Greece Runestones

The Greece Runestones comprise around 30 runestones containing information related to voyages made by Scandinavians to "Greece", which refers to the Byzantine Empire (ON.: "Grikkland", "Grikk(i)aR"), during the Viking Age and until the early 12th century AD. Engraved in the Old Norse language with the Younger Futhark script, all of the Greece Runestones are found in modern-day Sweden, with the majority residing in Uppland (18 runestones) and Södermanland (7 runestones). The only group of runestones comparable in number to the Greece Runestones are those that mention England, the England Runestones.Jansson 1980:34]

The primary reason for the creation of the relatively large number of inscriptions that refer to Greece was that Greece was home to the illustrious Varangian Guard. Stationed in Constantinople, which the Scandinavians referred to as "Miklagarðr" (the "Great City"), the Guard represented an irresistible attraction to young, adventurous Scandinavians of the sort that had composed it since its creation in the late 10th century. Contrary to the popular stereotype of Viking warriors, the individuals who served in the Varangian Guard were not uncouth ruffians, but were instead usually fit and well-raised young men skilled in the use of weapons — which explains the welcome they received as the elite troops of the Byzantine Emperor, as well as why the rulers of Kievan Rus' requested young Scandinavian warriors when under threat of attack.Larsson 2002:145]

Runestones were usually raised in memory of those who did not return from Viking expeditions, and not as tributes to those who came back,Harrison & Svensson 2007:197] and most of the men for whom the stones were raised died in the service of the Emperor. However, some runestones tell of men who returned to enjoy their increased wealth and social status, such as U 112, commissioned by a former captain of the Guard, Ragnvaldr.Jansson 1980:20-21] The inscriptions of the Greece Runestones, however, are not the only runic inscriptions that commemorate members of the Varangian Guard: the Italy Runestones, which mention warriors who died in the Catapanate of Italy, probably in battles such as that of Cannae in 1018, and the Piraeus Lion.

Below follows a presentation of the Greece Runestones based on information collected from the Rundata project, organized according to location. The transcriptions from runic inscriptions into standardized Old Norse are in the Swedish and Danish dialect to facilitate comparison with the inscriptions, while the English translation provided by Rundata give the names in standard dialect (the Icelandic and Norwegian dialect).


There are as many as 16 runestones in Uppland that relate of men who travelled to Greece, most of whom died there.

U 73

Runestone U 73 was probably to explain the order of inheritance from two men who died as Varangians.Harrison & Svensson 2007:34] It is the style Pr3 which is part of the more general urnes style. The stone, which is in greyish granite and measures convert|2|m|abbr=on in height and convert|1.2|m|abbr=on in width, is raised on a slope some convert|100|m|abbr=on north of the farm Hägerstalund, formerly Hansta(lund). The stone was discovered by Johan Peringskiöld during the national search for historic monuments in the late 17th century. The stone shares the same message as U 72 together with which it once formed a monument,Wessén & Jansson 1940-1943:96ff] but U 72 was moved to Skansen in 1896.Wessén & Jansson 1940-1943:95] The latter stone relates that "these stones" were raised by Gerðarr and Jörundr in memory Ernmundr and Ingimundr. Consequently, U 73's phrase "Inga's sons" and "they died in Greece" refer to Ernmundr and Ingimundr. Ernmundr and Ingimundr had inherited their father, but they departed for Byzantine Empire and died there as Varangians. As they had not fathered any children, their mother Inga inherited their property, but when she died, her brothers Gerðarr and Jörundr came to inherit her. These two brothers then raised the two memorials in honour of their nephews, which probably was due to the nephews having distinguished themselves in the South, but it may also be in gratitude for wealth gathered by the nephews overseas. At the same time, the monument served to document how the property had passed from one clan to another. [Cf. Jesch (2001:99-100)] The runemaster has been identified as Visäte.

Latin transliteration:

: ' þisun ' merki ' iru ' gar ' eftR ' suni ' ikur ' hon kam ' þeira × at arfi ' in þeir × brþr * kamu hnaa : at ' arfi × kiaþar b'reþr ' þir to i kirikium

Old Norse transcription:

: "Þessun mærki æRu gar æftiR syni InguR. Hon kvam þæiRa at arfi, en þæiR brøðr kvamu hænnaR at arfi, Gærðarr brøðr. ÞæiR dou i Grikkium."

English translation:

: "These landmarks are made in memory of Inga's sons. She came to inherit from them, but these brothers — Gerðarr and his brothers — came to inherit from her. They died in Greece."Entry U 73 in Rundata 2.0 for Windows.]

U 104

Runestone U 104 is in red sandstone and it measures convert|1.35|m|abbr=on in height and convert|1.15|m|abbr=on in width. It was first documented by Johannes Bureus in 1594.Wessén & Jansson 1940-1943:147] It was donated as one of a pair to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford in 1687 upon the request of king James II of England to king Charles XI of Sweden asking for two runestones to add to the Oxford University collection.Jansson 1980:21] It is in the refined Urnes (Pr5) style. It was raised by Þorsteinn in memory of his father Sveinn and his brother Þórir, both of whom went to Greece, and lastly in memory of his mother. The stone is signed by Öpir, the most popular and productive of the old runemasters, whose Old Norse is notable for its unorthodox use of the haglaz rune (), as in hut for Old Norse "út" ("out").Jansson 1980:22] The erratic use of the h-phoneme is a dialect trait that has survived and is still characteristic for the modern Swedish dialect of Roslagen, one of the regions where Öpir was active.

Latin transliteration:

: ' þorstin ' lit × kera ' merki ' ftiR ' suin ' faþur ' sin ' uk ' ftiR ' þori ' (b)roþur ' sin ' þiR ' huaru ' hut ' til ' k--ika ' (u)(k) ' iftiR ' inkiþuru ' moþur ' sin ' ybiR risti '

Old Norse transcription:

: "Þorstæinn let gæra mærki æftiR Svæin, faður sinn, ok æftiR Þori, broður sinn, þæiR vaRu ut til G [r] ikkia, ok æftiR Ingiþoru, moður sina. ØpiR risti."

