Tune Stone

‘Ek Wíwaz after Wóðuríðé witandahlaiban worhtó, [þi]z Wóðuríðé, staina. Þrijóz dohtriz da[i]liðun arbija si[b]jóstéz arbijanó.’
‘I, Wíw, after Lord Wóđuríđ worked – for you, Wóđuríđ – a stone. Three daughters divided the inheritance of the closest inheritors.’

The Tune Runestone (N KJ72) is the longest Elder Fuþark inscription of its period, dating to sometime around c. A.D. 400, and a unique example of a runestone, especially for such an early inscription, which directly addresses the issue of inheritance. We read that the ‘inheritance’ [arbija] ‘of the inheritors’ [arbijanó] – who are described as the ‘most related’ [sibjóstéz], i.e., the closest relatives – is ‘divided’ [dailiðun] by ‘three daughters’ [þrijóz dohtriz].

The term which I have chosen to translate as ‘Lord’ means literally ‘one who observes the loaf,’ which we can compare to the word ‘lord’ itself, which is derived from Old English ‘hláford,’ from older ‘hláfweard,’ a compound meaning ‘warden/guardian of the loaf’ (the feminine form ‘hláfdíġe’ means ‘kneader of the loaf’). The title refers to the duty of the patriarch to provide for his household. Such a compound does not survive to the Old Norse period, but its usage here shows that it was once a pan-Germanic (or at the very least, a common North-West Germanic) title.

The name of the deceased is notable, meaning ‘Mad-rider;’ the first element is ‘*wóðuz,’ the same root from which comes ‘*Wóðanaz,’ the Proto-Germanic form of ‘Wóden/Óðinn,’ perhaps being a cultic name, in which case, one can make the obvious observation of shamanic implications, with the meaning being one who ‘rides’ while ‘mad’ or ‘in a religious fervour.’

The name of the carver means ‘the sacred/holy one,’ comparable to the religious connotations of the name Wóđuríđ (although Antonsen asserts the meaning ‘the darting one,’ from the same Indo-European root, see Antonsen, Elmer H. A Concise Grammar of the Older Runic Inscriptions. De Gruyter, 1975. p. 44).

As a final note, my reading of the missing runes in the line ‘-zwoduridestaina’ is highly speculative.

Photos: Tune stone I and Tune stone III by Wikimedia User:Skadinaujo, CC BY-SA 2.5 / Link, Link

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