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Title: Notice of Runic Inscriptions Discovered during Recent Excavations in the Orkneys
Author: Farrer, James Anson
Language: English
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produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/American Libraries.)



MAES-HOWE



_Printed by R. & R. Clark, Edinburgh._



[Illustration: PLATE I. GENERAL VIEW OF MAESHOWE.]



  NOTICE OF RUNIC INSCRIPTIONS
  DISCOVERED DURING RECENT
  EXCAVATIONS IN THE ORKNEYS

  MADE BY JAMES FARRER, M.P.

  PRINTED FOR PRIVATE CIRCULATION
  1862



CONTENTS.


                                                     PAGE

  PREFACE                                              ix

  DESCRIPTION OF MAES-HOWE                             11

  THE EXCAVATION OF MAES-HOWE                          13

  BARROWS AT BOOKAN                                    16
    LARGE BARROW CONTAINING GRAVES                     17

  MOUNDS AT STENNES                                    18

  BARROW AT TENSTONE                                   19

  APPENDIX                                             21
    ORIGIN OF MAES-HOWE, AND DATE OF INSCRIPTIONS      21
    READINGS OF INSCRIPTIONS                           25



LIST OF PLATES.


     I. General View of Maes-Howe from the N. E.      TO FACE TITLE PAGE

    II. Interior View of Maes-Howe      "                        PAGE 15

   III. General Plan and Section of Maes-Howe             "           20

    IV. Plan of Central Chamber, Passages, and Cells      "           20

     V. Sections of East and West Sides of Chamber        "           20

    VI. Sections of North and South Sides of Chamber
        and Passage                                       "           20

  _The numbers on Plates V. and VI. show the situation of the slabs
  containing the Runic Inscriptions, which are numbered accordingly._

   VII. Inscriptions Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9       "           40

  VIII. Do. Nos. 10, 11, 12, 13, 14                       "           40

    IX. Do. Nos. 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20                   "           40

     X. Do. Nos. 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26                   "           40

    XI. Do. Nos. 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32                   "           40

  [_The Inscriptions are drawn on a scale of 2 inches to one foot._]



PREFACE.


As the following pages are intended only for private circulation among
friends and acquaintances, and for presentation to those few Public
Societies to whom such a subject may be interesting, it is hardly
necessary to offer any apology for the many imperfections in the
description of Maes-howe, which may doubtless be pointed out, and for the
brief and cursory manner in which the subject is handled. I desire only to
give a plain statement of facts, in the hope that attention may be drawn
to this interesting discovery, and possibly some further impetus given to
the elucidation of Runic literature. I have received from the learned
professors, whose translations are given, much valuable information, of
which, however, I can only partially avail myself, in consequence of my
very imperfect acquaintance with Runology.

I may add, that every possible care has been taken to ensure accuracy in
the drawings. These and the ground plans were made by Mr. Gibb of
Aberdeen--of whose care and accuracy in the drawings of ancient monuments
Mr. Stuart has spoken so strongly in his "Sculptured Stones of Scotland,"
printed for the Spalding Club. The Runes were mostly drawn by my friend
Mr. George Petrie of Kirkwall, and the drawings afterwards compared by
Mr. Gibb with the originals in the building of Maes-Howe. Two separate
sets of casts were made for me by Mr. Henry Laing of Edinburgh (one of
which is now in the National Museum of the Antiquaries of Scotland,
Edinburgh, and the other in the Museum of the Royal Northern Society of
Antiquaries at Copenhagen.) Nothing could exceed the pains taken by Mr.
Petrie and Mr. Gibb; and the drawings made by Mr. Gibb were on two
occasions collated by him with the casts in Edinburgh, so that I have
every reason to believe that they are as perfect representations of the
original writings on the walls of Maes-Howe as can be hoped for, and not
the less so that the gentlemen who made the drawings and collations were
unacquainted with Runes. I have confined myself to the interpretations
furnished by the three eminent northern antiquaries who have undertaken
the task of deciphering these rude inscriptions, feeling assured that the
high reputation which they enjoy is a sufficient guarantee for the
accuracy of their translations. In concluding these few remarks I am
anxious to bear testimony to the valuable assistance I have received from
my friend Mr. John Stuart, Secretary of the Society of Antiquaries of
Scotland, to whom in reality I am chiefly indebted for the discovery of
Maes-Howe, since I owe to his urgent suggestion that the great circle of
Stennes, and the tumuli around it, had not been sufficiently examined, the
successful excavation of this ancient "howe." It is also highly
satisfactory to me to know that Mr. Balfour of Balfour and Trenabie, on
whose property this interesting relic of antiquity is situated, has taken
the necessary steps to ensure its preservation--a precaution,
unfortunately, too often neglected under similar circumstances.

JAMES FARRER.

INGLEBOROUGH, YORKSHIRE, JUNE 1862.



MAES-HOWE.


