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Recumbent gravestones

The tradition of erecting runestones seems to have come to an end in the 1100s. With Christianity, a new custom replaced the old one. Flat stone slabs could be laid on the graves of those now buried in churchyards. In Norway, some 40 of these recumbent gravestones have runic inscriptions

The Latin inscription usually found on medieval gravestones begins Hic iacet, ‘Here lies’, and then the name of the deceased. The same formula also became a standard expression on gravestones written with runes in the Old Norse language. The day of death can be recorded, but not the year. It was customary to pray for the soul of the deceased each year on the day of death.

The words Pater noster on the gravestone below are a request to those who read the inscription to recite the Lord’s Prayer for the dead person’s soul.

Bildet kan inneholde: grå, gjenstand.
Photo:  © Museum of Cultural History

Bildet kan inneholde: gul, tekst, linje, skrift, oransje.

‘+ Here rests Þóra, the mother of Eiríkr the Priest. Pater noster.” Recumbent gravestone from Øye Church. 1300s?

Published Dec. 17, 2020 10:45 AM - Last modified Mar. 8, 2021 9:13 AM