Overview (sheet) Structure (sheet) Set-up and encryption (sheet) Links Kort svensk udgave

The Roek Stone - Riddles and answers
Index :

1.The stone and its runes
2.Suggested structure
3.Riddle 1-11 - The family
4.Riddle 12-13 - The death of Vemod
5.Riddle 14-15 - Ancestors and gods
6.Riddle 16 - Who was invoked?
7.Kennings and prayers
8.The test of structure and reading
9.The purpose of Varin
10.Possible consequences
The text and its structure (diagram)
The set-up of runes and encryption (table)
The runic text
The Sparloesa Stone

Author: Troels Brandt - troels@brandt.mail.dk
Challenges to the mind
(Peter Godman about the ideas of Alcuin)

Front and backside - Click for enlargement

Click on picture for full size. Links marked with orange text.

Established October 19, 2005 - Updated June 23, 2013

@ Gedevasens Forlag, 2004.

Index / Next / Previous / Text & structure

“Challenges to the mind” were popular at the Frankish court at the time of the Roek Stone - riddles, coding, play with numbers and acrostics were used both in art and teaching. Apparently the carver of the Roek Stone set up similar challenges as a pagan counterpart to the Christian culture - but did we understand the nature of his challenge?

The scholars have accepted the encrypted runes. We must never forget that way of thinking when reading the text - especially as the runes appear to be set up by using code keys in a very clear and planned structure. In the article below the following simple and logical key structure of the text is proposed:
  • The text is separated into riddles (statements) by the Old Norse word "sakum" ("I say") succeeded by an interrogative pronoun. Each riddle may contain one or more stanzas.
  • The answers are confirmed indirectly in the succeeding riddle - connecting all the riddles.
  • When "sakum" is followed by "mukmini" the riddle is a common known myth ("public memory" by Wessén). In the other riddles the history of the relevant region shall be searched.
  • According to the numbering nine riddles are missing - representing the "nine generations" mentioned just before the missing riddles. The stanzas outside the numbering are a part of the hidden riddles.
This proposed structure is tried out by using historical evidence and - when "mukminni" is used - also well-known myths and legends like Hervarar-Saga, Sorla Thattr and the Hrungnir Myth as answers. The result is a coherent and plausible text based solely on the translation published by Runverket. All the answers are identified in the succeeding riddle - except of course for the last riddle. The structure and the interpretation of the text correspond in nearly all details with the set-up of the runes and the encryption.

The answers of the riddles are the mythical sword (Tyrfing), the 9 generations of ancestors, the battlefield, Siulunti, the Ingoldings and the mythical Thor and his giant son. The last stanza may refer to the unmentionable Odin, but that question is not asked as a riddle in the text. It is hanging in the air.

The family of Vemod is identified as descendants after the Herulian king Hrodolphus, "weapon son" of the famous Germanic hero, Theodoric, to whom the text clearly refers. Their arrival "at the Gautoi" is historically described, and even their names appear to be mentioned at the stone. Also the historical events around the death of Vemod in Siulunti may be identified as the Danish/Frankish wars 812-815 AD where the Danish dynasty got Scandinavian assistance - a dynasty claiming to be the ancestors of Ingeld, Skjold, Odin and Thor.

The Riddles no. 2-13 written in usual Roek Runes are telling about this family of Vemod at the front side and his death at the battlefield at the back side. Two kennings at the back side may refer to the reception by the gods in Valhall - a parallel to the Gotlandic picture stones. They should probably appoint the fallen son as a hero. The stanzas with these kennings are framed by the last three riddles, no. 13-16, written in encrypted runes invoking Thor - and maybe Odin. The back side and its encrypted frame contain up to 18 possible Futhark-symbols making probably the kennings a hidden prayer to the gods - the most obvious purpose behind such a work of art in memory of a dead son.

The text and its systematic encryption are shaped like a self-answering crossword of that time – with its complicated elements confirmed by contemporary Frankish style. The set-up of runes and text is strongly influenced by that style less than two decades before the arrival of Ansgar to Birka. The impressing stone appears as a political monument showing the people and visitors of Varin that the royal family did not retreat before the Frankish emperors or the Christian culture threatening the pagan kings of Scandinavia. Such answers referring to past events can never be unequivocal, but the simple structure, the complete explanation and the coherent and foreseeable message behind the surface of advanced coding is making sense.

The interpretation was first time published in November 2004. An earlier version of this paper was presented in August 2006 at a symposium in Goetene, Sweden, together with Bo Ralph's interpretation. The papers from the symposium "Kult, Guld och Makt" were published in Danish language with English summaries in April 2007 by Historieforum Västergötland. Major adjustments since then are listed here as analyzes of the set-up and encryption have later lead to a confirmation of the interpretation where all the information is explained except a few words, which are not read or translated by the runologists.

Context - Click for enlargement

1. The stone and its runes
Index / Next / Previous / Text / Notes

The Roek Stone is without any doubt the masterpiece among the rune stones. It was carved shortly after 800 AD, but later it has been used in a small barn and as a part of the porch at the church of Roek in Oestergoetland (Runverket 2000 - Basic source for this article). Roek is situated close to the main roads and "Eriksgatan" - the later coronation street of the Swedish kings - at a branch from Vreta over Bjaelbo to Alvastra being the supposed seats of some of the most important medieval royal dynasties. The name is according to Runverket derived from "Rauk", which is also the name for the rock formations used for the picture stones at Gotland. Since the stone was presented as a whole in 1862 the scholars have been challenged by the long text with its 750 runes and its mysterious connections, which should lead us a couple of centuries further back in time than the Norse literature.

Varin or his rune master has presented a sophisticated use of the runes, where he wrote encrypted text with displaced runic letters and numbers representing letters in a very systematic way. Already 100 years ago Sophus Bugge told how to read the runes and that solution has been accepted by the scholars ever since. The system of displacement was already used by Julius Caesar, but has not been found earlier in Scandinavia. Already here we should suspect an assistant of the rune master being influenced by the Carolingian renaissance and the school of Alcuin, where this play with letters and numbers was popular at the time of the stone. It is extremely important to notice the systematic set-up and use of encryption as it explains the structured way Varin and his rune master were thinking - which we need to understand in order to interpret their text. The set-up of the runes covering all the stone combined with the stanza and encryption system must have been carefully planned. We should therefore expect the text to be structured in the same way - with a clear structure, but with certain messages hidden in a complicated way.

For 150 years the discussion has primarily taken place between runologists, linguists and philologists - which is not my area of expertise. For the last 50 years there has only been limited disagreement about how to set up the text of the stone in modern words and order - though a runic text will always be open for alternative reading. Opposite the linguists have never for more than a century reached an agreement about the fully meaning and purpose of the text. Many scholars prefer today that the stone will remain an insoluble mystery! Others are trying to find new ways of reading the text. However - instead of breaking up the text again and again in order to make it fit another half explanation, which will not survive "Ockhams Razor", we may search for the explanation in other scholarly areas than the Norse literature.

Based on the translation by Helmer Gustavson, Runverket (Riksantikvarieaembetet, "Roekstenen", 2000 - originally 1991) I have set up and tried out a simple solution regarding the interpretation of the text - assuming that Varin used ordinary riddle systems, common Norse legends and European history. Recently Gun Widmark (Widmark 1998) and Joseph Harris (Harris 2006) have confirmed this text to be the closest to an official Swedish translation - a kind of an independent consensus-translation. This translation is very close to Wessén's work 50 years earlier and it had been combined with several interpretations before Helmer Gustavson, Runverket, chose his version without being tied up by a personal interpretation. In the attached diagram ("Text" in the header) the text is presented in an English translation.

In November 2005 Bo Ralph published a preliminary interpretation of the Roek Stone, where he criticized the current reading of the text. The interpretation was presented at seminars in 2006, and the papers from these three seminars have been published in 2007 (Ralph 2007a, 2007b and 2007c). As a linguist he felt an understandable doubt about those having to rely on the translation without being able to analyze the original language (Ralph 2007c, page 10), but this problem should be solved as all ambitious linguists for the last 150 years have published their own versions of the problems regarding the text - all words have been twisted in articles. Quite opposite the problem may be that decrypting, solving riddles and evaluation of historical context may depend on other qualifications than linguistic. Rather is it a strength that the translated text is tested against possible interpretations by readers being unbiased by own translations as there is always a risk of circular reasoning - as pointed out by Helmer Gustavson in Oslo 2006. It will be demonstrated later in the article that the runologists and the linguists have done their job in an excellent way already by reaching a consensus about the reading and translation which it is possible to entrepret for other kind of specialists.

At the seminar at the University of Oslo in April 2006 Bo Ralph emphasized that the current way of reading the text has at least ten major uncertainties. In the following discussion Helmer Gustavson, Michael Barnes and other scholars criticized some of Bo Ralph's examples, but all agreed that it is necessary to try other ways of reading as no interpretation has been accepted as reliable until now. It was also generally agreed by all that his new proposal as presented did not overrule the existing consensus due to lacking knowledge about the local language, the meters of that time etc.. Later Michael Barnes and Michael Schulte have opposed in articles and reviews some of Bo Ralph's most important arguments (1.1) .

It has to be realized too that a perfect spelling and grammar - if we had that knowledge about a local place at a certain time - shall not be expected in a work where letters and text shall also strictly follow a complex structure of encryption, set up and metrical foot. The carver had to use the freedom of poets not always to follow the grammatical rules - which has been accepted by most translators of the stone.

Bo Ralph shall be credited his scholarly claims that the text appear to be riddles, that parallels and explanations probably shall be found outside the Swedish borders and that the way out of this kind of deadlock could be a reevaluation of reading and translation. That was exactly what was needed when he wrote his articles in 2005/2006.

In 2006 - contemporary with Bo Ralph - Joseph Harris, Harward, published his reading of the stone. Some elements in the last stanzas did he read differently from Wessén, but these translations are biased by his work with the Icelandic poem, Sonatorrek, which he regarded to be a later parallel. Here it shall primarily be noticed that he in general accepted the current translation.

Runverket has especially expressed doubt about the expressions "tumiRonubsakaR", "uiauari", "onurthifiaru", "NIT", "goldin", "mukmini" and "Sibi". Consequently I have referred to versions and discussions presented by other linguists in the last two cases. Except for a few cases where the original words are used directly from the stone the rest of the text is used unchanged in order to perform the following test as independently as possible.

2. The suggested structure
Index / Next / Previous / Text / Notes

As mentioned the complicated encryption is accepted by nearly all scholars. Varin or his rune master combined the new Futhark (the short-twigged Roek Runes), the old Futhark and six kinds of "cryptic runes". The encryption is only used in the "frame" of the back side. When necessary he placed keys among the runes to show where the system changed. 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 together with the interpretation in this article as it can be regarded more like a confirmation than a guideline to us. A summary of the encryption system can be found in the attached table and the explaining note (2.1) .

The break down of the text into statements and the order to read them below is entirely based on the version from Runverket, which intentionally or not is following the markers and the way the rune lines are placed at the stone. In both the plain text in Roek runes and in the coded "frame" the first line to be read is marked with a high unusual letter in the middle of the line. It appears to be the logical order of reading except for the two last lines which could also be read in the opposite order as suggested by Bo Ralph and Joseph Harris. The numbering below is not following the stanzas, but is instead following the independent structure with statements based on the repeated word "sakum" combined with the three ordinal numbers used at the stone.

Varin used in his statements the initiating word "sakum" (I say/I tell...). Sakum was succeeded by interrogative pronouns like "which" - except in the last stanza. Between these two parts of the expression he varied between "mukmini" and a statement number. The word "that" was placed after "sakum(m)ukmini" as this expression was also used as a key to show the following encryption system. In other cases "that" was placed before "sakum". When the expression was placed inside a runeline it was supported by a separating mark in front of "sakum". These standardized expressions must be a key to the structure of the text too, which was in 2010 confirmed by Elena Melnikova (Melnikova 2010) - mentioning also that in Riddle no 1 and 14 "that" after "sakummukmini" mark the two major sections of the text. Most scholars have earlier underestimated the consequences of this very clear and indisputable structure in a text which appear to be jumping and incoherent when read as a usual poem. The set-up with frames, the stabilizing "sakumukmini"-key, the special marks and the increasing complexity in coding does also indicate that the rune lines are read in the right order by Runverket.

Structure - Click for enlargement

The character and purpose with the encrypted frame is explained in chapter 7.

It is extremely important to be aware of that very clear structure which is independent of the translation and interpretation. It is rather improbable that the text shall not be read and interpreted in accordance with that structure.

Reading the translated text most scholars agree that the text is written in stanzas. Seven of them - those being initiated by "sakum" - are written in a kind of the metre called ljodahattr (if this part of the text shall be regarded as metric and not as a prosimetrum). Two other stanzas which appear to be a part of another statement are written in the old metrical verse fornyrdislag - or at least a kind of it.

When reading the content of the text we are every time missing the explanation promised by "sakum". We are probably reading the first half of a dialog, which was usual in Norse poems and sagas - riddles with questions and answers. Norse examples are Vafthrudnismal and the dialog with Gestumblindi in Hervarar Saga. But riddles were also used as a teaching method at the contemporary Carolingian court (headed by Alcuin of York). The obvious and simple explanation is that the reader should try to answer the question and then find the correct answer in the following text - probably in the following riddle to keep the order of the dialog. This structure is already indicated by the last statement. Here the interrogative pronoun is missing as there was no next statement to answer a riddle.

Four of the seven stanzas are in addition initiated by "mukmini" translated by Runverket as "the young people", while Wessén used "folk memory". Joseph Harris has suggested "hints for the young lad", but this as well as the expression "the young people" has been opposed by Michael Schulte in a recent article (Schulte 2008 b), where he convincingly defended the translation "folk memory" of Wessén - also confirmed by Elena Melnikova (Melnikova 2010). I will use this translation which will here show up to be covered by the more specific expression "common myth or legend" - written short as "myth" in my articles. By choosing the narrow meaning the test will be independent of the translation as all the translations will cover myths and legends, but it was probably right by Gustavson to choose the most comprehensive meaning in the consensus published by Runverket.

Varin varied the system by compressing some of the riddles. Here he gave his reader a clear hint by numerating the riddles with 2, 12 and 13 - showing that 9 riddles were missing when reading the text as it appears at the first glance. Some scholars have suggested that the Roek Stone belonged to a group of unknown stones in the neighbourhood, but that is unlikely as the stone contains both the beginning and the end of the text string. Also the 9 missing riddles shall in some way be represented on the stone - a second layer of the text - and it shall be possible to explain them in the same way as the 7 "sakum"-riddles.

It shall also be noticed that demonstratively many numbers are used at the stone - especially in the content of the frame at the backside. 16 numbers at all - just like the number of riddles and the number of runes in the new Futhark. These numbers are probably important if we want fully to understand the stone and its purpose.

Below the text is explained based on the key structure at the table above - a simple and obvious structure being independent of the translation and interpretation of the text. It is only based on the initiating "sakum", "mukmini", interrogative pronouns, statement numbers and special signs separating the runes.

Whether these assumptions about the structure are right or wrong can only be demonstrated by testing the principles on existing translations - which of course below is the independent consensus-text from Runverket. When a translation is uncertain - as here - the text shall provide us with answers to all the questions, with a likely coherence and context and with a purpose behind the stone - and in the principle we shall be able to explain all the text. That was from the start the primary purpose of the chapters below. Due to the very systematic way the carver worked with set up, keys and encryption there is no reason to expect woolly poetry and as we find in many interpretations. Such a style was popular at the later shift between paganism and Christianity in Scandinavia, but we do not know that from the pagan societies of the 9th century.

A lot of articles and books about the stone have been written and about 40 different interpretations have been presented. Therefore I am only able to make comments to some of the more recent articles - as explained by Joseph Harris (Harris 2006), who primarily himself refers to Niels Aage Nielsen (Nielsen 1969) and Lars Loennroth (Loennroth 1977). These two articles are referring and reflecting the former articles and discussions about the runologic and linguistic problems, which there is now a kind of consensus about. Of course most of the elements I use in my explanation have been mentioned in these articles, where the purpose of the stone is most often explained to be an appeal to revenge, a demonstration of poetry, old legends or a kind of skaldic memory. None of these are obvious and convincing explanations for a gigantic work of this kind - especially as they all leave a lot of questions open, which most of these scholars admit. If the explanations below are accepted it is not regarded as necessary to oppose all these earlier articles - except what is mentioned below.

