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 is a partially surviving runestone, similar to Thorwald's Cross. It features a figure with his foot at the mouth of a four-legged beast, below which lies a legless, helmeted man, with his arms in a prostrate position.[1] This is thought to be a depiction of Odin being devoured by the wolf Fenrir at Ragnarök, the final battle in Norse mythology, in which several gods meet their death.[1] The battle and death of Odin are 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