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The first presentation (Ralph 2005) can be found on this website.
At a seminar in Oslo at April 26 2006 between runologists, linguists and philologists Bo Ralph mentioned as a lecturer that the reading of the text is connected with at least 10 major uncertainties - without having time to go through all the examples. Other scholars argued against some of the examples - especially the Theodoric-stanza was discussed. Bo Ralph mentioned and all agreed about the problems with the uncertain reading due to the ancient text making it possible to read the text in several ways. Bo Ralph emphasized that in his opinion the linguistically most correct version shall be used if there is no convincing interpretation of other possible versions - which does not contradict that if there is a more convincing interpretation based on a reading which is not strictly in accordance with a known or reconstructed language of that time (but still acceptable) this reading shall be used. Due to the combination of metrical stanzas, encryption, riddles with traps, Futhark incantations, hiding of riddles and the general character of the runes we cannot expect the text to be grammatically correct.
Michael Barnes has later in an article opposed the dating of the runes used by Bo Ralph (Barnes 2007) and Michael Schulte has in a review opposed the reference to Rg-Veda and the translation of the Theodoric-stanza (Schulte 2008 a). Both scholars prefer the reading of Runverket.
The interpretation presented at this website was not mentioned at the seminar in Oslo.
The encryption and the set-up of the runes are used both to hide messages and to tell how to read the text. This use is not obvious to the unprepared reader. Consequently the set-up will be described currently with the interpretation in this article as it can be regarded more like a confirmation than a guideline to us. This note shall be regarded as a more systematic summary using the final interpretation of the article too - as it is independent of this explanation.
The encryption of the runes was acknowledged already by Sophus Bugge. After a shift in Riddle no. 14 from the new alphabet to the old Futhark (except for the first letter) the rune master used in Riddle no. 15 a famous method known from Julius Caesar and used even today as "Ceasar's cipher", where each letter was displaced x (here x=1) places in the alphabet. In Riddle no. 16 the rune master used three different kinds of cipher code with figures representing the number of a letter in the runic alphabet - a well known method too. In "Ceasar's cipher" the reader needed to know the alphabet and the key cipher. The consequent use of "sakumukmini" as the first word in a stanza after a shift told the reader which system to be used in the stanza instead of a key cipher. Maybe even which Futhark to be used was shown after the "+"sign in the end of the displacement lines as a confirmation. After the last "+"sign he used an advanced kind of coding being unsolved until now - probably an incantation.
When having read this article it should be obvious that the human family of Vemod and his destiny were described in riddles by using the usual runes of that time (today called Roek runes). The past origin of this family was in Riddle no. 14 described with ancient runes and the world of the gods (divine ancestors) was in Riddle no. 15 and 16 described with cryptic runes. The first line to be read in the plain text was marked by a big unusual letter. As was the first line of the ancient and encrypted text - but this time the letter itself was an encryption consisting of 6 "f"s. This text was organized as a frame around Riddle no. 12 and 13 at the backside. Together with the ordinal numbers of the riddles the high letters in the beginning and the end of the riddles at the front side (including the right side) possibly marked that this text should be regarded as a kind of a circle (formed like a torque) until all the missing riddles before Riddle no. 12 were found - making the first stanza (or its last line after the "+"sign) to Riddle no. 11 too.
Just as the shift to encryption inside a line the beginning of a riddle inside a line is marked by a special sign (+ or bullit) - probably supporting the textual separator, "sakum" and "that". The text, however, contains three more signs in Riddle no 1 and 13 (+ and x). They are regarded to show the position of the 9 riddles hidden at the stone according to the numbering of the riddles. Of course that use can be discussed, but as the textual interpretation indicates exactly the same way of reading, the two methods do support each other.
The ancient "t" being used at place 3, 10 and 13 among the "modern roek runes" can even be regarded as a "pointer" to important positions like the figures in Riddle no. 1 (Chapter 5).
The complicated use of the runes and encryption above has nothing to do with numerology, holy or magic runes. The only example of the last kind at the Roek Stone is probably the use of NIT, the old Futhark of 24 signs as an incantation formula and the figure 24 as a symbol for that formula. This well-known use of the Futhark alphabet was probably an incantation of the gods (Odin?) - here placed in the frame at the backside of the stone. Inside this frame was placed a text about the death of Vemod and the names of his ancestors, where kennings together with the incantation may have formed a hidden prayer. Details and parallels are explained in Chapter 7, where von Friesen's problem with counting the signs in the frame as a product of 24 is solved too.
