The Rök stone has an inscription from more than a thousand years ago that alludes to the fear of an environmental catastrophe

The Rök stone has an inscription from more than a thousand years ago that alludes to the fear of an environmental catastrophe

The Rök stone is a runestone located in Sweden, on the grounds of the Rök church, in the commune of Ödeshög. It has a height close to 2.5 meters, and more than 1 meter underground. It is of light gray, fine-grained granite with about 280 runic inscriptions on the front and 450 on the back.

A new interdisciplinary study suggests that these inscriptions point to fears of an environmental catastrophe .

Interdisciplinary interpretation

The text is the longest of all the classified runestones in Sweden. Investigations made indicate that it was carved around the year 800 . The first translation was made by the Norwegian Sophus Bugge in 1878, and his explanation is still the subject of research today.

Rokstenen 2

This new interpretation is based on a collaboration between researchers from various disciplines and universities that suggests that the text alludes to the conflict between light and dark, heat and cold, life and death, which is based on new archaeological research which describes how Scandinavia suffered a previous climate catastrophe with lower average temperatures, poor harvests, famine, and mass extinctions.

According to the researchers’ new interpretation now published, the inscription consists of nine riddles. The answer to five of these riddles is "the Sun."

As Per Holmberg , a professor of Swedish at the University of Gothenburg, who led the study, explains :

The key to unlocking enrollment was the interdisciplinary approach. Without these collaborations between textual analysis, archeology, the history of religions and runology, it would have been impossible to solve the riddles of the Rök runestone. Before the Rök runestone was erected, a series of events occurred that must have seemed extremely sinister: a powerful solar storm colored the sky in dramatic shades of red, crop yields suffered from an extremely cold summer, and later a solar eclipse just after sunrise. Even one of these events would have been enough to increase the fear of another Fimbulwinter (a sign of the end of the world in Norse mythology).

Unlike linguists and archaeologists who claim that the engraved inscriptions allude to Emperor Theodoric the Great , king of the Ostrogoths, this new interpretation maintains that "the inscription reflects the anguish caused by the death of a son and the fear of a new climate crisis similar to the catastrophe that occurred after 536 BC. "