English translation:

: "Þorsteinn had the landmark made in memory of Sveinn, his father, and in memory of Þórir, his brother. They were abroad in Greece. And in memory of Ingiþóra, his mother. Œpir carved." [Entry U 104 in Rundata 2.0 for Windows.]

U 112

Runestone U 112, a large boulder measuring convert|18|m|abbr=on in circumference, is located on a wooded path named Kyrkstigen ("church path") in Ed.Rundata] It has been known to scholars since Johannes Bureus' first runological expedition in 1594, and it dates to the mid-11th century.

The boulder bears runic inscriptions on two of its sides, referred to as U 112 A and B. The linguistic significance of the inscriptions lies in the use of the haglaz (ᚼ) rune to denote the voiced velar fricative /IPA|ɤ/ phoneme (as in Ragnvaldr) — something which would become common after the close of the Viking Age. The inscription also includes some dotted runes, and the ansuz (runic|ᚬ) rune is used for the /o/ phoneme.Enoksen 1998:134]

The inscriptions are in the mid-Urnes style (Pr4), and they were commissioned by a former captain of the Varangian Guard named Ragnvaldr in memory of his mother as well as in his own honour.Enoksen 1998:131] Very few could boast of returning home with the honour of having been the captain of the Varangian Guard, and the name "Ragnvaldr" shows that he belonged to the higher echelons of Old Norse society, and that he may have been a relative of the ruling dynasty. [Enoksen 1998:134; Jansson 1980:20; Harrison & Svensson 2007:31; Pritsak 1981:376]

Ragnvald's maternal grandfather, Ónæmr, is mentioned on two additional runestones in Uppland, U 328 and U 336.Pritsak 1981:389] Runestone U 328 relates that Ragnvaldr had two aunts, Gyríðr and Guðlaug, and runestone U 336 adds that Ulf of Borresta, who received three Danegelds in England, was Ónæm's paternal nephew and thus Ragnvald's first cousin. He was probably the same Ragnvaldr whose death is related in the Hargs bro runic inscriptions, which would also connect him to Estrid and the wealthy Jarlabanke clan.Harrison & Svensson 2007:31ff]

Considering Ragnvald's background, it is not surprising that he rose to become an officer of the Varangian Guard: he was a chieftain who was wealthy and who brought many ambitious soldiers to Greece.Harrison & Svensson 2007:35]

Latin transliteration:: A * rahnualtr * lit * rista * runar * efR * fastui * moþur * sina * onems * totR * to i * aiþi * kuþ hialbi * ant * hena *: B runa * rista * lit * rahnualtr * huar a × griklanti * uas * lis * forunki *

Old Norse transcription:: A "Ragnvaldr let rista runaR æftiR Fastvi, moður sina, Onæms dottiR, do i Æiði. Guð hialpi and hænnaR.": B "RunaR rista let Ragnvaldr. VaR a Grikklandi, vas liðs forungi."

English translation:: A "Ragnvaldr had the runes carved in memory of Fastvé, his mother, Ónæmr's daughter, (who) died in Eið. May God help her spirit.": B "Ragnvaldr had the runes carved; (he) was in Greece, was commander of the retinue." [Entry U 112 in Rundata 2.0 for Windows.]

U 136

Runestone U 136 is in the Pr2 (Ringerike) style, and it once formed a monument together with U 135. It is a dark grayish stone which is convert|1.73|m|abbr=on tall and convert|0.85|m|abbr=on wide.Wessén & Jansson 1940-1943:203] In 1857, Richard Dybeck noted that it had been discovered in the soil five years earlier. A small part of it had stuck up above the soil and when the landowner was tilling the land and discovered it, he had it raised again on the same spot. Although, the landowner was reported to have been careful when he raised the stone, some pieces were accidentally chipped away and the upper parts of some runes were lost.Wessén & Jansson 1940-1943:202]

The stone was originally raised by a wealthy lady named Estrid in memory of her husband Eysteinn, one of the first Swedes to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.Pritsak 1981:382] It is one of two Jarlabanke Runestones that mention travellers abroad, the other being U140, below.

Latin transliteration:

: × astriþr × la(t) + raisa × staina × þasa × [a] t austain × buta sin × is × suti × iursalir auk antaþis ub i × kirkum

Old Norse transcription:

: "Æstriðr let ræisa stæina þessa at Øystæin, bonda sinn, es sotti IorsaliR ok ændaðis upp i Grikkium."

English translation:

: "Ástríðr had these stones raised in memory of Eysteinn, her husbandman, who attacked Jerusalem and met his end in Greece."Entry U 136 in Rundata 2.0 for Windows.]

U 140

Runestone U 140 is located in Broby, near the Broby bro Runestones and U 150. The granite stone was discovered by Richard Dybeck in a fragmented state among the foundations of a small building. Dybeck searched without success for the remaining parts. Initially, the fragment was moved to a slope near the road between Hagby and Täby church, but in 1930, it was moved next to the road. It is one of the Jarlabanke Runestones and it mentions a man who travelled abroadWessén & Jansson 1940-1943:205] (compare U 136, above).

Latin transliteration:

: ××b(a)... ... han : entaþis * i kirikium

Old Norse transcription:

: " [Iar] laba [nki] ... Hann ændaðis i Grikkium."

English translation:

: "Jarlabanki ... He met his end in Greece." [Entry U 140 in Rundata 2.0 for Windows.]

