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Around 50 years ago a runic stone came to light in a barn wall at Rosseland. On one of the flat sides 25 runic signs had been carved. The letters are to be read from right to left and say: “EKWAGIGARIRILARAGILAMUDON”.

The rune expert, professor Carl Marstrander, interpreted the inscription and dated it to around year 400, or the first part of 500 A.D. Translated into words closer to our understanding, the text reads: “eg Wagigar, agilamundu sin irilar”.

The one speaking is called WAGIGAR. He calls himself “irilar” a word we know from several other runic inscriptions. It is thought that it means “rune expert”- someone who knows runes. Wagigar served with Agilamunda – a woman – and was her “irilar”. She was clearly of higher birth than him, even though he mastered the art of rune carving.

The stone is probably from a grave in the vicinity, and was regarded as suitable building material when the barn wall was erected at the end of the 1820s. The builders had no idea that the stone gave the names of two of those who lived in the area one and a half thousand years ago.

Today the Rosseland stone is in Bergen museum.

  • Runic alphabet on a fiddle case from Tørvikbygd

Farm runes in Kvam

On an old fiddle case from Tørvikbygd dated 1785 an entire runic alphabet is carved with a knife. This is not the only place runes come to light in the late tradition in these communities in Kvam. Among the floor beams in a hayshed at Aksnes there is a beam with clear runes cut into one of the flanges. Scraps of runic boards with engraved alphabet is known from several farms, and slowly a local tradition becomes apparent with what we may call “farm runes”, used as a “secret language” when buying and selling boats and other goods. Tradition says that Hardanger sloops might have such a rune board mounted on a suitable spot, as a model. It is evident that this cannot be an old tradition.


There has been speculation as to what background this late use of runes may have had. It is most likely that this tradition has a literary foundation based on Ole Worms’ rune publication in the 1600s, which renews the knowledge of and interest in runes. It is still a fact that late runic traditions are manifest at Bryggen, as late as the 1400s, and so far nobody has been able to rule out that this may be a question of a late runic tradition that gradually became lost in the rural communities.

Marstrander, C. J. S. (1952) Rosselandssteinen. Årbok (Universitetet i Bergen), Humanistisk serie, nr. 3. Bergen, UiB.