Lars Loennroth (Loennroth 1977) has earlier suggested that the text of the stone probably consists of a special kind of riddles and answers (Greppa-minni) - but his solution is depending on another order of the text than generally accepted, which does not correspond with the structure. Also Bo Ralph is regarding the text to be riddles and has argued convincingly for the use of riddles in a way, which will also cover this paper. However the reading of a substantial part of the runes has to be changed in order to fit his explanation about cosmic philosophy, the sun and the moon and parallels with the Exeter Book - an explanation which is primarily inspired by the use of the figure "12" in the second stanza. His hypothesis is that the rest of the inscription shall be interpreted in the same way. The parallels have forced him into a dating in the late 10th century, which was opposed by the runologists in Oslo and by Michael Barnes in a later article (Barnes 2007). Ralph's most important argument against the current translation is the spelling of the name Theodoric, where he is following strictly the linguistic theories. But his arguments against the spelling are contradicted by the many ways the name was spelled in our sources. His claim was opposed by Michael Schulte (Schulte 2008) in a review, and my earlier detailed comments can be read in an attachment. For the moment his interpretation is presented as an idea or hypotheses - far from being a total reading or explanation of the text, which is an important criteria for a convincing interpretation. Still in April 2013 Bo Ralph has not published further explanations and in his latest article about the stone from December 2007 he predicted that parts of his suggested riddle system will remain unsolved. In that case his explanations will hardly ever be convincing.

In addition to the text from Runverket I have primarily referred to the very detailed explanations by Lars Loennroth (1977) and Niels Aage Nielsen (1969), who have both been close to several elements of my interpretation, to Joseph Harris (2006) and to Bo Ralph (2007) and to linguistic comments regarding the translation by Ottar Groenvik (1983-2003) and Gun Widmark (1992-98).

3. Riddle no. 1-11 - The family
Index / Next / Previous / Text / Notes

Riddle no. 1-11 appear as two statements written in usual Roek runes at the front side of the stone.

Purpose - Introduction
Many scholars have underestimated the importance of the first stanza, which is nearly undisputed except for the word "faikiAn". Instead they are caught by their own sophisticated interpretations of the following complicated stanzas. The text is:

After Vemod stand these runes +
but Varin carved (painted), the father
after his dead (doomed) son.

It is nearly identical with the kind of memorial text found at a substantial part of the later rune stones and memorials, except for the use of the word "faikiAn" (doomed?) for "dead" and the order between the dead and the carver. The first line in high runes formed as a "header" writes: "After Vemod stand these runes". As it is obvious from the way the runes are set up that the rune master was working very systematically with keys and encryption, it is also obvious that the "header" is a key to the text telling us that the readable content of the runic text of the stone must be related to the memory of Vemod. We shall never forget that introduction in high runes when interpreting the rest of the text as it must be the primary - at least officially - purpose of the stone.

The way to split up the sentence with the "unnecessary" "+"sign and the uncertainty of "faikiAn" may have reasons too, which we will return to later.

The mythical sword - Riddle no. 1
Riddle no. 1 about two war-booties is a traditional riddle:

I say the folktale,
which the 2 war-booties were
which 12 times were taken as war-booties,
both together from man to man.

We need to focus on the important clue that two items should follow each other as war-booties every time - rather than the specific number 12, as this number is not identified anywhere regarding "valraub". The riddle must focus on two items following their owner on battlefields - with the connected character as the very point. An answer could be a sword and its sheet, but would the sheet always follow a conquered sword? The answer must be the legendary sword, which had to kill each time it was drawn from its sheath - made and damned by the dwarfs. Tyrfing was its name in Hervarar Saga (Tunstall 2004), where it changed owner 6 times due to the use of violence (3.1) . Varin's finer point may have been that 2 items were mentioned - each item being a war-booty 6 times - making totally 12 war-booties. The character of "valraub" at these changes of ownership and their number can be discussed, but according to Hervarar Saga many old legends were told about this famous sword. Consequently it is not important if our version of the saga told about 6, 12 or another number of war-booties.

Later it will be demonstrated that the sword was regarded as a kind of key to the text - giving both associations to the Gothic kings and to the EinherjaR. For that purpose the figures 2 and 12 may have been used as pointers - just like the sword in the Hervarar Saga tied the different story lines together.

In the end of Hervarar Saga we are told that "Angantyr was king over Reidgotalandi for many years" after he had defeated the Huns with Tyrfing (Loenroth 1977, page 24, Wolfram 1988, page 27) in his hand. Though Hreidgothland in the 13th century was regarded as Jutland it is obvious from the content of the saga and the place names that this Angantyr operated in the regions of the Danube and the Dnepr as the Ostrogoths and the Heruls did. Herman Reichert has proposed the Hreidsea to be the Adriatic Sea, but as some "Hreadas" in Widsith were combined with the river Vistula the Hreidsea could be the Baltic Sea or the Black Sea as well. In the following list of kings attached to the saga Angantyr was mentioned and "from him are descended lines of kings" (Tunstall 2004, chapter 14 and attachment) (3.2) Therefore it is obviously no coincidence that the next riddle of the stone is mentioning the Hreidgoths 9 generations ago. Neither is it a coincidence that the stanza in the "metre of the past" attached to this riddle is telling about the most famous Gothic king of all, Theodoric the Great. It must be his sword we are looking for as the hidden answer - though the connection is legendary and not historical - but that was how it was regarded by the Scandinavians too at that time.

Aake Ohlmark was of the opinion that it was the sword Gram together with the ring Andvaranaut which also ended at the Gothic kings. Accordingly his theory will not change the connections.

The Theodoric riddle - Riddle no. 2
The answer to Riddle no. 1 shall be confirmed in Riddle no. 2, which includes an auxiliary stanza:

This I say as the second,
who 9 generations ago
lost his life with the Hreidgoths,
and died at them for his guilt.

ÞiauríkR ruled,
the bold
chief of sea warriors,
over the shores of the Hreiðsea.
Now he sits armed
on his (Gothic) horse,
his shield strapped,
leader of Marika.

It has to be noticed that the auxiliary stanza is divided into a "then"-part and a "now"-part. The first part serves to place and date the event in Riddle no. 2 at the time of Theodoric 9 generations ago. At that time he "ruled" (maybe intentionally very close to the word for "to ride") the beaches of the Hreidsea (the border sea of the Hreidgoths). Consequently the logical conclusion has to be that the second part about the horse nine generations later must refer to a statue of Theodoric on horseback. By a coincidence (or rather because of the very fact that it was famous at that time) we also know that statue. In 801 AD - around 9 generations after Theodoric, who died in 526 AD - Charlemagne moved an equestrian statue of Theodoric from Ravenna to Aachen. The dating by the runologists to the first half of the 9th century based on runes and language, comparison with Oseberg and Gokstad and a combination with the 9 generations has ended up in a general agreement about the dating of the stone to the first decades of the 9th century - except for Bo Ralph and a few other scholars (3.3) .

It is not likely that Varin mentioned the statue in order to identify Theodoric, as he was well-known by all Scandinavians. The purpose was to emphasize that Theodoric was sitting "armed on his (Gothic) horse" with his "shield strapped". Accordingly he should be expected to carry his sword in its sheath - and every Scandinavian knowing the legends of Tyrfing (or whatever the name was at that time) would have believed that the Hreidgotic king was carrying Tyrfing in its sheath at such a statue. That fits in with the fact that Theodoric in other Germanic legends as the OE Waldhere and the later Didrik Saga was connected with magic swords and "graven images" in copper of himself with his horse and sword in Rome and Ravenna (Loennroth 1977, page 24-26) (3.4) , though the names of the magic swords changed under time. Consequently the answer of Riddle no. 1 was confirmed in the second stanza of Riddle no. 2 - if the reader knew a version of the legend on which the well-known Hervarar Saga was based.

Theodoric was an important hero and the ideal of Charlemagne, who died in 814 AD. Many Scandinavians visited the Carolingian court - especially the Danes. Of course we cannot prove what people in Goetaland knew about Theodoric, swords and statues in the 9th century, but we can find this information in many later sagas at a time when the statue in Aachen had been removed again for centuries (Theodoric lost around 840 AD his heroic image at the Frankish court due to his Arian belief). We can also see from the Gotlandic picture stones and the earlier bracteates that many of the later pagan Germanic myths already at that time were known in Scandinavia. Consequently "unlikeness" cannot be used as an argument against the interpretation above.

The dead king
In Riddle no. 2 the question is asked who 9 generations ago died for his guilt among the Hreidgoths at the time of Theodoric. As we are missing Riddle no. 3-11 with the answer his identity may in the first case be indicated in the separate stanza attached to Riddle no. 2 - an unusual stanza as an intentional break of the system. It has to be noticed that this stanza two times is telling of whom this Theodoric was the chief. That may look like a waste of space at the stone, but the double answer may tell us that at least one of the answers did also cover the dead person, who was either a chief of the sea warriors or of the Marika - or maybe of both as a chief to whom Theodoric was superior.

It must be obvious from the connection and the wording of the text that the person who "died with/among the Hreidgoths" was not Theodoric himself. Especially the statement that he died because of his guilt does not fit the usual picture of the heroic king. We know that Frankish Catholics later around 840 AD in writing promised Theodoric eternal perdition due to his Arian belief and his execution of Boetius (Wessén 1964), but at that time the statue was removed. Accordingly the statue and the guilt would not both be mentioned at the stone. At the time of the Roek Stone Theodoric was honored by the Franks in Aachen, but first of all the stone was placed in Scandinavia where the pagan people would under no circumstances accept that their hero should incur guilt by those reasons - or believe he died of it. The target of that riddle must have been another person who was famous for such a mistake.

According to a letter from Cassiodorus to the Herulian king in 507 AD Theodoric took the Heruls under his protection and adopted their king as his weapon son: "Highest among the nations will you be considered who are thus approved by the mind of Theodoric ... in adopting you we are also throwing round you the shield of our protection." (3.5). It was even mentioned in the letter that the Herulian king received horses, spears and shield from Theodoric - meaning that he fought under the weapons of Theodoric, which were normally painted at the shield [Notitia Dignitatum].

Procopius told in 553 AD about the Herulian king, Hrodolphus, who was killed in 508/9 AD by the Lombards - a year or two after the letter from Theodoric (Schwarcz 2005). His death and the defeat of his people was according to Procopius caused by his unfair breach of the treaty with the Lombards and by his disrespect of the clear omens from the gods known by all barbarians (Procopius Book VI, xiv). In 790 AD - around 25 years before the stone was carved - the Lombardian historian of Charlemagne, Paulus Diaconus, quoted the Herulian messenger telling about the defeat of the Heruls in this way: "Woe to thee, wretched Herolia, who are punished by the anger of God." (Diaconus, Book 1.xx). Paulus Diaconus may have been known in Scandinavia. In 782 AD he was going to be sent to Denmark and much later a point from his story about the Herulian messenger was udsed in a Scandinavian legend about Gorm den Gamle. (3.6) The consequence of this catastrophe was according to Procopius that the royal family and some of their followers migrated to Scandinavia, where they at their arrival settled at the Goetes (Procopius Book VI, xiv) (3.7) . That will explain why the stone in Goetaland told that Hrodolphus "lost his life with the Hreidgoths and died at them for his guilt". Both historical sources mentioning Hrodolphus/Rodolfo told about that mistake - being one of his characteristic features. When the Goths and especially Theodoric in the 9th century were the heroes of the Germanics, a Scandinavian would be proud of an ancestor being honored as the weapon son of Theodoric. We could ask why it was honorably to die because of own guilt, but it was even more problematic that he died under the protection of the great Theodoric. Procopius told that Hrodolphus was forced to do so by his soldiers - and also Paulus confirmed his situation - it simply became the standard explanation following the story about the two heroes that Theodoric could not protect him when he neglected his gods though Hrodolphus in all other aspects was an honorable man. His ancestors had for 300 years lived with the consequences of the fall of Hrodolphus and his people in the Mar-region. Therefore that unusual remark could be used to characterize Hrodolphus in the riddle at the Roek Stone - a clear parallel to the descriptions by Procopius and Paulus Diaconus.

That will also explain the expression, "Chief of sea warriors", in the Theodoric-stanza. The Goths were not known as sea warriors, but the Western Heruls we feared as pirates along the western coasts of Europe in the 5th century like the later Vikings (The Chronicle of Bishop Hydatius 450 AD and 456 AD (Lakatos 1978)). At the time of the Roek Stone - the Viking Ages - the people of Varin were probably operating as sea warriors too. If Varin was a descendant of Hrodolphus he would gladly regard Theodoric as chief of the sea warriors due to his adoption of Hrodolphus.

We could never dream of a better historical explanation of the text in Riddle no. 2 documented by an author at the court of Charlemagne 25 years before the stone was carved (partly based on Origo Longobardorum ca. 650), a letter from Theodoric and the contemporary history of the Byzantine Procopius, who even told that the family of Hrodolphus settled in the environment of the Roek Stone. The reason is no pure luck. Varin simply referred to two heroes who were famous both by the Carolingan historians at the time of the stone and in the Dietrich cycles of Germanic lore. We will even get further identification later, when the riddle is answered in the hidden Riddle no. 3.

The Marika
Theodoric was also mentioned as leader of the Marika. The scholars have presented a lot of explanations regarding "Marika", which is the runic diminutive form of a name translated by Runverket as "Maeringa" - being the usual North Germanic version of such a name. This version is known from the OE poem "Deor". Here "Þeodric held for 30 winters Maeringa burg; that is known by many". Maringa Burg is interpreted as the Italian city Ravenna being held by Theodoric for 33 years (Loennroth 1977, p 27). Due to the nationality of Theodoric himself Maerings have been interpreted as his family or his people, the Goths, though no Gothic historian has ever mentioned that name - and though nobody can explain why.

If we accept the translation above, the use of "leader of the Maerings" (skati marika) at the Roek Stone does not support that Marings were the family of Theodoric, and neither does the use of the name Hreidgoths at the stone support that Maerings was a name of these Goths. That explanation is a shortcut in lack of other known possibilities.

While the other statements of Deor - even the one about Ermaneric - includes a relatively long explanation, the rule of 30 winters by Theodoric is only clarified with the unknown name "Marika" and "known by many" - the last indicating a well known legend. It would make more sense to write about the peace of Theodoric in those 30 winters than to waste space in the poem on the unusual and in that case unnecessary name if it did not refer to something else than the well-known identity of Theodoric. Under all circumstances there is no reason in Deor why Maering should not refer to another group than the family of Theodoric or his people.

We shall also notice the expression "áhte" (= held, had). "Ruled" was a more natural expression to use regarding the peaceful period created by Theodoric. This may indicate that Theodoric had conquered this stronghold of the Maerings. Actually his conquest of Ravenna is a famous legend itself. The former king in Ravenna, Odoaker, was in several sources called Rex Herulorum (Lakatos 1978) though being a Sciri himself as a substantial part of his soldiers in Italy were Herulian mercenaries (Jordanes XLVI). After some defeats Odoaker and his army were sieged in Ravenna in 491 AD. The chancellor of Theodoric, Cassiodorus, told later about an event during the siege where “Odoaker left Ravenna with the Heruls in the night across the Candidiani Bridge and met his lord Theodoric in a memorable battle”. That Gothic/Herulic battle became later famous in the Germanic legends as the “Rabenschlacht”, but the Heruls had no luck to break out and were sieged for two years in Ravenna (Raben). They never lost, but Odoaker was murdered by Theodoric under peace negotiations arranged by the bishop of Ravenna. That may be the reason why the stronghold in Ravenna (Raben) in the legends was called "Maeringa Burg" by the Goths and other Germanics - the stronghold of the Eastern Heruls.

Opposite the Goths the Heruls are sparsely recorded in the historical sources and we have many problems, when we try to separate their different groups. The purpose of the nickname, Maeringa, may have been to distinguish the Eastern Heruls from the Western Heruls - the last being until 454 AD (Kiss 1980, page 112) the only Herulian mercenaries in Roman service. The name should probably be spelled Marika/Maringa as we know that spelling from a silver buckle from the middle of the 5th century AD with the runic inscription "marings" (Looijenga 1997, page 96) (3.8) , which was found in Szabadbattayan in Hungary south of the Danube near the mouth of river March. The "s" at the buckle could point at both Heruls and Goths, but at that time the runes would most likely point at the Heruls as the Goths had developed their own alphabet.

The name Marika could refer to a people from the marshes around river March or "Marus" which Tacitus in 99 AD called the river (Tacitus Annales, II, 63). With this old name for a swampy area (OE Marsh / ON Myr) it makes sense that the people with the name "Marings" lived in this "Mar"-region (in Slavic Morava / later Germanic Maehren). At the time of Odoaker and Theodoric this area was regarded to be the Herulian kingdom. In the 9th century - the time of Deor - the Slavic people of this region were called "Maroara" in OE.

In Scandinavia the ON word "maeringR" is found in a few Norse poems as "noble men". The word may appear as a parallel to the runic word "ErilaR" which may be connected with the Heruls and the word "jarl". At that time the Heruls had disappeared as a separate people in Northern Europe.

The interpretation of the Roek Stone would not be changed if "Marika" meant "The Noble Men" or "The Famous" instead. Actually the etymology of the name is explained by the scholars as "The family of Valamar" over "The Famous", "The Frightening", "The Border People", "The Horse Riders" to "The People of the Sea" - all these expressions can linguistically be connected with "mar".