Early in the month of July 1861 I was enabled, by the kind permission of
my friend David Balfour, Esq. of Balfour and Trenaby, to put in execution
a scheme long contemplated, but from various circumstances unavoidably
delayed, the excavation of some of the great tumuli in the neighbourhood
of the Stones of Stennes, or Ring of Brogar. I had in the year 1854
partially explored one of considerable size on the east side of the great
circle of stones, which stands on the west shore of the Loch of Harray. No
discovery, however, of any importance was then made.

Some days were devoted to excavations close to Stennes, to which allusion
will afterwards be made, but as several gentlemen of well-known
antiquarian reputation from Edinburgh and Aberdeen were expected, and as I
was desirous of having the benefit of their experience and advice, I
determined at once to commence operations on the great tumulus of
Maes-howe, the subject of this notice. My attention had been particularly
called to this tumulus by Mr. Balfour, whose decided opinion that a
careful examination might result in some important discovery, afforded me
great encouragement, as I well knew that he had for many years taken
considerable interest in Orkney antiquities, and his opinion that
Maes-howe was a sepulchral chamber, appeared to be confirmed by local
traditions.[1]

On the afternoon of Saturday the 6th of July, therefore, guided by the
experience of Mr. George Petrie, and assisted by the professional
knowledge of Mr. Wilson, road contractor, ground was broken on the west
side of Maes-howe, and on the same evening, Mr. John Stuart and Mr. Joseph
Robertson of Edinburgh, with Colonel Forbes Leslie of Rothie, and Mr.
James Hay Chalmers of Aberdeen, arrived by the Prince Consort steamship.
As it was anticipated that a couple of days would suffice to make a large
opening in the tumulus, arrangements were made for meeting there on the
10th of July. Before proceeding with the description of what followed, it
may not be out of place to give a short account of the Stones of Stennes,
as described by Lieutenant Thomas in a work published by him in 1851:--

"The Great Circle of Stennes, or Ring of Brogar, is a deeply entrenched
circular space containing almost two acres and a half of superficies, of
which the diameter is 366 feet. Around the circumference of the area, but
about thirteen feet within the trench, are the erect stones, standing at
an average distance of eighteen feet apart. They are totally unhewn, and
vary considerably in form and size. The highest stone was found to be 13-9
feet above the surface, and judging from some others which have fallen, it
is sunk about eighteen inches in the ground. The smallest stone is less
than six feet, but the average height is from eight to ten. The breadth
varies from 2-6 to 7-9 feet, but the average may be stated at about 5
feet, and the thickness about 1 foot--all of the old red sandstone
formation. The trench round the area is in good preservation. The edge of
the bank is still sharply defined, as well as the two foot-banks or
entrances, which are placed exactly opposite to each other. They have no
relation to the true or magnetic meridian, but are parallel to the general
direction of the neck of land on which the circle is placed. The trench
is 29 feet in breadth, and about 6 in depth, and the entrances are formed
by narrow earth-banks across the fosse. The surface of the enclosed area
has an average inclination to the eastward. It is highest on the
north-west quarter, and the extreme difference of level is estimated to be
from 6 to 7 feet. The trench has the same inclination, and therefore could
never be designed to hold water."



THE EXCAVATION OF MAES-HOWE.


On Monday the 8th of July, a number of men under the superintendance of
Alexander Johnson, Mr. Wilson's foreman--a most active and intelligent
fellow--proceeded with the work that had been commenced on the previous
Saturday, and before evening discovered a passage on the west side, which
afterwards proved to be the entrance into the interior of the tumulus.
This passage was covered over with large flag-stones, one of which having
been with some difficulty upraised, we effected an entrance, but found a
considerable accumulation of earth and stones, which was removed on the
following day, and Mr. Wilson, after careful examination, in which his
engineering experience was of the highest importance, agreed to my
suggestion that the excavation should be proceeded with from the centre of
the hillock.

I am chiefly indebted to my friend Mr. George Petrie for the following
measurements, which I believe will be found to be substantially correct:--

The tumulus is about 92 feet in diameter, 36 feet high, and about 300 feet
in circumference at the base. It is surrounded by a trench 40 feet wide,
and varying in depth from 4 to 8 feet. It is situated on the north side of
the new road leading to Stromness from Kirkwall, being about 6 miles from
the former, and 9 from the latter place. It is about 200 yards distant
from the road, and a mile and a half from the Stones of Stennes. It has
undoubtedly been entered at some remote period, probably by the Northmen,
who, as is well known, were not deterred by feelings either of religion
or superstition, from opening and ransacking any place likely to repay
them for their trouble. Whether they were the first to break into the
building, or whether they found it in a state of comparative ruin, the
natural result of great antiquity, can now only be matter of conjecture.
It is obvious that little respect has been paid to the dead, since the
stones used for closing up the cells, in which it is supposed they were
deposited, were found torn out and buried in the mass of ruins filling up
the interior of the chamber to which these cells are attached.

