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This is the published version of a chapter published in Gotland’s picture stones: bearers of an enigmatic


Citation for the original published chapter:

Rundkvist, M. (2012)

The secondary use of picture stones on Gotland prior to the first stone churches, with a typology of picture stone outline shapes.

In: Maria Herlin Karnell (ed.), Gotland’s picture stones: bearers of an enigmatic legacy (pp.

145-160). Visby: Gotlands museum

Gotländskt Arkiv

N.B. When citing this work, cite the original published chapter.

Permanent link to this version: http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-39374


otland’s picture stones have long evoked people’s fascination, whether this has been prompted by an interest in life in Scandinavia in the first millennium or an appreciation of the beauty of the stones. The Gotlandic picture stones offer glimpses into an enigmatic world, plentifully endowed with imagery, but they also arouse our curiosity. What was the purpose and significance of the picture stones in the world of their creators, and what underlying messages nestle beneath their imagery and broader context? As a step towards elucidating some of the points at issue and gaining an insight into current research, the Runic Research Group at the Swedish National Heritage Board, in cooperation with Gotland Museum, arranged an inter national interdisciplinary symposium in 2011, the first symposium ever to focus exclu sively on Gotland’s picture stones. The articles presented in this publication are based on the lectures delivered at that symposium.

ISBN 978-91-88036-86-5

9 7 8 9 1 8 8 0 3 6 8 6 5

Gotland’s Picture Stones

Bearers of an Enigmatic Legacy


Bearers of an Enigmatic Legacy gotländskt arkiv 2012

Reports from the Friends of the Historical Museum Association

Volume 84

publishing costs have been defr ayed by

Kungl. Vitterhetsakademien, Wilhelmina von Hallwyls Gotlandsfond,

Stiftelsen Mårten Stenbergers stipendiefond and Sällskapet DBW:s stiftelse editor Maria Herlin Karnell editorial board Maria Herlin Karnell, Laila Kitzler Åhfeldt,

Magnus Källström, Lars Sjösvärd, Klara Waldenström and Per Widerström production Fornsalen Publishing, Gotland Museum english translations and editing Kathy Gow Sjöblom front cover Detail of the picture stone Lärbro Stora Hammars I, photo by Raymond Hejdström graphic design Helena Duveborg printers Elanders Fälth & Hässler 2012

Authors are personally responsible for the content of their articles

© Gotland Museum and respective authors

Volume 84 isbn 978-91-88036-86-5

martin rundk vist

The Secondary Use of Picture Stones on

Gotland Prior to the First Stone Churches, with a Typology of Picture Stone Outline Shapes

A central characteristic of academic post-modernism has been its emphasis on meta-scholarship. By this I do not mean the metastudies common in medical research, where you collate several published studies of the same thing to find out what that thing is like. A post-modernist meta-scholar will not look at the world, but instead prefers to look at other people looking at the world. Thus the quintessential post-modernist discipline that originated much of the movement is the sociology of science: sociologists looking at scientists of the present. Another field that has a much longer history but which blossomed under the influence of post-modernism is historiography or the history of scholarship: historians looking at scholars of the past.

Archaeologists have been studied by a few post-modernist sociologists and many historians of scholarship.

But the most essentially archaeological strain of postmodernism must be the archaeological study of the past in the past.

1 Such work concentrates on how people in the past related to the archaeological record.

My main complaints about post-modernism are the pretentious fad jargon, the knowledge relativism and the lack of interest in empirical study. But I also find the emphasis on the past in the past quite annoying. I am interested in studying the world, not looking at people studying the world. In my opinion, it is abject professional myopia to think that people in the past were as interested in the archaeological record as modern archaeologists are. Do not tell me that the Bronze Age household refuse found mixed into the fabric of an Iron Age barrow was considered deeply meaningful and put there on purpose. Do not tell me that people making crude arrowheads of a certain kind of yellow quartz did so to connect with the memory of people who made similar arrowheads 1000 years previously and 1000 kilometres away. I think we should assume that people in the past did not pay any attention to remains of the past unless we are dealing with something highly eye-catching that has clearly been treated in an unusual way. We should avoid speculating about the past in the past until the archaeological record forces us down that road.

And so, here are some steps along that road that the picture stones of Gotland forced me to take.

Picture Stone Re-use

Picture stones are large intricate pieces of public sculpture, and so by their very nature unlikely to be re-used obliviously in a practical, non-symbolic manner. Mats

Burström has traced their secondary use and reinterpretation through the centuries in a general perspective.


About half of the stones that survive today have been found built into stone churches after the mid-12th century, and this was apparently done according to symbolic rules.

3 The re-use of about a dozen others for a grin-


ding or polishing process, also most likely in the era of stone churches, is harder to interpret as we do not know what materials were being ground or why.

4 The vernacular name for these grooved stone slabs, boulders and outcrops, “sword-sharpening stones” (Sw.


stenar), does not offer a technologically credible expla-


But those are matters of the Swedish Middle Ages.

This contribution instead focuses on cases where we can demonstrate re-use of picture stones that took place before the first stone churches were built. As these edifices went up right about the time when the last picture stones were erected, we might also phrase our topic as follows: the secondary use of picture stones during the era of picture stone production. We are dealing with, at most, the seven centuries of the Late Iron Age (AD 375–

1100). Disregarding decorated kerb stones, I know of 47 picture stones with good evidence for re-use in 31 structures in this time frame, plus two poorly documented and uncertain cases, and one case where a stone was simply redecorated and continued to function as a standing monument (see Appendix I). For editorial reasons,

I have added a separate study of picture stone typology as appendix II.

The first thing to note about this re-use is that all but two of the structures are graves. Here, we are not dealing with stones made for these particular burials and erected on or near the graves, as was apparently the rule before the Viking Period. These are stones that have been taken from their original sites and put to secondary use as parts of covering layers, kerbs, central cairns and stone cists, some of them being broken apart in the process.

The second thing to note is that a great majority of these graves are late in our time frame, and that many of the re-used picture stones were quite old by then. But before we look in more detail at these 10th and 11th century burials, let us cover the earlier cases of re-use.

The Migration and Vendel Periods

I have found no clear cases of picture stone re-use during the Migration Period (AD 375–540). An as yet unpublish ed grave excavated in 1979 at the Uddvide quarry in Grötlingbo had part of a blank Group A dwarf stone used as part of its kerb (see picture p. 14). This however is more a pre-form than part of a finished monument: Karin Äijä who excavated the grave interpreted the stone as part of a slab that broke in the workshop before it had been sanded down and any relief decoration applied.