It is tempting to call both Theodoric and Hrodolphus "skati marika" - "Lord of the Maerings" - as a double answer together with "chief of the sea warriors", but the name is a problem for historians and linguists to solve. It is not my area of expertise. Therefore "leader of Marika" is not used here as an argument for the connection between the Roek Stone and the Heruls in Scandinavia - we have already plenty of arguments.

It shall be noticed that most scholars under all circumstances are accepting that Marika connects the Roek Stone with Theodoric and Deor. It is, however, important also to notice that it has no influence on the identification of Hrodolphus and the interpretation of Riddle no 2 whether the Marika were Goths or Heruls - both explanations will fit the interpretation above.

Instead we shall look for the 9 missing riddles and we may in that way be able to get an answer to Riddle no. 2 in accordance with the tested system.

Nine "missing" riddles - The first layer
It is hardly a coincidence that we find 9 generations mentioned in the very riddle after which the next 9 riddles (and answers) are missing - especially as the answer to Riddle no. 2 should be a person dying at that time. The 9 missing riddles are simply these 9 generations - a possibility being also mentioned by Ottar Froenvik (Groenvik 1983, page 119) and Richard Harris (Harris 2006). In our case we have already been able to identify Hrodolphus as the first of these ancestors.

We have now read all the text at the front side, but the rear side begins with Riddle number 12. It is obvious that if the content shall have any relation to the "header" - which is a "must" with such a text in the "header" - the line of generations has to be the family of Varin, who is mentioned himself in the first unnumbered stanza, which is separated into a "header"-line and a second line by a "+"separator. As a riddle in this second line behind the "+" can bring us to Riddle no. 12 at the rear side of the stone.

In this connection we shall notice that the header was written in high letters, and the only other text in high letters is "Skati Mariki" just before we should jump from Riddle no. 2 to Riddle no. 12. There must be a purpose behind the size of those letters. The translation was "leader of the Maerings" which may count Theodoric and his weapon son Hrodolphus and maybe even the descendants of Hrodolphus - the nine generations. In other words the high letters connecting Vemod and Varin with "Skati Marika" (both as a people of Theodoric and Hrodolphus) should give us the idea that this family would solve our "generation"-riddles. The letters are also making "the memory of Vemod" and "Skati Mariki" the most important part of the text in roek-runes - the last placed at the top of the right side of the stone.

Riddle no. 11 itself must deal with the dead or doomed son and the obvious question which every reader will ask as the first: "What happened to him?" Especially the unusual use of the word "faikiAn" (rather doomed than dead) made this sentence a riddle. In that case this riddle shall be answered in Riddle no. 12. As we will see later Varin probably raised the stone because Vemod lay dead on the battlefield among 20 kings.

As mentioned Theodoric wrote to the Herulian king two years before the battle: "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." It was a judgement which would be told for generations in the family of Hrodolphus. In that way the message from Varin above was that Vemod was a descendant of a king who 9 generations ago was called worthy to be the son by the legendary Theodoric the Great himself - the greatest hero of both the Scandinavians and of their Christian enemy, Charlemagne. Could we expect a more probable purpose at a rune stone in memory of a dead son in the beginning of the 9th century?

That must be the simple explanation how the first layer of the text is constructed. We do not need more in order to understand the front side of the stone. We are, however, curious about the names of the other 6 or 7 ancestors as we know Hrodolphus, Varin and Vaemod. Also that message the carver has provided for us.

The "missing" names of the generations - The second layer
In this situation we shall remember the unusual signs between the runes. In Riddle no. 15 two initiating "+"signs were used to mark the shift to cryptic runes inside the rune lines (the displacement code and the mysterious NIT) and also the beginning of Riddle no. 2 and 3 inside the runelines were marked with "+" and bullit (the signs + and x were unknown as mathematical operators in Europe until the 15th century). Apparently these signs were only used to mark shift in code and riddle inside a rune line as they are not used in several other situations where code and riddle is changing in the beginning of a line. The first "+"sign, however, was placed inside a stanza in the end of rune line no. 1 without any reason. What was its purpose? In Riddle no. 13 we find the two last unused signs - a "+"sign inside a rune line and a "x"sign in the end of rune line no. 19, where at least the last is against the system elsewhere, while the necessity of the "+"sign can be discussed. The two signs in Riddle no. 13 are marking the beginning and the end of the separate stanza in a kind of fornyrdislag containing 8 names - and the unnecessary "+"sign in line no. 1 was placed before the line with the name Varin. In this way the "unnecessary" signs are marking 9 names. Did Varin in this way tell us where to find the 9 generations before Vaemod - his 8 ancestors placed in Riddle no. 13 and himself? We should simply search the text until we found these unused markers and would in that case end up at the front side again in line no. 2 just before Varin and read that line as Riddle no. 11.

The Theodoric stanza is in the divergent metre, fornyrðislag. It consists of 8 short lines. The next divergent stanza is the additional stanza after the "+"sign in Riddle no. 13 (also partly in fornyrðislag - the metre of the past) containing also 8 short lines with the 8 names in a text being pure nonsense - 4 fathers with each 5 sons of the same first name. Already Sophus Bugge asked 100 years ago: "How can anyone believe that?" - but no one has reacted on his obvious question. The purpose is probably to let us see a connection between the 20 kings and the 4x5 first names - but as a false track, which is an often used method in riddles as emphasized by Bo Ralph (Ralph 2005). The plural form in apparently all the names of the sons must be a part of the trap, as Biorn as plural BirnaR among the fathers indicates that such grammatical rules can be ignored. If the text is set up in long lines these 4 lines have identical structures - forming 4 rows and 4 columns as a modern data matrix. Actually they appear as columns of both letters and words if they are aligned to the right. This is especially interesting as Varin placed an "s" more behind Haruth than he used in the other lines. In that way he got six runes in all four names of the fathers, forming real columns - like Alcuin below - if the runes were aligned to the right. Probably we have here got the names of the 8 missing generations, as we do not find so many names elsewhere at the stone.

It is important to notice that this complicated reading order is marked independently of our interpretation of the text - it can be regarded as a confirmation. The matrix can be decomposed to 8 riddles in this way (where the column with "fim" (5) is reserved for a later explanation, which indicates that the 8 names were heroes):

Raðulf’s son?
Valka’s son?
Rukulf’s son?
Raiþulf’s son?
Haruþ’s son?
Hoisl’s son?
Björn’s son?
Gunmund’s son?
Matrix - Riddle no. 13
Sons - 5 - Fathers
* suniR (plural) = son | son

When we try to place these 8 names in the right chronological order, we should notice the last column in the matrix which must have a purpose too. "Sons" in each line immediately indicate that the last name is the father of the line. In that way the first ancestor must be Radulf, his son must be Valke/Valkar etc.. The plural allow us to use the expression "sons" twice in each line. According to the general system each of the 8 names shall be a part of a riddle: "Who was the son of the name?" The first line will be "The son of Radulf?" and the answer hidden in the next riddle, "The son of Valke?", will be "Valke" etc..

Sancta Cruce - Click for enlargement Of course Varin did not know a modern data matrix, which makes it easy for us to break up and rearrange the order, but he worked with stanzas having a similar function. This was probably inspired by Alcuin's Porfyrian acrostics being used to set up poems in horizontal and vertical lines of letters - being popular at the contemporary court of Charlemagne (3.9) . An example is Alcuin's "Sancta Cruce" at the left containing acrostics and maybe number symbolism (Godman 1985, page 20 and 56). 20-30 years earlier than the Roek Stone Alcuin of York established a school at the court of Charlemagne teaching beside politics and religion also classical knowledge like logic, mathematics and poetry. He was a key figure in the Carolingian Renaissance and his ideas became widespread due to his pupils. One of his favorite teaching methods was riddles and answers, but he also used number symbolism and coding (Godman 1985). Therefore it is not surprising that Varin used such ideas to place messages in the text - and the mentioning of the statue of Theodoric is confirming that he or one of his rune masters (at a time less than 20 years before the arrival of Ansgar in Birka) were well informed about the culture at the court of Charlemagne, just as we know from the Frankish annals that members of the Danish royal family joined the Frankish court while others escaped to the Suiones.

We know from a letter that Alcuin discussed numerology with Charlemagne and that the palace cathedral in Aachen was built by using the numbers 8 and 12 as holy symbols. Earlier Sophus Bugge, Magnus Olsen and Hugo Pipping found by counting the runes combinations of especially the figure 24, but also the figure 16, which they regarded as an indication of number magic or numerology (Bugge 1910, Olsen 1921 and several works of Pipping based on Ludvig Wimmer - see also Chapter 5). According to them the regularity could be no coincidence (3.10) . They found such combinations in several places - but especially in the last 3 stanzas, in the names of the 8 kings and in the cross formed cipher runes. The three authors later tried to show this regularity on many rune stones, but they went too far and were later opposed by scholars like Anders Baeksted (Baeksted 1952). Also von Friesen and Anders Baeksted, however, had to accept the strange coincidences of regularity (Baeksted 1952, page 176 and 246), which will be described in Chapter 7 as symbols used as invocations. Regular proportions of the number of letters in the rows were also a way used by Alcuin to construct the acrostic texts. The regularity in the matrix of Riddle no. 13 could indicate - especially the names of the fathers where Varin broke the grammatical rules to fit a 4x6 matrix - that the text may contain more messages than I have been able to explain with the reconstruction of Riddle no. 3-10 (3.11) .

Decomposition of structures was not so far from the Norse mentality of that time as we should believe. Our knowledge about their way of thinking is very limited, but we know their way to make combinations of 3 letters in runic incriptions, their way to decompose the runic alphabet into numbers and we know especially their ornaments. An important change took place around 500 AD when the new Style II, which became a basis for the different styles of the Vikings, was introduced as a decomposition of their old symbols. Even Alcuin of York may have been influenced by this abstract Germanic way of thinking. At the Roek Stone the decryption system was the first example, the stanza above with the names is the next and we will meet other examples later in Chapter 7.

It shall be noticed that the matrix above is a matrix with four columns where the last three are regular, but it may also be a matrix with 4 rows of each 24 signs, where 8 fields at left are blank, which will later be handled as 4x24.

We have already answered Riddle no. 10, "Who was Gunmund's son?", with Varin. It was just here in the first stanza we found the "+"sign which may show where to proceed after the "+"-marked stanza with the 8 names. As mentioned that makes the stanza both the first and the last stanza of the front side - a way to read which may even be supported by the size of the text in the last line being just as high as in the first stanza - a torque-like circle.

The identification of Hrodolphus by name
The first runic name in the row, Radulf, is as close as it can be the Germanic spelling of the Greek Hrodolphos and the Latin Rodolfo. It is in this way confirmed that we are on the right track. They are not just two similar names. It is a name combination, Radulf/Theodoric, which is found both in the history and at the stone - tied together by the same story line, as Hrodolphus died when he let down his agreements and the clear omens of his gods while he was under adoption and protection of a superior king - the famous Hraidgothic king. The time span between the time of Theodoric and the time of the stone is the same as the 9 generations, the 9 missing riddles and the number of "free" names at the stone pointed out by the "+"markers. Procopius even told that the family of Hrodolphus settled in the region, where the stone was found later more than 1000 kilometers away. These elements provide us with a very strong identification, which is unusual in the old history. It has been missed because the Swedish scholars have been focusing on the Goths and have ignored - with a few exceptions - the "primitive" Heruls.

To avoid unnecessary discussions the Marika are not mentioned here as an identification of Hrodolphus, but it is generally accepted that the name under all circumstances is connecting the Roek Stone with the legends of Theodoric.

The family
We shall notice the names in the line of ancestors after Radulf too: Valke, Rugulf, Raidulf, Harud, Hoisl, Biorn and Gunmund. The names made already Sophus Bugge (1910, page 96-102) to mention the Heruls - but not as a family line. Hreidulf and Rugulf are names of the same character as Radulf (Hrodolphus). The first part of Hreidulf is the same as Hreidgoths and the name Rugulf is according to Axel Olrik (Bugge 1910, page 263) known from the eldest gravestones in Austria. If ValkaR is plural Valki or Valke is unknown in Scandinavia, but in Eastern Europe and Frisia Valka/Valko was known. If ValkaR is not plural of the ON Valdar, the Herulian/Lombardian Walthar and the East Germanic Odoakar are parallels. Haruth must be the same as the Herulian name Aruth mentioned among the 14 Herulian names by Procopius (Book VIII, xxvi). The alpine-sounding Hoisl is like Valke unknown in Scandinavia according to von Friesen, while the two last names, Biorn and Gunmund, are typical royal Nordic names of the 9th century. However Gunmund (Kunmunt) must also be the name Cunimund - in the 540'ies the name of a king of the Gepides to whom Datius escaped with his group of Heruls. As the Germanic people used common names it shall only be argued in relation to the Roek Stone that the order of the names show a plausible chronological development from the East Germanic culture of Theodoric until Varin's own time in Oestergoetland. Varin's own name may be derived from Tacitus' Varini (Tacitus Germania, Chapter 40) in Northern Germany, who according to Procopius (Book VI, xv) and Cassiodorus (Varia III,3 (Lakatos 1978)) had connections with the Heruls and Theodoric.

Could Hrodolphus and the family line be known by Varin? There are at least three possibilities:

1) According to the scholars Niels Lukman and Bardi Gudmansson the Heruls brought some of their East Germanic legends to Scandinavia being remembered by their descendants. An example is the saga of Dietrich of Bern (Theodoric) were the noble Rodolf von Bekelar (Pöchlarn, where Herilungoburg was mentioned in 832 AD) was the best man to the wife of Attila in a late distorted version. In Niebelungenlied he was caught between his oat to the wife of Attila and his duty to his daughter, who was married to a Burgundian prince. Rodolf was killed in a meaningless battle, and afterwards Dietrich sent out Hildebrand to save his body for a burial. His connection with the Huns appears to be a general mistake regarding the Heruls in Scandinavia - probably because they had followed the Huns (also to Scandinavia) until 50 years before Hrodolphus died.

2) The Roek Stone is showing that a rather impressive tradition of using runes appear to have been existing around the family of Varin, and we know from Venantius Fortunatus that runes were also carved in wood, which could still have preserved the names of their old ancestors at the time of Varin. The line of ancestors was important regarding inheritance and probably also regarding the right to be king. The royal genealogies were the first to be written down when the Christian writers arrived - but the genealogies could of course be manipulated.

3) Paulus Diaconus, who was prepared to be sent with an envoy to the Danish king by Charlemagne some decades before the Roek Stone, spent a great effort on Hrodolphus in his History of the Lombards. As the statue of Theodoric in Aachen was known by the carvers of the stone, they could also know the story of Hrodolphus - being well known in Aachen at that time.

Accordingly it is very likely that Varin had the necessary knowledge to tell this story - and the last to be forgotten in the family was probably that their ancestor had been adopted by the famous Theodoric.

We can conclude that we have a line of likely names, but we do not have any possibility to control the 7 of them.

The historical sources for these probable connections between Varin and Theodoric may appear rather complicated. The separate identifications of the Heruls are shown at following sheet.

Historical identification - Click for enlargement

Besides the table above another table showing the historical texts can be downloaded in pdf . The Marika have until now been regarded to be the Goths of Theodoric which will also make sense, while all the other six statements can identify the Heruls - including all the 11 lines of the riddle itself. Of course a chieftain at the "Roek Stone level" from Goetaland or with a family going to Goetaland may have died among the Hreidgoths 9 generations ago, but very few would have had the name Radulf We know from Jordanes a Scandinavian Rodulf at the court of Theodoric. He has sometimes been mixed up with Hrodolphus (Hyenstrand 1996, page 49), but while Hrodolphus died as a king in battle before his people went to Scandinavia and many years before Cassiodorus wrote the source of Jordanes, the other Rodulf had left his people, the Norwegian Rani, in order to stay at the court of Theodoric at the time of Cassiodorus. As these two stories are totally contradicting and are referring to two different people they must refer to two different kings. It is rather impossible that more than one Radulf was so famous around 790 AD for dying because of his guilt 9 generations earlier at Theodoric that it should be emphasized at a runestone in Goetaland. Normally a family would never boast of such a destiny except in this special situation where also the fame of the hero Theodoric, who promised to protect him, had to be held in honour. This combination implicates a very high degree of certainty in the identification when discussing history of that time.