The passage leading to the central chamber is 2 feet 4 inches wide at its
mouth, and appears to have been the same in height, but the covering
stones had been removed, or had fallen in for about 22-1/2 feet. The
passage then increases in dimensions to 3-1/4 feet in width, and 4 feet 4
inches in height, and continues for 26 feet, when it is again narrowed by
two upright stone slabs to 2 feet 5 inches. These slabs are each 2 feet 4
inches broad, and immediately beyond them the passage extends 2 feet 10
inches, and then opens into the central chamber. Its dimensions from the
slabs to its opening into the chamber are 3 feet 4 inches wide, and 4 feet
8 inches high. At the commencement of the passage there is a triangular
recess in the wall about 2 feet deep, and 3-1/2 in height and width, in
front and opposite to it in the passage, a stone of corresponding shape
and dimensions, suggesting the idea that it might have been used to close
the passage, and that it was pushed back into the recess in the wall when
admission into the chamber was desired. From this recess to the chamber,
the sides of the passage, the floor and roof, are formed by four immense
slabs of flagstone; three of these stones are broken, and the fourth
slightly cracked.

After a few days' labour the whole of the rubbish filling the chamber was
removed, but long ere this was accomplished, the keen eye of Mr. Joseph
Robertson discovered the first of the Runic inscriptions. They were high
up on the walls of the building, smaller and less distinctly drawn than
many that were afterwards discovered, but the important fact of the
existence of Runic inscriptions in Orkney, where none had hitherto been
found, was at once established.


[Illustration: PLATE II. INTERIOR VIEW OF MAESHOWE.]


The chamber when cleared out proved to be about 15 feet square on the
level of the floor, and 13 feet in height, to the top of the present
walls. Immediately opposite to the passage is an opening in the wall 3
feet from the floor. This is the entrance to a cell or small chamber in
the wall, 5 feet 8 inches long, 4-1/2 feet wide, and 3-1/2 high. A large
flagstone is laid as a raised floor between the entrance and the inner end
of the chamber. The entrance is 2 feet wide, 2-1/2 high, and 22-1/2 inches
long. On the two opposite walls of the chamber are similar openings in the
walls. The one on the right is 2-1/2 feet wide, 2 feet 9 inches high, and
1 foot 8 inches long. It gives admission to a cell 6 feet 10 inches long,
4 feet 7 inches wide, 3-1/2 feet high, and has a raised flagstone floor,
as in the other chamber. The opening on the left is 2-1/4 feet wide, 2-1/2
high, and 1-3/4 long, and about 3 feet above the floor of the chamber. The
cell of which this is the entrance is 5 feet 7 inches long, 4 feet 8
inches wide, and 3 feet 4 inches high. It has no raised floor like the two
other cells. The roofs, floors, and back walls of the cells are each
formed by a single slab of stone, and stones corresponding in size and
shape to the openings in the walls were found on the floor in front of
them. The natural inference is that they were originally the seals of the
chambers in which the honoured dead reposed.

The four walls of the central chamber converge towards the top by the
successive projection of each stone or flag, commencing about 6 feet from
the level of the floor, as is usually found to be the style of building,
both in the Pict's houses or burghs, and in the still more primitive
subterranean dwellings known as Weems. The top of the chamber would thus
necessarily be of small dimensions, and the aperture easily closed by one
large flagstone. This top, or cover stone, together with a considerable
portion of the upper part of the walls, has been thrown down, and the
highest part of the existing walls is only about 13 feet from the level of
the floor. At that point, the opposite walls have approached to within 10
feet of each other, so that the chamber is now 15 feet square at the
floor, and 10 feet at the top of the walls, in their present condition.

Large quantities of earth had been piled up over the building when
completed. In each angle of the central chamber stands a large buttress,
doubtless intended to strengthen the walls, and support them under the
pressure of their own weight, and that of the mass of earth with which the
whole was covered. These buttresses vary somewhat in dimensions, but they
are on an average about 3 feet square at the base, and from 9 to 10 feet
high, with the exception of one which is only 8 feet high. In each
buttress one side is formed by a single slab. The walls of the chamber are
built with large stones, which generally extend the whole length of the
wall. No lime or mortar of any kind has been used.

The entire number of Runic characters may be about 935, exclusive of
scribbles and many doubtful marks. The monograms and bind-runes, or
connected consonants, are considered as forming one letter. There are also
some marks which may have been intended to represent a horse and an otter
with a fish in its mouth; also, a winged dragon and a worm knot, which
last has much the appearance of one of the great Saurians. The two hind
legs are very plainly defined.



BARROWS AT BOOKAN.