5 Two well preserved late tapered-foot fibulae (type fibpoin2) date the burial to my phase GoD1a, the start of the Migration Period about AD 400, which allows for contemporaneity with the stone.

6 Though probably not symbolically neutral in the context of a grave superstructure, this use of an undecorated waste slab from an active stone carver's workshop must be seen differently from the later re-use of old completed monuments.

Vandalism during the Vendel Period was the typical fate of Migration Period picture stones and runestones in the Lake Mälaren area.


And on Gotland, we see the first re-use of a picture stone during the first half-century or so of the Vendel Period (AD 540–790). Ire in Hellvi has produced a weapon burial and Bjärs in Hejnum a jewellery burial of this Early Vendel Period date that reused broken Group A picture stones. At Bjärs, another

Group A stone was then broken and re-used in a 7th century weapon burial, and at Ire an intact Group B stone placed in a weapon burial of the 7th or 8th centuries.

This latter Ire burial may suggest that after the initial

6th century fervour against the Migration Period elite's monuments, people forgot how important that distinction had once been. Or, since this is the first re-used stone that has not been defaced, the act may by then have acquired quite another significance.

The Viking Period

I have not found any cases of picture stone re-use with clear dates in the 8th or 9th centuries, which saw the clas-


sical floruit of Gotland's picture stones. Re-use recommences only in the 10th century, and then possibly first in monuments of a new kind: the Daggängen type. Both at lärbro daggängen/stora hammars and buttle

änge, we see gatherings of extremely tall Group C/D stones with multiple image panels, dated by Lisbeth Imer to the 10th century.


And in their foundations, broken picture stones of the preceding century-and-a-half, along with animal bones, charcoal and sundry other things that can only be labelled “cultic” by baffled posterity. bro stenstu i–ii, called “Bro Stainkällingar”, may be a third example, but information is scanty. Not all such monuments have proved to re-use picture stones.

At some point in the 10th century (possibly about the time when production of Group C/D ceased) re-use of picture stones in graves began again in earnest on Gotland, and then continued throughout the 11th century.

I know of 21 such Viking Period graves, of which four definitely date from the 10th century or about AD 1000 and fourteen definitely from the 11th or about AD 1100

– one every seventh year on average for the latter century. Assuming a steady production (and chronologically representative discovery) of such graves, the first

Grave 1952:01 at Barshalder in Grötlingbo parish. This burial was particularly rich in symbolically reactionary traits. The stone cist of a 5th century burial in an aristocratic section of the cemetery had been re-used in the 11th century for a male inhumation orientated north. At this time, part of a blank picture stone had been placed inside the head end of the cist. The stone's outline is unusual, but it probably dated from the 8th or 9th century judging from its proportionally tall head.

Photo by Greta Arwidsson, looking north, ATA , RAÄ.

Grave 1962:06:2 at Barshalder in Grötlingbo parish. A blank dwarf picture stone had been placed as the first of two end slabs at the foot end of a cist for an 11th century male inhumation burial orientated west, covered by a small post-borne building.

Photo by Gustaf Trotzig, looking east, after the second end slab had been removed, ATA, RAÄ.

burial would have taken place in about AD 980. Decorated belt fittings date the last one at Ire in Hellvi to about AD 1100.

What were these burials like? Genderwise, they are strongly male-dominated. The 6th and 7th century graves that re-use picture stones have an equal gender representation. But the 10th/11th century ones are five sixths male-gender, as signalled by penannular brooches, axes and belt fittings. Does this tell us something about the


Closer view of the picture stone at top right on preceding page.

The stone was similar in outline to


and thus probably dated from the 9th century. Photo by Gustaf Trotzig, looking east, ATA, RAÄ.

Grave 222A at Ire in Hellvi parish. Two 9th century chest picture stones had been placed facing inwards at either end of an early-

11th century male inhumation burial orientated south-south-east, possibly in a coffin. Behind the head-end stone stood an 80 cm diam disc-shaped limestone slab. Photo probably by Bertil

Almgren, looking south-south-east, ATA, RAÄ.

significance of the re-used picture stones? Their imagery is, after all, dominated by bearded, armed, trouser-wearing human figures. Before we draw any conclusions, we should consider the fact that at least among the 11th century graves of Barshalder, male graves are strongly overrepresented for all kinds of structural elaborations of the grave.

9 Women and children received greater numbers of portable objects at burial, while men received more lavish funerary architecture. The re-used picture stones should thus be seen to a great extent simply as part of this repertoire.

What kinds of picture stone were placed in these graves? 16 are clearly classifiable (tab. 1). They are all over the typological map (the absence of Group A cist stones and Group B tall stones is not surprising since no such stones have yet been found anywhere). There is however one notable exception. What tab. 1 shows most importantly is that when people selected picture stones for re-use in Late Viking Period graves, they were happy to use any kind of stone except the new ones being made at the time: Group E. These, of course, are overtly Christian runic monuments and almost exclusively found at churches. And only one Late Viking Period grave reusing a picture stone is known from a churchyard (in

Visby): otherwise all are in the churchless pagan cemeteries. I take this to mean that the people who erected

Group E picture stones at the first churches did not


want them to become re-used in pagan graves, and that furthermore, pagan mourners did not want the Christian monuments anyway. Many cemeteries like Barshalder in Grötlingbo demonstrate that pagan cult continued while the stones of Group E were being erected.















Table 1. Picture stones found re-used in 10th and

11th century graves, divided into Lindqvist's types.

Lena Thunmark-Nylén believes that picture stones were removed from their original sites mostly as acts of iconoclastic contempt towards the pagan past.

10 But she suggests that by the time they were re-used in graves and churches, many were simply seen as convenient building material.

11 She also suggests that picture stones reused in graves before the process of Christianisation began may already have been in a "secularised" state at the time through an earlier religious conversion,


as I understand her, one leading

to the cult of the Aesir and

Vanir. But it is a commonplace of the past-in-the-past field of research that, on the contrary, old materials are often re-used to claim legitimacy for something new, anchoring the present as it were in a venerable past. In this interpretive tradition, which cannot of course be assumed as gospel, people do not re-use symbolically potent old materials as a hostile or indifferent action.