The historical sources used in this connection can be regarded as reliable. It is a letter to the herulian king from Cassiodorus, the chancellor of Theodoric, and the "History of Wars" by Procopius. Procopius was the secretary and juridical advisor of Bellisarius, the superior general of Justinian. He had close contacts with the Herulian mercenary officers serving Justinian and he even told he spoke with eyewitnesses from Scandinavia. The destiny of Hrodolphus 40 years earlier is confirmed to us by Paulus Diaconus, but we shall also notice an important contemporary event which was Procopius’ reason to spend two chapters on the Heruls. In 548 AD, five years before Procopius ended his story, the group of Herulian mercenaries, who had settled in Singidunum as Byzantine mercenaries, murdered their local king and send an envoy to Scandinavia to find a member of the royal family, who lived there after the defeat of Hrodolphus. They found many there of royal blood and brought back the princes Datius and Aordus (Hord?) and 200 young soldiers. Datius removed Suartuas – the Herulian candidate of Justinian. Instead a furious Justinian placed Suartuas as commandor of Constantinopel. Procopius, who wrote in Constantinopel, had no chance to mistake or lie about the existence of the royal Herulian family in Scandinavia without losing all his credibility. Everybody in Constantinopel knew that embarrassing story, when he wrote. Weaker sources confirming parts of the headlines of this history are Jordanes, Paulus Diaconus and Origo Longobardorum. We do not know where the Heruls finally settled in Scandinavia and how many they were, but there is no doubt that this royal dynasty and their followers settled at the Scandinavian Peninsula and were still coveted royal candidates 40 years later. As they disappeared as a people they were probably integrated into a Scandinavian people (3.12) .

The test of the riddle structure is not dependent of our choice among the historical explanations and also the use of the markers (+ & x) was unnecessary - these markers were not noticed when the system of the missing riddles was reconstructed first time in this article. They may rather be regarded as a confirmation. We do under all circumstances have surprisingly much information confirming that the principle was followed regarding the missing riddles. Maybe I first time solved the problems a little backward, but in the Viking Ages the readers knew the name of Varin's father - making it much easier to solve the riddles.

Lars Loennroth has claimed that the text did not mean that the man in Riddle no. 2 died because of his guilt, but that he was still involved in the battles 9 generations later (Loennroth 1977, page 22-23). If his claim is correct it may be a parallel to the claim by Snorri that the Ases and the Svear invoked their king, Odin, when they went into battle. Also the divine Gothic "ansis" mentioned by Jordanes were heroic ancestors, and Rimbert mentioned the ancestor, Erik, being recognized as a god in Uppsala in the 9th century. Lars Loennroth's translation does not exclude the interpretation above, but his explanation is unlikely and not generally accepted.

It is wise and necessary to question the basic text as Bo Ralph did in 2006/7 - with the Theodoric-stanza and the last stanza as examples. New translations are possible as more or less convincing parallels, but if the current translation shall be refuted the arguments shall be based on proven linguistically mistakes by the former translators. At the Oslo-seminar (mentioned in chapter 1) it was claimed by several scholars and agreed by Bo Ralph that the knowledge about the local language and the fornyrdislag of that time is too limited for that purpose - at least regarding the proposed examples.

The historical and philological basis does not justify a critique of the current translation regarding this stanza - rather is the translation supported. Without being recognized by the translators of the consensus version the translation has hidden a well-known cycle of legends and its historical background, where nearly all words are used in the right context. Using the sagas, Frankish literature, Theodoric, Deor and the works of Procopius we are able to identify and use the 2 war booties, the 9 generations, "died with the Hreidgoths", "died for his guilt" (or "ruled/put up the battle"), Theodorik, "sea warriors", Hreidmar, Kute [horse] (equestrian statue), "armed", "shield strapped", Marika, Radulf and other Herulian names in these few stanzas. As example all the words in the two stanzas of Riddle no. 2 are a part of the explanation except maybe the unnecessary but relevant word "bold". That kind of completeness does strongly support the scholarly consensus-translation in spite of the general risk of circular reasoning.

The two layers
We shall notice that Varin put several hints into the text to let us solve the problem with the hidden riddles. First of all we got the correct answer to riddle no. 2, Radulf, in a stanza with 8 names in a clearly wrong connection - a name which may even be pointed out by the 3 old "t"s as described in note 3.11. Then he wrote the numbers the 2nd and the 12th combined with the "9 generations", the high letters in "skati Marika" in the end of riddle no 2 combined with the header, the unused "+"signs and the set-up of the lines. People knowing the ancestors of Varin would even know to use some of the 8 names.

As demonstrated we could let out the names in Riddle no. 13 as being too much of Alcuin-style - the expression "9 generations" would still be the 9 missing riddles leading directly to Riddle no. 11 about Varin and Vemod and the answer in Riddle no. 12 in the simplest possible way in a first layer. The solution with Varin and his 8 ancestors will not be dependent of a mistake regarding the family, and neither will our choice of Hrodolphus as answer to Riddle no. 2 be dependent of a mistake regarding a possible second layer in Riddle no. 13.

4. Riddle no. 12-13 - The death of Vemod
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We can now proceed to Riddle no. 12. They are both written in Roek runes inside the frame of the rear side of the stone.

The interpretation
Riddle No. 12:
This I say as the twelfth,
where the horse of GunnR finds fodder
on the battlefield, there 20 kings lie.

Here it is generally agreed that GunnR is a so called "kenning" - a symbol of the Valkyrie at the battlefield selecting and bringing the dead heroes to Valhall. We will return to the kennings which were frequently used in the ON poems in Chapter 7. The riddle is in the present tense and thereby the obvious answer to Riddle no. 11. Varin raised the stone because Vemod was lying dead on the battlefield among 20 kings. He could be lying between them or he could be one of them - and the 20 kings could be a kenning for the dead heroes, which is also explained in Chapter 7. All the possibilities will be in accordance with the following interpretation.

The question set up in Riddle no. 12 is the place where these kings were lying at the battlefield or - fields. The only place name at the stone is "by a coincidence" found in the following stanza and riddle - Siulunti, which makes sense both interpreted as Sjaelland (the Danish name for the island of Sealand), Sinlendi/Sillende (the Frankish/Anglo-Saxon name for Southern Jutland) or maybe Sjolund in Uppland. All these names could make sense, but Sealand is generally accepted as the early Icelandic writers called it Selund.

Riddle no. 13 and its auxiliary stanzas sounds:

This I say as the thirteenth,
which 20 kings sat on Siulunti
4 winters, of 4 names, born to 4 brothers.

+ (matrix – see Riddle no. 3-10)
ValkaR 5 Raþulf sons
Hraiþulf 5 Rukulf sons
HoislaR 5 Haruþs sons
KunmuntaR 5 BirnaR sons


Now the myth ... all ... ainhuar ... ....

As "which" in Riddle no. 13 must deal with the 20 kings of this riddle, the reader will first believe the answer is "4x5 brothers" in the stanza attached - especially as "brothers" (brudrum) in the line before appears to be dative plural. This could maybe make sense if the four names in the third column referred to common names for the 5 sons in the same line. They could be the 4 names in the last line. These 4 names could be their surnames - being the first names of their 4 fathers with the suffix "-son" - but this method would leave out the 4 names in the first column as pure nonsense. Already Sophus Bugge emphasized: "Who can believe that?" 5 living brothers would never be called with the same first name. Neither should we expect that these 4 different persons each had five such sons. The individual names of these 20 kings were probably unimportant in relation to the topic of the stone, as the stanza may have been constructed as a part of the trap being mentioned earlier regarding the ancestors. Furthermore the answer should first be expected to be found after the next “sakum” - but that will be a circular argument in relation to the test af the system.

That leaves us with the problem how to read the line "fiakura uintur at fiakurum nabnum burniR fiakurum bruþrum" (4 winters of 4 names born (to) 4 brothers). Due to the nonsense mentioned above we shall not expect too much of the grammar of this condensed sentence either. 4 winters is probably the length of a war were the kings had their headquaters in Siulunti. But who or what was born to these 4 brothers? The 20 kings or the 4 names? Is there a double meaning due to the trap? The 4 brothers could be read as the fathers of these 20 kings - without connection to the 8 names in the stanza below - but it would make more sense in the interpretation if the 4 names simply were given to the 4 new kings being born as 4 brothers. The information may be combined in several ways, and the grammar may be caused by this double use due to the trap.

As the last line of this section is spoilt, its meaning and function can be discussed. Though the first part of the line has normally been interpreted "Now I say the memories completely. Somebody ... after asked", it is quite certain that the line is not opened with the separator, "sakum", but with an "n". Accordingly we must regard this line as a part of Riddle no. 13 - a closing remark of the Roek-rune section. Similar text can be found in Havamal 164 and Vafthrudnismal 55 closing rows of related stanzas (Loennroth 1977, page 50, N.Aa. Nielsen 1969, page 37 and Wessén 1952, page 50-51).

Based on the remaining upper parts of the runes in the fragmentary line scholars have in the last half of the line reconstructed the word "Ainhuar" (Runverket), meaning "everybody". However, Ainhuar is similar with Einherjar being spelled Einheria in Grimnismal (XXIII in Poetic Edda from the 12th century (Ældre Edda 2001, page 60)). We should in such a case expect AinhariR, but the name and its spelling in Goetaland are unknown around 800 AD. Accordingly we cannot use this doubtful information in relation to the interpretation.

Under all circumstances we shall look for the answer to Riddle no. 13 in Riddle no. 14 after the next "sakum". In Riddle no. 13 we were asked who the 20 kings were, but at their time "king" could cover princes, petty kings and chieftains too - they may simply be members of one or several royal families. The word "who" is clearly demanding the name/names of this group – i.e. a royal family, the name of the family of Vemod or their individual names. As will be explained later a royal family name in Riddle no. 14 will correlate with the custom of that time giving the royal families a divine origin. Actually such a family name, "jgOldiga" (usually translated as Ingvaldings), is found in Riddle no. 14 - confirming our expectations. Due to a bind rune the suffix is "-iga", which in old runes is the same diminutive "-ika" as in "Marika" - a family name with the usual suffix "-ing". There are no "Ing-" names among the ancestors of Vaemod in the male line above and the question is referring to the dead kings - not necessarily to Vaemod. Even an unexplained "jgOldiga" in Riddle no. 14 will be a sufficient answer in relation to the test of the system of riddles, but actually we may be able to identify these "jgOldiga" as "Ingeldings".

A possible explanation
The dating of the stone to 800-830 AD and the name "Siulunti" has usually thrown the suspicion on a battle in Denmark. It is therefore obvious first to search the Danish history of that time - and we do not have any other obvious alternatives.

In a letter formed as a poem Petrus of Pisa told in 782 AD Paulus Diaconus that Charlemagne would subdue the Dansh kings worshipping Odin and Thor, but in the first decade of the 9th century the pagan Danish king Godfred was still successfully defending Danevirke. According to Annales Regni Francorum (the official Frankish annals, which are the sources for the rest of this section based on Albrechtsen 1976, page 17-22) he even established the trade center, Hedeby, in order to control the trade in the Baltic Sea, harried the coasts of Frisia with a large navy of Viking ships and threatened to attack Charlemagne and his allied across the Elb. After Godfred was murdered in 810 AD Denmark was ruled by his nephew, Hemming, who entered a peace agreement with Charlemagne. When Hemming died early in 812 AD the consequence was a great battle where the two candidates from the family and 10940 warriors were killed (according to the Franks). Two brothers to one of the killed candidates, Harald Klak and Reginfred from the winning party of the family, were elected as kings. Also they wanted peace with Charlemagne. Later Harald was even baptized by the son of Charlemagne. According to the annals the sons of Godfred in 813 AD returned from their "exile at the Sueones" and brought with them "troops gathered from everywhere" - probably also from their friends in their Swedish exile. Harald and Reginfred gave up but tried the next year without success to recapture the throne. Here Reginfred and the eldest son of Godfred were killed. In May 815 AD an army of Frankish and Saxon troops supported Harald by penetrating Southern Jutland (Sinlendi in the Frankish annals 815 AD - By Ottar called Sillende in 899 AD (Lund 1983, page 24)). The Franks gave up as the brothers with their fleet and army "remained on an island three miles from" Jutland - obviously Harald and the Franks were not able to rule Denmark by conquering only the peninsula of Jutland. A possible connection between Siulunti and Sinlendi/Sillende has never been investigated (Friesen 1920, page 70-71, and Nielsen 1969, page 14), as Sealand/Sjaelland has been generally accepted.

The wars about the throne started after Hemming's death early in 812 AD and lasted to the summer 815 AD as mentioned above. They should therefore be counted as 4 winters as written at the Roek Stone, which also presents Varin as a pagan due to the obvious role of Thor. It is therefore likely that Varin supported the sons of Godfred against this Frankish attempt to a Christian expansion in Scandinavia, and that this was the reason why Vemod died in Siulunti in one of the battles between the members of the Danish royal family. The text does not say that Vemod joined these fights in all 4 winters, but the Frankish text above implies that also Swedish troops operated in Siulunti in some of those winters. The internal wars probably took place both in Southern Jutland and at Sealand as the family according to the Frankish annals were ruling from the Ejder to the Norwegian Vestfold - the coasts of Kattegat. As mentioned above 20 kings may be a kenning for the dead heroes in general - but it would probably also be easy for Varin to find four brothers and totally 20 dead members of the royal family ruling Siulunti fitting his play with words and numbers. We are not able to control these figures, but at the time of Varin people knew the events much better than we do.

In 819 AD the Frankish annals told that the sons of Godfred were 4 brothers. The stone must have been carved after the 4 years of war - after the elder brother was killed in 814 AD - which implies that both "4 brothers" and "4 names" could point at the Godfred sons - or one of these expressions. We do only know the name of Horic/Erik who died 854 AD. It also has to be noticed that we do not know any connection between these Danish brothers and the 8 names in the following stanza - which should neither be expected due to the "real" connection of these names. As mentioned some of the 8 names were even unlikely as names from any Scandinavian dynasty in the 9th century.

In this way we have found a likely explanation on most of the line "4 winters, of 4 names, born (of) 4 brothers" identifying the wars were Vemod died and possibly even identified the sons of Godfred, whom he may have followed. As mentioned the two last expressions may have another meaning too as a part of the trap, but the three times "4" probably also had another reason which will be explained in Chapter 7 explaining all the numbers of Riddle no. 12 and 13.

If this Danish explanation is correct the stone was erected around 815/16 AD, but the interpretation is not dependent of that identification. The interpretation will not fall apart if Vaemod died in a battle unknown to us as we still have general answers in the following riddles.

In Riddle no. 14 the explanation is supported by the name "jgOldiga", written in the old Futhark with the family-suffix "-ika"="-ing". The most obvious reading of "jgOld" is Ingold/Ingjald/Ingeld. It is a well known name both in the Swedish Ynglingasaga (Ingjald Ildraade and one of his grandsons escaping from Uppsala) and in the Danish Skjoldungesaga (The fragmentary "Saga of the Skyldings" consisting of the later fragments "Uphaff allra frasagna" and "Rerum Danicarum Fragmenta" - Friis-Jensen 1984). According to "Uphaff allra frasagna" "Odin, son of Thor" had sons placed as chieftains in many countries - one of them was the Danish king Skjold - ancestor to the Scyldings. Saxo spend a lot of effort on Ingeld - starting weak, but ending as a hero. In Widsith and Beowulf he and his father Frode were known as kings of the Heathobards who fought Roar and Rolf Krake in Lejre. Reading, however, the later sagas and Saxo it is rather obvious that Heathobards was just a nickname of a branch of the Scyldings. In "Rerum Danicarum Fragmenta" the son of Ingeld, Roerik, continued the rule in Lejre after Rolf Krake. It shall be noticed that apparently even Alcuin knew this Ingeld. In a letter to a bishop in 797 AD he wrote "What has Hinieldus to do with Christ" as the monks in Lindisfarne were too busy reading a heroic poem - usually regarded to be the long vulgar poem Saxo quoted about Ingeld. Obviously Ingeld famous in all Northern Europe at the time of the Roek Stone - making it likely that his name was used on the ruling branch of the family in those years, though we call them all Scyldings / Skjoldunger today. Of course this saga was no history but a manipulated list of the Danish royal family in order to legitimize their right to the throne, but in our case it is just a matter of their claims when Varin carved the stone - not the historical value of the content. Our only concern should be if the role of the dynasty of Ingeld was changed from 815 AD to our surviving fragments - which is contradicted by similar interest from both the early Beowulf, Widsith and Alcuin and the late Saxo. It was the members of this royal family who were fighting about the throne and were lying dead at the battlefields.

If this is the correct interpretation, Varin and Vemod were not necessarily a part of the "divine" family of Ingeldings. No "Ing-" name were mentioned in the "matrix" which was only a male line, but we shall be aware that the dynasties had a lot of alliances by marriage making nearly all the Norse kings one family if we also count the female lines. Vemod was probably in one way or another part of a male or rather female line claiming at that time to be descendants of the legendary Ingeld.

According to Runverket the name may refer to a local chieftain in the nearby Ingvaldstofta, but "-toft" is normally regarded as a later settlement (Andersson 1999) and it is more likely that the stone later inspired local parents to give their children the names from the stone - and that Ingvaldstofta inspired Runverket to translate "jgOld(i)ga" with Ingvaldings instead of Ingoldings. Runverket has probably the same problem with the name Sibberyd.

Other names have been mentioned by the scholars (4.1) . Already Tacitus presented the broad tribal name, Ingviones - probably based on a god Ing. The same root could lead to the "family of Yngve" - the Swedish "Ynglinga-family" (N.Aa. Nielsen 1969, page 52). In this way we have five or six separate details for identification: The dating around 800-830 AD, "Siulunti", "many kings died in battle", "4 winters", "JgOldiga" and maybe "4 brothers". It is a rather good identification and obvious explanation, but the single details are not as certain as those regarding the Heruls above.