U 201

Runestone U 201 is in the Pr1 (Ringerike) type and it was made by the same runemaster as U 276. The reddish granite stone is walled into the sacristy of Angarn church c. convert|0.74|m|abbr=on above the ground, measuring convert|1.17|m|abbr=on in height and convert|1.16|m|abbr=on in width. Johannes Bureus (1568-1652) mentioned the stone, but for reasons unknown, it was overlooked during the national search for historic monuments in 1667-1684.Wessén & Jansson 1940-1943:302] Two of the men who are mentioned on the stone have names that are otherwise unknown and they are reconstructed as "Gautdjarfr" and "Sunnhvatr" based on elements known from other Norse names.Wessén & Jansson 1940-1943:304]

Latin transliteration:

: * þiagn * uk * kutirfR * uk * sunatr * uk * þurulf * þiR * litu * risa * stin * þina * iftiR * tuka * faþur * sin * on * furs * ut i * krikum * kuþ * ialbi ot ans * ot * uk * salu

Old Norse transcription:

: "Þiagn ok GautdiarfR(?) ok Sunnhvatr(?) ok ÞorulfR þæiR letu ræisa stæin þenna æftiR Toka, faður sinn. Hann fors ut i Grikkium. Guð hialpi and hans, and ok salu."

English translation:

: "Þegn and Gautdjarfr(?) and Sunnhvatr(?) and Þórulfr, they had this stone raised in memory of Tóki, their father. He perished abroad in Greece. May God help his spirit, spirit and soul."Entry U 201 in Rundata 2.0 for Windows.]

U 270

Runestone U 270 was discovered in Smedby near Vallentuna and depicted by Johan Peringskiöld during the national search for historic monuments in 1667-84. Richard Dybeck noted in 1867 that he had seen the runestone intact three years previously, but that it had been used for the construction of a basement in 1866. Dybeck sued the guilty farmer, and the prosecution was completed by the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities. The documentation from the court case shows that it had been standing at the homestead and that it had been blown up three times into small pieces that could be used for the construction of the basement. Reconstruction of the runestone was deemed impossible. The stone was convert|2.5|m|abbr=on tall and convert|1.2|m|abbr=on wide,Wessén & Jansson 1940-1943:440] and it was raised in memory of a father who appears to have travelled to Greece.Wessén & Jansson 1940-1943:440; Pritsak 1981:380]

Latin transliteration:

: [ikiþur- isina... ...-- * stiu nuk * at * kiatilu... faþur * sin krikfarn * k...]

Old Norse transcription:

: "Ingiþor [a] ... ... ok at Kætil..., faður sinn, Grikkfara(?) ..."

English translation:

: "Ingiþóra ... ... and in memory of Ketill-... her father, (a) traveller to Greece(?) ..."Entry U 270 in Rundata 2.0 for Windows.]

U 358

The runestone U 358 in the RAK style was first mentioned by Richard Dybeck who discovered the stone in the foundation of the belfry of Skepptuna church. The parishioners did not allow him to uncover the inscription completely, and they later hid the stone under a thick layer of soil. It was not until 1942 that it was removed from the belfry and was raised anew a few paces away. The stone is in light grayish granite and it is convert|2.05|m|abbr=on tall above the ground and convert|0.78|m|abbr=on wide. The contractor of the runestone was named "Folkmarr" and it is a name that is otherwise unknown from Viking Age Scandinavia, although it is known to have existed after the close of the Viking Age. It was on the other hand a common name in West Germanic languages and especially among the Franks.Wessén & Jansson 1943-1946:108ff]

Latin transliteration:

: fulkmar × lit × risa × stin × þina × iftiR × fulkbiarn × sun × sin × saR × itaþis × uk miþ krkum × kuþ × ialbi × ans × ot uk salu

Old Norse transcription:

: "Folkmarr let ræisa stæin þenna æftiR Folkbiorn, sun sinn. SaR ændaðis ok með Grikkium. Guð hialpi hans and ok salu."

English translation:

: "Folkmarr had this stone raised in memory of Folkbjörn, his son. He also met his end among the Greeks. May God help his spirit and soul."Entry U 358 in Rundata 2.0 for Windows.]

U 374

Runestone U 374 was a runestone that once existed in Örby. In 1673, during the national search for historic monuments, Abraham Winge reported that there were two runestones standing at Örby. In 1684, Peringskiöld went to Örby in order to document and depict the stones, but he found only one standing (.

Latin transliteration:

: [... litu ' rita : stain þino * iftiR * o-hu... hon fil o kriklontr kuþ hi-lbi sal...]

Old Norse transcription:

: "... letu retta stæin þenna æftiR ... ... Hann fell a Grikklandi. Guð hi [a] lpi sal [u] ."

English translation:

: "... had this stone erected in memory of ... ... He fell in Greece. May God help (his) soul."Entry U 374 in Rundata 2.0 for Windows.]

U 431

Runestone U 431 was discovered, like U 430, in a field belonging to the inn of Åshusby when stones were blown up in order to prepare the field for growing crops in 1889. As the stone was lying with the inscription side downwards, it was blown up and it was not until the shards were picked up that the runes were discovered. The runestone was mended with concrete and moved to the atrium of the church of Norrsunda. The stone is in bluish grey gneiss, and it measures convert|1.95|m|abbr=on in height and convert|0.7|m|abbr=on in width. The surfaces are unusually smooth.Wessén & Jansson 1943-1946:221] It is in the Ringerike (Pr2) style, and it is attributed to the runemaster Åsmund Kåresson. It was raised by a father and mother, Tófa and Hemingr, in memory of their son, Gunnarr, who died "among the Greeks", and it is very unusual that the mother is mentioned before the father.Wessén & Jansson 1943-1946:222]

Latin transliteration:

: tufa auk hominkr litu rita stin þino ' abtiR kunor sun sin ' in -- hon u(a)R ta(u)-(r) miR krikium ut ' kuþ hialbi hons| |salu| |uk| |kuþs m--(i)(R)

Old Norse transcription:

: "Tofa ok HæmingR letu retta stæin þenna æftiR Gunnar, sun sinn. En ... hann vaR dau [ð] r meðr Grikkium ut. Guð hialpi hans salu ok Guðs m [oð] iR."

English translation:

: "Tófa and Hemingr had this stone erected in memory of Gunnarr, their son, and ... He died abroad among the Greeks. May God and God's mother help his soul."Entry U 431 in Rundata 2.0 for Windows.]

