The stone is made of granite and it is 2 metres tall and more than 1.2 metres wide. The inscription has been made on a flat surface which unfortunately is damaged due to flaking. The runes are engraved in four parallel rows running from top to bottom. The runes are in the elder futhark and the language is Proto-Norse with preserved declensions and intermediate vowels that would much later be lost when the language turned into Old Norse. The form of the runes suggest that it dates from the early 5th century and it is consequently the longest inscription from a period earlier than the 7th century.
Since the location of this runestone is near a sailing route, it is possible that this runic inscription was made by visitors and not by locals.
The name Stainawarijaz in the text means "Stone Guard" or "Keeper of Stones." In addition, the word fahido, often translated as "carved" or "inscribed," actually means "painted." Many runestones had their inscriptions painted, although there is no direct evidence that the Rö runestone was painted other than the use of this word.
Transcription of the runes
- ek hra(z)az/hra(þ)az satido -tain ¶ ana----(r) ¶ swabaharjaz ¶ s-irawidaz ¶ ... stainawarijaz fahido
- Ek Hrazaz/Hraþaz satido [s]tain[a] ... Swabaharjaz s[a]irawidaz. ... Stainawarijaz fahido.
- I, Hrazaz/Hraþaz raised the stone ... Swabaharjaz with wide wounds. ... Stainawarijaz carved.
- Looijenga, Tineke (2003). Texts and Contexts of the Oldest Runic Inscriptions. Leiden: Brill. p. 335. ISBN 90-04-12396-2.
- Antonsen, Elmer H. (2002). Runes and Germanic Linguistics. Mouton de Gruyter. pp. 280–289. ISBN 3-11-017462-6.
- Project Samnordisk Runtextdatabas Svensk - Rundata entry for Bo KJ73 U.
- This article contains content from the Owl Edition of Nordisk familjebok, a Swedish encyclopedia published between 1904 and 1926, now in the public domain.