It has to be stressed that the interpretation of a runestone does not imply that the names are identified in other sources. It is unnecessary and usually impossible. Both "Siulunti" and "jgOldiga" have a natural place in the interpreted text above and we do not need - and could not expect - to be able to understand where and with whom Vaemod was killed. We have been lucky that we in this case may understand the background, because this stone was a result of a conflict with the writing Christian world.

Partly conclusion
Under all circumstances the proposed system of the riddles is respected with a likely answer placed in Riddle no. 14, though the total text of Riddle no. 13 after its initial question may not be fully explained due to the spoilt line, which may have concluded that he had now told all about the death and the ancestors of Vemod.

The conclusion of Chapter 3 and 4 must in this way be that all the text of the stanzas in Roek runes simply is a memorial text as promised in the header. It is telling about the death of Vemod and his family line of heroes leading back to an ancestor being honored and adopted by the greatest hero of all, the famous Theodoric the Great. Could we expect a more obvious result?

5. Riddle no. 14-15 - Ancestors and gods
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The last three decrypted stanzas are placed in the frame at the rear side of the stone and the small side at the right.

The interpretation
The three stanzas involve the pagan gods known primarily by us from the 400 year later Christian sources. The shift to the ancient and secret runes in the runic frame around Riddle no. 12-13 is probably marking that we are now going back into the world of the ancestors (the ancient runes in Riddle no. 14) and the gods (the secret runes in Riddle no. 15 and 16). Riddle no. 14:

I say the folktale,
which of the jgOldiga,
was repaid (given) by a wife's sacrifice.

The answer regarding the 20 kings told that "jgOldiga" in Riddle no. 14 were the family of these kings - and maybe even of Varin and Vämod. They are maybe even identified as the Danish royal family, where Skjold was claimed to be the son of Odin in their own saga. We are back in the past - the mythical world.

Like the myth about the magic sword in Riddle no. 1 all these riddles are initiated by "mukmini", and a possible solution was already published many years ago. The explanation was presented by Niels Aage Nielsen in his book "The runes at the Roek Stone" (Nielsen 1969, page 46-60) - a development of some ideas by Magnus Olsen back in 1921. He explained Riddle no 14 and 15 by referring to the Hrungnir Myth in Skaldskaparmal - a part of the Prose Edda written by Snorri in the 13th century. (Snorri Sturlasson. Prose Edda: Skaldskaparmal XVII, 1220 AD)

N.Aa. Nielsen concluded that Sif, the wife of Thor, had made an offer by allowing Thor to get a son with the giantess, Jernsaxe, in order to save his life. Also Gun Widmark (Widmark 1992, page 32) has later concluded that "kvan" must be understood in the way that the offer was made by a woman - i.e. when a wife stepped aside for a more fertile woman. This may explain Riddle no. 14 if the word "goldin" (from "gjalda") can be interpreted "who of the Ingoldings was given by (received in exchange for) the sacrifice by a wife". Runverket has called the meaning of this word uncertain, and Lars Loennroth has mentioned the possibility of a very broad meaning in the 9th century. Brate referred (Bugge 1910, page 294) to the use of "gjalda"/"goldin" in Hervararsaga, Chapter 7 (8), where the verb meant "to receive in exchange" for a sacrifice. Ottar Groenvik has in 1990 handled the word "gjalda" in a separate article, where he in addition to the former reading "paid back" or "paid" added "give", "transfer" or "giving back". In his mind Vemod was given (dedicated) to Thor (Groenvik 1990: "To viktiga ord i Roekinskriften"), but also in that case the expression will cover that Magni was given as a son to Thor in exchange for the offer by Sif, as N.Aa. Nielsen claimed.

The illegitimate son of Thor saved when he was three nights old the life of his father by removing the big foot of the dead giant Hrungnir. Afterwards the son said: "I think I could have beaten that giant to death with my fist, if we had met." This saga episode must be the one Riddle no. 15 is referring to by the text about the son "He could crush a giant" - or more directly translated from the runic "knuoknat iatun" with "knock out/to death a giant". It has to be mentioned that the hard beating knuckles of the fist in ON are called "knúi" (Danish/Swedish "knoer/knoger").

Riddle no. 15:

I say the folktale,
which great warrior is born a relative.
Vilen it is. He could crush a giant.
Vilen it is. N I T

Apparently an answer is demonstratively repeated twice by Varin: "Vilin it is", but we were looking for Magni. Magni (Great) was his name in the Hrungnir Myth. According to N.Aa. Nielsen the name Vilin was the same as the name of Odin's brother, Vili, meaning will and strength. Snorri's Gylfaginning mentioned Vili and Ve as the brothers of Odin helping him at the Creation, but according to Snorri's usual source, Voluspa from around 1000 AD, these helpers and brothers of Odin were called Hoenir and Lodurr (Voluspa 18 in Steinsland & Meulengracht 2001, page 45) (5.1) . In this connection it is interesting that in Snorri's version Odin criticized Thor that he gave a famous horse to his son with a giant instead of giving it to his father. Already here it sounds like a learned reconstruction by Snorri from a text where Thor favored his giant son for his legitimate son - which did not fit Snorri's late universe.

We shall be aware that the Hrungnir myth is only preserved in the late Edda of Snorri, where Snorri described Odin as the father of Thor. This was quite opposite in the earlier "Uphaff alra frasagna" (Saga of the Scyldings) which was quoted above. Here Skjold was the son of Odin who was the son of Thor. If that saga also was the world of Varin 400 years earlier - which is more likely than the Edda of Snorri - Odin would be brother to the giant son in the Hrungnir Myth, and one of Odin's brothers was called Vili.

These changes in the West Nordic sources four centuries later than the Roek Stone are making it obvious that Vilin as suggested by N.Aa. Nielsen could be the giant son of Thor in the Hrungnir-myth at the much earlier East Nordic stone. Maybe the names were already mixed up at the time of Varin since he presented a demonstratively clear answer twice without using encryption as in the rest of the stanza. The new name Magni may have replaced Vilin, when Snorri wrote Edda 400 years later, as the name Vilin in the same work replaced Lodurr from Voluspa.

After having realized the structure of the riddles in the big section written in Roek-runes, the structure of the riddles in Riddle no. 14-16 and their answers are obvious. Following the principles from the previous hidden answers to the riddles there were no doubt that the answer to Riddle no. 14 was "Vilin it is" (5.2) . Also the answer to Riddle no. 15 placed in the 16th statement is more obvious than in the earlier riddles:

I say the folktale: Thor|
Sibi | Protector of the vie|
Gave birth | 90 years old

The answer to the question of a father's name in Riddle no. 15 must be "Thor" or "Sibi", and from the Hrungnir Myth we know that the answer is Thor.

The reading of Sibi has been a problem as the suffix "-i" normally is the masculine gender, but we have to notice that Sif's name according to Snorri was Sibil (Snorri 1220, Prologue III), and that nobody knows her role or name form in Goetaland in the 9th century. Earlier a general consensus regarded Sibi as a local priest or chieftain (Runverket 2000) instead of a god, but today many linguists refer to "sefi" or "sifja" as a brother-in-law or "relation by marriage" (Widmark 1992, page 32. Loennroth 1977). Ottar Groenvik did in 2003 - after having argued for a nickname to Thor - return to his original suggestion about "Sif's husband" Thor (Groenvik 1983, page 128, 1992b and 2003). Snorre mentioned in Scaldskaparmal "verr Sifjar" (verr=man) as a name for Thor - also found in Grettir's Saga - making the masculine "Sibi" probable as a short version of this name.

Whatever Sibi means "Sif" or "Sif's husband" the elements of the riddle can be combined in a way making Thor the answer to Riddle no. 15 at least once and maybe twice as Sif could not be the great warrior. If the answer is Sif's husband all the "Sakum mukmini"-riddles mentioned above are answered with double answers.

N.Aa. Nielsen's suggestions are in this way clearly answered in Statement no. 15 and 16 - and it can only be regarded as a strength that he was not aware of that general principle of riddles, the support from Voluspa being later pointed out by Gro Steinsland and the connection with the Scyldings. I agree in his interpretation in spite of the uncertainty regarding Magni/Vilin, which Groenvik used as an argument against N.Aa. Nielsen (Groenvik 1983, page 127). It is obvious that the answer shall be the giant son of Thor. It is demonstrated that a change of names under all circumstances took place without consequences as Magni, Vilin and Lodurr were unimportant figures in the Norse mythology. More important persons had double names or got myths transferred from other figures in the sagas.

As there is no interrogative pronoun and no place for an answer the interpretation of the two last lines in Statement/Riddle no. 16 is discussed separately in next chapter, where also the family relations are further discussed.

The expression NIT is not translated as the very special use of the futhark and set-up is marking a separate expression. The formula must be one of the incantation formulas being usual in older runic inscriptions. It is probably used to mark that the following stanza is containing an invocation.

Lars Loenroth has, however, read it as "nyti" by finding an "i" in the frame and combined it with the second "Vilin it is" - meaning that he "enjoyed" to crush a giant (Loennroth 1977, page 29).

Joseph Harris (Harris 2006, 91) has accepted the reading "nyti" as: "May he enjoy this monument", which is rather unconvincing. He has even turned the meaning of Riddle no. 15 around arguing that the giant killed Vilin - in order to prove his general Sonatorrek-theory - but he admits that the most "colloquial" and likely reading of Riddle no. 15 is: "Who was born a relative - a young warrior (drængi) - Vilin it is ..." (Harris 2006, 88). In that case "young warrior", "Vilin it is, knew how to slay a giant" and "Vilin it is | nit / enjoyed" can be read as three different expressions for a descendant of "who". This may be a better translation than the one Wesén presented, but the interpretation will be the same.

Lis Jacobsen and N.Aa. Nielsen also read "niti", but in the meaning "obstacle" (he who prevented the death of Thor). All three ways to read the expression make sense and will not change the interpretation of the riddle above.

Partly conclusion
Already here we are able to conclude that the very simple principle with riddles and hidden answers has been followed all the way through the riddles of the stone. The answers appear as well-founded and plausible with a logical correlation between the stanzas. Where there could be a grain of doubt in our minds in the last two stanzas because of later confusion in the sagas, the answers are in these stanzas as clear as they can be.

6. Riddle no. 16 - Who was invoked?
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A problem with the interpretation of the encrypted part of the text is that we hardly know anything about the Norse religion in the beginning of the ninth century except that Thor and Odin were the most important gods protecting the Danish king according to the Frankish authors. Most of our detailed picture of the dynamic religion was formed in later Christian times, when the myths had been manipulated by kings, bishops and scalds.

Most scholars regarded Thor as the god being invoked in Riddle no. 16 - also N.Aa. Nielsen (Nielsen 1969, Chapter 6). However the last sentence (ul niruþR), which has the most striking position at the stone above "the frame", is calling for an answer. Who was born by whom, and who was 90 years old at the birth? Do we also have to use this last 16th figure at the stone as a numerical identification - this time symbolizing the god being invoked?

Set-up and the reading of the two first lines
First of all the way the text in this riddle is placed at the stone should be noticed. The three rune lines meet each other in one point in right angels and the words inside the stanza coded by figures can be combined as the reader may wish - maybe a special point by Varin regarding the two last lines.

The introduction, "I say the folktale" followed by "Thor", is placed vertically at the small side as a usual text line and should be read as the first. "Sakum mukmini" is identical with Riddle no. 1, 14 and 15 - all referring to well-known Norse myths and legends (folktales) as suggested by Wessén, which is the reason to choose that translation - a choice supported by Schulte (Schulte 2008 b). The sentence is succeeded by Thor - we cannot change that order. He is placed here as the answer to Riddle no. 15 - and maybe as an invocation.

Left back we do only have the 2 lines with six decorative crosses - totally 24 legs or ciphers. The invisible top with the text "Sibi; Protector of the vie" as the protection formula, and the big header with the text "Gave birth; 90 years old" (Runverket 2000, page 22). In the usual interpretations Sibi is believed to be the protector of the vie. The position does not indicate a human protector since the text is turned upside against the sky. Usually the protector was the god Thor at other rune stones - never Sif nor an unknown Sibi. As explained in Chapter 5, however, Sibi means "Sif" or rather "Sif's husband" being Thor, making Thor the most likely explanation as a double answer and an invocation.

Sign of invocation - Click for enlargement Giving birth 90 years old
The text "Gave birth; 90 years old" has always been regarded as a mystery. We do simply need to find the old myth where a 90 years old person was giving birth - especially as the riddle is initiated with “mukmini”. We do only know one myth of that kind - but a widespread one - used both by Jews, Christians and Muslims. Abraham and his wife Sara were not able to get children. Therefore she made the offer to ask Abraham to get the son Ismael with a female slave in order to continue the family. Later God helped Sara to give birth to Isaac when she was 90 years old. God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, which he did, but Isaac returned from the mountain and became ancestor to the Jewish branch of the descendants of Abraham (The Old Testament. First book of Moses. Chapter 16-25). In the Koran the sacrifice is connected with Ismael being the ancestor of the Arabs - an example confirming the possible change between Vilin and Magni in Riddle no. 15.

It is remarkable to rediscover exactly that unnatural age of a woman giving birth - or a man for that sake - by using the last of the many identification numbers at the stone. It is also remarkable that this story is a close parallel to the interpretations by N.Aa. Nielsen and Gun Widmark of Sif's offer - though they did not notice this similarity with the Bible. Did Sif in one of the old myths - after accepting that Thor got the giant son, Vilin/Magni, with a giantess - bear a son in the age of 90?

The other sons of Sif were Ull and Modi in the late myths of Snorri, but Ull was not a son of Thor in those myths. In that case we will end up with the totally unknown Modi/Modin as the open question in the end of the text. That does not make sense to us.

If we instead are chosing the older Saga of the Scyldings, which is regarded also to be a source for Snorri's Ynglingesaga (written after the Edda), we can use the information in the former chapter that Odin was the son of Thor. Was Odin introduced in the Norse religions in the 5th century as a son of Thor borrowing the story of Isaac from the Old Testament? This Odin being hanged by himself as a sacrifice in Yggdrasil and returning after 9 days (Poetic Edda: "Havamal's Runesong". 12th century). Also Isaac should be sacrificed, but returned. Did this Odin end up as the ancestor of some of the royal families as a Norse Isaac?

The route of such a story into the Norse myths is impossible to identify, but it will not be unusual in the history of the religions that a myth about an ancestor being known for centuries among the neighbours found its way into the Norse religious myths in a time of changes. In the same way the number of the 12 diars or chieftains of Odin was known earlier as the number of tribes in Israel and in other myths.

The myth was probably removed when Odin changed place, and the "theft" from the Bible would hardly have been brought forward by the later Christian authors writing down the myths.

The doubt about the name of the child born by a 90 years old - being Odin, Modi, Magni or Ull - was an uncertainty among the readers, which Varin would normally never have expected, when he constructed the riddle. Nevertheless his very clear answer in Riddle no. 15 is indicating that he was aware that also another view on the divine relations existed.

Bróður Vílis
If there should be the same coherence in this stanza as at the rest of stone the mother of the child being born must be a woman connected with Thor. As Sif directly or indirectly is mentioned in both translations and she was the sacrificing wife of Thor in the former stanzas, we must expect her to be the mother. The 90 years old person must be one of these two parents.

In that case the conclusion is obvious, when we read the text. If the stanza was a riddle, the answer should be the name of a son of Thor and Sif. This son would be a halfbrother of Vilin according to the text of the stone itself. We know the expression "bróður Vílis" for Odin used in the following century by Egil Skjallagrimsson in his poem Sonatorrek (Skjallagrimssons Saga - the poem should have been kept in runes by his daughter since 960 AD) - like the Roek Stone a famous work of art about a "loss of sons". The kenning is also known later from Snorri. Varin may have had that general kenning in mind, when he placed Vilin and the Hrungnir Myth at the Roek Stone. In that way he avoided to mention the name of Odin, which - at least later - was taboo. The primary purpose with the three stanzas as a whole may simply have been the invocation of Thor and Odin without mentioning Odin - the encrypted lines are simply shouting "Thor" and "brother of Vilin" against the sky.

The relation between Thor and Odin 800 AD
Odin as the son of Thor is a problem, when we compare with the Edda, but can we be sure that our late Icelandic 11th-13th century picture of the religion was valid in Eastern Scandinavia in the 9th century? This is the relevant question to ask after reading the stone - and several scholars have asked that question without reference to the Roek Stone (Loennroth 1977) (6.1) . I will only mention a few observations.

