Stora Hammars stones

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Coordinates: 57°51′10.7″N 19°01′43.2″E / 57.852972°N 19.028667°E / 57.852972; 19.028667

The Stora Hammars I image stone.
Detail from Stora Hammars I shows a man lying on his belly with another man using a weapon on his back, a Valknut, and two birds, one of which is held by a man to the right.

The Stora Hammars image stones are four Viking Age image stones located in Stora Hammars, Lärbro parish, Gotland, Sweden dating from around the 7th century CE.[citation needed]


The four Stora Hammars image stones are phallic shaped. Similar combinations of death with this erotic symbology occur on other Gotland rune and image stones.[1] The images on the Stora Hammars II and IV stones are very worn and not currently decipherable.

Stora Hammars I[edit]

Depicted on the Stora Hammars I stone are six panels with mythological, religious and martial background, including panels depicting a woman between two men, a sacrifice scene with a Valknut over an altar, a woman standing between a longship manned with armed warriors and another group of armed men, and a battle scene.[2] It is interpreted as illustrating the legend of Hildr and its never-ending battle.[2] The stone includes an image of a warrior about to be hanged from a tree, possibly as a blood eagle sacrifice,[3] with a nearby Valknut nearby (considered to be Odin's cult symbol) giving validity to reports regarding human sacrifice in Norse paganism.[4] Near the altar is a shaped stone, which one scholar has been suggested may be a cult stone similar to the Elgesem runestone.[5]

Detail from Stora Hammars III showing Odin in his eagle fetch (note the eagle's beard), Gunnlöð holding the mead of poetry, and Suttungr.

Stora Hammars III[edit]

The Stora Hammars III image stone has four panels, the lower of which shows a ship with warriors. One of the panels has been interpreted as depicting Odin in the form of an eagle taking the mead of poetry,[6] a legend described in section 6 of the Skáldskaparmál.[7] Gunnlöð and Suttungr are shown to the right of the eagle. Another panel depicts a rider on a horse being greeted by a woman who has been interpreted as being a Valkyrie.[8] The woman appears to be wearing a long serk or underdress, which may be pleated, and a short overdress.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sundqvist, Olof (2005). "Aspects of Rulership Ideology in Early Scandinavia - With Particular References to the Skaldic Poem Ynglingatal". In Erkens, Franz-Reiner (ed.). Das Frühmittelalterliche Königtum: Ideelle und Religiöse Grundlagen. Walter de Gruyter. pp. 111–112. ISBN 3-11-018886-4.
  2. ^ a b Jesch, Judith (1991). Women in the Viking Age. Boydell & Brewer. pp. 128–130. ISBN 978-0-85115-360-5.
  3. ^ Murphy, Luke John; Fuller, Heidi; Gates, Mont (17 December 2021). "Brutal Viking 'blood eagle' ritual execution was anatomically possible – new research". The Conversation. Retrieved 18 December 2021.
  4. ^ Patton, Kimberley Christine (2009). Religion of the Gods: Ritual, Paradox, and Reflexivity. Oxford University Press. pp. 224–225, 430 note 70. ISBN 978-0-19-509106-9.
  5. ^ Antonsen, Elmer H. (1988). "On the Mythological Interpretation of the Oldest Runic Inscriptions". In Jazayery, Mohammad Ali; Winter, Werner (eds.). Languages and Cultures: Studies in Honor of Edgar C. Polomé. Mouton de Gruyter. pp. 43–54. ISBN 3-11-010204-8.
  6. ^ Davidson, Hilda Roderick Ellis (1993). The Lost Beliefs of Northern Europe. Routledge. pp. 72–73. ISBN 0-415-04936-9.
  7. ^ CyberSamurai Encyclopedia of Norse Mythology: Prose Edda - Skáldskaparmál Archived 2008-02-19 at the Wayback Machine (English).
  8. ^ Lundin, Andreas (2006). "The Advent of the Esteemed Horseman-Sovereign". In Andrén, Anders; Jennbert, Kristina; et al. (eds.). Old Norse Religion in Long-Term Perspectives: Origins, Changes, and Interactions. Nordic Academic Press. pp. 369–376. ISBN 91-89116-81-X. pp. 370-371.
  9. ^ Thunem, Hilde. "Viking Women: Underdress". Retrieved 21 August 2010.

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