Researchers excavate mystery stone with enigmatic Rune Symbols in Norway
According to ancient legends, runes were of divine origin, whose creator or author was the God Odin. This discovery came as a surprise for archaeologists who say finding an object like this is extremely rare.
A mystery stone which is believed to date back at least one thousand years was discovered during an excavation for a railway project in Oslo, Norway. The stone features inscriptions known as Runes.
Over 30 archaeologists are working on the excavation, which makes this one of the largest excavations in Norway in recent times.
The smooth, slightly uneven surface on the underside can indicate that the item was used as a tool. Closer to the fracture, the object becomes thinner. Photo: Karen Langsholt Holmqvist, NIKU.
Researchers say that the discovery forces scholars to reanalyze the level of literacy of the inhabitants of medieval Oslo, and their use of a written language.
“Finding runic inscriptions from archaeological excavations like this is rare, and the rumor spread quickly among other archaeologists and into the NIKU office,” says Kristine Ødeby, who leads the excavation project.
In ancient Scandinavian belief, the runes were of divine origin, whose creator or author was Odin himself.
This writing system was used in Norway and other northern parts of Europe during the Middle Ages (500-1450 AD).
However, finding objects that contain these symbols is not common for archaeologists, who are not yet clear how many people were able to interpret them, and how widespread they became in the past.
Detail of the runes engraved on the sharpening stone. Image Credit: NIKUThe runes, which are engraved on a rock used to sharpen knives, appear to be: æ, r, k, n, a.
“It is not easy to say what the inscription means,” say the archaeologists of the Norwegian Institute for Research on Cultural Heritage (NIKU).
The runes could be spelling the name of a person or the words” scared “,” ugly “or” pain”.
“The person who recorded these runes was probably not well instructed in the task and was in the process of learning,” explains Karen Holmqvist, a member of the NIKU and a runic alphabet specialist, stressing the fact that the quality of writing on the stone is poor.
“These findings contribute to the notion that the art of runic writing was relatively widespread in medieval Norway.“
However, most of the level of knowledge was low, many of those who wrote the symbols were illiterate adds archaeologists, who say that each symbol not only served as a letter but also had a more abstract meaning by itself.
The NIKU research team published an article (in Norwegian), where they share their interpretations of what is written on the rock, inviting the public to contribute their knowledge to decipher what it really says and who its author may have been.
You can find more images of the discovery by visiting NIKU Archaeology on Instagram.