U 446

A fragment of the runestone U 446 in Droppsta is only attested from a documentation made during the national search for historic monuments in the 17th century, and during the preparation of the Uppland section of "Sveriges runinskrifter" (1940-1943) scholars searched unsuccessfully for any remains of the stone. The fragment was what remained of the bottom part of a runestone and it appears to have been in two pieces of which one had the first part of the inscription and the second one the last part. The fragment appears to have been c. convert|1.10|m|abbr=on high and convert|1.2|m|abbr=on wideWessén & Jansson 1943-1946:243] and its Urnes style is attributed to either Pr3 or Pr4. The runes isifara have been interpreted as "æist-fari" which means "traveller to Estonia",Pritsak 1981:362, 378] which is known from an inscription in Södermanland, but they are left as undeciphered by the Rundata project.

Latin transliteration:: [isifara * auk * ...r * sin * hon tu i krikum]

Old Norse transcription:

: " ok ... sinn. Hann do i Grikkium."

English translation:

: " and ... their. He died in Greece."Entry U 446 in Rundata 2.0 for Windows.]

U 518

Runestone U 518 in RAK style is located on the southern side of a piny slope some convert|700|m|abbr=on north-east of the main building of the homestead Västra Ledinge. The stone was made known by Richard Dybeck in several publications in the 1860s, and at the time it had recently been destroyed and was in several pieces of which the bottom part was still in the ground. In 1942, the stone was mended and raised anew at the original spot. The stone consists of gray and coarse granite.Wessén & Jansson 1943-1946:376]

The runestone was made in memory of three men of whom two died in Greece, while a third one, Freygeirr, died at a debated location written as i silu × nur. Richard Dybeck suggested that it might either refer to the nearby estate of Skällnora or lake Siljan, and Sophus Bugge identified the location as "Saaremaa north" ("Øysilu nor"), whereas Erik Brate considered the location to have been Salo in present-day Finland.Wessén & Jansson 1943-1946:378] The contemporary view, since the retranslations by Otterbjörk (1961) and Salberger (1997), is that the runes refer to a sound at the island Selaön in Mälaren.

Latin transliteration:

: þurkir × uk × suin × þu litu × risa × stin × þina × iftiR × urmiR × uk × urmulf × uk × frikiR × on × etaþis × i silu × nur × ian þiR antriR × ut i × krikum × kuþ ihlbi --R(a) ot × uk salu

Old Norse transcription:

: "Þorgærðr ok Svæinn þau letu ræisa stæin þenna æftiR OrmæiR ok Ormulf ok FrøygæiR. Hann ændaðis i Silu nor en þæiR andriR ut i Grikkium. Guð hialpi [þæi] Ra and ok salu."

English translation:

: "Þorgerðr and Sveinn, they had this stone raised in memory of Ormgeirr and Ormulfr and Freygeirr. He met his end in the sound of Sila (Selaön), and the others abroad in Greece. May God help their spirits and souls."Entry U 518 in Rundata 2.0 for Windows.]

U 540

Runestone U 540 is in the mid-Urnes (Pr4) style and it is attributed to the runemaster Åsmund Kåresson. It is mounted with iron to the northern wall of the church of Husby-Sjuhundra, but when the stone was first documented by the stones were removed and attached outside the northern wall. The stone is in red sandstone and it is convert|1.50|m|abbr=on high and convert|1.13|m|abbr=on wide. Several parts of the stone and its inscription have been lost, and it is worn down due to its former use as a threshold.Wessén & Jansson 1943-1946:423]

One theory, proposed by Braun (1910) is based on the runestones .E.g. Braun 1910:99-118, Wessén & Jansson 1943-1946:426ff, and Pritsak 1981:376, 425, 430ff]

Latin transliteration:

: airikr ' auk hokun ' auk inkuar aukk rahn [ilt] r ' þou h--... ... ...-R ' -na hon uarþ [tau] þ(r) [a] kriklati ' kuþ hialbi hons| |salu| |uk| |kuþs muþi(R)

Old Norse transcription:

: "ÆirikR ok Hakon ok Ingvarr ok Ragnhildr þau ... ... ... ... Hann varð dauðr a Grikklandi. Guð hialpi hans salu ok Guðs moðiR."

English translation:

: "Eiríkr and Hákon and Ingvarr and Ragnhildr, they ... ... ... ... He died in Greece. May God and God's mother help his soul."Entry U 540 in Rundata 2.0 for Windows.]

U 792

Runestone U 792 is in the Fp style and it is attributed to the runemaster Balli. The stone is in gray granite and it measures convert|1.65|m|abbr=on in hight and convert|1.19|m|abbr=on in width. It was originally raised together with a second runestone, with one on each side of the Eriksgata where the road passed a ford,Jansson 1980:22] c. convert|300|m|abbr=on west of where the farm Ulunda is today.Wessén & Jansson 1949-1951:379] The Eriksgata was the path that newly elected Swedish kings passed when they toured the country in order to be accepted by the local assemblies. The stone was first documented by Johannes Bureus in the 17th century, and later in the same century by Johan Peringskiöld, who considered it to be a remarkable stone raised in memory of a petty king, or war chief, in pagan times. When Richard Dybeck visited the stone, in 1863, it was reclining considerably, and in 1925, the stone was reported to have completely fallen down at the bank of the stream. It was not until 1946 that the Swedish National Heritage Board arranged to have it re-erected.Wessén & Jansson 1949-1951:380] It was raised in memory of a man (probably Haursi) by his son, Kárr, and his brother-in-law. Haursi had returned from Greece a wealthy man, which left his son heir to a fortune.Harrison & Svensson 2007:34]

Latin transliteration:

: kar lit * risa * stin * þtina * at * mursa * faþur * sin * auk * kabi * at * mah sin * fu- hfila * far * aflaþi ut i * kri [k] um * arfa * sinum

Old Norse transcription:

: "Karr let ræisa stæin þenna at Horsa(?), faður sinn, ok Kabbi(?)/Kampi(?)/Kappi(?)/Gapi(?) at mag sinn. Fo [r] hæfila, feaR aflaði ut i Grikkium arfa sinum."