I find this latter interpretation more plausible because a) re-use of picture stones in graves was so common that it constitutes an established custom, b) the graves in question display an unusual frequency of other archaic traits, and c) the only case where a picture stone was reused for a Christian burial (Visby, Sankt Hans, i.e. St.

John's) is one where the stone was re-fashioned entirely and no longer recognisable as an old Pagan monument.

But the graves that re-use picture stones are not the monuments of an ascendant symbolic hegemony. They are the last gasp of a dying faith.

Regarding the picture stones found re-used at the

Barshalder cemetery in Grötlingbo parish, I have argued that the custom demonstrates a religiously reactionary, backward-yearning, anti-Christian attitude.


The stones were placed in the graves because they were seen as valuable and powerful, not out of contempt. The re-use of picture stones in Late Viking Period graves was a response to the drawn-out conversion and the final days of paganism on Gotland, when certain families sought tangible contact with a past religious situation. And as hinted, there are other such archaisms too in the graves.

The typical 11th century burial at Barshalder is an inhumation orientated head south or less commonly west.

14 Cremation and northward inhumation are earlier customs that occur only very rarely at the time. But of the seventeen Late Viking Period graves with re-used picture stones that we have detailed information about, two were cremations (12 %) and four or five were inhumations orientated head north (24–29 %). Two re-used entire grave monuments (12 %), replacing the original occupant with a Late Viking Period burial. And two included heirloom brooches (12 %) that were more than a century old at the time of burial. Picture stone re-use is thus only one of several ways in which these Late Viking

Period graves demonstrate a reactionary attitude: 47 % of them display other such traits as well.

Two known picture stones were however also re-used to make Christian Urnes-style runestones in the later

11th century. Both were originally tall stones, of Group

A and Group C/D respectively. They have been found at

Sankt Hans church in Visby

15 and at Boge church.

16 The first-mentioned stone was reworked into a rectangular shape and functioned (according to its inscription) as a horizontal grave covering slab. It is thus likely to have been placed immediately upon re-use at the church site,


at a time when there was presumably a wooden church there and no stone churches as yet on the island. The outline shape of the boge kyrka stone was not reworked, and it was still intended to stand after re-decoration. But we do not know where it stood before being laid flat in front of the stone church's tower entrance.

The visby s:t hans kyrkoruin 3 stone has two runic serpents and an ornate cross. Its runes read, "… erected the monument after Hailgair, their ?father … his soul.

Always while the world endures shall the memorial lie here over the man after whom the heir made it … and

Thorleif they carved the stone". The Boge stone is decorated with a similar single serpentine beast, and its runes read, "… Gunnar and Gunnraiv erected after Rodvat, son of ...vat, brother of H... God help his soul. Altvid,

Libbi, Einar carved."


1. Bradley 1993; Bradley & Williams 1998.

2. Burström 1996a, 1996b.

3. Johansen 1997.

4. Swanström 1995; Lamm 2003, p. 212.

5. Äijä 1980b.

6. Rundkvist 2003b, pp. 20, 28.

7. Gustavson et al. 2006; Hamilton in this volume.

8. Imer 2004.

9. Rundkvist 2003a, pp. 80–81.

10. Thunmark-Nylén 2006, s. 508.

11. Thunmark-Nylén 2006, p. 583.

12. Thunmark-Nylén 2006, p. 509, note 52.

13. Rundkvist 2003b, p. 70, 73.

14. Rundkvist 2003a, p. 83.

15. G 343.

16. G 276.

17. Thanks to Per Widerström and Johan Norderäng for a copy of their picture stone database, and to Jan Peder Lamm and Lisbeth Imer for literature.


Prior to the 12th century erection of the first stone churches on Gotland, picture stones were sometimes re-used as underground parts of grave monuments. This began with a few cases as early as in the later 6th and 7th centuries.

The 8th and 9th centuries saw no known re-use. In the

10th century a class of non-grave monument was built where new tall stones were placed in groups and apparently received sacrifices. In two or three of these cases, older picture stones were re-used in the foundations of the new ones. Most of the known picture stone re-use in our period of study, however, took place from about 980 to 1100 in pagan male graves. In addition to the re-use of picture stones, these graves display various other symbolic traits that suggest a backward-yearning Pagan reactionary stance. The specific type of picture stone selected for this re-use was apparently unimportant, as long as it was not a contemporary Christian stone of Group E.




Picture stones with evidence for re-use prior to the first stone churches on Gotland.

This includes hewn slabs of the various characteristic outline shapes that either have never received any relief carving or have lost their relief to weathering. Dates of Viking

Period jewellery according to Carlsson 1983; 1988.

Table 2. Find contexts of re-used picture stones


Boge church

Boge, Laxarve, gr. 16

Buttle, Änge

Endre, Endre skog (uncertain re-use)

Fröjel, Bottarve-Nymans

Grötlingbo, Barshalder, gr. '52:01



P-s foundation




Grötlingbo, Barshalder, gr. '62:06:2

Grötlingbo, Barshalder, gr. '63:06

Grötlingbo, Barshalder, gr. '66:01b

Grötlingbo, Barshalder, gr. '79:x

Hablingbo, Havor, gr. 191

Halla, Broa, gr. '15:VI

Halla, Broa, gr. '23:1

Halla, Broa, gr. '33:8

Halla, Broa, Strandberg's field

Hangvar, Austers (uncertain re-use)

Hejnum, Bjärs, gr. 140

Hejnum, Bjärs, gr. 27

Hellvi, Ire, gr. 162

Hellvi, Ire, gr. 222A

Hellvi, Ire, gr. 225

Hellvi, Ire, gr. 238

















Hellvi, Ire, gr. 242

Hellvi, Ire, gr. 304

Hellvi, Ire, gr. 396

Hellvi, Ire, gr. 491

Hellvi, Ire, gr. 505

Hellvi, Ire, gr. 531

Lokrume, Tomase

Lärbro, Stora Hammars, Daggängen

Stenkyrka church Grave

Träkumla, Gottskalks/Tjängdarve, gr. '68:1 Grave

Väte, Mölner, gr. '67:136

Visby, Sankt Hans church










P-s foundation





























No. stones


Lqt type





E tall

C/D tall

C/D chest

B dwarf

C/D tall

1 ?C/D tall

?C/D tall

C/D chest

C/D dwarf, C/D tall

A dwarf

A dwarf, A frag (+4 kerb)

