Rune stone U 1173

Follow my work during 2014

Many thanks for
the translation to:
Michèle Maurer

After my visit to Edinburgh in December 2013 and a detailed study of the original stone, the time had come to find suited material for the new rune stone.

My first priority was the shape and the smooth surface of the front as well as a certain thickness on the right side where an additional cross was to be added. I wasn’t planning on altering the thickness of the material and the left side was to be untouched.

The Vätö Stonemasonry was commissioned, and on the 13th of May, a well-shaped, fitting slab of 1.2 ton of finest Vätö granite was delivered to the south of the island of Adelsö. 

The sketching of Erik’s runes and ornamentation is arduous work which must be allowed to take its time.
Some of the lost details of the original are being reconstructed. Once the sketching is completed, it’s time to fetch a brush, a fleece and tools, and the carving can begin.
I am already familiar with this type of granite, but I choose to start working on a neutral area, namely on the neck, a few inches under the head of the dragon.
I am putting off more difficult details like the tongue, the eyes and the different angles of the cross until I am in “carving mode” and acquainted with the stone. It’s also crucial to mimic Erik’s work as closely as possible, even his shortcuts and mistakes.
A certain warm-up period seems therefore necessary. It feels good that the first rune was an R
I’m carving the longitudinal lines of the body and have a go at some more runes. I’m getting more confident and carve the knot that binds together the neck and the tail of the snake. Some details
Now that I’m acquainted with the stone, I carve the head. Small details are important.
The differences in the shape of the eyes and their location must match the original.
The cross – I start with the arms The blades of the cross are not supposed to be identical. The knot, the cross, the tail and the head have been carved.
Close-up of the centre of the cross. I wonder if Erik was aware of the fact there is a second cross forming in the centre.
The ornamentation is finished.
The next step is to carve the whole inscription using Erik’s runes. The shape of runes is very personal, not unlike someone’s handwriting in modern times.

The S-rune seems to have been problematic for Erik. He often flipped it, and on three of his stones, all S-runes have been substituted with half a main staff, short-twig rune.
U 774 / U 793 / U 1154

… and sometimes, he made the main staff too long, as seen in these pictures

Ari-rasti-stain-eftir-Hialm-... The H-rune in the name Hialm has been lost on the original. A part of the main staff and one of the branches is all that is left. The lost part of the original in Edinburgh. The H-rune is the most difficult one to carve. This is how it looks after I’ve finished it.
...eftir - Hialm - fathur - sin...
The work continues. Here’s me, carving the last of the branches of the rune F in the word fathur (father).

Erik made a major mistake: he forgot the R-rune and was forced to make drastic modifications. In order to mimic Erik’s work, I do the same thing: I “forget” the R-rune and carve the S-rune in its place. Then I go back and squeeze in a tiny R between the U- and the S-rune.

I think it is in this moment that I come closest to the person of Erik, more than a thousand years after he carved his stone. I’m sure that he, after having carved the S-rune in the wrong spot, tore his hair and beard and threw away both his chisel and his hammer, yelling. I think he might have stopped working for the day, fretting about how he could rectify his mistake.

One can’t simply erase what has been carved into granite, so Erik had only two alternatives: putting the R-rune inside the body of the dragon or squeezing it in between the U and the S. In the end, he chose the second option, probably after a sleepless night.

This and other details in his work show that Erik only sketched the ornamentation but not the runes. I think he might only have marked the position of the runes and that he then carved them free-hand.

Since the R-rune isn’t taking up any space now and the fact that there is no x between the words “fathur x sin” leads to a lot of free space, which means that there is an unusually big gap between the following runes, the I- and the N-rune.

Distributing the runes evenly and to start and end in the right place is harder than one might think. I have studied Erik’s work and can see that he had the will to do so and that he tried hard. But he seldom succeeded fully.

If he had taken the time to sketch his runes, he could have avoided many mistakes.

The rest of the runes have been carved without any problems.
Now all that is left are the two additional crosses.

Here I’m carving the cross that is situated on the edge. The other one is situated at the top on the front of the stone. Both crosses were as badly planned as they were carved, which makes me think that it can hardly have been Erik who’s to blame for them.

I think the crosses were added later, without Erik’s consent.
The question is: Why?

The carving on Erik’s new rune stone is done!

Now it has to be painted and raised.

Black paint in the carving lines adds depth and contrast. Filling in the carving lines is time-consuming since there are so many tiny details. I try to make the other colours transparent so they blend with the stone.
Painting old

Which colours?

Original colors?

I think we’re having the wrong ideas about
painting old runestones.

Of course, the carving lines of all stones were originally filled in, sometimes even the ornamentation. Maybe the entire front of the stone was painted. The paint that was used would last for about 5-15 years.

No matter how much was filled in or which colours were used when a specific rune stone was painted for the first time, it was certainly repainted many times. Maybe the same colours were used or maybe new ones, depending on fancy, possibilities and finances.

The rune master was aware that the colours and colouration were bound to be changed at some point. He could only hope that every repainting would set off his artwork in the best possible way.

The fact that runes were carved and not simply painted shows that they were meant to last for a long time, much longer than the runemaster could hope to be around in order to influence the choice of colours.

I believe that every new generation was meant to paint the old runestones after their own ideas, their fancy and taste. Not painting the stones at all or only filling in the carving lines often diminishes the rune master’s work and prevents the viewer from getting the right experience when they come upon an old rune stone.

This is how I reason when carving my own stones, and I believe we rune masters think alike, even if there are a thousand years between us.

I hope I did the right thing and that Erik is pleased
with my version of his piece of art in Morgongåva.

Mats Köbin in front of the new
rune stone in Morgongåva.

U 732 Grillby
U 738 Grillby
U 755 Grillby
U 762 Enköping
U 768 Enköping
U 769 Enköping
U 774 Enköping
U 779 Enköping
U 793 Enköping
U 798 Enköping
U 857 Uppsala
U 943 Uppsala
U 978 Uppsala
U 1153 Fjärdhundra
U 1154 Fjärdhundra
U 1155 Fjärdhundra
U 1156 Fjärdhundra
U 1157 Fjärdhundra
U 1165 Enköping
U 1172 Vittinge
U 1173 Vittinge
Vs 30 Möklinta

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Updated 03 januari, 2019 by Kalle Runristare, All rights reserved ©