The Sigurd Runestone


  1. Location

  2. History and Description

  3. Outline of the Story

  4. Photographs

  5. Related Links


Ramsundsberget, Jäder, Södermanland, Sweden

History and Description

In memory of her husband and in celebration of the building of a nearby bridge, sometime during the eleventh century a Swedish woman named Sigrid had an extensive inscription carved on a large outcropping of natural stone.

The carving depicts an elaborate two-headed serpent encircling a number of figures. Inscribed on the serpent's body are runic letters that spell out the message: "Sigrid, the mother of Alrik, the daughter of Orm, made this bridge for the soul of her husband Holmgr, the father of Sigrid."

Although the runic inscription itself has no mythological content, the figures dramatically illustrate the story of Sigurd the dragon slayer. This tale is alluded to in Beowulf, Njal's Saga, and other ancient works, and is recited with substantial detail both in the Prose Edda of Snorri Sturluson and in the thirteenth-century anonymous Icelandic works Saga of the Volsungs and Dietrich's Saga.

Outline of the Story

  1. Sigurd and Regin, a master swordsmith, plan to kill the dragon Fafnir and take possession of his treasure.

  2. Sigurd positions himself in a trench beneath the dragon's trail, and stabs him from beneath when Fafnir leaves his lair for water.

  3. Regin asks Sigurd to cook the dragon's heart and give it to him to eat. While cooking the heart, Sigurd tests its doneness by putting some of its juice into his mouth with his finger.

  4. Upon thus tasting the dragon's blood, Sigurd can understand the language of the two nearby birds, who are conversing with one another as to how the treacherous Regin plans to kill Sigurd.

  5. Forewarned by the birds, Sigurd strikes off Regin's head.

  6. Sigurd then loads Fafnir's treasure onto his horse Grani and departs for new adventures.


Related Links

Revised October 2, 2010.