Ulf of Borresta

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U 344.
U 161.
U 336.

Ulf of Borresta (Old Norse: Ulfr í Báristöðum, modern Swedish: Ulf i Borresta) was a runemaster in the eleventh century Uppland, Sweden, and a successful Viking who returned from England three times with a share of the Danegeld. He is named after his estate which in modern Swedish is called Borresta or Bårresta (Old Norse: Báristaðir[1] or Bárastaðiʀ[2]).

Ulf's clan[edit]

Ulf belonged to a clan in what is today the parish of Orkesta, and he was the paternal nephew and successor of a man named Ónæmr,[3] a name which means "slow learner". Ónæmr is mentioned on several runestones, U 112, U 336 and probably U 328[3] (which is an example of the Ringerike style.[4]). The name of Guðlaug's father on U 328 is interpreted as Ónæmr, and Guðlaug had a son named Holmi who fell in Italy which is mentioned on the runestone U 133.[5] Another cousin of Ulf named Ragnvaldr was the commander of the Varangian Guard in Constantinople and made the runestone U 112 in memory of himself and his mother, Ónæmr's daughter.

Runestones made by Ulf[edit]

Ulf made the runestone U 328 and also the runestone U 336 in memory of his uncle Ónæmr which today is raised at the church of Orkesta.[1] He also made the runestones U 160 and 161 for his kinsmen-by-marriage in Skålhammar (Old Norse: Skulhamarr).[1]

Runestones in Ulf's memory[edit]

There were seven runestones (runestone U 344 and runestone U 343) which were raised in Ulf's memory and they were raised together as a monument at Yttergärde. U 343 has disappeared but U 344 is now raised at the church of Orkesta.

The runestone U 344, in the style Pr3, was found in 1868, at Yttergärde, by Richard Dybeck.[6] It can be dated to the first half of the 11th century because of its use of the ansuz rune for the a and æ phomenes, and because of its lack of dotted runes.[7]

This stone is notable because it commemorates that Ulf had taken three danegelds in England.[6] The first one was with Skagul Toste[8] in 991,[5] the second one with Thorkel the High[8] in 1012[5] and the last one with Canute the Great[8] in 1018.[5] Since there were many years between the danegelds, it is likely that Ulfr returned to Sweden after each danegeld to live as a wealthy magnate.[9] It is a remarkable feat in itself to summarize Ulf's adventurous life in so few unsentimental words.[8][9]

The runestone U 343 reports Ulf's death and it was raised in his memory by his sons Karsi and Karlbjörn.[8]


  1. ^ a b c Rundata
  2. ^ Nordisk runnamslexikon by Lena Peterson at the Swedish Institute for Linguistics and Heritage (Institutet för språk och folkminnen).
  3. ^ a b Pritsak 1981:389
  4. ^ Fuglesang, S.H. Swedish runestones of the eleventh century: ornament and dating, Runeninschriften als Quellen interdisziplinärer Forschung (K.Düwel ed.). Göttingen 1998, pp. 197-218. p. 202
  5. ^ a b c d Pritsak 1981:392
  6. ^ a b Enoksen 1998:122
  7. ^ Enoksen 1998:124
  8. ^ a b c d e Jansson 1980:36
  9. ^ a b Enoksen 1998:125

Other sources[edit]

  • Enoksen, Lars Magnar. (1998). Runor : historia, tydning, tolkning. Historiska Media, Falun. ISBN 91-88930-32-7
  • Jansson, Sven B. (1980). Runstenar. STF, Stockholm. ISBN 91-7156-015-7
  • Pritsak, Omeljan. (1981). The origin of Rus'. Cambridge, Mass.: Distributed by Harvard University Press for the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute. ISBN 0-674-64465-4