2 B dwarf, 1 C/D dwarf

B dwarf

?B chest

B chest

A dwarf

A dwarf

A tall

B dwarf

C/D chest

?C/D tall

A tall

A tall

A tall

A tall

?B dwarf

?B dwarf

?C/D dwarf

B chest

C/D tall

C/D tall

?C/D dwarf

C/D tall

A tall

Re-use date Gender

11th late

11th early







M n/a

F n/a


Heirloom brooch

Re-used grave, northward


?Ven Per

6th late

Vik Per

10th late c. 1100




?Vik Per c. 1000

11th late


11th early

11th c. 400

11th early


11th early

11th early



6th late



11th early

11th early

































Crem, heirloom brooch



Re-used grave




Lqt = Lindqvist

1. Boge church. A Lqt E tall stone with Urnes style decoration and an inscription in late runes, found in front of the church's tower entrance. The stone retains faint traces of an earlier relief border following the current edges, and has thus been redecorated but not re-shaped in the Urnes era. Found in 1866. Lqt Boge K; G 276;

Nylén & Lamm #23.

2. Boge, Laxarve, grave 16. About 10 fragments of a Lqt C/D tall stone with a ship carrying men brandishing two swords each, found strewn through a covering stone layer over an undisturbed inhumation burial in a cist. Burial orientated S. Furnishings: badly worn early 10th century animal-head brooch, 3 beads, knife, 2 combs, 2 keys, needle case, needle, jewellery chain, nails, iron rods. Burial date 11th century. Excavated in 1956. Lindqvist 1962; WKG I:14;

WKG IV:65; Nylén & Lamm #25, p. 55.

3. Buttle, Änge. Five stones (four matched Lqt C/D cist stones with horses and armed men, one blank edge fragment) placed in the foundation for two Lqt C/D tall stones (one richly decorated, one blank) along with pottery, animal bones and charcoal. Re-use date

10th century. Excavated in 1911. Lqt Änge III–VIII; Nylén & Lamm


4. Endre, Endre skog. Lqt B dwarf stone with ship, snake and stag.

Found in 1851 in a gravel pit that had also produced numerous

Viking Period grave finds and later yielded Vendel Period ones as well. Lqt Endre Skog; WKG IV:145–146; Nylén & Lamm #53.

Whether this stone had actually been re-used is uncertain.

5. Fröjel, Bottarve-Nymans, grave 01599. Lqt C/D tall stone with ship, woman with drinking horn, rider and the trio-with-tools motif, broken in two and placed facing inward at either end of an undisturbed male-sex inhumation grave with no preserved superstructure. Burial orientated S. No furnishings, only a net sinker and sundry unburnt bones of human, ovicaprid, pig and other animals mixed into covering stone layer. Burial date probably 10th century judging from surrounding graves. Excavated in 1999. Andreeff 2001:44–49; Nylén &

Lamm #456.

6. Grötlingbo, Rojrhage (Barshalder), grave Bhr 1952:01. Blank, incomplete stone, difficult to classify from photograph: apparently quite high head index hinting at an 8th/9th century date, probably a dwarf stone. Excavator Greta Arwidsson judged it “of 8th century type”. Placed inside the northern end of a 5th century inhumation burial cist under a covering stone layer, along with a second inhumation burial, both robbed. Second burial orientated N. Second burial's furnishings: penannular brooch, dress pin, knife. Second burial's date 11th century. Excavated in 1952. WKG IV:249; Rundkvist 2003a:139; 2003b:73; Nylén & Lamm #79 = #89 (registered twice).

7. Grötlingbo parish gravel pit (Barshalder), grave Bhr 1962:06:2.

Blank dwarf stone, my type dwarf4, foot shape 4, proportions 78% and 51% similar to Stenkyrka Lillbjärs I, thus probably an Lqt C/D dwarf stone. Placed as the E end slab of a robbed inhumation burial cist under a small post-borne building. Burial orientated W. Furnishings: broad axe, belt lamellae, knife, pot, nail. Burial date 11th century. Excavated in 1962. WKG IV:259; Rundkvist 2003a:81, 178;

Nylén & Lamm #80.

8. Grötlingbo parish gravel pit (Barshalder), grave Bhr 1963:06. Lqt

C/D cist stone with a woman driving a wagon shaped like the picture stone itself, pulled by a horse and pushed by an unarmed man.

Placed as the W end slab of a robbed inhumation burial cist, superstructure gone. Burial orientated E. Furnishings: broad axe, penannular brooch, 2 beads, bronze sheet strap mount, knife, nail. Burial date early 11th century. Excavated in 1963. WKG IV:263; Rundkvist

2003a:183; Nylén & Lamm #81, p. 103.

9. Grötlingbo parish gravel pit (Barshalder), grave Bhr 1966:01b. Two stones placed by modern grave robbers into upper layers of the fill of an inhumation burial cist (probably once covering slabs): one

Lqt C/D dwarf stone with a crewed ship, the other a top piece of an

Lqt C/D tall stone with little remaining of the motif; superstructure gone. Burial orientated probably N. Furnishings: penannular brooch, strap buckle or joiner, belt lamellae, knife, pot, limestone sphere. Burial date 11th century. Excavated in 1966. WKG IV:264–

265; Rundkvist 2003a:185; Nylén & Lamm #82–83, p. 139.

10. Grötlingbo, Uddvide quarry (Barshalder), grave 2329. Blank, 2 unfinished fragments, outline suggests a Lqt A dwarf stone, placed in the kerb of a covering stone layer over an undisturbed cremation cist. Furnishings: silver rod, 2 fibulae, 2 dress pins, dress clasp, burnt copper alloy fragments, molten blue glass, comb, stamp-decorated pot. Burial date c. AD 400. Excavated in 1979. Äijä 1980a; 1980b;

ATA 321-2853-2001; Nylén & Lamm #380, p. 158.

11. Hablingbo, Havor, grave 191. Six stones covering a cist with an undisturbed inhumation burial under a covering stone layer: a Lqt

A dwarf stone with St. John's arms and beast borders, another Lqt A stone fragment, and four decorated kerb stones from a grave superstructure. Burial orientation N. Furnishings: 2 penannular brooches, strap buckle, 2 strap joiners, 14 decorative strap mounts, ?bead, knife & sheath, comb, strike-a-light, sheet metal bowl, wooden dish, wooden spoon, pot. Burial date early 11th century. Excavated in 1884–87. Lqt Havor II–VII; WKG I:109; WKG IV:302; Nylén &

Lamm #92–97.

