Stenkvista Stone

‘Hælgi auk Frøygæirr auk Þorgautr ræistu mærki sírún at Þjúðmund, faður sinn.’
‘Hælgi and Frøygæir and Thorgaut raised the ever-runed monument after Thjúđmund, their father.’

The Stenkvista Runestone (Sö 111) is a late Viking Age stone, indicated by several features, notably the dotted-runes and confusion between plain /r/ and /ʀ/.

This is important, as the runestone has a peculiar feature: a depiction of Thor’s Hammer in the same style as crosses found on Christian runestones. While depictions of Thor’s Hammer appear on other, older runestones, the particular positioning (centred, coming down from the zoomorphic bands, i.e., the serpent motif) is identical to a popular design for Christian runestones.

We know from records that there was strong Pagan resistance to Christendom in Sweden, with a Pagan taking the kingship as late as the end of the eleventh century. The runestone appears, therefore, to be a direct contest to the Christian runic tradition, replacing the image of the crucifix with the holy symbol of Thor.

It is also worth noting that Thjúđmund gave each of his sons an explicitly religious name: ‘Hælgi,’ the weak form of the adjective ‘heilagr’ meaning ‘holy’; ‘Frøygæir,’ combining the theonym ‘Freyr’ with ‘geirr’ meaning ‘spear’; and ‘Thorgaut,’ combining the theonym ‘Thor’ with ‘Gaut,’ which is mostly likely referring to a member of the ‘Gautar,’ the tribe from whence modern Swedish ‘Götaland’ is derived (also identical to the ‘Geatas’ of Beowulf), but is also a name of Odin.

Photo: Sö 111, Stenkvista by Wikimedia User:Berig, CC BY-SA 4.0 / Link

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