ: lit: raisa: stein: eftir: lyþbyurn: sun sin: nutan: Þorhæiðr let ræisa stæin æftiʀ Lyðbiorn, sun sinn nytan.
Þórheiðr had the stone raised in memory of her capable son. Photograph in 1995 - Swedish National Heritage Board
The Sjellebro Stone is a Viking Age image stone located at Sjellbro, about 12 kilometers southeast of Randers, Denmark. The stone is inscribed with a facial mask; the Sjellbro Stone features the facial mask of a man. Similar to other image stones, today it is difficult to determine the meaning of the inscription; the facial mask on this granite stone is a common motif and is found on several Scandinavian runestones including DR 62 in Sjelle, DR 66 in Århus, DR 81 in Skern, DR 258 in Bösarp, the now-lost DR 286 in Hunnestad, DR 314 in Lund, DR 335 in Västra Strö, Vg 106 in Lassegården, Sö 86 in Åby ägor, Sö 112 in Kolunda, Sö 167 in Landshammar, Sö 367 in Släbro, Nä 34 in Nasta, U 508 in Gillberga, U 670 in Rölunda, U 678 in Skokloster, U 824 in Holms, U 1034 in Tensta, U 1150 in Björklinge. Of these mask stones, the Sjellebro Stone is the only one without any runic inscription; the Sjellebro Stone was discovered in 1951 lying with its inscription side down. It is located near; the inscription is dated as having been carved between 850-1050 C.
E. based on the style of the mask, classified as being in the Mammen style. The stone is known locally as the Sjellebrostenen; the stone has been listed in catalogs as either DK MJy 69 or DR EM1985. Maskesten - Billedsten fra Vikingtiden - Arild Hauge page on mask stones
The Hunnestad Monument, listed as DR 282 through 286 in the Rundata catalog, was once located at Hunnestad in Marsvinsholm north-west of Ystad, Sweden. It was the largest and most famous of the Viking Age monuments in Scania, in Denmark, only comparable to the Jelling stones; the monument was destroyed during the end of the 18th century by Eric Ruuth of Marsvinsholm between 1782 and 1786 when the estate was undergoing sweeping modernization, though the monument survived long enough to be documented and depicted. When the antiquary Ole Worm explored the monument, it consisted of eight stones. Five of them were image stones, two of those image stones had runic inscriptions. In the eighteenth century, all the stones were destroyed. Only three of the stones from the monument remain today and are on display at the Kulturen museum in Lund; the first runestone was raised by Ásbjörn and Tumi in memory of Tumi's two brothers, whereas the last one was raised by Ásbjörn in memory of Tumi. The oldest of the two runestones depicts a large man dressed in a pointed helmet.
The man, who carries an axe on his right shoulder, is a member of the Varangian guard. Latin transliteration: × osburn × u × tumi × þaiʀ × sautu × stain × þansi × aiʀ × rui × auk × ¶ laikfruþ × sunu × kuna × hanaʀ ×Old Norse transcription: Æsbiorn ok Tomi þeʀ sattu sten þænsi æftiʀ Roi ok Lekfrøþ, sunu Gunna Handaʀ. English translation: Ásbjôrn and Tumi they placed this stone in memory of Hróir and Leikfrøðr, Gunni Hand's sons; the second runestone was raised by Ásbjörn after Tumi. Latin transliteration: × osburn × snti × stain × þansi × aftiʀ × tuma × sun × kuna × ¶ hantaʀ ×Old Norse transcription: Æsbiorn satti sten þænsi æftiʀ Toma, sun Gunna Handaʀ. English translation: Ásbjôrn placed this stone in memory of Tumi, Gunni Hand's son; the three image stones, without any rune inscription, show three illustrations of a huge animal. One of them, DR 284, shows an animal ridden by a woman, she appears to be the wolf-riding giantess Hyrrokkin who helped the Æsir push Balder's ship into the sea during his funeral, thus she would be an appropriate image for a funerary monument.