This barrow is in the parish of Sandwick, but so near to Stennes that it
may have been regarded as connected with the great circle. It is on the
property of Mr. Watt of Skail, in the West Mainland. It was opened on the
6th of July, and proved to be a collection of kists or graves. At the
north end of the central kist, a flint lance head, and several fragments
of clay vessels or urns, were found, together with a lump of heavy metal,
supposed to be Manganese, but no bones. In some of the other kists were
human remains in a very decayed state, two jaw bones being the most
perfect. These were much distorted.

Mr. Petrie gives me the following measurements:--The Barrow is about 44
feet in diameter, and about 6 feet high. About 11 feet within the outer
margin of the base of the barrow is a circular wall or facing about 1 foot
high. From the south side of this wall a low passage, 6 feet 3 inches
long, 21 inches in height, and the same in width, leads to a chamber or
kist 7 feet long and 4-1/2 wide. At the north end of this there was
another kist 4 feet 8 inches long, and 3 feet wide. On the east side there
was one 4 feet 8 inches long, and 2 feet 9 inches wide; and on the west
side two kists, both of which were of the same length as that on the east
side, and both were 3 feet in width. They were all about 2 feet 8 inches
deep. The foundation of the surrounding wall or facing was considerably
above the level of the floors of the kists.


LARGE BARROW CONTAINING GRAVES.

The excavation of this barrow was commenced on the 17th of July 1854. It
was found to contain graves, in one of which was an urn with a quantity of
burnt bones and ashes. It was formed out of a micaceous stone not
belonging to Orkney. It was 1 foot 9 inches in diameter, about 18 inches
deep, and 5 feet 10 inches in circumference, the rim, which projected on
the outside all round, was an inch and a half wide, the kist in which it
was deposited was 2 feet and a half in length, and 2 feet in width, but
the side stones which protected the kist were nearly 6 feet in length, and
at the angles, and on the outside of the kist were quantities of small
rolled pebbles and gravel, probably intended to assist in draining off
water. Clay was placed inside the kist at the different angles; the flags
were about an inch and a half thick, but much decayed; the cover stone was
of an irregular shape, about 4 feet long and 2-1/2 wide; the urn rested
upon the corners of four flags; it was partly decayed, and could not be
removed till after an interval of two days, when I succeeded in raising
it. It is now in the Museum of the Society of Antiquaries at Edinburgh, to
whom I presented it, with the consent of Mr. Balfour.

In another grave within the same barrow was found a small urn composed of
baked clay and gravel, nearly filled with soil, and only one or two small
pieces of bone. It was brought to Kirkwall, but could not be preserved,
in consequence of its decayed condition. It was 5 inches in diameter, 17
in circumference, and 5 deep. The kist was 2 feet 9-1/2 inches long, and 1
foot 7 inches wide. The bones, in this instance, had not been placed in
the urn, but were laid on a flagstone in the north-west angle of the kist.
It is not improbable that further investigation might lead to the
discovery of other interments within the same barrow, since neither of
those before described were in the centre of the tumulus, and several
instances have occurred where they have been found near the outside.



MOUNDS AT STENNES.


In the year 1854, I had partially opened one of the largest of these
hillocks, but further examination last July did not encourage the belief
that it was sepulchral. I was however advised to examine one on the west
side of the Stones of Stennes, and directly opposite to the one previously
mentioned. In both of them the workmen penetrated to a depth of 22 feet,
and over an area of 9 square feet in the one on the west side of the great
circle, but there was no appearance of any kind of building. The material
of which these hillocks are composed is precisely the same as that which
still exists within the circle of stones, and I infer that when the moat
surrounding the circle was excavated, advantage was taken of the
circumstance to raise these hillocks. Fragments of animal, but no human
bones, were found in each, but in both instances near the top. Building
stones are found at the base of both hillocks, but always embedded in the
soil; those which were easy of removal having no doubt been long since
taken away by the country people. Sections were made at right angles in
both of the hillocks, and it was clearly ascertained that no building of
any size could be concealed within.



TENSTONE.


In this barrow, which is in the parish of Sandwick, but adjoining Stennes,
I found the remains of two stone urns. The barrow had been evidently
previously opened. There was reason to believe that these urns had been in
separate kists. They were formed out of a micaceous stone, but the attempt
to unite the fragments was quite hopeless. A few small pieces of human
bone were found. The cover and sidestones of the kists remained in the
grave.



[Illustration: PLATE III.]


[Illustration: PLATE IV. GROUND PLAN OF CENTRE CHAMBER &c.]


[Illustration: PLATE V.]


[Illustration: PLATE VI.]



APPENDIX.


[Sidenote: _Origin of Maes-Howe._]

It is proposed now to inquire into the origin of Maes-Howe, at what time,
and for what purpose it was constructed, and who were the people whose
names and writings are found engraved on its walls. I am indebted to the
learned Professors who have furnished me with their translation of the
inscriptions, for the information which is embodied in the following
pages.