In some of the poems - especially the Poetic Edda (Poetic Edda, 2001, i.e. page 17, 135, 156 and 170) - Thor is mentioned as the son of Odin, but primarily in poetic expressions, which may be a late wording or a West Nordic tradition (the first example was probably the Thor kenning "Balder's brother" in Tjodolfs Haustlong (Harris 2006, 83)). It was only in Snorri's Prose Edda ("Gylfaginnung" VI, IX, XXI) that Thor was placed as the son of Odin in a more important connection for the rest of the text. These are the most important arguments for placing Odin as the father of Thor, but Snorri was uncertain and in the introduction to the same work (Snorri, Prose Edda: "Prologue" III) he placed Thor in the front and Woden/Odin as a son after him in the family line.

In the early Western Scandinavian sources Ingui (Ing/Yngve) was the father of Njord who was the father of Frey being ancestor to the Swedish and Norwegian kings (Historia Norwegie from the 12th century) and Ari's work.

In Ynglingesaga Odin was a superior "divine" king of the Ases while Yngve/Frey was the father of the Swedish Ynglings - close to Historia Norwegia. The shape of Thor had no content and Snorri avoided to mention their family-connection as he was probably now - 10 years after writing the Edda - using the earlier Saga of the Scyldings as a source. Maybe Snorri even became aware that he had mixed up Odin's role as creator of the human world and father of the kings (Alfader / father of all) with Thor's role as father of the gods. Therefore the fragmentary manuscript "Upphaf allra frasagna" (which may be a part of the disappeared Skjoldunge Saga) is important in relation to the Roek Stone. As mentioned Thor was here directly mentioned as the father of Odin and Odin as the father of Skjold - ancestor to the Danish Scyldings (Friis-Jensen 1984, page 43).

Earlier, in the 11th century, historians as Dudo (Dudo, Gesta Normannorum. 1015 AD. Chapter 2) and Adam of Bremen described Thor as the most important god, and both Saxo Saxo 2000. 6.5.4) and Aelfrid raised doubt about the claims in Edda by referring to the weekdays. Here Odin was the Roman Mercury - maybe the Celtic god called Mercurius Cimbrianus by the Romans in old German inscriptions like Miltenberg and Heidenberg. Mercury's father Jove was Thor - a problem which Snorri had noticed too. Ottar Groenvik has interpreted Thor as "the eldest of Ases" at the Malt-stone from the 9th century, but that is not supported by Marie Stoklund (Groenvik 1992a and Stoklund 1994).

Though Joseph Harris (Harris 2006, §9) tried to prove the opposite, the conclusion when reading his article must be that a lot of traditions from different times and places are mixed up in the Norse literature - making it impossible to use manuscripts from the 11-14th centuries to state if Odin was the son of Thor or opposite in Goetaland around 800 AD. Our only information would be the Roek Stone itself - and maybe some of the early poems.

If we look at the genealogy of the gods presented in Christian times by Snorri in Gylfaginnung and replace the father of Odin (Borr (Northwest Scandinavian Voluspa around 1000 AD) meaning "son" (of Buri)) with Thor (Þorr) the brothers Odin, Vili and Ve will be identical with the brothers Ull, Magni and Modi (Snorri Sturlasson, Prose Edda: "Gylfaginning" (VI, IX) and "Skaldskaparmal" IV). In that case we could let the unknown Borr (maybe known from Ribe), Ve, Modi and Vili or Magni out of the world of the gods as late constructions without making much confusion in the myths. Odin would have been son of Thor and Sif. The change of roles between Isaac and Ismael in the Bible and the Koran confirmed such changes as possible, just like the example above with Hoenir and Lodurr.

Varin's way to mention the 90 years indicates that he knew another version of a Norse religion than the one Snorri presented 400 years later. To Varin Thor seemed to be the ancestor of gods, while his son Odin was the god of the battle, the master of Valhall and maybe the ancestor to all people or some of the royal families. Already Salin and later Ambrosiani Lars Loennroth, Ellis davidson, Herwig Wolfram and Lotte Hedeager have mentioned that Odin was a late god - probably the Westgermanic Wothan arriving lately in Scandinavia (6.2) - in correspondance with the general change in archaeology at that time. Maybe he was placed as Odin in the family of Thor by using a borrowed Isaac-myth in the 5th or 6th century. When Odin became the preferred god of the Viking kings these kings may have moved Odin forward in their divine genealogy (6.3) making him an ancestor too - a parallel to the development of Indra (Dumezil 1962, page 31). That may have resulted in the mysterious taboo around the name of the main god and a rejection of the Isaac myth as a part of the process. That may be the background for the uncertainty among the old historians, and we shall not forget that the Roek Stone is our best and most direct source regarding the Norse world in the 9th century, if we are able to interpret it - not the Icelandic "reconstructions".

Alternative interpretations
It has to be mentioned that Ottar Groenvik in his latest book (Groenvik 2003) tried to avoid the problems with his own suggestion about Vemod being given/dedicated to Thor. He changed "Vilin it is" to "this is no fault" and "gave birth, 90 years old" was together with “NIT” changed to "neither, that he kills the destructor". First of all he changed a clear "r" to a "t" without reason, secondly he left the last "sakum" without any content and purpose in the text, and thirdly this is against the order in rune line 25 and the order of the changes between the codes. As the stanza may still refer to Magni, my conclusion about the structure above is not influenced if his alternative is correct, but the new suggestion presented by Groenvik is not convincing.

The interpretation of the text as presented above will not be changed if the two last lines are read in the opposite order. Bo Ralph has in 2005 presented an alternative reading of this stanza. Setting up the two last lines in opposite order than usual his reading is: "The giantess does not destroy a family paying attention to the holy". First of all this reading does not influence the conclusion in Chapter 7. As it could be Varins point that the text could be read in both ways like the Frankish acrostics, I do not need to argue against Bo Ralph's alternative, but I do not see the relevance of the sentence in relation to the rest of the text - or to Bo Ralph's own idea for that sake.

Joseph Harris too has read the two last lines in the opposite order as: "I tell the young lad: At ninety, the kinsman, respected of schrines, engendered Thor." It is difficult to explain why Thor shall be separated from sakum mukminni, but it is simply a backwards way to create the solution from Sonatorrek about the loss of the son. Vilin is dead and Thor is to Harris a reborn son. Harris may, however, have a point regarding rebirth.

In 2010 also Ola Kyhlberg presented as an archaeologist a new translation and interpretation of the first and the two last stanzas where the giant should be a kenning of the Roek Stone itself from Jättestad. The stone was made by a scald, Sibbe, with the title viavari in an age somewhere in the eighties! He broke up the structure and justified it by poetic reasons.

Partly conclusion
The best we can do at this stage is to neglect all the more or less learned discussions in Chapter 5 and 6 and repeat the reading of the text itself in a comprehensible form:

"I say the folktale:
Which of the Igoldiga was repaid by a wife's sacrifice?
* Vilin it is.
Which great warrior was born the son Vilin, who could knock to death a giant? NIT
* Thor, Sif's husband, protector of the vie.
(Who was born by one who ) gave birth 90 year old (?)
(The brother of Vilin.)"

The text in () is not a part of the runic text, but if the last stanza is a riddle this would be the content of the text. The answer is hanging in the air: "Bróður Vílis - Odin" - the old kenning from Sonatorrek.

By letting Varin and his stone talk as it was written around 815 AD we have eliminated 400 years of changes and late reconstructions - and the text is making a perfect sense.

Of course we can never be sure exactly what Varin meant, but still the position of Odin is not crucial for the interpretation as Thor is sufficient as an answer - and Varin did not ask that question.

7. Kennings and prayers
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Myths and numerical kennings
As earlier mentioned the first information at the back side of the stone (Riddle no. 12) is the generally accepted kenning, GunnR, for one of the Valkyries. In the Edda the Valkyries were sometimes riding a horse to the battlefield, which can explain the expression GunnR's horse. The Valkyries were involved in selecting the brave warrior fallen in the battle from where he was brought to the Valhall of Odin. At the Valhall he was received by a Valkyrie bringing him a drinking horn with mead. He became an Einherjar. The role of the Valkyries is known from the Norse poems and they are recognized at several Gotlandic picture stones from the Viking Ages - some of the pictures are even showing the horse of Odin bringing the warrior to Valhall.

It is tempting also to search for a legend about the 20 kings dying in a battle, but such legends are unknown. Instead we should notice that 20 kings are mentioned 2 times in Riddle no. 12 and 13 just after the Valkyrie. We know a connection between 2x20 kings and the Einherjar from the relatively late Sorla Thattr (Flareyjarbok around 1400). Freja wanted her necklace Brisingemen back, but Odin put up the condition that 2 kings followed each by 20 kings should fight against each other. They should fall and go to Valhall where the Valkyries served mead and meat. Next day they should walk out and fight again - repeating this until the Twilight of the Gods, when they should fight with the gods against the giants. These were the first of the Einherjar - the warriors of Odin in Valhall. The most important wish of a warrior was to be an Einherjar when he died, but that was only possible if he died bravely in a battle. Already Magnus Olsen and N.Aa. Nielsen touched earlier an idea about the EinherjaR (Nielsen 1969. Page 38-44).

If we read Snorri's version of the legend about Hogne and Hedin (Snorri, Younger Edda: "Skaldskaparmal" (XLIX) ca. 1220. Nielsen 1969, page 38-43) another remarkable connection appears. These two kings and their people fought a battle called Hjadningevik. Every morning Hild, the daughter of Hogne and later a Valkyrie, awoke the dead warriors to a new battle until the Twilight of the Gods - another version of the Einherjar. The battle was started in spite of a peace offer from Hedin. Unfortunately Hogne had already drawn his sword Dainsleib. This sword had exactly the same history and character as Tyrfing in Hervarar Saga. The answer to Riddle no. 1 (the sword of the dwarfs and the Gothic kings) is in this way also the sword causing the eternal fight between the Einherjar, whom the 2x20 kings in Riddle no. 12 and 13 may refer to. In this way the magic sword from the dwarfs in Riddle no. 1 is pointing both at Theodoric in the first of the family-riddles and at the Einherjar in the first riddle about the death of Vemod - exactly as the episodes in Hervarar Saga were connected by the sword. This is hardly a coincidence - especially as Hogne in some of the legends was connected with Oestergoetland where the Roek Stone was carved and the people were mixed up with the Goths by the early historians. According to Erik Nylén this legend with Hild and the warriors can be found at two of the Gotlandic picture stones(Nylén 1988, page 52. The stones from Hammars (I) and Smiss (i). 8th-9th centuries). Accordingly it was a well-known story worth to be carved in a stone just 200 kilometers from the Roek Stone.

Because of the kenning the 20 kings shall probably be regarded in a figurative sense as the dead heroes following the superior king.

Does the number of war-booties get its final meaning in this way? Are the figures "2" and "12" in Riddle no. 1 Varin's "pointers" against Riddle no. 2 and 12 where the stories of the sword are beginning in different layers - a key confirming in this way for the right reader where to begin the reading of the two hidden layers about the 9 generations to Theodoric and the Einherjar? Already Lars Loennroth suggested "12" as a possible pointer (Loennroth 1977, page 37).

The answer to Riddle no. 13 in the first layer of the text was "Ingoldinga", but the 2x20 kings make also sense as a "numerical kenning" (or numerical riddle) with the answer "Einherjar" in a more hidden layer of the text. Skaldskaparmal by Snorri did only present examples of principles for kennings - not a final list of kennings. The current example of number symbolism was probably inspired by the school of Alcuin where play with numbers and symbolism was popular. It was found later in Grimnismal roo, but did never reach the same popularity in Scandinavia.

Combined with GunnR a reader at that time recognizing 2x20 kings would get the impression that Vemod died as a hero. Theoretically the Einherjar could even have been mentioned in the last spoilt line of Riddle no. 13.

With regard to the use of the figures 2x20 as a kenning it is tempting to test all the provokingly many figures in Riddle no. 12 and 13 (5, 5, 5, 5) = 20, 20, 20, 4, 4, 4) in a numerical play too. A kenning for Valhall has been tested, but it is placed in note (7.1) as the explanation is not regarded convincing. It is too uncertain and complicated and we do not need the answer "Valhall" as "Einherjar" and "Valkyrie" are sufficient for the message above. Therefore we will instead use the figures for another purpose below.

The frame and the number 24
The numerical kennings shall not be regarded as number magic or numerology like the theories of Sophus Bugge, Magnus Olsen and Pipping mentioned in Chapter 3. It is difficult for us to accept such general theories about play with numbers except for two strange coincidences of regularity at the Roek Stone - though lucky numbers and fear of the number 13 are usual among people in a modern society too.

The stanza with the 8 names in Riddle no. 13 has already been mentioned. This regularity may be regarded as signs of acrostics in the stanza with the names of the ancestors. If so it is a job for linguists to solve. (7.2) .

We shall, however, also notice an observation by von Friesen, who did not pay much attention to the other signs of number magic. He mentioned regarding the backside of the stone that the 5 coded lines with each 24 runes (totally 120 runes) together with the right side (where he also showed 24 runes) made up a frame around the regular text at the backside. In these cases double runes are counted as one rune. The number of runes in the first 5 lines of the frame (Riddle 14: yellow lines; Riddle 15: orange lines) is according to von Friesen 5x24 (Friesen 1920, page 2-16. Baeksted 1952, page 232. The probability for such a combination as a coincidence is less than 0,001%.

It has to be noticed that von Friesen and the other scholars had their problems in line no. 21 (i and j) and 25 (the first sign in the modern reading) - making the probability higher. In my counting the numbers are 23, 24, 24, 24, 25, but the total of Riddle no. 14 and 15 is still 120 = 5x24. The number is even intentionally formed by using a binding rune and two kinds of cipher code in the uninterpreted formula, NIT.

Frame of invocations - Click for enlargement Line no. 27 and no. 28 has each 3 outstanding crosses with each 4 legs (ciphers). Line no. 26 at the right side seen from the back side (possibly forming a last part of the frame) is written in cipher code being read as 14 rune-letters. If we count them as separate signs counting each rune as its two carved ciphers as at the top, we will find 41 signs in line no. 26. However, in line no. 27 in the same riddle we will also rather unexpected find 5 usual runes and in line no. 28 2 usual runes between the crosses making a total of 48 signs = 2x24 signs (runes or ciphers) + 24 ciphers in the crosses - or 3x24 signs in Riddle no. 16 (Red lines). (7.3)

All the encrypted frame consists in this way of 8 lines consisting of 8x24 runic signs with 5x24 signs in Riddle no. 14 and 15 and 3x24 in Riddle no. 16, where 1x24 are placed in the 6 big crosses.

The text inside this encrypted frame is precisely the Riddles no. 12 and 13 with the hidden line of family members, the death of Vemod, the Valkyrie and the 2x20 kings (the Einherjar) as a hidden layer of the text. It was even here we found the provokingly many cardinal numbers - 9 at all (5, 5, 5, 5, 20, 20, 4, 4, 4) with the total of 72 - or if we combine the elements: 3 x 24. In the first layers they were separated into the numbers 20 and 4 for the two purposes there.

Set-up of the runes - Click for pdf The frame above - The encryption and the numbers are presented at the right - click for pdf.

We shall keep in mind that inside the encrypted frame we also found a matrix in Chapter 3 with 4x24 places and a small matrix with 4x6=24 signs. The 4x24 are more doubtful due to 8 blank fields, but the matrix appears to be very deliberately constructed. In this way we may also inside the frame be able to construct 8x24 as in the frame itself - but not in the same complete way.

Statistically it is close to be impossible (less than 0,01%) that all 3 groups of signs in the frame forming all the 8 lines of different length and character by a coincidence should consist of functions of 24 signs in my counting. (Here I have been cautious and let out the suggestion by von Friesen about 24 in each line and the 8x24 inside the frame which will reduce the probability considerably.) There must be a purpose behind - a purpose hidden for most readers.

The Futhark incantation
We have to consider that 24 was the number of runes in the old Futhark alphabet of Odin. This Futhark is sometimes found isolated in early runic texts (i.e. Kylver, Vadstena and Goerlev) - indicating that it was used as an incantation formula. The number may here at the Roek Stone symbolize this old divine formula without making confusion and waste of space at the stone - and without being understood by ordinary readers. It is a simple kind of number symbolism referring to a well-known formula - and the use of other kind of "kennings" was common in the literature of the Viking Ages.

The use of numbers was probably inspired by Alcuin who according to Peter Godman was very fond of play with numbers as a part of his renaissance (Note 3.16) - a part of it leading back to Pythagorean mathematics and numerology. As a kind of parallel the famous chapel in the palace of Charlemagne in Aachen was constructed by using the numbers 8 and 12 - found as symbolic numbers in the Bible.

We should not wonder if 24 was used to identify the old Futhark as also we are using ourselves the number 24 for identification of the old Futhark and 16 for the new.