The wolf has a mane and pointed ears similar to the depiction of the wolf on the Tullstorp Runestone and the two wolves on the Lund 1 Runestone. The second image stone, as depicted on Ole Worm's illustration, shows the animal beside a man's mask and the third image stone shows the animal alone. Djuret, an article in PDF format at the site of the Foteviken Museum, retrieved January 20, 2007. Runstensmonument från 1000-talet, Hunnestad säteri och by i Ljunits härad i Malmöhus län. Two pictures of what remains of the two runestones. A picture of the luckily well-preserved Hyrrokkin image stone
Uppland Runic Inscription 824
Uppland Runic Inscription 824 is the Rundata catalog number for a Viking Age memorial runestone located at Holms, about eight kilometers east of Örsundsbro, Uppsala County, in the historic province of Uppland. The inscription features a bind rune in the text; this inscription consists of runic text carved on a serpent, intertwined with and encircles other serpents. The inscription is classified as being carved in either runestone style Pr3 or Pr4, both of which are considered to be Urnes style; this runestone style is characterized by slim and stylized animals that are interwoven into tight patterns. The animal heads are seen in profile with slender almond-shaped eyes and upwardly curled appendages on the noses and the necks. At the top of the inscription but within the outer serpent is a mask of a man's face; this is a common motif and is found on several other runestones including DR 62 in Sjelle, DR 66 in Århus, DR 81 in Skern, DR 258 in Bösarp, the now-lost DR 286 in Hunnestad, DR 314 in Lund, DR 335 in Västra Strö, Vg 106 in Lassegården, Sö 86 in Åby ägor, Sö 112 in Kolunda, Sö 167 in Landshammar, Sö 367 in Släbro, Nä 34 in Nasta, U 508 in Gillberga, U 670 in Rölunda, U 678 in Skokloster, U 1034 in Tensta, U 1150 in Björklinge, on the Sjellebro Stone.
The runic text on this stone, 2.2 meters in height, is in the younger futhark. Although damaged, it states that it was raised by two brothers named Jógeirr and Áfríðr as a memorial to Hróðelfr; the text is signed by the runemaster Åsmund Kåresson on a separate text band at the bottom of the inscription. Åsmund was active in the first half of the 11th century. He is signed about twenty of the surviving runestones. Other surviving runestones that are signed by Åsmund include U 301 in Skånela, the now-lost U 346 in Frösunda, U 356 in Ängby, the now-lost U 368 in Helgåby, U 847 in Västeråker, U 859 in Måsta, U 871 in Ölsta, U 884 in Ingla, U 932 at Uppsala Cathedral, U 956 in Vedyxa, U 969 in Bolsta, the now-lost U 986 in Kungsgården, U 998 in Skällerö, U 1142 in Åbyggeby, U 1144 in Tierp, U 1149 in Fleräng, U Fv1986; the text contains a bind rune that combines the final u-rune of the word litu with the initial r-rune of the word rita, but it has been suggested that this was done as a result of an error in carving the runes.
The text in two locations follows the rule that two consecutive identical letters are represented by a single rune when the two identical letters are at the end of one word and the start of a second word. When the text shown as Latin characters, the transliterated runes are doubled and separate words are shown; this inscription uses one a-rune in the runes þinabtiʀ, transliterated as the words þina| |abtiʀ, in the runemaster's signature, osmuntritsi, an additional r-rune is added in the transliteration to form the words osmuntr| |ritsi. Åsmund signed his name in this same manner on two other inscriptions, U 1142 and U 1144. Iukiʀ auk * ifriþr * litu= =rita stian þina| |abtiʀ bruþur * rhuþilfaʀ * i u-bhrki osmuntr| |ritsi runaʀ Iogæiʀʀ ok Afriðr letu retta stæin þenna æftiʀ broður Hroðælfaʀ i < u-r>bergi. Asmundr risti runaʀ. Jógeirr and Áfríðr had this stone erected in memory of Hróðelfr of... -bergi's brother. Ásmundr carved the runes. Maskesten - Billedsten fra Vikingtiden - Arild Hauge webpage on mask stones