It is much to be regretted that the inscriptions are so indefinite, and
frequently so much defaced. Moreover, Nos. 19 and 20 alone make any
allusion to the erection of Maes-Howe. Professor Rafn believes that it was
a sorcery hall for Lodbrok,[2] a female magician, Professor Munch, that it
was the burial-place of a woman of the same name, while Professor
Stephens, who expresses no opinion as to the time when the building was
raised, considers the writings which speak of Lodbrok's sons, as
indicative of its having been used in early times by the celebrated
Scandinavian Vikings of that name, as a fortress and place of retreat. The
low and narrow cells, as well as the low passage leading to the interior,
fully justify the opinion that it was undoubtedly at one time a place of
burial. The massive stones forming the floor and side walls of the
passage, and also those used in the inside to support the buttresses, are
similar in character to the neighbouring circle of stones at Stennes. The
architecture also is most primitive, and it is evident that the whole
work must have been one requiring much time and labour. The present form
of the mound does not favour the idea that it was _originally_ a platform,
and used for the performance of religious rites, though this would not be
inconsistent with the idea that it had been adopted to that purpose at
some remote period, having been previously used as a place of interment.

If we find difficulty in determining the period when the mound was first
raised, almost equal difficulty arises in assigning to any fixed time the
engraving of the numerous inscriptions. Many of them are no doubt to be
attributed to the Crusaders, but there are others of probably far earlier
date than the twelfth century, when, as stated by Professor Munch, the
Orkney Jarl, Ragnvald, about the year 1152-3, organized his naval
expedition to the Holy Land. That the writings have been engraved at
intervals during a long period of time--perhaps, as suggested by Professor
Stephens, during the ninth, tenth, and eleventh centuries, or even
later--is sufficiently obvious. Some of the stones have the words very
faintly and imperfectly engraved, while in others the lines are sharply
and distinctly cut. The absence of division between the letters (for the
_dots_ are very uncertain in their position, and are probably for the most
part accidental) sufficiently accounts for the difference of reading, in
several of the inscriptions. The variety of type--there being no fewer
than 18 different forms of A, many of them it is true, _like_, but still
_different_; to say nothing of Diphthongs, the Bind-runes, or consonants
and vowels connected, as [rune] (æ) or [rune] (a) and [rune] (k) [rune] or
(a) and ([rune]) forming AK, Ar, and others of a similar
nature--necessarily renders the task of translation, more especially when
the letters are indistinct and perhaps unfinished, one of difficulty and
uncertainty.

Very few of the _old_ Northern letters are found. The "Dragon" and "Worm
Knot" are still perfectly distinct, and have evidently been carved by
superior artists. With the exception of two stones--one of which is shewn
in the drawing of the interior of the tumulus, and on which four letters
are carved--none have been found bearing any inscription amongst the
debris, nor is there any reason to suppose that stones bearing
inscriptions have been removed from the walls. The two stones before
alluded to had evidently been used to close up the cells, and lay on the
basement floor just below the entrances to the cells from which they had
been rudely torn. In one of the cells, that on the left side of the
chamber, a few letters were indistinctly written. By accident they were
forgotten, and no casts were taken of them. It is not easy to account for
the various elevations at which the carvings were made. Those on the
higher parts could not have been reached by persons standing at the
bottom, but they might have been inscribed after the roof had been broken
in, and when the building was in a partially ruined state. Many of the
marks, possibly some of the "scratches" or "scribbles" to which no
importance is attached, and perhaps even some of the doubtful letters, may
be the result of violence used in breaking in the roof. Most of the Runes
belong to the Norwegian division of the Scandinavian class, and have
nothing to do with the Gothic or older alphabet, but, in the opinion of
Professor Munch, they exhibit some archaicisms which prevent their being
placed in the latest times of the Norwegian class; they must therefore be
referred to about A. D. 1150.

[Sidenote: _Date of Inscriptions._]

The meaning of the word Maes-Howe is very obscure. It is, as Professor
Munch remarks, not easy to explain. The haugr, pronounced how, is plain
enough; the word Maes might have been derived from Meitis, pronounced
almost like Meiss, Meitir, gen. Meiris, which was the name of a fabulous
sea king, and was afterwards used to denominate any mighty king or
warrior. Meiris-haugr therefore might have been synonymous with the how,
or tumulus of this fabulous sea king. This opinion of Professor Munch's is
at all events not unlikely to be correct; certainly local tradition has
always ascribed a sepulchral character to the mound. Professor Rafn thinks
that the word is derived from Mar,[3] the name of a man, and that valuable
information might be obtained if it were found possible to read with a
greater degree of accuracy the Runes Nos. 6 and 7, since Orki and Mar are
named in these inscriptions, and it is to be inferred that Mar Orkason had
engraved some of these Runes.

