Category Archives: Ingvar

Ingvar Stones, Part IX: Stäringe Stone

‘Gæirhvatr auk Anundr auk Ótamr rétta stæin at Býrstæin, bróður sinn. Sár var austr með Ingvari, dræng snjællan, sun Líføyjar.’
‘Gæirhvat and Anund and Ótam raise this stone after Býrstæin, their brother. He was in the east with Ingvar, an eloquent man, son of Líføy.’

The Stäringe Runestone (Sö 320) is not particularly notable, beyond some of the personal names. One of the raisers is called ‘Ótamr,’ meaning ‘Untamed,’ and their fallen brother is named ‘Býrstæinn,’ meaning ‘Beer-stone.’ One other notable feature is the present tense form of the verb ‘to raise,’ unusual on these stones.

The second sentence is a short verse: ‘Sár var austr / með Ingvari, / dræng snjællan, / sun Líføyjar.’

Photo: Sö 320, Stäringe by Wikimedia User:Berig, CC BY-SA 3.0 / Link

Ingvar Stones, Part VIII: Varpsund Stone

‘Andvéttr auk Kindi auk Kárr auk Blæsi auk Djærfr ræistu stæin þenna æftir Gunnlæif, fǫður sinn, es vas austr með Ingvari drepinn. Guð hjælpi ǫnd þæira. Alríkr ræist ek rúnar. Es kunni væl knærri stýra.’
‘Andvétt and Kindi and Kár and Blæsi and Djærf raised this stone after Gunnlæif, their father, who was killed in the east with Ingvar. God help their souls. I, Alrík, carved the runes. [He] knew how to steer a “knǫrr” well.’

The Varpsund Runestone (U 654) was raised by the same brothers as the Ekilla bro Runestone (U 644) around 2mi (3km) south of the other stone. This stone is signed by its carver, one Alrík. The ‘knǫrr,’ which we are told Gunnlæif could ‘steer well,’ was a type of large cargo-ship.

Like the Ekilla bro stone, the Varpsund inscription uses the ‘áss’ rune to represent /ǫ/, notably in places it is usually /a/ in East Norse dialects.

Photo: Varpsundsstenen by Wikimedia User:Berig, CC BY-SA 3.0 / Link

Ingvar Stones, Part VII: Ekilla bro

‘Andvéttr auk Kindi auk Kárr auk Blæsi auk Djærfr þæir ræistu stæin þenna æftir Gunnlæif, fǫður sinn. Hann féll austr með Ingvari. Guð hjælpi ǫndinni.’
‘Andvétt and Kindi and Kár and Blæsi and Djærf, they raised this stone after Gunnlæif, their father. He fell in the east with Ingvar. God help the soul [of the departed].’

The Ekilla bro Runestone (U 644) is notable for the sheer number of names behind its raising. The names of the brothers are unique, possibly bynames, or perhaps a Christian attempt to avoid ‘Pagan’ names. The first name means ‘opponent,’ derived from ‘and-’ meaning ‘hostile’ and ‘véttr’ meaning ‘being;’ the second means ‘kinsman,’ derived from ‘kind,’ meaning ‘kin;’ the third means ‘curly-hair;’ the fourth means ‘blaze,’ light coloured markings on a horse’s face; and the fifth means ‘brave.’ Their father’s name is more normal for Norse names, meaning ‘war-heir.’

Besides the personal names, the inscription is notable for its use of the ‘áss’ rune for rounded /ǫ/, where it appears in ‘fǫður’ and ‘ǫnd,’ unusual in East Norse dialects.

Photo: U 644, Ekilla bro by Wikimedia User:Berig, CC BY-SA 3.0 / Link

Ingvar Stones, Part VI: Svinnegarn

‘Þjælfi auk Holmlaug létu ræisa stæina þessa alla at Banka, sun sinn, es átti æinn sér skip auk austr stýrði í Ingvars lið. Guð hjælpi and Banka. Ǽskill ræist.’
‘Thjælfi and Holmlaug had all these stones raised after Banki, their son, who alone owned his ship and steered east in Ingvar’s host. God help Banki’s soul. Ǽskil carved.’