English translation:

: "Kárr had this stone raised in memory of Haursi(?), his father; and Kabbi(?)/Kampi(?)/Kappi(?)/Gapi(?) in memory of his kinsman-by-marriage. (He) travelled competently; earned wealth abroad in Greece for his heir."Entry U 792 in Rundata 2.0 for Windows.]

U 922

Runestone U 922 is in Pr4 (Urnes) style and it measures convert|2.85|m|abbr=on in height and convert|1.5|m|abbr=on in width.Wessén & Jansson 1953-1958:9] It is hidden inside the floor in Uppsala Cathedral, next to the tomb of king Gustav Vasa of Sweden. Its existence was first documented by Johannes Bureus in 1594, and in 1666, Johannes Schefferus commented on the stone as one of many runestones that had been perceived as heathen and which had therefore been used as construction material for the cathedral. Schefferus considered U 922 to be the most notable one of these stones and he regretted that parts were under the pillar and that it could thus not be read entirely.Wessén & Jansson 1953-1958:5] In 1675, Olof Verelius discovered that it had been made in memory of a traveller to Greece,Wessén & Jansson 1953-1958:5ff] but still the French traveller Aubrey de la Motraye wrote home, in 1712, that he had been informed that it had been made in memory of a traveller to Jerusalem.Wessén & Jansson 1953-1958:7] The last scholar to report that the inscription was visible was Olof Celsius in 1729, and it appears that it was soon covered by a new layer of floor. In 1950, professor Elias Wessén and the county custodian of antiquities requested that it be removed for better analysis together with three other runestones, but the request was rejected by the Royal Board of Construction (KBS) because of safety concerns.Wessén & Jansson 1953-1958:8]

Ígulbjörn also appears on a second runestone in Uppsala Cathedral, U 925, made by Ígulbjörn in memory of his son GagR who died "in the South", with "South" likely referring to the Byzantine Empire.Pritsak 1981:381]

Latin transliteration:

: ikimuntr ' uk þorþr * [iarl ' uk uikibiarn * litu ' risa * stain ' at] ikifast * faþur [* sin sturn*maþr '] sum ' for ' til * girkha ' hut ' sun ' ionha * uk * at * igulbiarn * in ybiR [* risti *]

Old Norse transcription:

: "Ingimundr ok Þorðr, Iarl ok Vigbiorn(?) letu ræisa stæin at Ingifast, faður sinn, styrimaðr, sum for til Girkia ut, sunn Iona(?), ok at Igulbiorn. En ØpiR risti."

English translation:

: "Ingimundr and Þórðr (and) Jarl and Vígbjôrn(?) had the stone raised in memory of Ingifastr, their father, a captain who travelled abroad to Greece, Ióni's(?) son; and in memory of Ígulbjôrn. And Œpir carved."Entry U 922 in Rundata 2.0 for Windows.]

U 956

Runestone U 956 was made by the runemaster Åsmund Kåresson in Urnes (Pr3) style. It is located at Vedyxa near Uppsala, c. convert|80|m|abbr=on east of the crossroads of the road to Lövsta and the country road between Uppsala and Funbo. The stone is in gray granite and it has an unusual shape with two flat surfaces and an obtuse angle between them. The inscription is convert|2.27|m|abbr=on high, of which the upper part is convert|1.37|m|abbr=on and the lower part convert|0.9|m|abbr=on, and the width is convert|0.95|m|abbr=on.Wessén & Jansson 1953-1958:79]

It was first documented by Johannes Haquini Rhezelius (d. 1666), and later by Johan Peringskiöld (1710), who commented that the inscription was legible in spite of the stone having been split in two parts. Unlike modern scholars, Peringskiöld connected this stone, like the other Greece runestones, to the Gothic wars in south-eastern Europe from the 3rd century and onwards.Wessén & Jansson 1953-1958:80ff] Olof Celsius visited the stone three times, and the last time was in 1726 together with his nephew Anders Celsius. Olof Celsius noted that Peringskiöld had been wrong and that the stone was intact, although it gives an impression of being split in two,Wessén & Jansson 1953-1958:78] and the same observation was made by Richard Dybeck in 1866.Wessén & Jansson 1953-1958:78ff]

Latin transliteration:

: ' stniltr ' lit * rita stain þino ' abtiR ' uiþbiurn ' krikfara ' buanta sin kuþ hialbi hos| |salu| |uk| |kuþs u muþiR osmuntr kara sun markaþi

Old Norse transcription:

: "Stæinhildr let retta stæin þenna æptiR Viðbiorn Grikkfara, boanda sinn. Guð hialpi hans salu ok Guðs moðiR. Asmundr Kara sunn markaði."

English translation:

: "Steinhildr had this stone erected in memory of Viðbjôrn, her husband, a traveller to Greece. May God and God's mother help his soul. Ásmundr Kári' son marked."Entry U 956 in Rundata 2.0 for Windows.]

U 1016

Runestone U 1016 is in light grey and coarse granite, and it is convert|1.91|m|abbr=on high and convert|1.62|m|abbr=on wide. The stone stands in a wooded field convert|5|m|abbr=on west of the road to the village Fjuckby, convert|50|m|abbr=on of the crossroads, and c. convert|100|m|abbr=on south-south-east of the farm Fjuckby. The first scholar to comment on the stone was Johannes Bureus, who visited the stone on 19th June 1638. Several other scholars would visit the stone during the following centuries, such as Rhezelius in 1667, Peringskiöld in 1694, and Olof Celsius in 1726 and in 1738. In 1864, Richard Dybeck noted that the runestone was one of several in the vicinity that had been raised anew during the summer.Wessén & Jansson 1953-1958:223]

Parts of the ornamentation have been lost due to flaking, which probably happened during the 17th century, but the inscription is intact. The art on the runestone has tentatively been classified under style Pr2 (Ringerike), but it is considered unusual and it is different from that on most other runestones in the district. Other stones in the same style are the Vang stone and the Alstad stone in Norway, and Sö 280 and U 1146 in Sweden. The style was better suited for wood and metal and it is likely that only few runemasters ever tried to apply it on stone.Wessén & Jansson 1953-1958:231]

There have been several different interpretations of parts of the inscription,For an extensive seven page discussion on various interpretions, see Wessén & Jansson 1953-1958:224-233] but the following two interpretations appear in "Rundata" (2004):

Latin transliteration:

: P * liutr : sturimaþr * riti : stain : þinsa : aftir : sunu * sina : sa hit : aki : sims uti furs : sturþ(i) * -(n)ari * kuam *: hn krik*:hafnir : haima tu : ...-mu-... ...(k)(a)(r)... (i)uk (r)(u)-(a) * ...

