The Rök Stone – Riddles and answers
By Troels Brandt
Published Online, 2015
Summary: Challenges to the mind were popular at the Frankish court at the time of the Rök Stone. Due to the political situation in Scandinavia at that time the stone was made in a combined Swedish and international context. The methods of the stone are clearly influenced by the Frankish renaissance initiated by Alcuin of York.
Therefore the interpretation may appear complicated, but in spite of a lot of details they are all fitting together in a very clear and planned structure – ending up in two simple messages – a coincidence is very improbable in that pattern. The principle has already been accepted by the scholars regarding the complicated encryption of the runes, which is integrated in the structure. We must never forget that way of thinking when reading the text. In the article the following simple and logical key structure of the text is recognized:
- The text is separated into riddles (statements) by the Old Norse word “sakum” (“I say”) succeeded by an interrogative pronoun. Each riddle may consist of one or more stanzas.
- The answers are confirmed indirectly in the succeeding riddle – connecting in this way all the riddles.
- When “sakum” is followed by “mukmini” the riddle is a common known myth (Wessén’s “public memory”). In the other riddles the history of the relevant region must 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.
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 with the set-up of the runes and the encryption.
The answers to the riddles are the mythical sword of the Gothic kings, 9 generations of ancestors, the battlefield, Siulunti, the Ingoldings and the mythical Thor and his giant son. The last stanza must refer to the unmentionable Odin, but there is no question in the last stanza – the answer is hanging in the air.
The family of Vämod is identified as descendants after the Herulian king Hrodolphus, “weapon son” of the Germanic hero, Theodoric, to whom the text clearly refers. Also the historical events around the death of Vämod at Siulunti may be identified as the Danish/Frankish wars 812-815 AD.
Two kennings at the rear side may refer to the reception by the gods in Valhall – basically making the stone a parallel to the picture stone in Tjängvide. It should probably appoint the fallen son as a hero. The stanzas with these kennings are framed by the last three riddles written in encrypted runes invoking Thor and Odin – using obvious symbols and incantations which made the kennings to a part of a prayer.