3 + 3 F - Click for enlargement 3 + 3 F - Click for enlargement A Futhark symbol must also be the answer when we look closer at the provokingly big and artistic looking sign marking the first line to be read in the frame of the back side (Line no. 21). As it is placed as the rune "þ" in "þat" in the standardized initiation of the stanzas (sakumukmini þat) the sign should according to Michael Barnes be a cipher rune representing 3+3, but the sign appears as 4+4 pins. The reason is of course that the sign is formed by 3+3 "f"-runes where the pins of the f-runes are combined just like the bind-runes at the stone. This f is the first letter of both the old and the new Futhark alphabet. We shall also notice that the sign is looking as a tree, which will get importance when we later compare with the stone from Tjaengvide.

Also at the Gummarp-stone in Blekinge this "f" was used 3 times ("Haduwulf set 3 staves fff"). In that case the "f" was translated by the runologists as the rather meaningless "feha" (cattle/richness), but combined with the expression "3 staves" a reference to a Futhark incantation will make more sense - with regard to their use of the "Futhark". Also at the earlier Kragehul Spearshaft, the Lindholm Bracteat (both with Erilar), the Sealand Bracteat 2 and at the Goerlev Stone we find formulas with 3 repeated runes. The group of rune stones in Blekinge from the 7th century was earlier connected with the arriving Heruls (i.e. von Friesen), and both Kragehul and Lindholm are containing the word ErilaR being often regarded to mean Herul. That could indicate a connection between three repeated signs and the Heruls.

"Haduwulf set 3 staves fff" at the Gummarp Stone is especially interesting as also the cardinal numbers inside the coded 24-figur-frame at the Roek Stone are forming 3 x 24 (Futhark), which could mean the same as "3 staves fff". Here we shall notice that the "f" as a sign is consisting of 3 staves.

Cryptic runes and pointers
The size of the sign in line no. 21 had the purpose to tell where to start the reading, but the quite unusual shape of the sign should probably also make the right reader aware of the advanced use of the Futhark in the frame and inside the frame - as incantations and/or as a key to the encryption ("Use the Futhark alphabet in the following text"). The use of sakum(m)ukmini in the beginning of the first and each of last 3 stanzas with each their kind of encryption system works as an indication of how to crack the code, when the system is changing - we know what we shall look for as a beginning, when we have read Riddle. no. 1 and 14 (many people reading runes could probably also read the old Futhark in Riddle no. 14).

The size of the sign has exactly the same function as the big header at the front side - to show where to start reading. At the same place as "th" in the middle of the header we also found the biggest rune of the stone - an old "t". This "t" was used three times in the header, though it does not belong to the new alphabet used at all the front side. It was no. 16 in the old alphabet of 24 runes. As the carver of the stone was an expert in runes, it must have a purpose too. Without being aware of the interpretation above Thomas Loefvenmark has suggested that the three runes are pointing at the position of the "R" in Radulf - the first ancestor (note 3.18). This name was the key to understand the front side and to break up the matrix.

In Line no 23, 24 and 25 until the "+"sign in Line no 25 the new Roek Rune alphabet with 16 runes was used, but in Line no 23 and after the "+"sign in Line no. 24 the reading of this text ends up in pure nonsense due to the coding. We shall notice the last 8 runes of this nonsense (after the "+"sign in Line no. 24). These runes represent every second rune in the alphabet - the last 6 in the correct alphabetic order. This was probably a key together with "sakumukmini" showing the readers which Futhark to use in order to decode the encryption - here the additive cryptographic method being used already between Julius Caesar and his consuls (today used as "Caesar's cipher"), but also the cipher code in the next stanza. By filling up the alphabet with the missing runes removing instead the written runes the text will form real words - or in other words: The key may show that the runes are displaced one place in the alphabet in the nonsense part of these lines. Here the last 6 of the 8 runes are "fþrhis" or decoded "uoknat". If we combine coded and decoded runes (the last in () ) we can read f(u)þ(o)r(k)h(n)i(a)s(t), which are the first 12 of the 16 runes in the new Futhark in correct order - maybe a confirmation of the Futhark being used as key. This way of reading the encrypted text has been generally accepted since Sophus Bugge - without recognizing Varin's systematic use of keys and confirmation.

Fredrik Ousbeck, who has recognized the hidden Futhark in Line no. 24, is regarding this as gnostic or Pythagorean symbolism. He is probably going too far that way, but in the theory he could be right that Christian symbols were hidden in the text - in that case unknown to the pagan Varin - by an assistant being educated at the school of Alcuin. In that case it would have been tempting to him to eliminate his "treachery" with hidden Christian symbols - just like one of Alcuins pupils hide "Charlemagne in hell" in a text.

Christian symbols or not, it is tempting to regard the number 24 and the repeated "f"s as symbols of the Futhark-invocation known from rune stones and bracteats - probably calling the god of the runes, Odin. 8 times we have "24" and 6 times "f" which together with the 3 times "24" inside the frame and the hidden Futhark in line no. 24 make up a total of 18 Futhark symbols in the frame and its content.

We shall also notice the 10 runes placed similarly after the "+"sign in Line no. 25: "OOssOOsssé. These runes are repeated "o" runes from the old Futhark and "s" runes from the new Futhark representing "n" and "i" as cipher runes in the new Futhark. The last rune looks like an old "é", but is regarded to be the cipher rune 1/1 for "t" - a sign which is also used for the last three cipher runes to be read as "Thur" in the following line, but here written as the traditional runes for numbers. This was the way Varin managed to fill up this line with 24 physical rune signs, but as earlier mentioned the message "nit"/"nié" is not interpreted. The runologists have regarded it as an incantation formula just before the last stanza, which will also make sense in this interpretation. The "+"signs in Riddle no. 13 may indicate that the text shall be reorganized. Like in the former line the (+)sign before the text may be a displacement key - changing the reading to "ijb" or "ijR" depending of the last sign is being read as 1/1 or an old é. In that case all the three kinds of encryption are combined in this last expression (Old Futhark, displacement and cipher code). It shall be noticed that this rune line is turned upside-down. Maybe the expression after the "+"sign shall be read the opposite way or other combinations - and the use of both young and old futhark should be expected to have a function too. The complicated use of the runes in this expression before the last unanswered "sakumukmini" should under all circumstances tell us that it is a separate expression or formula like the earlier "alu", which we will never be able to confirm in a convincing way. The set-up clearly indicates that the 3 letters shall not be integrated into the plain text of Riddle no. 15. It is the transition to a last "divine" stanza outside the system of riddles.

The systematic set-up and the (+)signs marking the change from normal reading to encryption show that the encryption is not a coincidental solution invented by Sophus Bugge in order to make a text readable.

Combination of the invocations
We found with a very high certainty 8x24 runic signs making up the encrypted frame around the back side. As a whole we may have found 16x24 at the back side - the number of runes in the new and the old Futhark - an ideal combination like the 4x24=6x24 found in Chapter 3.

If we to these 16 symbols of the Futhark add the 6xf (se below) + the hidden Futhark (se below) + NIT we will end up with totally 24 likely incantations. It will be in accordance with the old classical style used by Alcuin that they wanted to construct perfect numbers inspired by the ancient Greek mathematicians - but converted to a Norse pagan faith and costumes.

However, opposite the certain 8x24 and 3x24 combined with 2x3F these total numbers of figures may be coincidences, but it is worth to consider as Varin combined the two alphabets. As an example the much later buckle from Skabersjoe in both runelines has "R" 16 times in rows.

There are also other combinations. If we combine the number of 24 and "F"-runes in the frame we will get 14. Together with the decrypted futhark and NIT we will reach a number of 16 possible incantations in the frame - which is the number of signs in the new Futhark alphabet. 16 is also the number of written numbers (ordinal and cardinal) at the stone and the number of riddles. If we leave out the "F"-runes and NIT we will get the number 9 in the frame, which was sometimes connected with Odin (and the number of generations) - and if we include the "F"-runes and 2x3F inside the frame we will get the number 2x9. These combinations are primarily mentioned as alternatives in the case the first more complete combinations may be wrong.
The use of the figures
As we will never be able to prove a high probability regarding these perfect combinations - as unintended combinations may occur - these last perfect combinations will not be used as an argument. They are just mentioned as a possibility - opposite the fact above that 24 signs occur far too many times to be a coincidence.

Also the purpose by using all the 16 figures at the stone has in this way been explained.

The prayer
Maybe Varin placed the 6 outstanding crosses with totally 24 legs at the top of the frame as a sign of the "divine entrance" at the "back side" leading the gods down to the frame and its content.

As earlier mentioned the dominating text in the upper line with the three crosses at the backside is "ul niruþR" or in a rather free translation "gave birth, 90 years old". The line was referring to the unmentionable Odin, the god of the Futhark - or another son of Thor. Even if we do not believe that the use of the number 24 as a symbolic Futhark - though it is repeated to us 8 times in the frame - it is obvious that the text (Riddle no. 12-13) in this physical frame of ancient and encrypted rune lines (Riddle no. 14-16) did under all circumstances connect the content with the gods - as a hidden purpose of the stone.

Was the Futhark in the frame meant to tell the gods that "Valkyria" and "Einherjar" were a prayer - a hidden message to the gods? Did Varin ask the gods to accept his dead son as a hero to be brought to Valhall to be an Einherjar - the most important purpose of life for a Norse warrior?

Nordic parallels
This use of the futhark may appear unrealistic or at least uncertain to many readers though the function is recognized at the bracteates. As may the use of the later known myths appear. We have, however, clear parallels from the Viking Ages.

As mentioned the use of the myths is a well-known scenario from several picture stones at Gotland only 200 kilometers away from the Roek Stone - but neither at these stones the purpose is explained in plain text. At some of these stones is carved a house with 3 doors and several other openings - probably symbolizing the many doors of Valhall.

Click for SHM-link to the Tjaengvide Stone An excellent example of such a stone is Tjaengvide, which is dated to the Viking Ages by Riksantikvarembetet (7-800 AD by Lindquist and Nylén (Nylén 1988, page 70) and the 10th century by Lisbeth Imer 2004 (Imer 2004)) and sometimes interpreted as "The arrival to Valhall". Here we find besides Odin and his horse the dead hero, the Valkyria and her wulf and the fighting Einherjar - just like in the kennings of the Roek Stone being interpreted above. At the left side of the Tjaengvide Stone at the tree we are even able to read "futhorkhn..." in short twigged runes (Brate 1925, page 37) as hidden in Line no. 25 mentioned above - probably the third independent indication of the incantation formula in the frame above, though this is in the new Roek rune alphabet, just as at the earlier Goerlev Stone. As such Futharks in this way are identified before and after the Roekstone there is no doubt that the Futhark had a meaning at the time of the stone. In short twigged runes we can also read that the stone was erected after the brother Iarulf, who was let down and killed at a voyage (Half of the text is probably missing according to Brate: "... raisti stainin aft Iurulf brudur sin siku i far tuirkus o fil"). A doubtful death abroad? Was the death of Vemod an earlier parallel?

It may be important to notice that the Futhark-inscription was placed at something which makes only sense as the log of a tree - together with the other typical symbols connected with Odin. This may explain why the "th"-rune was consisting of 6 "F"s forming a tree-like figure at the Roek Stone. We should also notice the combinations of "F" and 3 staves at Gummarp. At least the two first appear to be the same symbols combined by letters and pictures in different ways.

Probably these pictures illustrate exactly the same conception of the death of a dear family member - just as it according to the hypothesis above was presented by Varin in these second and third hidden layers of the Roek Stone. Already Wessén indicated parallels between the Roek Stone and the picture stones at Gotland, but in his version the stones just told separate old legends - he did not combine them with the written purposes of the stones and the dead warriors.

Niels Aage Nielsen did in 1969 regard the middle section of the text to be an invocation of Odin in order to bring Vemod to Valhall. He referred to the Gotlandic picture stones and to the older Norwegian Eggjum Stone (Nielsen 1969, page 46). His reason was that he regarded the Roek Stone to follow the same principles as his interpretation of the Eggjum Stone without being aware of the arguments being used in the present article indicating the same purpose.

Aake Hyenstrand (Hyenstrand 1996, page 156) did in 1996 refer to similarities between the motives on the Tjaengvide Stone and the Sparloesa Stone in Vaestergoetland showing hall, ship and horseman, but his interpretation of Sparloesa referred to Christianity opposite the eight-legged horse at the Tjaengvide Stone, the myths at the Ardre Stone, the last stanzas at the Roek Stone and the comment at the Sparloesa Stone about the divine origin of the runes. As the reading of the Sparloesa Stone is far more uncertain than the Roek Stone and the interpretations are even more varied, we will hardly increase our knowledge about Roek for the moment by comparing with Sparloesa in spite of the interesting connections. The Sparloesa Stone is described in this link .

Partly conclusion
The double answers, the keys and the symbolism are rather obvious elements systematically confirming these complicated textual constructions, which would never survive Ockhams Razor as single expressions - constructions being also confirmed by the contemporary parallels at the Frankish court and the fact that the scholars have accepted the reading of the runes suggested by Sophus Bugge. It is quite impossible that all these connections are incidental. It was probably Varin's intent to confirm that the hidden messages were correctly understood - self confirming as a modern crossword, but here by using decryption, set-up, hidden answers and different kinds of hints.

Those who were not able to understand the deep second layer of the text, but were able to recognize the kennings about the Valkyrie and the Einherjar, would read that the Roek Stone was raised in memory of a dead hero being a member of a heroic family joining nine generations ago the famous Theodoric the Great. Only those who were aware of the symbols in the frame would understand that this third layer was also a prayer to the gods to accept him as a hero being qualified to go to Valhall. Varin did hardly care if we understood that - it was primarily a matter between him and his gods.

8. The test of structure and reading
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As mentioned the final statement no. 16 can never be answered and confirmed in the tested system. It is demonstrated above and at the sheet below this chapter that the very simple principle with 15 (16) riddles and following answers has been followed all the way through the stanzas of the stone. The answers appear as well-founded and plausible with a logical correlation between the riddles. Also the structure of the text itself is in accordance

It is extremely important to realize that the structure based on "sakum" and the separating marks is independent of both the translation and interpretation of the text - but that the interpreted text has a clear structure which is in accordance with the structure of the set up. Even the independent encryption system and its markers make up an integrated part of the interpretation. It is also regarded as a strength that the generally accepted reading published by Runverket was made by scholars who did not know the interpretation being tried out here. Often the interpretations are based on a reading by the same scholar - or maybe in reverse.

A general weakness is of course the reading of the runes, where Runverket in 2000 especially emphasized:
  • Broken line (13), mukmini, onurthifiaru (2), tumiRonubsakaR (2), uiauari (16), goldin (14) and NIT (15).
  • Siulunti and Sibi.
  • Helmer Gustavson has later mentioned "faikian" (dead) in the memorial stanza as unattested.
Other weaknesses are the missing or uncertain explanations:
  • The damaged text in Riddle no. 13.
  • The missing understanding of NIT.
  • The exact explanation of Siulunti.
  • The uncertainty Vilin/Magni, where the Hrungnir Myth is only attested in one late version.
  • Invocation of Odin or Thor in Riddle no. 16.
None of these uncertainties are so critical that they are falsifying the solution and possible explanations are presented.

The last bullit may be a part of the problem with the relation between Odin and Thor which is irrelevant for the test of the system and not critical regarding the solution either.

The basic structure is so simple, the number of explained questions so high and the coherence so convincing that this interpretation of the structure imply a certainty at a much higher level than the solutions presented until now - though some of my answers may be insufficient and not fully unequivocal due to missing information from the past.

The use of riddles and answers was widespread both in the School of Alcuin, in the later ON sagas and poems, and without answers also in the later English Exeter Book. Furthermore in "Bosa Saga and Harrouds" (Link) written down around 1300 AD the reader was in clear words encouraged by the author to read names written in a code of runic letters and figures. Today no one is able to interpret the expression, which looks like NIT at the Roek Stone and the secret runes at the Goerlev Stone, but in this later saga the author confirmed in wording that code and riddles were the principles behind.

It is in this way confirmed that the consensus translation by Runverket can be fully explained by the interpretation above - maybe except for the last two lines, which are falling outside the system and which are still being discussed among the scholars. It will not influence this test of the system and the reading in Chapter 3-5 above if the last line referred to Odin, Modi or someone else.

Structure & interpretation of the text - Click for enlargement

9. The purpose of Varin
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The interpretation of the last stanza indicates that the purpose of the inscription was to invoke Odin - the name hanging unmentioned in the air in the header at the backside of the stone - a second part of the hidden message. Probably that invocation was also the consequence of the symbolic frame of Futhark-incantations mentioned in Chapter 7. That would correspond with the use of the secret runes of Odin at this mysterious stone and the general custom not to mention the name of Odin. Most of all it would correspond with the myth that Odin chose the warriors going to Valhall - referred in the first part of the hidden message to the gods. An obvious parallel to the mythology at the picture stones at the nearby Gotland.

The invocation of Odin and the prayer regarding the Einherjar appear to be an obvious purpose behind the cryptic runes at such an impressing stone - though the text would be explained by a prayer to Thor, who also may appear as the protector of the stone. It is very unlikely that Varin should use all his effort in this very secret and carefully planned way just to show his knowledge of poetry, philosophy and old legends, which could be demonstrated in a skaldic poem by every other thulR as well. Though being believed by many of the linguists it is quite unlikely that the man financing such a stone was a thulR - Varin was probably a ruler sending his son in war and paying specialists in runes and in foreign culture to raise the stone after him.