12. Halla, Broa, Strandberg's field, grave. Two Lqt B cist stones with geometricised interlace borders, one also with human figures. Found in 1906 in a grave on a spot that had previously produced furnished

Viking Period burials including four penannular brooches of the

10th and 11th centuries. Lqt Broa V–VI; WKG IV:316–318; Nylén &

Lamm #105–106.

13. Halla, Broa, grave VI/1915. Three stones placed in the core cairn of a grave mound covering an undisturbed inhumation burial: one

Lqt B dwarf stone with an interlace knot, one Lqt B dwarf stone


with a manned ship, and one Lqt C/D dwarf stone with a ?ship.

Burial orientation S. Furnishings: penannular brooch, strap buckle, strap end, strap joiner, bead, knife, comb in case. Burial date 10th century. Excavated in 1915. Lqt Broa XI–XIII. WKG I:138; WKG

IV:330–331; Nylén & Lamm #111–113.

14. Halla, Broa, grave 1/1923. Lqt B dwarf stone with two waterfowl and geometricised interlace border, found by a looter in an inhumation grave in 1923. Burial orientation unknown. Furnishings: penannular brooch, broad axe. Burial date early 11th century. Lqt Broa XVII;

WKG IV:331; Nylén & Lamm #117.

15. Halla, Broa, grave 8/1933. Blank, eroded, possibly Lqt B cist stone, placed as covering slab on an undisturbed cremation burial under a covering stone layer. Furnishings: penannular brooch, 2–3 pots; and a Viking Period inhumation burial under the same superstructure contained a heavily worn Vendel Period box brooch. Burial date early 11th century. Excavated in 1933. WKG IV:342; Lqt Broa XIX.

Nylén & Lamm #119.

16. Hangvar, Austers, grave. Lqt A dwarf stone with a 4-spiral disc and a man fighting a many-legged beast, found by locals in a grave containing the bones of a man and a horse plus weaponry; unreliable information 40 years after find. Collected in 1906. Lqt Austers I;

Nylén & Lamm #126. Whether this stone had actually been re-used is uncertain.

17. Hejnum, Bjärs, grave 27. The lower half of a Lqt A tall stone placed as cover slab on an undisturbed inhumation burial in slab cist under a covering stone layer. Burial orientation NNE. Furnishings: seax sword in carved Style II:C wooden scabbard with line-decorated copper-alloy mounts, axe, 4 slim tongue-shaped strap ends, strap buckle, S-shaped beast mount, rectangular openwork strap mount, comb, knife, 3 gaming pieces, leash swivel, shears, wooden rod with copper alloy loop at end, sheet metal vessel, stamp-decorated pot, rivets, fire flint, dog. Burial date 7th century. Excavated in 1886. Lqt

Bjers I; Nordin 1906:4–6; VZG grave #256; Nylén & Lamm #132.

18. Hejnum, Bjärs, grave 140. Lqt A dwarf stone with running dog border, found after excavation among stones from the covering stone layer of an undisturbed cremation layer. Furnishings: dress pin, utensil brooch, knife with metal-trimmed sheath, stamp-decorated pot. Burial date late 6th century. Excavated in 1894. Lqt Bjers II;

Nordin 1906:53; VZG grave #46; Nylén & Lamm #133a.

19. Hellvi, Ire, grave 162. Lqt B dwarf stone with interlace knot and geometricised interlace border, placed as covering slab on undisturbed cremation burial. Furnishings: seax sword type W&G SAX3, plain scabbard edge mount, nail, plain potsherds. Burial date 7th or

8th century. Excavated in 1933. Lqt Hellvi Ire III; VZG grave 305;

WKG IV:392; Nylén & Lamm #141. [The date of this burial hinges upon the date of the sword. Birger Nerman placed it in the late 7th century (VZG 1685, phase VII:3). Anne Nørgård Jørgensen (W&G p. 266) placed it in her type SAX7 of the early 9th century, despite the fact that its dimensions and proportions assign it to her own type SAX3. Lena Thunmark-Nylén placed the burial in the Viking

Period, apparently because of its position within the cemetery, not because of any typological considerations. I place the sword in type

SAX3 and the burial in the interval AD 600–750.]

20. Hellvi, Ire, grave 222A. Two Lqt C/D cist stones, one with three men, the other with two men and a stag, placed facing inwards at either end of an undisturbed inhumation burial (possibly in a coffin) under a covering stone layer. Behind the head-end stone, an

80 cm diam disc-shaped limestone slab. Burial orientation SSE.

Furnishings: 2 penannular brooches, strap buckle, strap end, strap joiner, belt lamellae, 3 knives, comb with case, broad axe, small iron rod. Burial date early 11th century. Excavated in 1942. WKG I:206;

WKG IV:408–409; Nylén & Lamm #143–144, p. 97.

21. Hellvi, Ire, grave 225. Blank, outline suggests a Lqt C/D tall stone, placed at the head-end of an undisturbed inhumation burial in a slab cist under a covering stone layer. Burial orientation N. Furnishings: broad axe, penannular brooch, knife. Burial date early 11th century. Excavated in 1941. WKG I:208; WKG IV:412.

22. Hellvi, Ire, grave 238. Lqt A tall stone with swirl disc and two men, placed face up in the kerb of a robbed coffin-inhumation grave's superstructure, kerb otherwise consisting of hatched and curved kerb stones, suggesting that the entire superstructure was re-used and modified in situ. Burial orientation W. Furnishings: Byzantine silver coin pendant, knife, comb with case, wooden object with copper alloy mount, pig bones. Burial date 11th century. Excavated in 1943. WKG I:218; WKG IV:417–418; Nylén & Lamm #145.

23. Hellvi, Ire, grave 242. Fragments of 2 Lqt A tall stones, one with faint remains of line decoration, placed in the kerb of a covering stone layer over a robbed inhumation burial. Burial orientation

SSW. Furnishings: decorative strap mount, knife, iron fragment.

Burial date 11th century. Excavated in 1943. WKG IV:420.

