Rök Runestone

Ödeshög, Sweden

The Rök Runestone is one of the most famous runestones, featuring the longest known runic inscription in stone. It is considered the first piece of written Swedish literature and thus it marks the beginning of the history of Swedish literature.

The stone was discovered built into the wall of the church in the 19th century and removed from the church wall a few decades later. The church was built in the 12th century, and it was common to use rune stones as building material for churches. The stone was probably carved in the early 9th century, judging from the main runic alphabet used ("short-twig" runes) and the form of the language. It is covered with runes on five sides, all except the base part that was to be put under ground. A few parts of the inscription are damaged, but most of it remains readable.

The name "Rök Stone" is something of a tautology: the stone is named after the village, "Rök", but the village is probably named after the stone, "Rauk" or "Rök" meaning "skittle-shaped stack/stone" in Old Norse.

The stone is unique in a number of ways. It contains a fragment of what is believed to be a lost piece of Norse mythology. It also makes a historical reference to Ostrogothic king (effectively emperor of the western Roman empire) Theodoric the Great. It contains the longest extant pre-Christian runic inscription - around 760 characters, and it is a virtuoso display of the carver's mastery of runic expression.

The inscription is partially encrypted in two ways; by displacement and by using special cipher runes. The inscription is intentionally challenging to read, using kennings in the manner of Old Norse skaldic poetry, and demonstrating the carver's command of different alphabets and writing styles (including code). The obscurity may perhaps even be part of a magic ritual.



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Rök, Ödeshög, Sweden
See all sites in Ödeshög


Founded: 800 AD
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Sweden
Historical period: Viking Age (Sweden)


4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Linn Ahlberg (17 months ago)
It's a good wee history pit-stop. There is nothing more to it than history of this stone and a church however, so it is just a pit-stop when you're on the roads I'd say. When we went (end of July) it was infested with tiny tiny flies which was a pain to get off the clothes haha. I would definitely say it's worth a visit when you're on the roads!
Peter De Smedt (17 months ago)
Nice stone and beautiful runes. Not a lot of people around.
Eken (2 years ago)
The stone with the longest rune writing found in Sweden. It makes sense since it is all over the stone ?. There are information signs nearby and toilets. Both the signs and the stone is under roof which came handy since it was raining at our visit.
Aimée Hovius-Backus (2 years ago)
The rune stone dates from around 800 AD and its located in a pretty area. and also a nice church to see from around 1200 AD. There are information boards and toilets. A bit further down the road is a shop with groceries and souvenirs and a terrace for a drink.
Henk van der Meer (2 years ago)
Nice place an church with big history
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