Nos. 13 and 20 are justly attributed to the times of the Crusaders,[4] but
many of the other inscriptions must have been engraved by different
persons at different times. Professor Stephens believes that most of them
are of a much earlier date than the twelfth century, and this opinion is
much strengthened by the worn appearance of some of the Runes, and the
uncertain character of others. Some of the proper names cannot be read as
certainly correct, owing to the marks and abrasures in the stones. Two of
them, Orki and Oframr, are supposed to be hitherto quite unknown, and may
therefore perhaps be referred to the earlier inhabitants of the How,
whilst Gawkr and Trandill both belong to an historical person in Iceland.
The other names are common, and known from Runic inscriptions, as well as
from ancient manuscripts and documents. The name Ingibiorg, occurs several
times in the Orkneyinga Saga, and was by no means an uncommon name in
Orkney. Ingibiorg, the widow of earl Thorfinn (who died in 1064)
afterwards married Malcolm, king of Scotland; but it cannot be safely
asserted that this was the Ingibiorg mentioned in No. 8. On the whole, it
seems not unreasonable to suppose that all the names found inscribed on
the walls may belong to persons who lived since the construction of the
barrow, and that we have as yet no certain evidence to justify us in
determining either the name of the builder, or the period when the tumulus
was first erected.

Most of the inscriptions are in the subjoined form of the later Runic
alphabet, or the "Norwegian division of the Scandinavian Runes" as
described by Professor Munch. The dots inside the B, and G, do not occur
here, and the [rune] (y) is not often used.

[Illustration: Alphabet]

In the earlier or "Gothic" Alphabet, many of the letters are quite
different.



READINGS OF THE INSCRIPTIONS BY PROFESSORS STEPHENS, MUNCH, RAFN.


[Sidenote: _Plate VII._]

No. I.

THATIR VIKINKR . . . A, KOM, VTIR, HIR, TIL.

_Thatir the Viking, came here to weary--(perhaps from the sea, or from
battle.)_

The inscription is incomplete, several letters being obliterated. The a in
the Bind-rune Ak is probably the termination of the word Fra,
from.--Professor STEPHENS.


THATIR VIKINKR . . . KOMUTIRHIRTIL.

_That which the Wicing . . . came outerly here to._

This is only a fragment, some of the letters being obliterated. It may
mean that a pirate or Wicing had been at the tumulus and found something,
or that some person had found what the Wicing had left. It may however be
merely the name of some person, as Vikingr is sometimes used as a
Christian name.--Professor MUNCH.


THAT IR VIKINGR . . . A KOM UT IRHIRTIL.

_This is a Viking . . . come out is hereto._

The inscription is incomplete. Vikingr may be the name of a
man.--Professor RAFN.


No. II.

MOLFR KOLBAINSSONR RAEIST RUNA THESA GHAUT.

_Molf Kolbainsson carved these Runes to Gaut._

Probably a memorial to a comrade who had fallen in battle.--Professor
STEPHENS.


THOLFR KOLBEINSSONR RAEIST RUNAR THESA.

_Tholf Colbanesson engraved these Runes._

The last word, read as haua, seems superfluous. It is possible there may
have been some mis-spelling, the first [rune] (a) in haua may have been an
[rune] (e) the dot having been a little prolonged, [rune] and the [rune]
(u or v) may have been intended for an R, the word would then read hér á,
hereon, or on this stone.--Professor MUNCH.


THOLFR KOLBEINSSONR REIST RUNAR THESSAR HATT.

_Tholf Kolbeinsson carved these Runes on High._--Professor RAFN.

(_Note._--Nos. 1 and 2 are both engraved on the upper part of the
building.--J. F.)


No. III.

BRA HOH THANA.

_Bra hewed this._

The third letter [rune] (a) is very rare, and is an indication of the
great antiquity of the inscription. The word hew is often used for carve
or write.--Professor STEPHENS.


BRE HOH THENA, _or_, BRAUT HAUG THENNA.

_Broke this tumulus._

The inscription seems to be incomplete, some words may have been engraved
on another stone and lost.--Professor MUNCH.

(_Note._--The present state of the stone hardly justifies this
supposition.--J. F.)


BRE HÖH THENA, BRE HOH THENNA.

Professor Rafn does not translate this. He remarks that what precedes is
"incomplete and undecipherable."


No. IV.

VEMUNTR RAEIST.

_Vemunt carved._--Professor STEPHENS.


VEMUNTR RAEIST.

_Wemund engraved (these Runes)._--Professor MUNCH.


VIMUNDR RAEIST.

_Vemund carved (the Runes)._--Professor RAFN.


No. V.

F, U, Th, O, R, K, H, N, I, A, S, T, B, M, L, Y.

This is the Scandinavian Runic Futhork, or Alphabet. The form of the
second letter is very rare, the last three are also very unusual, and may
be considered as an indication that the building had been for a long
period of time in the hands of many people. It was the custom to write the
Alphabet wherever it was most likely to meet the eye, and a passing
visitor, or treasure seeker, would have hardly taken so much
trouble.--Professor STEPHENS.


