Whetstone with rune inscriptions in Oslo

Runes. Photo: Pixabay.com

Whetstone with rune inscriptions found at Bispeborgen

A small whetstone with rune inscriptions made for a big hue and cry when it was found by archaeologists who work at the projected Follo railroad track.


The small piece of processed slate was found in what is the medieval city of Oslo, just west of Bispeborgen (the Bishop’s castle).

– Finding runic inscriptions at archaeological excavations is rare, and the rumor quickly spread among the other archaeologists, says archaeologist and local leader at the excavations in the Old Town, Kristine Ødeby.

Only one whetstone inscribed with runes has been previously been found in Norway. That find is from Bergen.

the Runes. Ill: NIKU

On the whetstone, the runes are the “letters” æ, r, k, n, a. But what they are supposed to represent is not that easy to determine.

Rune experts at the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) have come up with four possible interpretations, ranging from the name of a person to words such as “scared”, “ugly” and “pain”.

– This is probably not a schooled rune writer, says Karen Holmqvist, doctoral student at NIKU and a specialist on runes.

According to NIKU, the find suggest that runes were relatively widespread in society before they were banned by the church.

– This is probably only a feeble attempt to write a name or another rather trivial inscription on a whetstone, Ødeby and Holmqvist writes in a blog post about the discovery.

As a side note: the finder of the whetstone apparently has won the weekly wine lottery every time since he found it.


©  NTB Scanpix / Norway Today

1 Comment on "Whetstone with rune inscriptions in Oslo"

  1. The claim that the church forbade runes is pure bullshit that the journalist pulled out of his arse. Runes were in common use in the middle ages, and have been used in Sweden up until 100 years ago

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