The Enigmatic Rök Runestone - an exhibition

The Rök runestone in central middle Sweden is the most famous Viking Age runestone in the world. For 150 years, scholars have attempted to decipher the cryptic inscription on the stone.

The exhibition takes us back to the Viking age and Östergötland county, where the Rök runestone was erected 800 CE. With its 760 runes, the Rök runestone is the world's longest runic inscription. The text is in part easy to read but difficult to interpret.

The traditional reading is that the inscription speaks about the Gothic emperor Theodoric the Great, who ruled Italy around AD 500. But why would a runestone in Östergötland, Sweden, tell the tale of Theodoric? Photo credit Håkan Svensson

The inscription can be interpreted as about the place where the stone was erected, according to linguist Per Holmberg. After years of research about the Rök runestone, he has reinterpreted the text as about the struggle between sun and moon, light and darkness.

The exhibition, currently on display at the University Library, Campus Valla, is based on Holmberg’s and his colleagues' research and presents the reinterpretation of the Rök runestone inscription.

About the exhibition

The exhibition "The Enigmatic Rök Runestone" was created by Per Holmberg, staff at the University Library in collaboration with the Department of Culture and Society at Linköping University. It was first displayed at the University Library at Campus Norrköping.


Visit the exhibition

The exhibition is on display at Linköping University, Campus Valla, between January 23 and March 31 2023. 

Place: University Library, Student building, Campus Valla, Linköping

Date and time: 23 January to 31 March. Open during the library's opening hours.

Open to all, free of charge. The exhibition is in Swedish.

About Per Holmberg and the research

About Per Holmberg

Per Holmberg is Professor in Swedish Language at the University of Gothenburg. He was appointed the Tage Danielsson Professorship at Linköping University 2021–2022. Photo credit Magnus Johansson

About the research

Per Holmberg's research about the Rök rune stone is based on the reinterpretation suggested in 2007 by Bo Ralph, Professor Emeritus in Nordic Languages Per Holmberg published his first article on the subject in 2016 and has received funding from the Swedish Research Council to try to solve the Rök stone enigma. In this project, he collaborated with runologist Henrik Williams, archeologist Bo Gräslund, and history of religion specialist Olof Sundqvist.