A Couple Renovating Their Kitchen in Denmark Found an Ancient Stone Carved With Viking Runes

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When Lene Brandt and her husband, Anders Nielsen, were preparing to tear up the linoleum floors in the kitchen in their home in the village of Mosekær, in Denmark, they probably expected the normal things that occur in the course of such a project: cost overruns, delays, and problems with contractors.

Instead, what they found was an ancient artifact. The couple stumbled across a nearly 2,000-pound stone, measuring more than six feet long, carved with ancient runes. The couple contacted local experts at the Museum Østjylland. Staff archaeologist Benita Clemmensen is quoted by the cultural news site Skjalden saying that these stones are the sole written records of the Viking Age. 

Five runes can be found carved into the stone’s surface, reading “aft Bi,” which can be translated as “after B.” 

“The Mosekær stone is probably to be dated to the 8th or 9th century because of the formula “After …” placed in the beginning of the text,” senior researcher and runologist Lisbeth Imer, with the National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen, tells Artnet News. “It correlates with an 8th-century runestone on Fyn, the Flemløse stone with the text ‘After (i.e. ‘In memory of’) Hróðulfr stands this stone; he was … priest/chief. Sons placed in memory. Ávarr coloured.’

“It most likely is one of the oldest runestones in Denmark,” she says.

Photo: National Museum of Denmark.

The museum has dubbed the stone a treasure, meaning it legally belongs to the state. 

New rune stones are found only every five or 10 years, says Imer, “so it is a rare find.”

Lisbeth Imer tells Skjalden that only about 20 rune stones from the eighth century have been discovered in Denmark. These early stones are very significant, as there are approximately 200 known Viking Age rune stones (dating from the 700s to the 900s) throughout the country. Norse literature is dense with references to runes, which may have served as magical signs to be used in charms. 

The ancient stone with the runes highlighted. Photo: National Museum of Denmark.

The area where this rune stone was found has proven particularly rich for archaeologists, yielding some 44 such artifacts, according to Arkeonews.

 

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