: Q * liutr : sturimaþr * riti : stain : þinsa : aftir : sunu * sina : sa hit : aki : sims uti furs : sturþ(i) * -(n)ari * kuam *: hn krik * : hafnir : haima tu : ...-mu-... ...(k)(a)(r)... (i)uk (r)(u)-(a) * ...

Old Norse transcription:

: P "Liutr styrimaðr retti stæin þennsa æftiR sunu sina. Sa het Aki, sem's uti fors. Styrði [k] nærri, kvam hann GrikkhafniR, hæima do ... ... hiogg(?) ru [n] aR(?) ..."

: Q "Liutr styrimaðr retti stæin þennsa æftiR sunu sina. Sa het Aki, sem's uti fors. Styrði [k] nærri, kvam hann Grikkia. HæfniR, hæima do ... ... hiogg(?) ru [n] aR(?) ..."

English translation:

: P "Ljótr the captain erected this stone in memory of his sons. He who perished abroad was called Áki. (He) steered a cargo-ship; he came to Greek harbours; died at home ... ... cut the runes ..."

: Q "Ljótr the captain erected this stone in memory of his sons. He who perished abroad was called Áki. (He) steered a cargo-ship; he came to Greece. Hefnir died at home ... ... cut the runes ..."Entry U 1016 in Rundata 2.0 for Windows.]

U 1087

Runestone U 1087, originally located in Lövsta, has since disappeared. It is in the mid-Urnes (Pr4) style, and was raised by a mother in memory of her two sons, one of whom died in Greece.

Latin transliteration:

: [fastui * lit * risa stain * iftiR * karþar * auk * utirik suni * sino * onar uarþ tauþr i girkium *]

Old Norse transcription:

: "Fastvi let ræisa stæin æftiR Gærðar ok Otrygg, syni sina. Annarr varð dauðr i Grikkium."

English translation:

: "Fastvé had the stone raised in memory of Gerðarr and Ótryggr, her sons. The other (= the latter) died in Greece." [Entry U 1087 in Rundata 2.0 for Windows.]


There are seven runestones in Södermanland that relate of voyages to Greece. Two of them appear to mention commanders of the Varangian Guard and a second talks of a thegn, a high ranking warrior, who fought and died together with Greeks.

ö Fv1954;20

This runestones was carved and raised by Björn in memory of a man who died in Greece. It was discovered in 1952 during the plowing of a field, together with an uninscribed stone. It was consequently part of a twin monument and they had been positioned on both sides of a locally important road, where they had marked a ford. Both stones had lost their upper parts and the runestone's present height is convert|1.52|m|abbr=on (of which convert|1.33|m|abbr=on is above ground) and it is convert|0.55|m|abbr=on wide. [Jansson 1954:19-20] Its style is Fp.

Latin transliteration:

: biurn : lit : risa : stin : i(f)... ... ... ...r : austr : i : kirikium : biurn hik

Old Norse transcription:

: "Biorn let ræisa stæin æf [tiR] ... ... [dauð] r austr i Grikkium. Biorn hiogg."

English translation:

: "Bjôrn had the stone raised in memory of ... ... died in the east in Greece. Bjôrn cut."Entry Sö Fv1954;20 in Rundata 2.0 for Windows.]

ö 82

Runestone Sö 82 is found at the church of Tumbo. Its style is either Fp or Ringerike (Pr1). The stone was raised by Vésteinn in memory of his brother Freysteinn who died in Greece. According to Omeljan Pritsak, Freysteinn, the brother of Vésteinn, was the commander of a retinue.Pritsak 1981:378]

Latin transliteration:

: [+] ui--(a)n [× (b)a-] iR × (i)þrn + RftRh × fraitRn × bruþur × [is] (R)n × þuþR × kRkum (×) [þulR × iuk × uln ×]

Old Norse transcription:

: "Vi [st] æinn <ba-iR> æftiR Frøystæin, broður sinn, dauðr [i] Grikkium. Þuli(?)/ÞulR(?) hiogg ."

English translation:

: "Vésteinn ... in memory of Freysteinn, his brother, (who) died in Greece. Þuli(?)/Þulr(?) cut ..." [Entry Sö 82 in Rundata 2.0 for Windows.]

ö 85

Runestone Sö 85, consisting of four fragments found at Västerby, is in the rare KB style. It was raised by at least two people in memory of their father who died in Greece.

Latin transliteration:

: : ansuar : auk : ern... ... [: faþur sin : han : enta] þis : ut i : krikum (r)uþr : ---...unk------an-----

Old Norse transcription:

: "Andsvarr ok Ærn... ... faður sinn. Hann ændaðis ut i Grikkium ... ..."

English translation:

: "Andsvarr and Ern-... ... their father. He met his end abroad in Greece. ... ..." [Entry Sö 85 in Rundata 2.0 for Windows.]

ö 163

Runestone Sö 163, found in Rycksta, is of the Fp style, dating it to the first half of the 11th century. It was raised by a father, Þryðríkr, in memory of his two sons, one of whom travelled to Greece and "divided up gold". This expression also appears on runestone Sö 165, below, and it can either mean that he was responsible for distributing payment to the members of the Varangian Guard or that he took part in the division of booty.Pritsak 1981:379]

Latin transliteration:

: þruRikr : stain : at : suni : sina : sniala : trakia : for : ulaifr : i : krikium : uli : sifti :

Old Norse transcription:

: "ÞryðrikR stæin at syni sina, snialla drængia, for OlæifR/GullæifR i Grikkium gulli skifti."