Hervarar Saga is known from several manuscripts being compiled in different way by the translators. It is most easy to find Peter Tunstall's English version from 2004, "The Saga of Hervor and King Heidrek the Wise" Link or the ON version. The character of the sword is presented in its chapter 1. The name may refer to a sword belonging to the kings of the Tervingian Goths, but the name may be a late invention. The uncertain episodes: Both Hjalmar and Odd had according to Angantyr won the sword (chapter 4 (ON-version III)), which Hervor got in the mound of her father. At Gudmund (The Gepidic royal name Kunimund?) a man took it from Hervor, who won it back (chapter 6 (ON-version V)). 9 slaves won it from Heidrek, and Angantyr won it back.
Hervarar-saga, chapter XIV and attachment (XV). Peter Tunstall, 2004 (chapter 14 and attachment).
The British/American scholar, Carl Edlund Anderson, has suggested that some of the names used in Hloedskvida from Hervarar Saga appear to be relics of old Germanic names which may be transferred to Scandinavia before the legends of Attila and Theodoric and preserved there. An example is Harvadfjoell (Xarpat-) as a version of the Carpathians - the border region of the Herulian Kingdom. This theory is confirmed by Professor Hans Frede Nielsen, Sydjysk Universitet, who has dated the sound changes to 500 BC.
Wessén 1958, page 44. Wessén's description of the connection with Theodoric is generally accepted (known spelling: Roek:Þiaurik, Deor:Þéodríc, Saga:Þiðrik, Gothic:Thiudareiks, Younger Faroese:Tuirik(ur), Norwegian name:Tjoðrek, Danish runic parallel: ON Tjoðvi spelled Þiauþui (Goerlev 750 AD)). The connection was already noticed by Heinzel in 1889 and accepted later by Sophus Bugge. The original sources were Agnellus (Abbot Agnel of Blachernes) and Walafrid Strabus. According to Agnellus Theodoric was wearing a lance in his right hand and a shield at his left arm. Accordingly he must have worn his sword in its sheath as Charlemagne did at his statuette (not drawn as the horseman at the Sparloesa Stone) - just as we should expect the two items to be taken as war booties. Otto von Friesen used the different ways to describe his weapons as an argument against Theodoric, but admitted that the argument had no importance. This difference from the real statue seen by very few Scandinavians may have been intentional, as "the shield strapped" over the shoulder was a way to tell in a riddle that the sword was in its sheath without mentioning the sword as these items were the hidden answer of the riddle.
Loennroth, 1977, page 24-26. Bertelsen, 1911, 414. In the later Norwegian "Didrichs Saga" (based on German legends) we can read about a likneski (normally translated as "graven image"): "In Rome he let a 'likneski' of himself and his horse Falka be made and placed it at the top of the town wall. It was made by copper. Another 'likneski' of himself he ordered in the northern stronghold (Ravenna). There he was standing at the tower pointing with his sword at the stone bridge crossing the river. Also in many other places paintings and standing pictures were erected." Also the magic swords Ekkisax, Naglring and the famous Miming are in the Germanic legends combined with Theodoric - the last combination in the Old English Waldhere from the Viking Ages. Often this was combined with the mentioning of 12 giants as in Hervarer-saga. It is obvious that images of Theodoric with horse and sword were a part of the myth about Theodoric in the Germanic parts of Europe - and accordingly the obvious explanation of war booties and the "Theodoric stanza" at the Roek Stone too.
Cassiodorus: Varia IV, 2 (507-511 AD)(Lakatos 1978 - Schwarcz 2005): From King Theodoric to the King of the Heruli: “It has been always held amongst the nations a great honor to be adopted as "filius per arma." Our children by nature often disappoint our expectations, but to say that we esteem a man worthy to be our son is indeed a praise. As such, after the manner of the nations and in manly fashion, do we now beget you. We send you horses, spears, and shields, and the rest of the trappings of the warrior; but above all we send you our judgment that you are worthy to be our son. Highest among the nations will you be considered who are thus approved by the mind of Theodoric. And though the son should die rather than see his father suffer aught of harm, we in adopting you are also throwing round you the shield of our protection. The Heruli have known the value of Gothic help in old times, and that help will now be yours. A and B, the bearers of these letters, will explain to you in Gothic (patrio sermone) the rest of our message to you.”
