The first runestones – memorials for the chosen few
We know of around 50 runestones with inscriptions written in older runes. They are dated to the period c. 350–700.
Over half are from Norway; the rest are in Sweden. Many are memorial stones. Several refer to burials, such as the text ‘I, HagustaldaR, buried my son’ on the runestone from Kjølevik in Rogaland, now on display in the Oslo University Library at Blindern.
The runestone here comes from the Reistad farm in Vest-Agder, on the southern coast of Norway. The inscription dates from about 400. It consists of three lines usually interpreted as follows:
‘IuthingaR. [Maybe: IuthingaR (lies here).]
I, WakraR, have learned
The interpretation is disputed. Another suggestion is that WakraR says he ‘took land’, that is, settled down.