F, U, Th, O, R, K, H, N, I, A, S, T, B, U, L, U.

The Runic Alphabet--Some of the letters here have been placed out of their
proper order, owing probably to carelessness on the part of the writer.
Time has also produced its effects upon the letters, the [rune] is clearly
[rune], and the long stroke in the third letter [rune] (th) is also
accidental.--Professor MUNCH.


F U Th O R K  H N I A S  T B M L R.

The common Runic Alphabet.--Professor RAFN.


No. VI.

ORKASONR, SAGHTHI, A, RUNOM, THAEIM, IR, HAN, RISTU.

_Orkason said, in the Runes which he wrote._


No. VII.

NUARI KULTURMR, SIKURTHR, IRU, FALNIR, KIAEBIK, UIL SAEGHIAN IR, SO, MAIR.

_Orkason said in the Runes which he wrote--Nuari, Kulturmr Sikurthr, Iru,
are fallen. Kiaebik will say ye (tell you) so more._

These two inscriptions must be taken together; they have been written at
the same time, and by the same person. It is probably a military message
from some battle-field, sent through a trusty officer who is commissioned
to make known the details. The word Nuari is very doubtful; this part of
the inscription is very indistinct. It becomes more legible advancing from
left to right.--Professor STEPHENS.


ORKASONR SAGTHI A RUN OM THEIM ER HALIR RISTU.

_The son of Orca dictated the Runes which heroes engraved._

There seems to have been some blunder in the writing. If the dot on the
right side of the letter [rune] has been the end of a stroke, it would
convert the letter into the Bind-rune [rune] (Al.) and if the [rune] were
a combination of L and R, the word would then read Halir, that is
Men-fellows-heroes. The second part of the inscription, No. 7, is only a
fragment--perhaps some part of a verse, but it is doubtful.--Professor
MUNCH.


ORKASON SAHTHI A RUNUM THAEIM IR HAN RISTI . . . SAETHIAN IR SO MAUR

_The resolution which this Mar Orkason mentioned in the Runes he carved._

The two inscriptions are to be read together, but much of No. 7, is very
indistinct.--Professor RAFN.


[Sidenote: _Plate VIII._]

No. VIII.

INGIBIORGH, HIN, FARET, LUTIN, HIR, MIGHIL, OFL, ATE.

_Ingibiorgh, the fair lady. Many a woman hath fared skinclad (or bent)
here, (who) great wealth owned._

Ingibiorgh probably resided here for safety, and, as the word Lutin
signifies _bent_, it may refer to the low cells which are within the walls
of the How. (_Note._--The entrance also is very low and narrow.) The six
Crypt Runes, or secret staves, represent the letters, A. Æ. R. L. I. K.
R., and signify Aalikr or Erling, a proper name, or perhaps the beginning
of some sentence.--Professor STEPHENS.


  INKIBIORH, HIN, FAHRA, ÆHKIA MORHK, KONA,
  HÆFER, FARET, LUT, IN HIR MIKIL OFLATI.

_Ingiburg, the fair widow! Many a woman has wandered stooping in here
(although) ever so haughty._

The writer is probably recording the name of some fair woman, who has
perhaps slighted him, and then reflects that the women who had been buried
here, though ever so haughty, had been curbed by death. Ingibjorg, or
Inkibiorh, is a common female name in the north. The other characters in
the third line are known as Limouna, or Bough Runes. They were used in the
later times of the Runic period, in the same manner as the Irish Ogum, but
are not here intelligible. The writer probably intended to represent the
chief vowels--A. E. I. O. Y. U. The Runic alphabet was divided into
classes; the strokes on the left of the vertical line indicating the
class, and those on the right the rune itself. Figures of fishes were
occasionally in use, and were known as Fish-runes.--Professor MUNCH.


  INGIBIORG HIN FAHRA ÆHKIA A MORHG KONA
  HÆFIR FARIT LUT IN HIR MIHKIL OFLATI.

_Ingibiorg, the fair widow, or Ingibiorg the Fair, the widow. Many a
rather proud woman did walk here stooping (bent forward), or did walk
stooping here in (into)._

The Palm-runes underneath cannot be read in the usual manner; the first,
third, and fourth of the runes being a, o, and i; the writer probably
intended to give all the vowels, but some of the letters have been
obviously miscarved, and have perhaps been altered and defaced at a later
period by other persons. In the first of them a cross line has been added
to shew that the letter [rune] or (a) is intended.--Professor RAFN.


No. IX.

THORNY SAERTH . . . HAELGHIS RAEISTO.

_The javelin pierceth . . . Haelghis carved._

Haelghis was probably an Englishman or Frislander. The inscription is much
worn, and evidently very old. The last letter [rune] is the old northern
[rune].--Professor STEPHENS.


THORNU SAERTH . . . HAELHI RAEIST R.