English translation:

: "Þryðríkr (raised) the stone in memory of his sons, able valiant men. Óleifr/Gulleifr travelled to Greece, divided (up) gold." [Entry Sö 163 in Rundata 2.0 for Windows.]

ö 165

Runestone Sö 165 is found in Grinda, and its style is tentatively given as RAK. It was raised by a mother, Guðrun, in memory of her son, Heðinn. Like runestone Sö 163, it also reports that the man concerned went to Greece and "divided up gold" (compare Sö 163, above). The inscription itself is a poem in fornyrðislag.

Latin transliteration:

: kuþrun : raisti : stain : at : hiþin : uaR : nafi suais : uaR : han :: i : krikum iuli skifti : kristr : hialb : ant : kristunia :

Old Norse transcription:

: "Guðrun ræisti stæin at Heðin, vaR nefi Svæins. VaR hann i Grikkium, gulli skifti. Kristr hialp and kristinna."

English translation:

: "Guðrún raised the stone in memory of Heðinn; (he) was Sveinn's nephew. He was in Greece, divided (up) gold. May Christ help Christians' spirits." [Entry Sö 165 in Rundata 2.0 for Windows.]

ö 170

Runestone Sö 170 is found in Nälberga, and its style is tentatively given as RAK, dating it to around 1000. It was raised by three sons in memory of their father, a "thegn of strength", who fought and died together with Greeks, probably in a battle somewhere in the Byzantine Empire. The runes are primarily of the long-branch kind, but some of them are cipher runes of the short-twig kind.

Guðvér, the youngest son, rose to become the commander of the Varangian Guard in the mid-11th century.Pritsak 1981:376] This is inferred from a second mention of Guðvér on the runestone Sö 217, which was raised in memory of one of the members of Guðvér's retinue.

Latin transliteration:

: : uistain : agmunr : kuþuiR : þaiR : r...(s)þu : stain : at : baulf : faþur sin þrutaR þiagn han miþ kriki uarþ tu o /þum þa/þumþa

Old Norse transcription:

: "Vistæinn, Agmundr, GuðveR, þæiR r [æi] sþu stæin at Baulf, faður sinn, þrottaR þiagn. Hann með Grikki varð, do a /<þum> þa/<þumþa>."

English translation:

: "Vésteinn, Agmundr (and) Guðvér, they raised the stone in memory of Báulfr, their father, a Þegn of strength. He was with the Greeks; then died with them(?) / at <þum>." [Entry Sö 170 in Rundata 2.0 for Windows.]

ö 345

Runestone Sö 345 is found at the church of Ytterjärna. No style has been attributed to it, and thus no more exact date can be other than the Viking Age. Most of the inscription has been lost, yet the remaining fragments relate that it was raised in honour of a man who died in Greece.

Latin transliteration:

: A ... × þinsa × at × kai(r)... ... ...-n * eR * e [n-a] þr × ut - × kr...: B ... ...roþur × ...: C ... ... raisa : ...

Old Norse transcription:

: A "... [stæ] in þennsa at GæiR... ... [Ha] nn eR æn [d] aðr ut [i] Gr [ikkium] .": B "... [b] roður ...": C "... [let] ræisa ..."

English translation:

: "... this stone in memory of Geir-... ... He had met his end abroad in Greece." [Entry Sö 345 in Rundata 2.0 for Windows.]


In Östergötland, there are two runestones that mention Greece. One, the notable Högby Runestone, describes the deaths of several brothers in different parts of Europe.

Ög 81

The Högby runestone is in Ringerike (Pr1) style. It commemorates Özurr, one of the first Varangians who is known to have died in the service of the Byzantine Emperor, and he is estimated to have died around 1010, or in the late 10th century.Rundata] He was one of the sons of the "good man" Gulli, and the runestone describes a situation that may have been common for Scandinavian families at this time: the stone was made on the orders of Özur's niece, Þorgerðr, in memory of her uncles who were all dead.Pritsak 1981:375]

Þorgerðr probably had the stone made as soon as she had learnt that Assur, the last of her uncles, had died in Greece, and she likely did this to ensure her right of inheritance.Larsson 2002:141] The inscription on the reverse side of the stone, relating how her other uncles died, is in fornyrðislag.Ásmundr probably died in the Battle of Fýrisvellir, in the 980s, and it was probably at the side of king Eric the Victorious.Larsson 2002:142-143] Özurr had entered into the service of a more powerful liege and died for the Byzantine Emperor.Larsson 2002:143-144] Halfdan may have died either on Bornholm or in a holmgang,Larsson 2002:144] and where Kári died remain uncertain. The most likely interpretation may be that he died on Od, the old name for the north-western cape of Zealand. Búi's location of death is not given, but it was probably in a way which was not as glorious as those of his brothers.

Latin transliteration:

: A * þukir * resþi * stin * þansi * eftiR * asur * sen * muþur*bruþur * sin * iaR * eataþis * austr * i * krikum *: B * kuþr * karl * kuli * kat * fim * syni * feal * o * furi * frukn * treks * asmutr * aitaþis * asur * austr * i krikum * uarþ * o hulmi * halftan * tribin * kari * uarþ * at uti *: C auk * tauþr * bui * þurkil * rist * runaR *

Old Norse transcription:

: A "Þorgærðr(?) ræisþi stæin þannsi æftiR Assur, sinn moðurbroður sinn, eR ændaðis austr i Grikkium.": B "Goðr karl Gulli gat fæm syni. Fioll a Føri frøkn drængR Asmundr, ændaðis Assurr austr i Grikkium, varð a Holmi Halfdan drepinn, Kari varð at Uddi(?)": C "ok dauðr Boi. Þorkell ræist runaR."

