Björketorp Runestone With Frightening Message Is Still Untouched In Blekinge, Sweden

 A. Sutherland - - The Björketorp Runestone in Blekinge, Sweden, is part of a burial ground with menhirs standing alone and forming stone circles.

Dated to about 400-700 AD, the standing stone has never been moved, so it remains in its original place.

Björketorp Runestone in Blekinge, Sweden. Image credit: Joachim Bowin - CC BY-SA 3.0

Björketorp Runestone in Blekinge, Sweden. Image credit: Joachim Bowin - CC BY-SA 3.0

Perhaps it is not so strange that the Björketorp Stone remains in its original place.

Who dares to move a stone where there is a curse engraved with runes?

Rune-magic formulas were common in the Viking Age. The curse formula on the Björketorp Runestone says that ' "whosoever breaks down or in any way 'disturbs the holy site is cursed unto death by the deceptive power of the runemaster." The magical means were used by the unknown runemaster to record on this stone the death sentence and to warn.

The runestone stands in the forest clearing on the edge of a vast, old burial ground, and is accompanied by two other slightly lower menhirs with no inscriptions. No doubt, the three of them form Sweden's impressive landmark.

A burial ground - consisting of eleven clearly visible ancient remains  - dates to the Iron Age. In addition, nearby, there are also two-judge rings, a round and a four-sided stone setting, and seven lower raised stones. The site is located at the intersection of three villages Listerby, Björketorp, and Leråkra.

The curse-like inscription covers one of the world's tallest runestones, measuring 4.2 m. One can say the stone is not only the tallest but also mysterious because of the text it tries to convey.

Björketorpsstenen (Björketorp Stone) at Björketorp, municipality of Ronneby, Sweden -

Björketorpsstenen (Björketorp Stone) at Björketorp, in Ronneby, Blekinge, Sweden - Image credit: Henrik Sendelbach - CC BY-SA 3.0

The runestone and the two others were already mentioned in the 15th century. They namely served as a boundary mark between the three parishes of Edestad, Listerby, and Hjortsberga. At that time, they were called" Galta Stene."

It's worth mentioning that the three menhirs we talk about are the so-called "bautastenarna" (Bauta Stones). Bauta (in prehistoric (Old Norse) means upright memorial stone without inscription. The word is no longer an archaeological term, but today means 'upright stone.'

Only one of the three bauta stones bears a runic inscription created from runes belonging to the older Runic row. In Blekinge, at least five such ancient runestones are known and are dated to the 5th - 6th AD. The inscription on the Björketorp Runestone has no personal name.

Unknown Author Of Curse-Liked Inscription

An unknown prehistoric artisan covered the stone with an inscription, using the oldest form of the runic alphabet, the Elder Futhark (150 - 800 AD), with 24 runes.

The Elder Futhark Runic alphabet was a writing system used by Germanic people for Northwest Germanic dialects during the Migration Period (300–800 AD) or even later. From the 2nd to the 10th centuries, inscriptions were found on various ancient artifacts, including amulets, jewelry, weapons, tools, and runestones in Scandinavia.

The Runestone of Björketorp also contains a mysterious "curse," which does not promise well for an individual who has problems in his mind.

The stone was probably intended to safeguard the burial ground from grave robbers.

The inscription reads: Obverse: hAidz * runo • ronu • fAlAhAk • hAiderA • ginArunAz • ArAgeu • hAerAmAlAusz •utiAz • welAdAude • sAz • þAt • bArutz Obverse: uþArAbA * sbA

It translates as follows:" Mysterious, powerful runes I carved here. Powerful runes. Eternal anger should torment The One who desecrates this monument. He is to die a homesick death. I speak his doom."

Björketorp Stone With A Curse Engraved With Runes Still Untouched In Blekinge, Sweden

The Runestone stands on a burial ground in Björketorp, Listerby Parish, Ronneby municipality, Blekinge, Sweden. Image credit: Achird - CC BY-SA 3.0

Another little different translation is:

"The secret of mighty runes I hid here, powerful runes. Whoever breaks this memorial will be constantly tormented by anger. Treacherous death should hit him. I trace corruption..."

On the back of the stone is written::

"Sinister prophecy" (or" Ominous prophecy."

It is an old curse that was once called "galder."

The purpose of this runic inscription has long been debated. Scholars are not in agreement on the purpose of the Runestone.

The Björketorp runestone (DR 360) in Listerby parish, Medelstad hundred, Ronneby municipality, Blekinge, Sweden.

The Björketorp runestone (DR 360) in Listerby parish, Ronneby municipality, Blekinge, Sweden.  Woodcut by Evald Hansen (1840–1920), figure 302 on Page 211 of Sweden's hednatid (1877) by Oscar Montelius. Public Domain

It has been suggested that the Runestone is grave and that the curse is intended to protect it. However, in 1914, archaeological excavations did not present any finds connected with the runestone or neighboring stone circle. Also doubtful is whether the Björketorp Stone is a grave or a so-called Cenotaph, i.e., a burial facility for a person whose remains have been lost or buried elsewhere.

One theory is that the Björketorp Stones in Blekinge stand on an old cult site from the 600s dedicated to the god Odin (or fertility). Another possibility is that the standing stone once marked a border between the Swedes and the Danes.

Even today, we know little about the Björketorp Stone in Blekinge.

Additionally, we can add that On the ridge further north in the area, there are many ancient remains from both the Bronze and Iron Ages. These findings attest to a rich ancient settlement. In a gravel pit directly east of the burial ground, archaeologists found a funerary urn next to a remnant stone. The dead man was burned, and his bones were placed in the urn.

A  sword, spear, and knife were found next to him in his tomb.

Written by – A. Sutherland  - Senior Staff Writer

Updated on January 21, 2024

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Expand for references


Hofberg Herman, Genom Sveriges bygderKarlén, L. Runstenar i Sverige

The Swedish National Heritage Board (Swedish: Riksantikvarieämbetet; RAÄ)

Barddal, Jóhanna: Björketorpstenens "utiar weladaude". Sydsvenska ortnamnssällskapets årsskrift 1998