Sunday, October 04, 2009

New early runic inscription from Hogganvik, Norway: ek naudigastir


Just found out within the last hour that a very large Runic inscription has been found in Norway. It's from ca. 400 C.E. If so, that makes it a very old inscription and it's clearly one of the longest in the Elder Futhark, that is, the early form of the alphabet. The go-to source here looks like this blog (source of this picture too) for those who read Norwegian.

The inscription isn't very clear from the pictures (and Arkeologi i nord has a lot of them), but it apparently starts out eknaudigastir ... "I Naudigastir ...'. It's silly to speculate about even the meaning of the name (though I'm sorely tempted and can't stop my brain from trying). I don't think the morpheme naudi- is attested in other early inscriptions, for instance, though it's very familiar from Old Norse.

Here's hoping we'll soon know more.

A tip of the plastic horned viking helmet to RH.

16 comments:

John in Berkeley said...

Thanks for the update. I just saw the news report of this find, then googled "ek naudigastir", and so found my way to your blog. I'm dying to find out what more can be read, since it's supposedly a longer inscription (however degraded and perhaps illegible some of the remaining letters may be). One should be wary of putting too precise an interpretation on Indo-European personal names, as the elements of such compounds are often mixed and matched rather freely. That said, "naudigastiR" is perfectly formed, and its elements are Gmc *naudiz, 'dire need, distress'from IE *nāu-, 'death; to be exhausted' and Gmc *gastiz, 'guest, stranger' (E "need" and "guest" are cognates). Great fun!

John in Berkeley said...

I forgot to answer your question. On the contrary, Gmc. *naudiz is well-attested in all Gmc languages (E need, G Not, etc.). So the literal translation of the name is something like "distress/harm" + "guest/stranger". One can see how poetic and polysemous such names are. It could mean "A guest to distress/need" or possibly "A stranger to distress/need", and that doesn't exhaust the possibilities.

Joe said...

Yes, cognates of naudi- are widely attested but I don't think they are found in other Elder Futhark inscriptions.

John in Berkeley said...

That may be, I can't check right now (alas!) as I can't seem to find my Runic handbooks (in boxes, most likely). Two points, though: first, as *Naudiz is the 10th rune in the Elder Futhark (all early Futharks, I believe), it occurs in most early inscriptions of the Futhark itself, (where the alphabet itself forms the inscription); second, you are right that the word is perhaps unusual or even unprecedented in a personal name from the earliest period; so its possible rarity in names is of some interest. But the word itself, it's place in the Elder Futhark, and early literary attestations in Havamal and Volundarkvitha is well-attested. Of more interest to me is the remainder of this supposedly long inscription. Most likely, NaudigastiR is either 1) the rune-master who wrote the inscription and fashioned the monument, or 2) the patron who had it inscribed for a deceased relative he wished to memorialize...

Joe said...

Interesting idea that Naudigastir is the rune-master. Thanks.

Mr. Verb said...

Lord god, actual philological discussion on this blog?!?!?!? I need to start working on some super-snarky posts to counter-balance this scholarly seriousness.

John in Berkeley said...

So this is a silly blog, and I should high-tail it outta here, then? IMHO there's enough snark on the web already. Sorry to have misjudged the site. I won't be posting here again. Yikes.

Joe said...

Don't take Mr. V too seriously ... there's plenty of serious discussion here! (And a little snark here and there.)

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Frederick said...

Just got a friendly e-mail from James Knirk with more info on the stone and a picture with the runes highlighted. It has a couple of ek + Name (?) collocations, a possible Name (gen) plus noun, and some groups of runes that make no sense as well-formed runic words. No doubt magic will be invoked somewhere along the line.

Joe said...

Excellent, thanks!

John in Berkeley said...

Here's the link to the first description/analysis by Knirk: http://scienceblogs.com/aardvarchaeology/2009/11/runological_report_on_the_hogg.php

There's a juicy riddle here, now that we have the whole inscription. His transliteration is:

[?]kelbaþewas:s(t)^ainaR:aaasrpkf
aarpaa:inanana(l/b/w)oR
eknaudigastiR
ekerafaR

His tentative translation is:

Skelba-þewaR's ["Shaking-servant's"] stone. (Alphabet magic: aaasrpkf aarpaa). ?Within/From within the ?wheel-nave/?cabin-corner. I NaudigastiR [="Need-guest"]. I, the Wolverine.

I'm not confident of his reading of the second line, with the proposed kennings. I don't have enough info yet to offer my own interpretation, but note that his description doesn't lay out his (or his colleague's) analysis of these words. I'm also unaware of any precedent for the "I, wolverine" line. More to come, I hope!

Joe said...

Thanks, I hadn't had a chance to check that.

Kari Tauring said...

I have been creating a musical work based on this stone. In my interpretation, the stone is calling the Norns who are the women of compelling need.

These discussions are excellent for artists such as myself.

It will be fun to share a recording when I have it done.

Regards,
Kari Tauring

Mr. Verb said...

Let us know!