Saturday, July 13, 2013

Runestones of Vadstena-Skänninge-Högby-Rök


Vadstena is known for its medieval monastery and the nun Birgitta that founded it. The city has a picturesque old town and a fancy castle complete with a functioning moat and all.
We wanted to come to Vadstena because we had read that there are many Runestones in the surroundings.
The tourist information had to our surprise no idea were they could be, except for the one that was in the church yard. "Well we don't know to be honest, but we do have a lot of medieval churches around here, and there is one stone in the church yard and I believe there is an other one in the nearby towns church as well."
Something was going on here...

We checked out the church and to Jenn's amusement an Organ concert of Bach just starting.

The Runestone we found just outside of the church. A rusty old marker told a sad tale. It had been used in the construction of the huge church.


There were no Runstones to be found in Vadstena other than the one in the picture above. Vadstena is cleaned up and the presense of Birgitta is all over. South of Vadstena there is a small town called Skänninge that we luckily stumbled upon. The city center is full of old houses and gardens. And the tourist info people are very knowledgeable of the cities past. For us it was just the break we needed. A long long haired viking descendant could point out were on the map we should take our car so we could see the stones. There are not even officially marked out. The first one was behind the tourist office. This stone had been used as entrance stone in to the church. Face down it was places in the position were everyone that entered into the church had to step on it.


To see maybe the most imponent of the stones you have to take a small sandy road out from the city. Here on top of a small hill the Runestone stands majestic looking over the yellow fields.
Some 200 meters further on inside the forest there are more stones. These ones are more art like, with organic curves and serpent shapes. Very inspiring to think that the people who carved them would take the time to decorate and erect a memory for someone who disappeared on a quest.

Rökstenen the Runestone of Rök

Now I say the tales in full. Someone ... I say the folktale / to the young men, which of the line of Ingold was repaid by a wife's sacrifice. I say the folktale / to the young men, to whom is born a relative, to a valiant man. It is Vélinn. He could crush a giant. It is Vélinn ... [Nit] I say the folktale / to the young men: Þórr. Sibbi of Vé, nonagenarian, begot (a son).

This stone has become the most famous of the all the Runestone because of the text chiseled into it. Written as a poem the writer goes on to tell the younger generations of the heroic voyages of the elders and the sacrifices they made.
For us it had the inspiring and encouraging message that in order too see and grow you have to make journeys and perhaps even sacrifices.
The tale on the stone ends with Sibbi who even at the modest age of 90 got a son... :)
A part from being beautiful and strong pieces of history and art these stones also represent oppression and a struggle to keep a heritage alive.
For when the Christian came you only had three choices
  • Die
  • Convert to Christendom
  • Wear the cross but keep the old faith
What would you have chosen?

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