The inscription’s intertextuality: Labyrinths of riddles (project study 2)
The aim of the second study is to examine how the Rök runestone inscription can be understood against the background of other early Old Norse texts. In the previous research tradition that supposed a connection to Theodoric and other now forgotten heroes, it has been natural to search for parallels in heroic narratives. If the inscription is composed of riddles, relevant parallels should be searched for in the enigmatic literature. The study shows that the inscription has a close relation to one text in this genre, the Eddic poem Vafþrúðnismál. The analysis distinguishes nine riddles in the Rök inscription. (The two lines with cross-ciphers are, versus Holmberg 2016, read as two separate riddles.) All riddles are analysed as concerning the sun, either directly or indirectly, and with one exception the stanzas of Vafþrúðnismál offer parallels. The choice of sun riddles for the inscription is explained with some events that occurred before the erection of the stone. A powerful solar storm with red skies, an extremely cold summer, and a solar eclipse could have raised fears of the sun losing its power (Holmberg, Gräslund, Sundqvist and Williams 2020).
I have conducted the study together with Henrik Williams, professor in Scandinavian Languages with a specialty in Runology at Uppsala University, Bo Gräslund, professor emeritus of Archaeology at Uppsala University and Olof Sundqvist, professor of History of Religion at Stockholms University. Moreover, I have discussed preliminary results at seminars in Gothenburg, Stockholm and Uppsala (2018–2019), and the Ninth International Conference on Multimodality in Odense (2018).
Holmberg, Gräslund, Sundqvist & Williams 2020. The Rök runestone and the end of the world. Futhark. International Journal of Runic Studies 9/10.
English translation of the inscription with parallels (modified from Henrik Williams, Per Holmberg, Bo Gräslund & Olof Sundqvist 2020).
Reading of the inscription (CC-BY: Henrik Williams).
The monument’s relations to its landscape: Reading runes by the roads (project study 3)