‘World’s oldest dated runestone’ found in Norway: ‘Every runologist’s dream’

On Thursday, January 12, 2023, the rune stone discovered in Tyrifjorden, Norway, will be on exhibit in the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo. According to archaeologists, the rune stone is the oldest in the world, with inscriptions going back 2,000 years.

A rune stone unearthed in Norway is thought to be the world’s oldest, with markings going back to the earliest known days of runic writing.

Someone speaking an early version of the Old Norse language stood in Tyrifjorden, west of Oslo, and etched runes into a flat, square piece of reddish-brown sandstone between 1,800 and 2,000 years ago, the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo said in a statement on Tuesday.

The museum describes the stone, which measures roughly 12 by 12 inches, as “the oldest dated runestone in the world” and “one of the earliest specimens of written language in Scandinavia.” It was discovered during the excavation of a tomb in the fall of 2021 in an area recognized for numerous previous significant archaeological findings.

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Inscriptions may be observed in the Tyrifjorden rune stone, which will be on exhibit at the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo on January 12, 2023.

Runes were employed in Scandinavia from the beginning of time and throughout the Viking Age until the 1400s. The Scandinavians learnt the Roman alphabet through trade with the Romans, which led to the development of the runic alphabet.

Only around 30 rune stones, dating from the Roman Iron Age and Migration Period to around 550 AD, have been discovered in Norway out of the several thousand stones with runic inscriptions discovered in Scandinavia. This stone, known as the Svingerud Stone, is the sole one unearthed by archaeologists before the year 300 AD.

The stone features numerous sorts of inscriptions, and not all of them have a linguistic sense, according to Kristel Zilmer, a professor at the University of Oslo, to whom the museum belongs. The name “Idiberug” is written in eight runes on the face of the stone and might be the name of a lady, man, or family.

“There are certain lines that form a grid pattern, little zigzag shapes, and other intriguing elements,” Zilmer explained. “Perhaps someone emulated, examined, or played with the Scriptures. Perhaps someone learnt to carve runes.”

Researchers at the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo, Norway, examine a runestone with inscriptions going back to the early days of the enigmatic history of runic writing.

According to Zilmer, additional research on the rock is needed to have a better understanding of the usage of runes in the early Iron Age and the habit of producing runestones.

“To have such a discovery of runes fall into our laps is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and every runologist’s fantasy. “This is a highlight for me since it is a unique find that varies from other surviving runestones,” Zilmer added.

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The rune stone will be on display for a month beginning January 21 at Norway’s Museum of Cultural History, which houses the country’s greatest collection of historical artifacts dating from the Stone Age to the present.

Camille Fine is a hot visual producer on the NOW team at USA TODAY.

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