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03.07.2021

The Rok Runestone

The Rök Stone is one of the most interesting runic stones in Sweden. A man named Varin erected it in honor of the memory of his dead son in the 9th century. The stone stands next to the Röks church in the plain of Östergötland province. Its tangled history still haunts scholars.

The Röks Stone rises two and a half meters above the ground and about a meter underground. The boulder, made of pale grey, fine-grained granite, must have arisen close to where it was found. The surface of the stone is covered with runes: about 280 on the obverse side and 450 on the reverse. The stone engraver has so brilliantly chosen the placement of the text that a person standing upright can read the meandering runes. The stone is now protected by a pyramid-shaped roof in an open-air museum, which was created in 1991.

Varin's contemporaries must have seen the Ryok Stone as a literary and artistic masterpiece. The runic stone carver with a pronounced sense of form and ornamentation created the decorative text. Apparently he was also an erudite poet, familiar with the mythical tales and representations of the period. It seems that he wanted to test the reader's intelligence and education. Today scholars agree on how to read the Ryok Stone, but not on how to interpret it. The stone consists of intricate legends, obscure myths and various epics, as well as stories about the history of Varin's own family.

The monumental size and rich ornamentation of the Ryok Stone suggest that a man named Varin belonged to an influential family. Moreover, the appearance of Thor, a pagan god, in the second part of the text may be an attempt to give divine legitimacy to Varin and his family. In this sense, the stone served both as a memory of the lost son and as a symbol of the status of the family.

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