Procopius Book VI, xiv. "But as time went on they became superior to all the barbarians who dwelt about them both in power and in numbers, and, as was natural, they attacked and vanquished them severally and kept plundering their possessions by force. And finally they made the Lombards, who were Christians, together with several other nations, subject and tributary to themselves, though the barbarians of that region were not accustomed to that sort of thing; but the Eruli were led to take this course by love of money and lawless spirit. ... And Rodolphus ... marched against the Lombards, who were doing no wrong, without charging against them any fault or alleging any violation of their agreement, but bringing upon them a war which had no real cause. ... And when the two armies came close to one another, it so happened that the sky above the Lombards was obscured by a sort of cloud, black and very thick, but above the Eruli it was exceedingly clear. And judging by this one would have supposed that the Eruli were entering a conflict to their own harm; for there can be no more forbidding portent than this for barbarians as they go into battle. However, the Eruli gave no heed even to this, but in absolute disregard of it they advanced against their enemy with utter contempt ... many of the Eruli perished and Rodolphus himself also perished." Procopius' dating of the battle may appear as 494 AD, but the professors Herwig Wolfram and Andreas Schwarcz, the University of Vienna, have reconstructed the dating to 408 AD or probably 409 AD (Schwarcz 2005).
We know that event was known at the time of the Roek Stone, as it was told by Paulus Diaconus in a patriotic Lombardian version "forgetting" that they had been subdued by the Heruls before the battle - he just wrote they had a treaty. Nevertheless also Paulus in 790 AD quoted the Herulian messenger "Woe to the, wretched Herolia, who are punished by the anger of God". Paulus wrote in Latin "Domini" as a Christian, but in the Scandinavian version a messenger among the followers of Rodolfo would refer the pagan gods like Procopius did. Maybe Paulus was not aware that Rodolfo was pagan as Theodoric was an Arian Christian. The point in the anecdote was later used in other Norse legends too. The defeat and the name Rodolfo was mentioned both by Paulus and in a shorter version also in Origo Longobardorum (ca. 650 AD).
Paulus did not mention the honorable connection between Theodoric and Hrodolphus, but as he emphasized that the Lombards conquered the banner of Hrodolphus called "Bandum", which he had got from Theodoric, Paulus and his contemporaries were probably fully aware of the connection. [Paulus Diaconis, History of the Lombards, Book 1,xx]
Procopius Book VI, xiv. "...these men, led by many of the royal blood, traversed all the nations ... Coming thence to the ocean, they took to the sea, and putting in at Thule, remained there on the island [Scandinavian Peninsula] ...And one of the most numerous nations there are the Gautoi, and it was next to them that the incoming Eruli settled at the time of question."
Szabadbattayan, Hungary according to Tineke Looijenga (Looijenga 1997, page 96). Exact finding place unknown. According to the archaeologist Alexander Kiss (Kiss 1980, page 112) the buckle can be dated to the 5th century AD after the "Pannonische Hunnenepoche" ending 454 AD, while the runologists date it to the first half of the 5th century. The runes in "marings" are usual runes from the old 24 futhark met ie at the "erilaR"-inscription in Kragehul (Fyn) - except the "lantern rune", which is a bind rune combining "i" and the rhombe for "ng".
Alcuin of York was a kinsman of the first Danish missionary, Willibrord, whom he portrayed. Around 783 AD he established a school at the court of Charlemagne where he used riddles and answers as a general tool to teach a.o. Pippin, son of Charlemagne. We even know from letters that he discussed numerology with Charlemagne and sent him mathematical exercises for entertainment. He collected 53 famous mathematical exercises, set up acrostics (used by Porfyrius at the court of Constantine the Great) and used number symbolism in his poetry. About the cross (shown here as an example) Peter Godman wrote in 1985 (Poetry of the Carolingian Renaissance, page 20 and 56): "Alcuin's acrostic in praise of the Cross is set within the context of paschal celebration, and the significance of his text is enhanced by the complex symbolism of its shape - the four sides representing, in the manner of contemporary exegesis, all creation; the number of lines and verses, if the two arms of the Cross are subtracted, being 36 (6x6= the square of a perfect figure). When Alcuin the Cross, his invocation is thus qualitatively different from a purely rhetorical appeal to the Muses, for he adresses both the subject and the shaping principle of his poem. ... Symbolism is present too in Alcuin's nature poetry." The palace cathedral in Aachen was build up by using the numbers 8 and 12 as holy symbols.