The Svinnegarn Runestone (U 778), another inscription concerning Ingvar’s journey, is one of many carved by the runemaster Ǽskil. It is described as one of many, although this monument is now lost, and the stone now located at the local church. The family must have been one of descent wealth, with Banki described as ‘owning alone a ship for himself.’

Note that the name of the father is identical to that of Thor’s servant. A similar name, Thjælvar, is attested in ‘Guta saga,’ the Saga of the Gotlanders.

Photo: U 778, Svinnegarn by Wikimedia User:Berig, CC BY-SA 3.0 / Link

Ingvar Stones, Part V: Ärja

‘Ulfví ræisti stæin þenna at bróður sinn Ósníkin. Sár fórs austarla með Ingvari, skipari Holmstæins.’
‘Ulfví raised this stone after her brother Ósníkin. He perished in the east with Ingvar, Holmstæin’s crewman.’

The Ärja Runestone (Sö 335) is another commemoration to the dead of Ingvar’s journey. Raised nearly 30mi (50km) from the Tystberga Runestone (Sö 173), the man commemorated, Ósníkin, was a crewman on the ship of Holmstæin, the father of the raisers of the Tystberga Stone.

The female name ‘Ulfví’ (‘Wolf-Sanctuary’) is not known from elsewhere, and Ósníkin means ‘ungreedy,’ perhaps originating as a nickname, either his own, or an ancestor after whom he was named.

Photo: Sö 335, Ärja by Wikimedia User:Berig, CC BY-SA 3.0 / Link

Ingvar Stones, Part IV: Tystberga

‘Mýskja auk Máni létu ræisa kumbl þausi at bróður sinn Hróðgæir auk faður sinn Holmstæin. Hann hafði vestarla um varit længi, dóu austarla með Ingvari.’
‘Mýskja and Máni had this monument raised after their brother Hróđgæir and their father Holmstæin. He had been long about in the west, died in the east with Ingvar.’

The Tystberga Runestone (Sö 173) is another in the series of inscriptions remembering the deceased who embarked on a journey to ‘Serkland’ with Ingvar.

The names of the deceased are rather normal, but the names of the raisers are unique. ‘Máni’ is a clear name, meaning ‘moon,’ while ‘Mýskja’ is more unclear, but appears to mean ‘mouse-ish.’

Also unique is the use of a dotted U-rune to read ‘ve’ in ‘vestarla.’ While the use of the dotted rune to indicate a consonantal rather than vocalic reading is not unknown, the lack of a following vowel is perhaps an indication of dialectal progressive mutation.

Like others in the series, the inscription ends with a short verse: ‘Hann hafði vestarla / um varit længi, / dóu austarla / með Ingvari.’

Photo: Sö 173, Tystberga by Wikimedia User:Berig, CC BY-SA 3.0 / Link

Ingvar Stones, Part III: Lundby

‘Spjúti, Halfdan, þæir ræisðu stæin þænnsi æftir Skarða, bróður sinn. Fór austr heðan með Ingvari, á Serklandi liggr sunr Øyvindar.’
‘Spjúti, Halfdan, they raised this stone after Skarđi, their brother. He travelled east from here with Ingvar, in Saracen-land lies the son of Øyvind.’

Another inscription relating to Ingvar’s expedition, the Lundby Runestone (Sö 131) follows the clearly popular formula of beginning with the simple explanation of who raised the stone and after whom it was raised, and ending with a short verse, in this case: ‘Fór austr heðan / með Ingvari, / á Serklandi liggr / sunr Øyvindar.’

The names of Øyvind’s sons are worth discussing, with only Halfdan being a particular common name. ‘Spjúti’ derives from ‘spjót’ a word for ‘spear,’ but it and its variant ‘Spjútr’ occur only in inscriptions from Södermanland and Uppland.

