...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Rökstenen, revistited

One of the extra perks about doing an interview study for my dissertation project is that I get to go all around Sweden in the company (university) car. Because the partricipants all don't live in this county, and since I find that interviews become better when I don't have to run to catch the train, the institute has agreed that I could book the university car on interview occassions. Marcus acts as my driver as I don't have a Swedish driver's license (yet!). But I pretty much enjoy being with Marcus on the job and being able to just "turn off" and relax on the way home, especially after long interview days.

On a trip to Västergötland county — about three and a half hours' drive away on highways we took a little stretch / toilet break in Röks church in Ödeshög, where the largest rune stone in Sweden is to be found.

The name Rökstenen (Röks stone or Rök runestone) didn't sound familiar to me until we got there, but I soon realized that I had already been in this place 5 years ago. It was one of my first outings with Marcus and his godparents! Marcus and I had just met 3 months before then.

As I sat in the backseat then and knew zero about Swedish geography, I didn't even pay attention to the roads we were taking. I didn't recognize that the roads were the same as 5 years ago (although I remembered that it was the road we took back from Gränna in our 2008 camping / road trip). The stone is unmistakable though, so I remembered it at once:

I even remembered how I posed! I got the side wrong though.

Was I extra interested in runic inscriptions, I might have taken extra note of the fact that RRökstenen is one of the most famous runestones in the world – and not just read about it in Wikipedia later on. Heheh... oh well!

The runes were dated to be from ca. year 800, but the stone itself wasn't rediscovered until sometime in the 1600s when an antiquarian noticed it at the side of the old Röks church. Apparently, back in the 12th century, it was quite common to use rune stones that were lying around in the landscape to build churches (Interestingly, later on in Swedish history, it wasn't too uncommon to use stones from churches to build castles).

It's likely that the original placement of the stone wasn't so far from where the church stood, so when they tore down the old church and extracted the stone, they turned part of the new church grounds into an exhibit area. They also found out, during the stone's extraction, how unique the stone really was. All of the sides, including some parts of the top, had inscriptions on them – a total of 760 characters. One interpretation is that the stone retells a story from Nordic mythology; another interpretation goes that it is a glorification of a tribal leader's son's death using mythological reference, or a challenge to others to seek revenge for his son. One of the translations / interpretations of the runes could be read in Wiki.


Blogger sapphire said...

Totally off topic, but do you have an RSS feed url? Am putting together a list of blogs and need it.

11:20 AM

Anonymous Expat Women said...


Regina here, for ExpatWomen.com.

I would like to personally invite you to list your blog on our Expat Women Blog Directory (www.expatwomen.com/expatblog/) so that other women can read about and learn from your expat experiences.

Many thanks in advance for your contribution and keep up your great blog!


9:23 AM

Anonymous baresytapas said...

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3:34 PM

Blogger Ahoy! said...

@ Sapphire: No I don't have an RSS feed. Should I get one?

@ Expat Woman: I will when I get the time to! After summer? Thanks for the invite!

@ Baresytapas: Gee, I love tapas! They're terribly overpriced here in my city though!

8:41 PM


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