July 1, 2021
The carvings of the stone are in the runestone style Pr 1 (c. 1010-1040) pertaining to the Ringerike style.
The inscription is not signed.
The granite stone is c. 2,00 m tall, 1,00 m wide and 0,45 m thick.
The stone features a human figure riding a wolf-like creature with serpents as reins. The pretzel-knot hairdo is a typical feature of Viking Age depictions of women. The vipers in her hands and the wolf-like animal she rides suggest that the stone most likely depicts the Jotun woman Hyrrokkin known from Nordic Mythology.
The best description of her is from Snorri Sturluson’s Edda in the chapter Gylfaginning. Here Hyrrokkin arrives at Balder’s funeral riding a giant wolf with vipers as reins. The combined force of four of Odin’s berserkers is required to hold down the beast after she dismounts.
The gods called on her to help them launch Balder’s giant funeral ship, Hringhorni (EN: ‘Ring-stem’), as none of the Æsir was capable of moving it into the sea. Hyrrokkin set the ship afloat in her first push with so much force that fire shot from the rollers, and the whole world shook.
According to Snorri, Thor was furious that a Jotun woman managed to do what he, the strongest of the gods, lacked the strength to do. In his rage, he almost bashed in her skull with his hammer Mjölnir (EN: ‘Grinder’), was it not for the interference of the other gods. Although, in a poem by Þorbjörn Disarskáld she is mentioned as one of several Jötnar killed by Thor at Balder’s funeral.
Her name Hyrrokkin is a compound formed by the root hyr- (EN: ‘fire’) attached to hrokkin (EN: ‘curly; wrinkle’), possibly meaning ‘fire-withered’, ‘fire-steamer’ or ‘fire-smoked’.
Attestations of Hyrrokkin:
- Snorri’s Edda. Balder’s funeral, Gylfaginning.
- A poem by Þorbjörn Disarskáld (late 10th century).
- The poem Húsdrápa by Úlfr Uggason (c. 950).
The Hunnestad Monument
The stone is part of the Hunnestad Monument raised by a prominent family of the Gussnava area near Ystad.
Hunnestad, Skåne, Sweden (now Kulturen, Lund)