Their deceased brother’s name ‘Skarđi,’ on the other hand, is more widespread, appearing in a handful of inscriptions across Scandinavia. It is derived from the noun ‘skarð,’ meaning ‘notch,’ which is used when referring to a hare-lip (‘skarð í vǫrr’ – ‘notch in the lip’), and has therefore been suggested to have been used of those with such a condition.

Photo: Sö 131, Lundby by Wikimedia User:Berig, CC BY-SA 3.0 / Link

Ingvar Stones, Part II: Sylten

‘Þorfreðr/Þorfríðr résti æftir Ásgǿt ok Gǿta, sunu sína, stén þæssi. Hann Gǿti ændaðis í Ingvars hælfningi.’
‘Thorfređ/Thorfríđ raised after Ásgǿt and Gǿti, his/her sons, this stone. He Gǿti met his end in Ingvar’s host.’

The furthest south of the runestones concerning Ingvar’s journey to ‘Serkland,’ the Sylten Runestone (Ög 155) is located in the Norrköping Municipality, along the border of ‘Svealand’ and ‘Götaland.’ It should be no surprise then that both sons have the ethnonym ‘Göt’ in their names.

Runic spelling offers a challenge in reading the name of the runestone’s raiser, with the runes spelling out both the masculine name ‘Thorfređ’ and the feminine name ‘Thorfríđ,’ meaning ‘Thor-peace’ and ‘Thor-beauty’ respectively.

I have chosen to normalize this inscription with monophthongs ‘ǿ’ and ‘é’ over diphthongs ‘au’ and ‘æi’ because of the monophthongal spelling of ‘stin’ ‘askut’ and ‘kut,’ which stand next to the diphthongal spellings of ‘auk’ and ‘kauta.’

Photo: Ög 155, Sylten (new) by Wikimedia User:Berig, CC BY-SA 3.0 / Link

Ingvar Stones, Part I: Gripsholm

‘Tóla lét ræisa stæin þænnsa at sun sinn Harald, bróður Ingvars. Þæir fóru drængila fjærri at gulli auk austarla ærni gáfu, dóu sunnarla á Serklandi.’
‘Tóla had this stone raised after her son Harald, the brother of Ingvar. They travelled manfully far after gold and gave to the eagle in the east, died in the south in Saracen-land.’

The Gripsholm Runestone (Sö 179) is a good place to start when looking at the series of runestones that honour the mid-eleventh century Swedish expedition to ‘Serkland.’ This expedition was led by a man named Ingvar (Yngvar in West Norse), and was remembered in Iceland in Yngvars saga víðfǫrla.

The saga cannot be taken as an accurate source, as, while the beginning of the journey, starting in Russia and going down the middle of three rivers that flowed from the south into Russia (presumably this was the Don, or perhaps the Dnieper), is accurate, the geography of the latter part is clearly based on Crusade era reports of ‘the land of the Saracens.’ Cities mentioned are Heliopolis (Baalbek, Lebanon) and ‘Citopolis,’ presumably a corruption of Scythopolis (Beit She’an, Israel).

Such inaccuracies would likely have led many to dismiss the journey as pure fiction, if it wasn’t for the nearly thirty runestones commemorating fallen participants in the disastrous journey.

It has been noted that it is strange that a commemorative runestone stands for Ingvar’s brother, but not himself. Many theories have been put forward to explain it, such as that Harald was Ingvar’s half-brother, and Tóla raised only a stone for her own son, or that Harald and Ingvar were ‘blood-brothers,’ sworn-brothers as opposed to brothers by birth. However, it is worth noting that the Gripsholm stone itself was found built into the cellar of Gripsholm Castle, and a potential memorial for Ingvar could likely have been destroyed by such use.

It is worth noting the alliterative elements at the end of the inscription, which can be fit into the metre of fornyrðislag: ‘Þæir fóru drængila / fjærri at gulli / auk austarla / ærni gáfu, / dóu sunnarla / á Serklandi.’ Lines of alliterative poetry are also found on other runestones commemorating this journey.

Photo: Sö 179, Gripsholm by Wikimedia User:Berig, CC BY-SA 3.0 / Link