Ancient Viking slab warned of ‘ominous’ climate catastrophe

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PUBLISHED: 14:38, Mon, Mar 16, 2020

AN ANCIENT Viking slab spoke of an impending climate catastrophe and how there would be a battle between “warmth and cold and life and death.”

The Rok Stone, a Viking runestone erected in the ninth century in central Sweden, has proved that climate concern is not specific to the people of the 21st century. Researchers have been attempting to translate the 700 runes covering the slab, and now believe they have the answer. Experts from three universities in Sweden believe the slab was erected as a memorial to a man’s deceased son, and it talks about previous major cold snaps and how the person who wrote it is concerned about the future climate.

In the sixth century, global temperatures plummeted, with previous research suggesting this was a result of volcanic activity around the planet.

At the same time, it is believed a major solar storm occurred, creating long lasting auroras in the upper reaches of the northern hemisphere.

The colder than usual temperatures and strange colours appearing in the skies led the person who wrote the runes that another climate catastrophe was on its way.

Experts wrote in their study: “The inscription deals with an anxiety triggered by a son’s death and the fear of a new climate crisis similar to the catastrophic one after 536 CE.”

Passages on the slab refer to battles which lasted for hundreds of years, but the scientists believe this could have been a metaphor for the climate.

The scientists wrote: “The conflict between light and darkness, warmth and cold, life and death”.

Bo Graslund, professor in archaeology at Uppsala University, said: “Before the Rok runestone was erected, a number of events occurred which must have seemed extremely ominous: a powerful solar storm coloured the sky in dramatic shades of red, crop yields suffered from an extremely cold summer, and later a solar eclipse occurred just after sunrise.

“Even one of these events would have been enough to raise fears of another Fimbulwinter.”

Olof Sundqvist, professor in History of Religions at Stockholm University, said: “The powerful elite of the Viking Age saw themselves as guarantors for good harvests.

“They were the leaders of the cult that held together the fragile balance between light and darkness. And finally at Ragnarök, they would fight alongside Odin in the final battle for the light.”

The deciphering of the stone was a result of a collaboration between three universities across Sweden; University of Gothenburg, Uppsala University and Stockholm University.

Published by Jules William Press

Jules William Press is a small press devoted to publishing the best about the Viking Age, Old Norse, and the Atlantic and Northern European regions. Jules William Press was founded in 2013 to address the needs of modern students, teachers, and self-learners for accessible and affordable Old Norse texts. JWP began by publishing our Viking Language Series, which provides a modern course in Old Norse, with exercises and grammar that anyone can understand. This spirit motivates all of our publications, as we expand our catalogue to include Viking archaeology and history, as well as Scandinavian historical fiction and our Saga Series.

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