Alcuin had a very strong influence on the Carolingian renaissance. A whole school of poets followed his principles. Several examples can be found in Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Poetae Latini Aevi Carolingi, Berlin 1881. As example is "Jesus Christus" vertically and horizontally arranged in a cross (Bonifatius) and Iosephus Scotti used "Cruxes". The technique was first used to hide prayers in a text, but later a message could be read as "Charlemagne in Hell". Another kind of acrostic (used earlier by Eusebius) was at the time of the Roek Stone used by Cynewulf, who hide his name in poems in English runes.
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Sophus Bugge 1910, Magnus Olsen 1921 and several works of Hugo Pipping based on an observation by Ludvig Wimmer. According to them the regularity could be no coincidence. Anders Baeksted criticized these theories about number magic in his doctoral thesis (Baeksted 1952), but he and von Friesen had to leave back some combinations of nx24 runes as "strange coincidences". It will be investigated if there are further signs of acrostic methode and confirmation of the later mentioned numerical riddles, but Baeksted confirmed
In 2002 Thomas Loefvenmark, Oestersund, presented a hypothesis regarding the old "t" in the first line (being rune number 16 in the old Futhark) and the runes in Line no. 17. It was later presented at the open Arkeologiforum. According to his hypothesis the 3 t'es in the first line pointed at 3 double runes around the name Radulf - forming a word "fathis" which could be "ancestor". This explanation is complicated, but other examples of this kind may possibly be identified at the stone too. As he had no time to finish and publish his theory it shall not be claimed as an argument here. It could be regarded as an extremely advanced version of acrostics and coding, but an argument against it could be that the "t" in the middle was chosen by decorative reasons or to mark the first line to be read, just like the unusual rune in the first of the coded lines. However, that will not explain the two other old t'es.
- that the remarkable 6 final crosses of secret runes in Riddle 16 had 24 "legs",
- that each rune line forming the coded Riddles no. 14 and 15 identifying the family gods contained 24 runes (page 246),
- and that the names of the "fathers" in the "data matrix" consisted of 4x6=24 letters while the names of the "sons" formed 2 groups of 16 letters (page 176). In note 5.6 will be demonstrated further regularities of this kind.
I have tried to use his observation in another way by following the ideas of Sophus Bugge. In the first line the arrow-like "t", which is not a part of the alphabet used here, is found at place number 3, 10 and 13. It is not found elsewhere among the 600 Roek-runes. As mentioned this rune "t" is number 16 of the old Futhark. After the runes in this first line is placed an unnecessary "+"-sign. When we repeat the reading of the front side in order to find the 9 missing riddles we will find this unusual information, which may give us the idea to step 16 times to Line no. 17 and the unusual "+"-sign of this line. After the "+"-sign we will find 8 names - 8 of the 9 missing riddles/answers. This sequence is closed by a "x"-sign and when we return to the first + it is followed by the name Varin - the last missing Riddle no. 11 is the first stanza without number. The total of the place numbers of the 3 t's in the first line is 26, and the rune at place number 26 in Line no. 17 is the first rune of Radulf, which may be a way to point him out as the first name to read among the 8 names after the +, a line of ancestors to Varin. Also Thomas Loefvenmark's methode pointed out this Radulf as an ancestor.
As the figures 3, 10 and 13 are inside the interval of riddle numbers in Roek-runes (1-13) a third way could be that they may represent riddle numbers. As Riddle no. 3-11 do not exist the arrows may point out that a sequence beginning with Riddle no. 3 and ending with Riddle no. 10 shall be found in the existing Riddle no. 13 - showing up to be names. When we return we will again read Varin as the next name.
The Swedish professor in English, Alvar Ellegaard, wrote in 1987 an article "Who were the Eruli?" in Scania, where he claimed that the Heruls in Scandinavia were a warriorband, who returned to Illyria in 548 AD. It must be regarded as a provocation as his historical arguments did not make sense in relation to the only source he emphasized as reliable - Procopius. Those who wanted all Swedish development to be internal received gladly his claim, but he was opposed by international historians as Herwig Wolfram and Andreas Schwarcz. This is described in my article
The stanza was written in the old Futhark. The j=jara-letter=j/y/i used in the name "jgOldga" disappeared according to Peter Skautrup (Peter Skautrup 1944, page 49) around 600 AD due to sound-changes contemporary with the changes at the rune stones in Blekinge. This may indicate that this family name was kept from earlier times in runes.
De Vries mentioned that "Ynglinga" could be be written "Ingul-inga", which is very close to "jgOld(i)ga".
