Dr337 The Valleberga Runestone

On this Brexit Day when Great Britain is officially leaving the European Union, I give you Dr 337, also known as the Valleberga Runestone (Vallebergastenen). The inscription on this runestone shows that we are all connected in what is today Europe, and that we have been connected for over a thousand years.

Dr 337 Vallebergastenen | The Boomerang

Dr 337, the Valleberga Runestone (Vallebergastenen). Source: Riksantikvarieämbetet, Kulturmiljöbild (http://kmb.raa.se/cocoon/bild/show-image.html?id=16000300013212)

The inscription on the stone reads:

Sven and Torgöt made these memorials after Manne and Svenne. God help their soul well. And they lie in London. (My translation)

Sven och Torgöt gjorde dessa minnesmärken efter Manne och Svenne. Gud hjälpe väl deras själ. Och de ligger i London. (Raa translation)

Swen auk Þorgøtr gærðu kumbl þæssi æftiR Manna auk Swena. Guð hialpi siöl þera wæl; æn þer liggia i Lundunum. (Old Norse transcript)

The style of the runic inscription is interesting. The text looks like the RAK style, which consists of bands of runic text that meander across the surface of the stone. But, the RAK style is not known to include any decorations, and this runestone has a cross carved on it. The RAK style has been dated to c. 980–1015, but because of the cross, the dating of this particular runestone has been pushed forward to c. 1050.

We don’t know the exact identity of the men mentioned on the runestone. However, there are some clues that we can glean from the inscription.

First of all the runestone was made in memory of two men who lay buried in 11th century London. The two men who commissioned the runestone, Sven and Torgöt, were Christians. Manne and Svenne were probably Christians as well, but we don’t know that for certain. Runestones were commonly raised over family members or very close friends. Some runestones explain the relationship between the commissioner(s) and the person(s) commemorated. This is not the case with Dr337.

The runestone was made in and currently stands in the south-Swedish region of Scania (Skåne). At the time of the stone’s creation, Scania was part of the Danish sphere of influence. Based on this evidence, scholars believe that Manne and Svenne were two of the warriors who made up the Scandinavian defense force of England created by Danish king Cnut the Great after he became king of England in 1035. England’s close ties with Scandinavia were severed after the Norman Conquest in 1066.

We need to keep in mind, though, that the story of Manne and Svenne as Scandinavian defenders of the Danish kingship over England is based on circumstantial evidence and conjecture. It could very well be that they were Viking raiders who sailed to England and died in London, either in battle or from some other cause.

Regardless of who Manne and Svenne really were, the Valleberga Runestone demonstrates the close ties between the different parts of Europe that have been ongoing for more than a thousand years.

Sources:
The Swedish National Heritage Board/Riksantikvarieämbetet, Kulturmiljöbild, Dr 337 Vallebergastenen.
Vallebergastenen.
Runstensstilar.

In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.

 

 

10 Things You Need to Know about the Luttrell Psalter

On September 29, 2016, I published the following post on Book Riot.

10 Things You Need to Know about the Luttrell Psalter

2016-09-22_1858

The Luttrell Psalter is one of the most famous manuscripts from medieval England because of the images that decorate its pages. Some of these images have been interpreted as the most accurate portrayals of medieval rural life while others seem to make no sense at all.

However, if we dig deeper into the layout of the images on the page, the Luttrell Psalter reveals itself to be a magnificent example of political satire and wordplay of the highest level.

Here are ten things you need to know about the Luttrell Psalter and its images.

If you would like to read the entire post, please click here.

In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.

Quirky History: The American Revolution According to William Blake

This year I celebrated Independence Day with Quirk Books and William Blake.

Enjoy!

Quirky History: The American Revolution According to William Blake

The American Revolution was all about a bunch of freedom-loving guys with names like George, Benjamin, Alexander, and Thomas kicking out the British and declaring independence on July 4. Right?

Not if you ask English poet William Blake (1757–1827).

America a Prophecy front page

If you would like to read the entire post, please click here.

In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.

Shakespeare 400

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the death of English playwright and poet, William Shakespeare (1564–1616).

In honor of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s passing, I am re-posting a post I wrote for Book Riot on August 4, 2015, in which I discuss one of the many mysteries that surround Shakespeare as a person and as a writer.

William Shakespeare and the Jews

Al Pacino Shylock

Al Pacino as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice.

If you ask me, the William Shakespeare character that stands out the most is Shylock, the Jewish moneylender in The Merchant of Venice. The character of Shylock is controversial in many ways and has been debated frequently over the years. Is Shylock an anti-Semitic portrayal of a Jew? If so, does that mean that we have to stop reading and producing the play?

In my view, Shylock is a thoroughly problematic character. But my interest in Shylock is not so much whether or not the portrayal of him is anti-Semitic. To me that is a moot point. Hatred and prejudice against Jews was prevalent during Shakespeare’s lifetime, and Shakespeare himself was by no means unaffected by this. What interests me about Shylock is the fact that the character exists at all.

If you would like to read the rest of this post, please click here.

In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.

10 Things You Should Know about the Lindisfarne Gospels

On February 3, 2016, I published the following post on Book Riot.

10 Things You Should Know about the Lindisfarne Gospels.

Lindisfarne_Matthew_carpet_and_incipit

The time period between the years 500 and 900 is sometimes referred to as the Dark Ages. The idea behind this name is that after the collapse of the Roman Empire in Europe, people were left to fend for themselves in an unsophisticated and savage society.

This view is, however, inaccurate. Rather, the period referred to as the Dark Ages was a period of cross-cultural encounters which gave rise to incredible works of art, the finest of which were created in monasteries at remote locations in the British Isles.

One of the most astounding works of art from this period is the Lindisfarne Gospels, created at the Lindisfarne Priory off the coast of Northumbria, northeast England. Predating the Book of Kells by nearly a century, the Lindisfarne Gospels is an illuminated manuscript the likes of which are rarely seen.

Here are ten things you should know about the Lindisfarne Gospels.

If you would like to read the rest of the post, please click here.

In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.