An international team of researchers has produced a new translation of the Rök monument, a stone carved with runes and erected in southern Sweden around 800 A.D.
According to a study published by the Swedish university of Uppsala, the stone of Rök, a granite block on which the Vikings inscribed towards the ninth century the longest runic text known, could have been erected to warn future generations about a climate crisis.
Earlier, experts thought the inscription described a series of battles, but a new interpretation suggests that the text consists of nine riddles that show the sun and Odin, the king of Asgard and his warriors.
Before the Rök stone was erected, a series of strange events took place, archaeologist Bo Gräslund of Uppsala University explained in a press release.
“A powerful solar storm burned the sky with spectacular red dyes, the crops suffered from an extremely cold summer and then a solar eclipse occurred just before dawn,” said the archaeologist.
It is believed that the crisis of the 6th century was caused by a series of volcanic eruptions that dramatically affected the climate and led to lower average temperatures, destroyed crops and the resulting famine and mass extinction. It is estimated that the population of the Scandinavian Peninsula decreased by at least 50% at the time.
Gräslund adds that these phenomena were probably interpreted by the Vikings as the arrival of what is known as Fimbulvetr in the Norse mythology. This means a winter that lasts three years and is a prelude to the dreaded Ragnarök, the end of the world, “the conflict between light and darkness, heat and cold, life and death.”
The granite rock lies near Lake Vättern, in southern Sweden. It also has more than 700 perfectly readable runes, on all five sides.