English translation:

: A "Þorgerðr(?) raised this stone in memory of Ôzurr, her mother's brother. He met his end in the east in Greece.": B "The good man Gulli got five sons. The brave valiant man Ásmundr fell at Fœri; Ôzurr met his end in the east in Greece; Halfdan was killed at Holmr (Bornholm?); Kári was (killed) at Oddr(?);": C "also dead (is) Búi. Þorkell carved the runes." [Entry Ög 81 in Rundata 2.0 for Windows.]

Ög 94

Runestone Ög 94 is located in the cemetery of the church Harstad. Its style is Ringerike (Pr1), dating it to the first half of the 11th century. It was raised by a woman in remembrance of her husband, whose name appears to have been Oddlaugr, who is described as a "good husband" and who died in Greece. Also noteworthy is the fact that the inscription mentions Haðistaðir, the Old Norse form of nearby Haddestad.

Latin transliteration:

: : askata : auk : kuþmutr : þau : risþu : kuml : þ [i] (t)a : iftiR : u-auk : iaR : buki| |i : haþistaþum : an : uaR : bunti : kuþr : taþr : i : ki [(r)] k [(i)(u)(m)]

Old Norse transcription:

: "Asgauta/Askatla ok Guðmundr þau ræisþu kumbl þetta æftiR O [ddl] aug(?), eR byggi i Haðistaðum. Hann vaR bondi goðr, dauðr i Grikkium(?)."

English translation:

: "Ásgauta/Áskatla and Guðmundr, they raised this monument in memory of Oddlaugr(?), who lived in Haðistaðir. He was a good husbandman; (he) died in Greece(?)" [Entry Ög 94 in Rundata 2.0 for Windows.]


From Västergötland, the waterways of which are oriented westwards, there is only one runestone that mentions Greece.

Vg 178

This rune stone is raised in the cemetery of the church of Kölaby. Its style is given as Pr1, which dates it to the first half of the 11th century. It was raised in memory of a man named Ásbjörn Kolbeinsson who died in Greece.

Latin transliteration:

: : agmuntr : risþi : stin : þonsi : iftiR : isbiurn : frinta : sin : auk : (a)(s)(a) : it : buta : sin : ian : saR : uaR : klbins : sun : saR : uarþ : tuþr : i : krikum

Old Norse transcription:

: "Agmundr ræisti stæin þannsi æftiR Æsbiorn, frænda sinn, ok Asa(?) at bonda sinn, en saR vaR Kulbæins sunn. SaR varð dauðr i Grikkium."

English translation:

: "Agmundr raised this stone in memory of Ásbjôrn, his kinsman; and Ása(?) in memory of her husbandman. And he was Kolbeinn's son; he died in Greece." [Entry Vg 178 in Rundata 2.0 for Windows.]


There was only one rune stone in Småland that mentioned Greece. The stone has disappeared, but not before its inscription was recorded by runologists.

m 46

Before runestone Sm 46 disappeared, it was located in Eriksstad. Its style was RAK, dating it to around 1000. It was raised by a woman in memory of her son, Sveinn, who died in Greece.

Latin transliteration:

: [...nui krþi : kubl : þesi : iftiR suin : sun : sin : im ÷ itaþisk ou*tr i krikum]

Old Norse transcription:

: " gærði kumbl þessi æftiR Svæin, sun sinn, eR ændaðis austr i Grikkium."

English translation:

: "...-vé made these monuments in memory of Sveinn, her son, who met his end in the east in Greece." [Entry Sm 46 in Rundata 2.0 for Windows.]


Only one runestone mentioning the Byzantine Empire has been found on Gotland. This may be due both to the fact that few rune stones were raised on Gotland in favour of image stones, as well as to the fact that the Gotlanders dealt mainly in trade, paying a yearly tribute to the Swedes for military protection. [See the "Gutasaga".]

G 216

Runestone G 216, located in the Gotlands fornsal museum, is dated to the second half of the 11th century. It apparently contains an account of the places visited by a well-travelled local merchant: Iceland, Serkland, Greece and Jerusalem.

Latin transliteration:

: : ormiga : ulfua-r : krikiaR : iaursaliR (:) islat : serklat

Old Norse transcription:

: "Ormika, Ulfhva [t] r(?), GrikkiaR, IorsaliR, Island, Særkland."

English translation:

: "Ormika, Ulfhvatr(?), Greece, Jerusalem, Iceland, Serkland." [Entry G 216 in Rundata 2.0 for Windows.]



*Braun, F. (1910). "Hvem var Yngvarr enn Vidforli? ett bidrag till Sveriges historia under xi århundradets första hälft", in Ekhoff, E. (ed) "Fornvännen årgång 5". [] pp. 99-118.
*Enoksen, Lars Magnar. (1998). "Runor : historia, tydning, tolkning". Historiska Media, Falun. ISBN 91-88930-32-7
*Harrison, D. & Svensson, K. (2007). "Vikingaliv". Fälth & Hässler, Värnamo. ISBN 978-91-27-35725-9.
*Jansson, S. B. F. (1954). "Uppländska, småländska och sörmländska runstensfynd", in Bohrn, E. (ed) "Fornvännen årgång 54". [] pp. 1-25.
*Jansson, Sven B. (1980). "Runstenar". STF, Stockholm. ISBN 91-7156-015-7.
*Jesch, Judith (2001). [ "Ships and Men in the Late Viking Age: The Vocabulary of Runic Inscriptions and Skaldic Verse"] . Boydell Press. ISBN 0-851-15826-9.
*Larsson, Mats G (2002). "Götarnas Riken : Upptäcktsfärder Till Sveriges Enande". Bokförlaget Atlantis AB ISBN 9789174866414
*Pritsak, Omeljan. (1981). "The origin of Rus"'. Cambridge, Mass.: Distributed by Harvard University Press for the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute. ISBN 0-674-64465-4.
* [ "Nordisk runnamnslexikon"] by Lena Peterson at the Swedish Institute for Linguistics and Heritage (Institutet för språk och folkminnen).

External links

* [ An English Dictionary of Runic Inscriptions of the Younger Futhark, at the university of Nottingham]

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