In Historia Norwegia (12th century AD), which was based on Ari, the name Ingui (Ari: Yngve of Troy) was placed as the father of Njord and grandfather of Frey in the front of the genealogy of the Ynglinga-family instead of Snorri's Odin. Snorri on his side called Njord's son Yngve-Frey giving in this way name to the family. Ingui/Yngve was probably the same name as behind the "Ingaevones" of Tacitus (1st century AD), the "Ingwina" of Beowulf and "Ingui" in the Anglo-Saxon genealogies.
Voluspa 18. Hoenir and Lodurr were suggested to be an earlier name for the brothers of Odin. Vili and Ve were mentioned in Lokasenna as lovers of Frigg, but their family relation was not mentioned before Snorri. Lokasenna is just known from one of the manuscripts.
Gun Widmark made a point out of Sophus Bugge's different translation "Do you want this?" Widmark 1992, page 34.
Loennroth, 1977: "There is thus hardly any doubt about the fact that the primeval Earth Goddess was thought to be his [Thor's] mother, but the idea that Odin was his father is not necessarily an old one, for there are many indications that Odin's status as the "Father of All" and the highest ruler of Asgard is a late development in Norse literary tradition."
Bernhard Salin: "Heimskringlas tradition om asernes invandring" in ”Festskriften aat Montelius”, Stockholm (1903). This view was also described by Dumezil (Dumezil 1962, page 23-25) in spite of his opposite opinion. Later a.o. Ellis Davidson (Davidson 1984, page 56) has advised a late arrival of Odin, and Herwig Wolfram (Wolfram 1988, page 111) has concluded that Odin can first be recognised in Scandinavia in the 6th century. Archaeologically this appear to be represented by the change around 500 AD, where burial and sacrifice customs changed and the bracteates became widespread - which is later than Salin's suggestion. This was probably an introduction of the West Germanic Woden, and the one-eyed god found as wooden figures in the bogs may have been an earlier god with attributes transferred to Odin.
A similar development of Indra in connection with the expansion of the warriors is emphasized by Dumezil (Dumezil 1962, page 31), though this comparison of Odin and Indra will contradict his own general theories.
As some of the figures are used as kennings, it is tempting to test the provokingly many figures in Riddle no. 12 and 13 in a numerical play too - especially as Varin also used + before these riddles (which has always been used for the matrix). Alcuin was fond of number symbolism and collected also 53 mathematical exercises. Later such plays can be found in the Norse Grimnismal, which has i.e. the stanza: "Five hundred doors, and forty more, I think, are in Valhall. Eight hundred Einherjar will at once from each door go when they issue with the wolf to fight" ("Fimm húndruð dura ok um fiórom toegom, svá hygg ek at Vallhoello vera; átta hundruð einheria…" - "Grimnismal" (XXIII) in Poetic Edda (12th century). Quoted also by Snorri Sturlasson's in the Prose Edda: "Gylfaginning" (XL), around 1220 AD). This example is not chosen by coincidence. If "hundred" is calculated as the ON "big hundred" (120) the number of doors will be 640. If we look at the figures in Riddle no. 13 (here appearing in columns - as Alcuin arranged his letters - if the short lines of the stanzas are aligned to the right) we find 20, 4, 4, 4 in the first stanza and 5, 5, 5, 5 in the next. If we add the figures in each stanza and multiply these two totals we will get 32x20 = 640. The number 13 of the riddle is not used as it is an ordinal figure. If we used + and x as mathematical operators they would lead to the same result, but according to our current knowledge they were unknown in Europe until the 15th century. It was probably a coincidence as the carver chose these crosses to separate the elements he wanted to use in Riddle no. 13. If we multiply the number of kings with the total of the following figures we will also get 640. That was - as mentioned - the number of doors used by the Einherjar in Valhall if Grimnismal used the usual "big hundred".
The formula could ie. be formed by the number of letters in name columns of the "data matrix" (6+10)x((7+9)+(6+6+6+6)), which also contain the columns 4x"fim(5)" already used and "suniR" with 4x5 letters. If "fim"/"five" is substituted by "5" the total number of signs in the data matrix will by a coincidence be 4x24. (Based on Anders Baeksted 1952, page 176 and 246.)
Friesen 1920, page 2-16. At the left small side Bugge and von Friesen were also able to combine the letters in 1x24 or 2x24 (when combining with "ftiRfra" regarded as cryptic runes), but this was not convincing and probably unnecessary.
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