Explore the largest collection of runestones in the world

Runestones in Uppsala and Uppland

Did you know that our county, Uppland, is home to the largest numer of runestones in the entire world? The runes are the ancient characters used by the Nordic people in the past, and the runestones are important for teaching us about history, especially the Viking Age. Towards the end of the 9th century and throughout the 10th century, people in Sweden erected memorial stones with runic inscriptions when a family member had passed away. However, the fact remains that there are runic inscriptions that are even older than that.

Experiencing the runestones in Uppland is like traveling back in time and gaining a unique insight into Sweden’s ancient culture. Each runestone carries a distinct story from a bygone era, providing us with a glimpse into the lives and adventures of our ancestors. Once memorials for deceased relatives, these stones are now an unforgettable treasure for those who want to learn more about Sweden’s history.

Uppland is home to the highest concentration of runestones in the world, with over 1,300 of them. This suggests that the tradition of erecting runestones must have been particularly strong in Uppland during the 11th century. One theory behind this phenomenon is that it aimed to manifest the transition from Norse mythology (asatro) to Christianity, which may have been more prolonged in Uppland compared to other regions. In most areas, runestones were raised for only one or two generations, but that was not the case in Uppland, where the tradition persisted for over a hundred years.

Exhibition at Gamla Uppsala Museum

Decipher, they who may (Tyde den som kan)

The exhibition at Gamla Uppsala Museum (Old Uppsala Museum) offers visitors the opportunity to explore some of the most fascinating runic inscriptions, study authentic runes, learn to decipher runic script, and even create their own stone. The goal is to arouse curiosity among museum visitors to personally visit and interpret the scattered runestones in the landscape.

Recently, Upplandsmuseet conducted a comprehensive inventory, examining all the outdoor standing stones in Uppsala County, to properly care for and preserve this unique cultural heritage.

Norse gods and Christian crosses?

Most runestones were erected in the late Viking Age, during the 11th century, by which time many had converted to Christianity. One of the reasons why so many runestones were raised specifically during the 11th century is believed to be that many wanted to demonstrate that they had left behind the pagan religion. The runestones often bear the Christian cross, and sometimes include Christian prayers such as “God help his spirit” or “God help her soul now”. However, even Norse gods like Thor are also represented. Perhaps they did not want to put all their eggs in one basket when it came to the afterlife…

Find all runestones and rock carvings in Uppland

The worlds largest art exhibition

With the help of Runkartan (The Runestone Map), you can easily find and explore runestones and rock carvings in both Uppsala and Uppland to plan exciting trips to places where these historical treasures are located. The website provides interactive maps that assist you in navigation, along with detailed descriptions and images. Take the opportunity to discover runestones in their authentic environments.

Home of the Vikings

Discover Swedish Vikings and their ancestors in Uppsala