Archaeologists in Norway have discovered the world’s oldest rune stone

The Oslo Museum of Cultural History said the flat, brown sandstone is carved with figures that are among the world’s oldest extant runic inscriptions. The museum stated that “this is the oldest stone slab that can be dated”.

“This discovery will give us a lot of knowledge about the use of runes in the Iron Age. This may be the first attempt to use runes on stone in Norway and in all of Scandinavia.”

The oldest runic inscription to date is what appears on a bone crest originating from Denmark from the 2nd to the 3rd century AD. Rune stones were usually erected on graves, especially in the Viking Age.

Photo: Profimedia.cz

The oldest stone

“It is estimated that the first of these appeared in Norway and Sweden in the fourth or fifth century. But it is clear that some may be much older than thought.”

The oldest rune stone was allegedly discovered in the fall of 2021 while digging a grave in Svingerud, west of Oslo. Other finds from the tomb, such as charred bones, indicate that the runes were inscribed between 1 and 250 AD.

The meaning is still unknown

Zilmer explained why the discovery was only announced today: “We needed time, and we could analyze the stone and its history.”

There are several types of inscriptions on the stone 31 by 32 cm, and not all of them make sense from a linguistic point of view. The eight runes on the face of the stone form the expression “idiberug”, which could be a woman’s name. As one possibility, it is said that it could be a love text.

The Associated Press reports that the so-called Svingerudský kámen, named after the place of discovery, will be on display for a month at the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo from January 21.

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