It has to be noticed that both the knowledge of Theodoric and his equestrian statue, the guilt of Hrodolphus, the honour as weapon son and the use of riddles, code, number symbolism and acrostics could have been provided by the same source - a man being educated at the school of Alcuin to which also Paulus Diaconus had been connected. Alcuin wrote about his own relative, Willibrord, who already in the beginning of the 8th century received 20 Danish boys to be educated when he visited the Danish king. That may have happened later too as members of the Danish court joined the Frankish court in the end of the 8th century. It is not unlikely that Varin got help from such a Scandinavian who returned to serve his original culture - or persons with similar combinations of knowledge. Such a person would also be able to make a draft on paper or another material, which was necessary to establish the perfect set-up using all the surface of the stone.

The pagan Varin, who probably based his kingship on his religion, had every reason to follow closely the Frankish culture, religion and politics. The Franks posed a serious threat against Scandinavian kingship - both their Christian religion, their military power and their support to certain members of the royal Danish family. It was obvious to help the sons of Godfred together with other Scandinavian kings and chieftains as told by the Frankish annals - just 15 years before Ansgar arrived to Birka. It was a situation where the raise of a political monument after a son could be expected - a parallel to the later rune stone in Jelling.

On the other hand there is also a kind of desparation behind the last 3 stanzas in the frame and his hints to a wife's offer and late birth among the gods. These traces of Varin's own emotions are far from the sophisticated planned structure of the stone. Had he lost his only son? Did he let him down by sending him on a dangerous mission? Was he afraid that Vaemod did not die in a heroic manner? Did Vaemod disappear since Varin used "faikan"? Did Varin hope for a rebirth? The last was indicated by Joseph Harris referring to "Sonatorrek" as a parallel (Harris 2006). Was it such a desperation which caused this unique work, though appearing in the surface layers of the text as narratives from the glorious past of the family? We will never know - especially as the explanation of Statement no. 16 is uncertain.

Still Varin could use the "surface" of the Roek Stone to show his own people and his visitors that his kingship and his religion were able to create an art just as sophisticated as the court and religion of Charlemagne. He used it to tell that it was his ancestor who was adopted by Theodoric, the hero of Charlemagne - not a member of the family of Charlemagne - he had no reason to step back for the Frankish emperor. It is no coincidence that the family of Varin and Charlemagne's statue of Theodoric were emphasized side by side in his advanced version of a style being popular at the court of Charlemagne - but completed with a clear pagan touch. The stone and its text were in perfect accordance with its historical context.

10. Possible consequences
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If the interpretation is correct the consequences are:
  • The current way Runverket is reading the runes, the code and the language is confirmed since it was possible to reach a consensus without being able to interpret the reading.
  • The ideas of Alcuin were present in Scandinavia in the beginning of the Viking Ages and may have influenced the culture of the Vikings.
  • The Frankish description of the situation in Denmark around 800 AD is supported – including the conflict in the dynasty between family members allied with the Christian Frankish emperor and pagan kings being supported by Norse allied.
  • Procopius description of a Herulian defeat and the travel of their royal family to Scandinavia is confirmed.
  • It can be stated that descendants of the Herulian dynasty were powerful in Östergötland and aware of their origin 300 years later. That does not tell where they settled at their arrival as they i.e. may have been moved as earls under a superior dynasty.
  • The Norse myths from the 13th century can be used to explain ”muk minni” from the 9th century – confirming like a few bracteates the age of some of the basic Norse myths.
  • We have a parallel supporting the interpretation of some of the Gotlandic picture stones.
  • Apparently the Futhark was used as an invocation of the pagan gods – probably Odin – and the Futhark could be represented by numbers.
  • Odin appears to be introduced in the Norse Pantheon as a son of Thor using a Christian myth.

11. Conclusion
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The initial assumption of this article was that Varin had structured the text of the stone as a dialog with riddles and answers - a structure which was usual in the Viking Ages, though the answers at the Roek Stone were hidden. In the test above these simple criterions (based on the observation of key words being independent of the interpretation) were followed consequently. The riddles beginning with "sakum" were answered in a way which made the text coherent, made sense and revealed an obvious purpose with the stone - though the broken text behind the Riddle no. 13 could not be read and interpreted. Only very few questions remained open. Several independent explanations confirmed the answers. The first memorial stanza was succeeded by the key-riddle. Here the legendary magic sword was pointing at the heroic family line from the weaponson of the Gothic king, Theodoric, to the dead Vemod, but the sword was also pointing at a prayer for Vemod to be received as an Einherja by the gods in Valhall. Exactly what we should expect of a rune stone in memory of a dead son - a very simple message and possibly with the same content as some later picture stones at Gotland.

Only an answer to the last stanza was missing, but that was a given consequence due to the structure of the text and the missing interrogative pronoun in that stanza.

When Varin after Riddle no. 2 broke the system and compressed the 9 similar riddles with only the names in difference, he placed a preliminary answer in the surface layer and placed several hints to the next layer for those who accepted his challenges - without knowing the father and grandfather of Varin.

The prayer and the invocation were presented in secret runes and code as a third layer, but that part was primarily meant for Odin - the inventor of these secret runes - or Thor. At the first glances maybe a surprisingly sophisticated and advanced coding. However the way the secret runes were used made it evident that this was the rune masters way to think - in accordance with Alcuin of York's contemporary ideas about acrostics, symbolism, riddles, mathematics and challenges to the mind, later also met in England and in a more simple way in the style of the Vikings.

The discussion about Riddle no. 16 and the internal position of the gods has no influence on the structure and the rest of the interpretation, as Thor receiving the prayer about the dead Vemod is sufficient as a purpose. The kennings for the Valkyrie and the Einherjar in the stanzas about the death of Vemod - being framed by the invocation - are rather obvious to understand. The identification of Odin can be discussed though the invocation of Odin combined with the prayer to receive Vemod in his Valhall appear as the obvious purpose, which makes the stone a perfect work of art - and the interpretation nearly as complete as it can be.

The indicators of certainty can be summarized in this way:
  • Simple basic structure independent of the translation and interpretation.
  • The explanation is based on the "consensus-translation" published by Runverket.
  • The structure is consequently used.
  • All the words are used in a likely coherence and context.
  • Few open questions - none of them critical.
  • Several independent explanations confirming same interpretation.
  • Few simple, logical and foreseeable messages.
  • Overall coherence in the text.
  • Interpretation in accordance with the way to set up the runes and the encryption.
  • Contemporary parallels in case of complications (Alcuin, picture stones and coded runes).
  • The purpose explained behind both teh text and the size of the stone.
  • Accordance with historical context.
As a whole the explanation should be as simple as possible, but no simpler. From a person using cryptic runes we must expect the text to be set up in a sophisticated way, but we should also in that case expect a consequent and logical basic structure behind the text. The message itself is simple, understandable and in accordance with its historical context. The purpose behind a rune stone of this unusual size and cost should most likely be a monumental demonstration of power as the prayer could be written in less expensive ways. The stone is calling for concrete messages in accordance with the introduction stanza - not insoluble mysteries or teaching in myths or abstract philosophy. The stone is no mystery at all - just a long foreseeable text with some coded messages to the gods - carefully marked for those who know.

Originally the purpose with this article was to show the principles behind the structure of the text as riddles by using myths and historical evidence - assuming that the exact interpretation of the riddles would need further investigations by the linguists. However, later analyzes of runes, encryption and set-up and discussions with specialists in religious and European history have confirmed the structure and the answers. The linguists had already solved nearly all the linguistic problems during their 150 years of discussion. Apparently skills and methods from other areas of research are needed to solve the riddles and decode the hidden information as our modern society is more specialized than the societies of Charlemagne and Varin. Consequently the evaluation of the final solution is not just a matter for linguists and runologists. Of course certain details will never be answered with our knowledge today, but we are lucky that Varin or his rune master put together a system working like a modern self-answering cross-word. The Roek Stone is an important source which should be evaluated on its own premises from its own time - instead of regarding the stone as a mystery, which can only be solved in accordance with reconstructions based on uncertain Norse sources from later times.

Troels Brandt

Structure of the text - Click for enlargement

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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. [Back]

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. [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. [Back]

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. [Back]

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.[Back]

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." [Back]

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". [Back]

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.
[Back 3] [Back 7]

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
3.11. 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.

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. [Back]

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 Heruls Chapter [Back]

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. [Back]

Gun Widmark made a point out of Sophus Bugge's different translation "Do you want this?" Widmark 1992, page 34. [Back]

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." [Back]

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. [Back]

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. [Back]

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". [Back]

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.) [Back]

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. [Back]

Index / Next / Previous / Text / Notes

Adam von Bremen: De Hamburgske aerkebispers historie (transl. C. Hinrichsen 1968)
Albrechtsen, Erling 1976: Vikingerne i Franken - Skriftlige kilder fra det 9. aarh.. Odense.
Andersson, Thorsten 1999: "Haelja, Roekstenens By" in Runor och Namn. Uppsala.
Baeksted, Anders 1952: Maalruner og troldruner. Koebenhavn.
Barnes, Michael 2007: "Roek-steinen - noen runologiske og spraaklige overveielser" in Maal og Minne 20, 2007, Oslo.
Bertelsen, Henrik 1911: Thidriks Saga af Bern. Koebenhavn.
Brandt, Troels 2004: Danernes Sagnhistorie (Appendix: Roekstenen). Koebenhavn.
Brandt, Troels 2007: "Roekstenen - Gaader og svar" in "Kult, Guld och Makt". Vaestergoetland.
Brate, Erik 1925: Sveriges Runinskrifter. Stockholm.
Bugge, Sophus 1910: Der Runestein von Roek in Oestergoetland, Schweden. Stockholm.
Davidson , H.R. Ellis 1984: Nordens guder og myter. Stockholm.
Dudo. Normandiets Historie (transl. Erling Albrechtsen 1984)
Duemmler, Ernest 1881: Poetae Latini Aevi Carolini (MGH). Berlin.
Dumezil, Georges 1962: De nordiska gudarna. Stockholm.
Friesen, Otto von 1920: Roekstenen vid Roeks kyrka. Laest och tydd. Stockholm.
Friis-Jensen, Karsten og Claus Lund 1984: Skjoldungernes Saga. Koebenhavn.
Old Testament, The
Godman, Peter 1987: Poets and emperors. Oxford.
Groenvik, Ottar 2003: Der Roekstein. Frankfurt am Main.
Groenvik, Ottar 1992a: "Malt-stenen" in Arkiv for Nordisk Fil.. Lund.
Groenvik, Ottar 1992b: "Ordet Sibbe" in Maal og Minne. Oslo.
Groenvik, Ottar 1990: "To viktiga ord i Roekinskriften" in Arkiv for Nordisk Fil.. Lund.
Groenvik, Ottar 1983: "Runeinnskriften paa Roeksteinen" in Maal og Minne. Oslo.
Harris, Joseph 2006: "Myth and meaning in the Rök inscription" in Viking and Medieval Scandinavia 21, Cambridge.
Hoefler, Otto 1963: "Der Roekstein und die Sage" in Arkiv for Nordisk Filologi. Lund.
Hyenstrand, Aake 1996: Lejonet, draken och korset. Lund.
Imer, Lisbeth 2004: "Gotlandske billedsten" in Aarbog for Nordisk Oldkyndighed 2001. Koebenhavn.
Jacobsen, Lis 1961: "Roekstudier" in Arkiv for Nordisk Filologi. Lund.
Jordanes: Getica (transl. C.C. Mierow 1908).
Kyhlberg, Ola 2010: "The Great Masterpiece" in Current Swedish Archaeology, Vol 18, Uppsala
Lakatos, Pal 1978: Quellenbuch zur Geschichte der Heruler. Szeged.
Lindqvist, Sune 1942: Gotlands Bildsteine. Stockholm.
Looijenga, Tineke 1997: Runes around the North Sea ... AD 150-700. Groningen.
Lund, Niels 1983: Ottar og Wulfstan. Roskilde.
Loennroth, Lars 1977: "The Riddles and the Roek Stone" in Arkiv for Nordisk Fil.,Lund.
Melnikova, Elena 2010: The sakum formula of the Roek inscription.
Nielsen, Niels Aage 1969: "Runerne paa Roekstenen" (From Mediaeval Scandinavia 2). Odense.
Nordgren, Ingemar (ed.) 2007: Kult, Guld och Makt. Goeteborg.
Nordgren, Ingemar 2004: The wellspring of the Goths. New York
Nylén, Erik 1988: Stones, Ships and Symbols. Hedmora.
Olsen, Magnus 1921: "Til Roek-inskriften" in Arkiv for Nordisk Filologi. Lund.
Paulus Diaconus: Longobardernes Historie (transl. G. Bang 1897)
Procopios: The Wars (transl. H.E. Dewing 1914)
Ralph, Bo 2005: Humanistdagboken 18. Goeteborg
Ralph, Bo 2007a: "Roekstenen och spraakhistorien" in Acta Academiae Regiae Gustavi Adolphi XCVII. Uppsala
Ralph, Bo 2007b: "Gaaten som loesning" in Maal og Minne 20, 2007. Oslo
Ralph, Bo 2007c: "Goter eller gaater - Om Roekstenens runinskrift" in "Kult, Guld och Makt". Vaestergoetland.
RGA 2003: Reallexicon der germanische Altertumskunde. (ed. Hoops, Johannes). Berlin.
Reichert, Hermann 1998: "Runeninschriften als Quellen zur Heldenforschung". Wien.
Runverket 2000: Roekstenen. Helmer Gustavson, Riksantikvarieaembetet. Stockholm.
Saxo: Danmarkshistorie (transl. Peter Zeeberg 2000). Koebenhavn.
Schulte, Michael 2008 a: "Review of Elmevik 2007" in NOWELE 53, Odense.
Schulte, Michael 2008 b: "Memory Culture in the Viking Age", currently unpublished.
Schwarcz, Andreas 2005: "Die heruler an der Donau" in Festschrift für Günter Lipold. Wien
Skautrup, Peter 1944: Det danske sprogs historie. Koebenhavn.
Snorre Sturlasson: Yngre Edda (Prose Edda transl. Arthur Brodeur 1916)
Snorre Sturlasson: Heimskringla (transl. Holtsmark & Seip 1985).
Steinsland, Gro & Meulengracht Soerensen 2001: Voelvens Spaadom. Koebenhavn.
Stoklund, Marie: "Maltstenen - en revurdering" in Runroen 9. Uppsala.
Tacitus: Annales (transl. Cavallin 1966. Stockholm)
Tacitus: Germania (transl. Lefolii 1901)
Turville-Petre 1956: Hervarar saga ok Heidriks. London.
Wessén, Elias 1958: Runstenen vid Roeks kyrka. Stockholm.
Wessén, Elias 1964: "Teodorik - magt eller hjaeltesaga" in Arkiv for Nordisk Filologi. Lund.
Widmark, Gun 1998: "Varfoer Varin ristade" in Forskning & Framsteg 5/98. Sverige.
Widmark, Gun 1992: "Varfoer ristade Varin runor?" in Saga och Sed. Stockholm.
Wolfram, Herwig 1988: History of the Goths. Berkeley.

Major changes since "Kult, Guld och Makt" (2006):

17/2 2007Chapter 5Expanded with runic set-up, encryption and similarities
28/2 2007Chapter 3, 5 & 8Sophus Bugge - Heruls - Goldin
10/8 2007Note 3.3 and 4.3Ancient names in Hloedskvida and de Vries
30/8 2007Chapter 1 & 2, Note 1.4 & 2.2Comments to Bo Ralph's articles
10/9 2007Chapter 1, 3 & 5, Note 1.2Setup of runes and encryption (table)
12/9 2007Chapter 5/7Von Friesen's 24-rune problem
26/11 2007Chapter 3 & Note 3.4Structure of arguments improved
14/12 2007Note 2.2Comments to Bo Ralph's latest article
14/2 2008LinkSwedish summary, text and answers
03/8 2008Most chaptersReferences to articles by Schulte and Harris
21/8 2009LinkThe Sparloesa Stone
14/12 2009Chapter 3 & Note 3.18Weapon son
23/12 2009Chapter 3Rewritten
3/1 2010Chapter 5-7Restructered
28/7 2010Chapter 2Melnikova
4/4 2013Chapter 3Maeringaburg
11/4 2013Chapter 7The Kennings and the number-problems solved
29/4 2013Tables3 summarizing tables added
10/5 2013Chapter 3Restructered
23/5 2013Chapter 4Ingoldings and Scyldings
26/5 2013Chapter 6-8The order of the chapters changed
3/6 2013Chapter 7The combinations of 24
23/6 2013Chapter 8 & 10New sheet and new chapter 10
18/10 2013Chapter 3 & 7Decomposition and the tree-symbol