Ledberg stone

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Ledberg stone
A composite image made from several sides of the stone
Rundata ID Ög 181
Country Sweden
Region Östergötland
City/Village Ledberg
Produced 11th Century

Text - Native
bisi sati sti þisi iftiʀ þurkut ... faþur / sin uk þu kuna baþi þmk iii sss ttt iii lll
Text - English
Bisi placed this stone in memory of Þorgautr ... his father / and Gunna, both. Thistle mistle casket
Other resources
Runestones - Runic alphabet
Runology - Runestone styles

The Ledberg stone, designated as Ög 181 under Rundata, is an image-stone and runestone located in Östergötland, Sweden.


The Ledberg stone, similar to Thorwald's Cross, a partially surviving runestone erected at Kirk Andreas on the Isle of Man, features a figure with his foot at the mouth of a four-legged beast that is above a legless, helmeted man, with his arms in a prostrate position.[1] This is considered to be a depiction of Odin being devoured by the wolf Fenrir at Ragnarök, the final battle in Norse mythology.[1] During this final battle between the Norse gods known as the Æsir and the giants in which several of the gods meet their death, Odin dies fighting the wolf Fenrir. The battle and death of Odin is described in the poem Völuspá from the Poetic Edda.[2]

Some scholars, however, believe that the images of the Ledberg stone depict the final story of either Þorgautr or Gunna,[citation needed] who are memorialized in the runic inscription. If the images are followed in the same order as the runes are written, they seem to create a chronological account. The first image is of a ship; this depicts a journey abroad. Next, there is a figure walking to the left, carrying what is most likely a shield, in preparation for departure. In the third image, the figure is carrying weapons and a shield to the right, probably marching to battle. At the top of the second side of the stone, the figure's foot is being bitten by a wolf and finally, we see the figure legless with arms sprawled, likely lying dead on the battlefield. Wolves were often used in Norse art and poetry to signify combat,[3] so it is thought to be unlikely that the figure fell in battle due to wounds caused by a wolf.

The warrior figures have shields, one carries a spear, and all have moustaches and beards, except for the Odin figure. The helmets are conical and similar in shape to those shown on the Bayeux Tapestry.[4]

The runic inscription of the Ledberg stone is carved in the Younger futhark, and is dated to the 11th century. The last part contains section has been interpreted as a rhyming charm or spell (galdr), and reads:

þmk iii sss ttt iii lll

which is to be read as:

þistil mistil kistil[5]

The three words mean thistle, mistletoe and casket respectively.[5] This type of charm is found on a few other inscriptions, among them the runic inscription on the Gørlev runestone, DR 239, from Sjælland, Denmark.[5] It has been noted that Pliny the Elder recorded that the Celts gathered mistletoe as a cure for infertility, and that singing a charm over herbs increased their power, which may have led to the þistil mistil kistil combination.[5]

Of the personal names in the inscription, Þorgautr contains as a name element the Norse god Thor and translates as "Thor-Goth."[6]


A transcription of the runic inscription into roman letters is:

§A (b)isi * sati : st[(n)] : þisi : iftiR : þurkut : u----þi : faþur
§B : sin : uk : þu : kuna : baþi : þmk:iii:sss:ttt:iii:l[(l)]l :[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Jansson, Sven B. (1987). Runes in Sweden. Stockholm, Gidlund. ISBN 91-7844-067-X. p. 152.
  2. ^ Bellows, Henry Adams (trans.) (1936). Völuspá, stanzas 51-59.
  3. ^ See Jesch, Judith (2002). "Eagles, Ravens and Wolves: Beasts of Battle, Symbols of Victory and Death". The Scandinavians from the Vendel Period to the Tenth Century: an Ethnographic Prospective. Boydell Press. pp. 251–270. ISBN 0-85115-867-6. ; and Gräslund, Anne-Sofie (2006). "Wolves, Serpents and Birds: Their Symbolic Meaning in Old Norse Belief". In Andrén, Anders; Jennbert, Kristina et al. Old Norse Religion in Long-Term Perspectives: Origins, Changes, and Interactions. Lund: Nordic Academic Press. pp. 124–129. ISBN 91-89116-81-X. 
  4. ^ Lewis, Michael (2005). "The Bayeux Tapestry and Eleventh Century Material Culture". In Owen-Crocker, Gale R. King Harold II and the Bayeux Tapestry. Boydell Press. pp. 181–182. ISBN 1-84383-124-4. 
  5. ^ a b c d MacLeod, Mindy; Mees, Bernard (2006). Runic Amulets and Magic Objects. Boydell Press. pp. 145–148. ISBN 1-84383-205-4. 
  6. ^ Ferguson, Robert (1883). Surnames as a Science. London: George Routledge & Sons. p. 63. 
  7. ^ Project Samnordisk Runtextdatabas Svensk - Rundata entry for Ög 181.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 58°26′32″N 15°26′50″E / 58.44222°N 15.44722°E / 58.44222; 15.44722