The Sigurd Stones
May 30, 2022
In the same series:
The Runestone Styles
Eight stones are known to display carvings depicting the legend of Sigurd the Dragon Slayer. All of them are found in Sweden, the earliest dating to the eleventh century. The legend of Sigurd features in Nordic and Continental Germanic tradition including the Nibelungenlied, the Völsunga saga and Snorri’s Edda.
The Legend of Sigurd the Dragon Slayer
According to the Nordic saga tradition, Sigurd, the posthumous son of Sigmund, was raised by the dwarf Regin, Ótr’s and Fafnir’s brother.
Fafnir acquired a gold hoard from the gods (Odin, Loki and Hoenir) in compensation for Loki killing the shapeshifter Ótr (Otter). In response to Fafnir keeping the hoard to himself, Regin persuades Sigurd to kill Fafnir.
Regin, who is a skilled smith, creates the sword Gram for Sigurd from the pieces of Sigurd’s father, Sigmund’s shattered sword. Sigurd slays the dragon Fafnir by lying in a pit and stabbing it in the heart from underneath.
Regin tears out Fafnir’s heart and tells Sigurd to cook it. When Sigurd checks if the heart is done, he burns his finger and sticks it in his mouth. As Sigurd tastes the dragon’s blood, he suddenly understands the language of the birds. The two birds sitting in the tree above him warn him that Regin plans to kill him to acquire the dragon’s gold for himself and to avenge Sigurd killing his brother.
Sigurd kills Regin and rides away with the hoard on his horse Grani and then finds the sleeping Valkyrie Brynhild and awakens her by cutting off her armour. She teaches him the runes, and they vow to wed each other.
But Sigurd forgets his promise and marries Gudrun instead and deceives Brynhild into marrying his blood brother Gunnar. When Brynhild finds out how she was tricked, she has Sigurd killed and commits suicide herself. She and Sigurd are both burned on the same pyre.
- Ramsund carving, Sö 101
- Drävle runestone, U 1163
- Gök runestone, Sö 327
- Stoja Ramsjö runestone, U 1175
- Årsund runestone, Gs 9
- Ockelbo runestone, Gs 19 (lost)
- Öster-Färnebo runestone, Gs 2
- Västerljung runestone, Sö 40