24. Hellvi, Ire, grave 304. Fragments of a Lqt A tall stone with a swirl disc, a beast and probably a ship, found in a modern field wall and in an underlying covering stone layer over an undisturbed cremation burial. Furnishings: burnt copper alloy fragments, 4 red & orange beads, bone spindlewhorl, line-decorated bone fragment, unburnt animal tooth. Burial date probably Vendel Period. Excavated in

1934. Lqt Hellvi Ire IV; Nylén & Lamm #142.

25. Hellvi, Ire, grave 396. Half a Lqt A tall stone with a swirl disc and two smaller rosette discs, placed front upwards as covering slab on an undisturbed cremation burial. Furnishings: sword, lance head with decorative copper alloy rivet caps, low domed gaming pieces, 3 plain rectangular strap mounts, knife, decorative composite rivets, domed bronze sheet spangles, nails, comb, stamp-decorated pot, grindstone. Burial date late 6th century. Excavated in 1935. Lqt

Hellvi Ire I; VZG grave #99; Nylén & Lamm #140.


26. Hellvi, Ire, grave 491. Blank stone, outline suggests Lqt B dwarf, placed as covering slab on an undisturbed cremation burial under a covering stone layer. Furnishings: knife. Burial date Viking Period.

Excavated in 1942. WKG IV:432.

27. Hellvi, Ire, grave 505. Blank stone, outline suggests Lqt B dwarf, placed on top of a covering stone layer over an undisturbed inhumation burial. Burial orientation NW. Furnishings: sword, 2 spearheads, penannular brooch, 2 dress pins, strap buckle, bridle bit, 5 iron harness mounts, 2 beads, 2 knives, comb, horse comb, wooden bucket with iron handle, rivet, bear phalanges, horse, dog. Burial date: late

10th century. Excavated in 1941. WKG I:200; WKG IV:436.

28. Hellvi, Ire, grave 531. Blank stone, outline suggests Lqt C/D dwarf, placed as covering slab over the E end of the S of two side-by-side slab cists. The S cist contained a robbed coffin inhumation. Burial orientation W. Furnishings: iron wedge, whetstone, horse tooth.

Burial date of the N cist c. AD 1100. Excavated in 1943. WKG I:224;

WKG IV:436–437.

29. Lärbro, Stora Hammars, Daggängen. Two stones (one Lqt C/D tall stone with ship, rider and lady; one blank tall stone probably of the same group) broken and placed in the foundations for three Lqt

C/D tall stones (two richly decorated, one blank, eroded) along with an iron arrowhead, a grindstone, animal bones and charcoal. Re-use date 10th century. Excavated in 1911. Lqt Lärbro Stora Hammars

IV–V; Nylén & Lamm #187–188.

30. Lokrume, Tomase. Five Lqt B cist stones, one with vestiges of human figures and geometricised interlace border, four blank, found in the kerb of a robbed undated burial mound. Lqt Lokrume

Tomase I–V; Nylén & Lamm #173.

31. Stenkyrka churchyard. A Lqt C/D tall stone placed as covering slab over an inhumation grave under a covering stone layer, located among similar graves just outside the north churchyard wall.

No furnishings noted. Found in 1844. Lqt Stenkyrka VIII; Nylén

& Lamm #236.

32. Träkumla, Gottskalks/Tjängdarve, Raä 41–42, grave 1/1968. Blank, stone's outline suggests a Lqt C/D dwarf stone. Found during ploughing, associated with an undisturbed inhumation burial.

Burial orientation ENE. Furnishings: bead, flint chip, burnt bones.

Burial date probably Viking Period. Excavated in 1968. SHM 32455;

Nylén & Lamm #393 = #467 (registered twice under different property names).

33. Väte, Mölner, grave 136/1967. Lqt C/D tall stone with ship, rider and lady, placed face down as covering slab on an undisturbed inhumation burial with no sign of any superstructure, stone's top orientated ESE. Burial orientation WNW. Furnishings: 3 animalhead brooches, arm ring, 1–2 beads, knife in sheath, comb, wooden bucket with iron handle, textile remains, plant remains. Burial date c. AD 1000. Excavated in 1967. Lindqvist 1983:82–84; WKG IV:

750–751; Nylén & Lamm #341, p. 141.


34. Visby, Sankt Hans church. A Lqt A tall stone with a swirl disc that has first been reshaped and redecorated as a rectangular

Urnes-style runic grave covering slab, then broken apart and used to line a 13th century inhumation grave under the church floor. Excavated in 1982. Burström 1996a:25–27; G 343; Nylén

& Lamm #436, p. 160–161.





Fig. 1. Parameters used in classification.

Drawing by the author.


Typological Classification of the Outline Shapes of Gotland's Picture Stones

The aim of this appendix is to establish a stringent typological system of classification for Gotlandic picture stones based on their shapes, proportions and dimensions.

This will allow us to classify and date the island's many

"blind" stones, that is, stones that have either lost their relief decoration through centuries of erosion or never received such decoration in the first place. I deal only with the axe/door/mushroom-shaped stones and disregard the rarer cist stones. I have collected my data from

Sune Lindqvist's two volumes (1941–42), taking measurements on the figures to calculate two proportional indices and gathering the real-world absolute dimensions from the text.

Width index. Head width divided by height above

ground, expressed in per cent.

Foot shape

1. Foot widest in the top third and narrowest at the ground. (No neck.)

2. Foot widest at the top and narrowest in the middle third. (Low neck.)

3. Foot widest and narrowest in the top third, i.e., the head is wider than the stone's base but the base is wider than the neck. (High neck, narrow base.)

4. Foot widest at the ground and narrowest in the top third. (High neck, wide base.)

Terminology and Parameters (fig.




When discussing a stone, I divide it into

the head (above

the line between the top corners),

the foot (between the

line between the corners and the level of the lowest decoration) and

the root (below the level of the lowest

decoration). This means that I treat

the neck, as Lind-

qvist termed it, simply as part of

the foot. My classifica-

tion operates with the following parameters (fig. 1).

Height above ground. Measured along the stone's cen-

tral axis from the level of the lowest decoration to the apex. (This is of course only possible to measure exactly on a stone with much extant decoration. But surface treatment and outline shape allow us to find the intended ground level on many blind and damaged stones as well.)

Head height. Measured along the stone's central axis

from the line between the corners to the apex.

Head width. Measured from corner to corner.

Head index. Head height divided by head width,

expressed in per cent.


