Viking Runestones

A Gardarike runestone in the woods
A Gardarike Runestone

What Are Runestones

Runestones are large raised stones with the ancient Norse symbols called runes inscribed on them. Most of the over 2000 runestones that have been discovered were erected in the Middle Ages from 950 AD through 1100 AD by the ancient Norse people know as the Vikings. The Vikings created these stones for various reasons. See the list below for some of the main reasons.

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Why Vikings Created Runestones
When erected most runestones were painted with bright colors. These colors have long worn off of the stones. The creation of runestones is mentioned in the Norse Sagas; for example the following is an excerpt from the Ynglinga saga. "For men of consequence a mound should be raised to their memory, and for all other warriors who had been distinguished for manhood a standing stone, a custom that remained long after Odin's time."

Where Runestones Have Been Found

Most of the medieval runestones that have been discovered were erected in Scandinavia. The vast majority were erected in Sweden with fewer in Denmark and Norway. The Uppland district of Sweden has over 1000 runestones. There have also been a few discovered in areas outside of Scandinavia where the ancient Norsemen visited. See the list below for some locations, outside of Scandinavia, where Runestones have been found.

Examples of Runestone Inscriptions

Below we have listed several examples of inscriptions found on Runestones. This list shows runestones were created for many different reasons.