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14.06.2021

Hordum stone (8th - 11th century)

Hørdum stone is a Viking painting stone discovered in Hørdum, Tystede, Northern Denmark region, Denmark, which depicts a legend from Scandinavian mythology involving the god Thor and the ermungand, the serpent Midgard.

The Hordum Stone was discovered in 1954 during trenching work next to the church in Hordum. Before the historical significance of rune and picture stones was understood, they were often reused as materials in the construction of roads, bridges, walls and buildings. The image on the stone illustrates a legend recorded in Hymiskviða in the Poetic Edda, in which the Scandinavian god Thor fishes for ermungand, the serpent of Midgard. Thor goes fishing with Jotun Heimir, using a bull's head as bait, and catches Yormungand, who then either breaks free or, as stated in the Gylfaginning of the Prose Edda, the line is severed by Heimir. "The Prose Edda contains the additional information that when Thor was pulling the line with Jormungand on the hook, his feet went through the bottom of the boat. The image on the Hordum stone shows Hymir, Thor, his fishing line, and part of the snake. Thor's leg pierced the hull of the boat. The bull's head bait is not shown, but it may have been on the part of the image that was worn out. Hymir is depicted with a tool apparently preparing to cut the fishing line, which is consistent with the version of the myth told in Gylfaginning. It has also been suggested that the image of the snake's head can be seen on the edges of a natural crack in the rock under the boat.

This encounter between Thor and Jormungand seems to have been one of the most popular motifs in Scandinavian art. Three other stones with images which were connected with the myth are the stone with images of Ardre VIII, the Runestone of Altun and the Cross of Gosforth. A stone slab which may be part of the second cross at Gosforth also shows a fishing scene with a bull's head as bait. Several other Scandinavian runic inscriptions from the Viking Age depict ships, but not this myth, including DR 77 at Hjermind, DR 119 at Spentrup, DR 220 at Sønder Kirkeby, DR 258 at Bösarp, DR 271 at Tullstorp, DR 328 at Holmby, DR EM85; 523 in Farso, OG 181 in Ledberg, OG 224 in Stratomta, OG MÖLM1960; 230 in Törnevalla, so 122 in Skresta, SO 154 in Skarpåker, SO 158 in Österberga, SO 164 in Spånga, SO 351 in Överjärna, Sö 352 in Linga, Vg 51 in Husaby, U 370 in Herresta, U 979 in Gamla Uppsala, U 1052 in Axlunda and Vs 17 in Råby. Two other stones, the Långtora kyrka stone and U 1001 in Rasbo, depict ships, but there are currently no runes on them and probably never have been.

The Hordum stone is currently on display in the church in Hordum.

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