World’s oldest runestone discovered in Norway

World’s oldest runestone discovered in Norway

Norwegian archaeologists believe they have found the oldest runestone in the world, engraved almost two millennia ago, several centuries before those already known, they announced on Tuesday.

The block of brown sandstone, about thirty centimeters on a side, was discovered in a burial field unearthed in the fall of 2021 near Lake Tyrifjorden, northwest of Oslo, during work for the construction of a railway line.

Dating of bones and charred wood found in a tomb alongside the stone suggests it was carved between AD 1 and AD 250, the Cultural History Museum said. Oslo.

It is “a dream for runologists”, estimated the museum.

Usually erected on tombs, especially during the Viking Age, runestones are stones engraved with inscriptions made up of runic letters, the oldest known alphabet in Scandinavia.

“The first ones in Norway and Sweden were estimated to have appeared in the 300s or 400s, but it turns out that some runestones may be older than previously thought,” commented runologist Kristel Zilmer with the Norwegian agency NTB.

“It’s a unique discovery,” she added.

Used by several so-called pre-Germanic peoples, the runes have an origin that is still largely mysterious.

Once transcribed into the Latin alphabet, the inscription found on the stone of Tyrifjorden – which could be contemporaneous with Jesus Christ – forms the word “idiberug”, perhaps in homage to the person lying in the tomb.

The stone will now be on display at the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo from January 21 to February 26.