A massive rune stone found under the kitchen floor at a farm in Moseker, Denmark. may be one of the oldest in the country.
Homeowners Lene Brandt and her husband Anders Nielsen were renovating their mid-19th century farmhouse when they discovered a large stone after removing the old linoleum in the kitchen. They tried to dig it out, but by the time they were done, they had unearthed a stone over 6.5 feet long and 2.6 feet wide and weighing about a ton. The neighbor kindly offered to come and cut him in half to help them get him out of there, but they refused, much to the relief of the story.
Artifacts from the Viking Age had been found in the area before, so Brandt and Nielsen decided to call an archaeologist from the East Jutland Museum to examine the stone before extracting it. Looking at the top of the stone, the archaeologist concluded that it was formed later than the Viking Age, so the owners turned their attention to the difficulty of moving such a huge and heavy stone safe and sound.
Helle Nielsen, Lene’s friend who is a metal detector specialist, saw photos on Facebook of the stone being pulled out of the house and noticed some faint marks on the back. She thought it might be runes and asked her friend who works at the museum to take a look at them. They sent photographs of the back, which the first archaeologist had never seen, to the East Jutland Museum, and this time they admitted it was a Viking Age runestone.
It was a significant find, the first runestone found in the area in 27 years. The latter was also recycled as a building material and used in the construction of the Borup Church. This was a common practice in the 19th century when a farmhouse was being built, and while the relocation ripped the stone from its original context and all information that could have been gleaned from there, it also confirmed its authenticity. In the 19th century, there was no interest in making forged runes, much less a handful of pale runes on a slab that was destined to become part of the kitchen floor.
Only five runes have been identified on the stone. National Museum runologist Lisbeth Ymer reads them as “Aft bi”, which translates to “after B-“. Monumental stones with runes were often erected as monuments, so it is likely that the letter B was the first letter of the name of the person immortalized, perhaps Birka or Bjorn.
It is difficult to determine its date, but the style of the inscription and the typology of the runes suggest that they are very ancient. From a typological point of view, if the runes were the beginning of a sentence and not its end, they were carved very early, probably in the 8th century. There are only 10 or 20 runestones of this age in Denmark.
The stone has been declared Danish cattle, the Danish version of the treasury. It is now in the East Jutland Museum, where it is undergoing further analysis to narrow down its age and interpret the runes.