Sune Lindqvist divided the stones under study into nine groups. My database contains 87 stones, which would make a similar number of types seem reasonable. The first distinction is one observed by most previous commentators: that between dwarf stones and tall stones.

Lindqvist's Group B contains only dwarf stones and tops at <130 cm height above ground. The height distribution of Groups A and C/D have discontinuities here

(first noted by Björn Varenius in a conference presentation). I take this to define the dwarf stone category.

In my sample of 47, the dwarf stones' height ranges from 23 to 125 cm with the median at 62 cm. Their head width ranges from 23 to 107 cm with the median at 47 cm.

By definition, the tall stones thus measure at least 130 cm in height. In my sample, their height ranges from

138 to 373 cm with the median at 223 cm. Their head width ranges from 74 to 147 cm. This allows us to add that all stones with a head width of less than 74 cm are dwarf stones, and all stones with a head width of at least

108 cm are tall stones (which is useful in the many cases where the height above ground cannot be determined).


Fig. 2. Diagram of 47 dwarf stones, plotting head index against width index and foot shape.

No neck

Low neck

High / narrow

High / wide

Fig. 3. Diagram of 20 type dwarf4 stones, plotting head index against width index and decoration.

Lqt E


Fig. 4. Diagram of 19 tall stones, plotting head index against width index and decoration.

No panels

3–5 panels

7–8 panels

Lqt E

Diagrams by the author.










Huvudindex / Head index










30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80%

Huvudindex / Head index












40% 50% 60% 70% 80%

Huvudindex / Head index

90% 100%

dwarfl, foot 1


Havor II dwarfl, foot 2


Tystebols I dwarf2, foot 3

Rute Ala dwarf3, foot 1


Larsarve 1 dwarf4, foot 4

Halla Broa IX

Fig. 5a and 5b. Representative examples of the classification's eight types. Note that the images are not part of the type definitions, but serve only to illustrate them.

Drawings by the author.


Hellvi Ire 1 tall2

Bro Eriks 1 tall3


Tängelgårda III tall4

Hejnum Riddare

Dwarf Stone Types (fig.







Fig. 2 is a diagram of 47 dwarf stones, plotting head index against width index and foot shape. The width index on the horizontal axis does not appear useful for grouping as there is little variation or clustering in it. But the head index and the foot shape allow clear grouping.

The clearest distinction is that between stones with a high head index (>43%) and foot shape 4 (high neck, wide base) on one hand, and on the other stones with a low head index (<=43%) and foot shapes 2–3 (low neck or high neck, narrow base). Only one outlier breaks this dichotomy, Hellvi Ire III. It appears unprofitable to distinguish between foot shapes 2–3 in this context.

Stones with foot shape 1 (no neck) form two distinct groups, one with a very low head index (<20%) and one with a middling head index (39–63%). Only one outlier breaks this dichotomy, Sjonhem Sojvide.

Having thus divided the dwarf stones into four types

(and disregarding two outliers), we must confront the outline types with Lindqvist's decoration groups. (This does not mean that decoration forms part of the type definitions.)

Type dwarf1. Definition: very low head index (<20%)

and foot shape 1 (no neck). 6 stones: 4 Group A (swirl discs and rosettes), 2 Group B.

Type dwarf2. Definition: Low head index (<=43%) and

foot shapes 2–3 (low neck or high neck, narrow base).

14 stones: 12 Group B (ships, ducks, geometricised interlace borders), 2 Group A.

Type dwarf3. Definition: Middling head index (39-63%)

and foot shape 1 (no neck). 10 stones: 9 Group B (ships, ducks, geometricised interlace borders), 1 Group C.


Type dwarf4. Definition: High head index (>43%) and

foot shape 4 (high neck, wide base). 21 stones. This type contains all five of Lindqvist's decoration groups except

A. To subdivide it, see fig. 3. Lindqvist's Group E with its Urnes style decoration and late runes tends to have a higher width index for each given head index percentage than earlier stones. In other words, within type dwarf4, stones with squatter overall proportions are late ones.

Dwarf4 cannot however be subdivided solely on the basis of either index. In absolute terms, the later stones are 5 cm shorter above ground on average, with much overlap between the distributions.

Judging from the consistently increasing head index and the decoration combinations, these four types form a chronological progression.

Type tall2. Definition: Head index <55% and foot shape

4 (high neck, wide base). 3 stones: all Group C/D, no image panels or 3 panels.

Type tall3. Definition: Head index 55–70% and foot shape

4. 13 stones: Group C/D and E, but never 7-8 image panels.

Type tall4. Definition: Head index >70% and foot shape

4. 8 stones: all Group C/D divided into 3–8 image panels.

Judging from the consistently increasing head index and the decoration, these four types also form a chronological progression, with the exception of the Urnes-style runestones in the shape of picture stones. These copy the shape of type tall3, the classic Early Viking Period stones, not the extremely tall and slender Middle Viking

Period type tall4 stones. This means that a blind tall4 stone is always late, while a blind tall3 stone can in rare cases be even later in the case of a runestone that has lost its decoration.

Tall Stone Types (fig.





The tall stones are far less diverse than the dwarf stones regarding their foot shape. Out of 28 determinable cases, all are foot shape 4, except three with foot shape

1. None of the shape 1 tall stones is complete enough to measure its entire height above ground, but their consistently low head index shows that we are dealing with a tall analogue of type dwarf1.

Plotting head index against width index and decoration (n=19), we get fig. 4. Let us accept Lindqvist's and

Lisbeth Imer's relative chronology. Stones with no horizontal image panels are the oldest, followed by 3–5 image panels, followed by 7–8 image panels, followed by the

Urnes style and late runes. We see the same chronological progression as with the dwarf stones at first, from a low head index to a high head index – but then the last stones return to the central cluster's middling head index of about 60–65%.

Type tall1. Definition: Very low head index (<20%) and

foot shape 1 (no neck). 4 stones: all Group A (swirl discs and rosettes).

Picture Stone Periods

Correlating our two sequences of four types each, we arrive at the following periodisation.

Period 1. Types dwarf1 and tall1. Decoration dominated by Lindqvist Group A. Migration Period.

Period 2. Type dwarf2. No tall stones. Decoration dominated by Lindqvist Group B. Early

Vendel Period.

Period 3. Type dwarf3. No tall stones. Decoration dominated by Lindqvist Group B. Middle

Vendel Period.

Period 4. Type dwarf4 and tall2. Decoration dominated by Lindqvist Group C/D. Late Vendel Period.

