Smokestone (Eye 136)

The back of the smokestone
The back of the smokestone. Photo: Achird (CC BY-SA)

Rökstenen is one of Sweden's most famous rune stones, and its inscription from the 8th century is considered the world's longest runic inscription, with 760 characters.

The smoke stone (Ög 136) is located at Röks church in Röks parish, Ödeshög municipality and Lysing county in Östergötland. Sometimes said to be the starting point in the history of Swedish literature as the oldest surviving literary work, the Rökstenen tells a remarkable story about several kings.

Front of the smokestone
The front of the smokestone. Photo: Håkan Svensson, 2005 (CC BY-SA)

The stone is a block of light grey fine-grained granite, about 3.82 metres high (of which 1.25 metres below ground), 1.38 metres wide and between 19 and 43 cm thick. All sides of the stone, including the top, are almost completely covered with runes,

The smokestone was probably erected in the first half of the 8th century. The archaic language is an early form of Old Norse and thus differs from the rune stones of the 11th century. It is also mentioned that Tjodrik (generally considered to be Theoderic the Great) died nine millennia ago, placing the rune stone in the early 8th century.

The Smokestone
1872: The archaeologist Hans Hildebrand (national antiquarian 1879-1907) examines the smoking stone. Photo: C. F. Lindberg / Riksantikvarieämbetet

The name of the stone, which possibly also gave the name to the place Rök, may come from the Old Norse word raukr which became røk in native Swedish. It is therefore the same as the rauk and roughly means "topped object". According to the Swedish National Heritage Board's 1991 publication "The Smokestone", the inscription reads:

In memory of Vämod stand these runes. But Varin wrote them, the father, in memory of the dead son.
I tell the young people, which were the two spoils of war, which twelve times were taken as spoils of war, both at once from man to man.

I say this as the other, who nine generations ago lost his life with the goats, and died with them for his guilt.

Then Tjodrik advised
the bold one,
chief of naval warriors
over the coast of the Reid Sea.
Now he sits equipped
on his gothic horse,
with a shield over his shoulder,
the foremost of Marks.

I say that as the twelfth where Gunn's horse sees food on the battlefield, where twenty kings lie.
I say this as the thirteenth, which twenty kings sat on Zealand four winters, with four names, born to four brothers. Five named Valke, the sons of Rådulf; five Reidulf, the sons of Rugulf; five Haisl, the sons of Hord; five Gunnmund, the sons of Bjorn.

Now for the young, everyone(?) says ... afterword(?).
I tell the young men, which of the Ingvald descendants was redeemed by the sacrifice of a wife.
I say to the young, to which fighter a descendant is born. The will it is.
He could crush a giant. The will is there. Nit.
I say to the young: Tor. The guardian of the Sibbe vineyard fathered a son at the age of ninety.

Reading order according to the National Heritage Board's information
Reading order according to the National Heritage Board's information

Getting there

The smokestone stands next to Röks Church in Ödeshög, which was built in 1842-45. Outside the old church there used to be a tithe house from the Middle Ages where the 8th century smoke stone was walled in.

Coordinates: Latitude 58.2949912 | Longitude 14.774998299999993

Discover more interesting places to visit at History map.

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