Period 5. Type dwarf4 and tall3. Decoration dominated by Lindqvist Group C/D. Early Viking Period.

Period 6. Type dwarf4 and tall4. Decoration dominated by Lindqvist Group C/D. Middle Viking Period.

Period 7. Type dwarf4 and tall3. Decoration dominated by Lindqvist Group E. Late Viking Period.


Table 3. Data on the picture stones analysed for typology

Fig no Head index

L 49


L 141

L 354

L 359

L 152

L 362

L 18

L 23

L 369

L 55

L 61





L 379

L 108


L 105 64%









L 312

L 328

L 21

L 125

L 50

L 71

L 74

L 64

L 302

L 309

L 153

L 157

L 57

L 155

L 139
















L 405

L 79

L 77

L 2

L 37

L 151

L 145

L 387

L 59

L 54

L 386

L 392

L 22

L 27

L 402
















Alskog Ollaifs

Alva, Änge

Ardre III

Ardre IV

Ardre Petsarve II

Ardre VII

Ardre VIII

Boge K

Bro Eriks I

Burs I

Buttle Änge I

Endre skog

Eskelhem Larsarve I

Eskelhem Larsarve II

Etelhem railroad

Fole K

Fröjel Bottarve-Nymans

Garda Bote

Garda Smiss I

Gothem Västerbjärs

Grötlingbo K

Grötlingbo Roes II

Hablingbo Havor I

Hablingbo Havor II

Hablingbo K

Hablingbo Stenstu

Halla Broa I

Halla Broa II

Halla Broa III

Halla Broa IV

Halla Broa IX

Halla Broa VII

Halla Broa X

Halla Broa XI

Halla Broa XII

Halla Broa XIV

Hangvar Austers I

Hangvar I

Hejde K

Hejnum Riddare

Hejnum Rings

Hellvi Ire I

Hellvi Ire III

Hemse Annexhemman II

Hogrän K I

Width Foot Decoration index shape



















100% 3










92% 1

100% 2

















100% 4

73% 2






















4 sailship quadrupeds, geo-border


Urnes, geo-border sailship, geo-border

Urnes, geo-border sailship, rider, many figures

Urnes, RE-USED sailship rosette

8 panels rowboat, stag sailship horses warriors, rider, geo-border sailship sailship, rider, woman, three men

3 panels sailship, duck, geo-border ship, geo-border

Urnes swirl swirl, snakes, quadrupeds rosette, beast border rider, woman, ship duck, sailship, geo-border sailship, geo-border, quadruped sailship, rider rider, ?woman, ship rider, woman, ship sailship, rider duck, sailship, geo-border sailship, geo-border geo-border sailship swirl rosette, rowboat

Urnes, cross

4 panels

7 panels

3 panels swirl + rosette geo-border



Outline type Head W cm

dwarf1 dwarf4 dwarf2 dwarf3 dwarf4 dwarf4 dwarf4 dwarf2 tall3 dwarf4 dwarf3 dwarf3 dwarf3/4 tall1 dwarf1 tall3 dwarf4 dwarf4 dwarf4 dwarf2 dwarf4 tall2 tall2/3/4 tall2 dwarf1 tall4 dwarf2 dwarf3 dwarf3 dwarf4 dwarf4 dwarf3 dwarf2 dwarf2/3 dwarf3/4 dwarf1 dwarf2 tall3 dwarf3 tall4 tall2 tall1




113 dwarf outlier 39 dwarf4 39 tall3 115






































Height cm


































Fig no Head index

L 106

L 146

L 41

L 496

L 492

L 103

L 104

L 63

L 150

L 35

L 142

L 473

L 39

L 486

L 5

L 48

L 515

L 97

L 29

L 499

L 507

L 542

L 557

L 565

L 554

L 78

L 225

L 46

L 3

L 81

L 85

L 86

L 449

L 469

L 467

L 128

L 134

L 430

L 176

L 38

L 43

L 36











































Klinte Hunninge I

Klinte Socken

Kräklingbo Smiss II

Levide K

Lokrume Lauks

Lärbro Källstäde

Lärbro Norder-Ire I

Lärbro Norder-Ire II

Lärbro Pavals

Lärbro Stora Hammars I

Lärbro Stora Hammars III

Lärbro Tängelgårda I

Lärbro Tängelgårda III

Norrlanda Bjärs

Norrlanda Bringes

När Mickelgårds

När Rikvide

När Smiss I

Roma Kloster

Rute Ala

Sanda II

Sanda IV

Sanda Sandegårda I

Sanda Sandegårda II

Sjonhem I

Sjonhem Sojvide

Stenkumla Forsa I

Stenkyrka IV

Stenkyrka Lillbjärs I

Stenkyrka Lillbjärs III

Stenkyrka Lillbjärs IX

Stenkyrka Lillbjärs VII

Stenkyrka Smiss I

Stenkyrka Tystebols I

Stenkyrka VI

Stenkyrka VIII

Tingstäde XI

Visby Sankt Hans II

Visby Sankt Klemens

Västerhejde Suderbys

Väte Gullarve

Öland Köping

Width Foot Decoration index shape
























100% 2







100% 1








































4 panels

4 panels, geo-border cross wagon boat sailship, geo-border geo-border geo-border beast border

7 panels

5 panels

5 panels

3 panels sailship, geo-border duck, ship runestone layout duck, sailship, geo-border sailship, warriors ship, geo-border geo-border

3 panels swirl style II

5 men long sleeves

Urnes rowboat, geo-border

4 panels sailship, eagle, geo-border rider

3 panels horse sailship, woman

7 panels swirl rider sailship swirl

Urnes sailship

4 panels

3 panels


Outline type Head W cm

dwarf1 tall1 tall4 tall4 tall3 tall3 dwarf3 dwarf3 tall3 tall3 dwarf3/4 dwarf3/4 dwarf2 dwarf2 dwarf2 dwarf4 dwarf2 dwarf4 dwarf3 dwarf2 tall4 tall1 dwarf2 dwarf4 tall3


88 dwarf outlier 59 tall3 130 dwarf2 dwarf4


31 dwarf4 41 dwarf outlier 51








39 dwarf4 tall3


125 dwarf2 56 dwarf outlier 56 dwarf4 dwarf1 dwarf4 tall4 tall4 tall3 dwarf4















































Height cm












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