_Thorny . . . Haelhi engraved._

Thorny is a female name. Saerth is unintelligible; something is wanting
here; the last letter R. is clearly the beginning of the word
Runar.--Professor MUNCH.


THORNY SAERTH . . . HAELHI RAEIST.

_Thorny Særd . . . Helge carved._

The word Saerth is of doubtful meaning.--Professor RAFN.


[Sidenote: _Plate IX._]

No. X.

THORER FORMIR, a proper name.

or

_Thorer Fonkmir._ Thorer, follow me.--Professor STEPHENS.

Probably the name of a man: there is a rude figure of a horse
engraved.--Professor MUNCH.

Thorir Fomir, a name of doubtful import. Fá mèr, perhaps procure me.
Thorer, procure me the cross. The great cross underneath may refer to the
Crusade. (_Note._--This cross has been apparently engraved at a
comparatively late period.)--Professor RAFN.


No. XI.

RAEIST RUNAR THESAR OFRAMR SIGHURTHERSONR.

_Ofram Sigurthson carved these Runes._

Several of the letters at the beginning are obliterated. The crosses may
be intended for ornament.--Professor STEPHENS.


REIST RUNAR THESSAR UFRAMR SIGURTHARSONR.

_Ofram, the son of Siward, engraved these Runes._--Professor MUNCH.


RAEIST RUNAR THAESIR OFRAMR SIHURTHARSONR.

_Ofram Sigurdson carved these Runes._

The word Oframr, or Uframr, is hardly to be found anywhere else. It
signifies "the modest," "the reserved." The seven crosses denote that this
man was one of the Crusaders.--Professor RAFN.


No. XII.

OTAR, FILA, RAEIST, RUNAR THESAR.

_Otar Fila carved these runes._--Professor STEPHENS.


IOTAR, FILA, REIST RUNAR THESSAR.

_Iotar Fila engraved these runes._--Professor MUNCH.


IOTA FILA RAEIST RUNAR THISAR.

_Iotar Fila carved these runes._

This is an unknown name.--Professor RAFN.


No. XIII.

  THAT, MAN, SAT, IR, EKIÆ, HE, AT, FEUAR, FORT, ABROT,
  THRIM NOTOM, UARFI, BROT, FORT, HAELTR, ÆNTHAEIR.

This is to be read from right to left. (The figure at the beginning is
probably a mere scratch. J. F.) It reads thus:--That man who sat here in
ache (sorrowfully) He at the Fee-Ware (at the treasure-gate--from the
treasure-guard) forth a broke, with three comrades from the stronghold
broke forth the Hero Ænthaeir. This probably announces the escape of a
prisoner, perhaps an Englishman, as is indicated by some of the
words--That for Sa, He for Han, as examples. He boasts of his escape. He
may, however, have intended to record a message.--Professor STEPHENS.


No. XIV.

JORSALA MEN BURTU HAUK.

_Jerusalam Men broke into How._

Æhiiminii, a proper name; the second word is too faintly written to be
translated; Æmisris, a proper name. There are some more very indistinct
letters; probably they once indicated--


Ireskir Maen . . . Irish Men.

The stone exhibits traces of former writings, which renders the new
carvings very doubtful.--Professor STEPHENS.


  THAT MAN SAT . . . ÆHE AT FEUAR FORT.
  ABROT THRIM NOTOM VAR FI BROT FORT HAELTR.
  ÆN THAEIR (No. XIV.), JORSALAMEN BURTU HAUK THAENA.

Professor Munch reads Nos. XIII. and XIV. together.

To be read from right to left, and No. XIV. taken in conjunction with it.
This does not that (fool!) remember that the treasury was (already)
carried away. Three nights was the treasury carried away rather (_i. e._,
before) than the Jerusalem travellers broke this tumulus.--Professor
MUNCH.


  THAT MAN SAT ER IGI SAEHI AT FE VAR FOERT
  ABROT THRIM NOTTOM VAR FE BRÖT FOERT
  HAELDR ÆN THAEIR
  IORSALAMEN BURTU HAUG THAENA.

It is true indeed, as Inge states, that the goods were carried away during
three nights. The goods were carried away before the Ioraslamen broke open
this barrow. Many of the other runes cannot be made out; some of the
smaller ones are very indistinct.--Professor RAFN.

(_Note._--Nos. XIII. and XIV. appear to be read as one inscription by the
Professor.--J. F.)


[Sidenote: _Plate X._]

No. XV.

ARNFITHR, MATR, RAEIST RUNAR THAESAR.

_Arnfith Mate carved these Runes._

The word Matr may signify "the mighty," or "the greedy."--Professor
STEPHENS.


ARNFITHR MATR RAEIST RUNAR THAESAR.

_Arnfinn Mat (perhaps the greedy) engraved these runes._

Matr was a nickname.--Professor MUNCH.


ARNFITHR MATR RAEIST RUNAR THAESAR.

_Arnfinn, glutton, carved these Runes._--Professor RAFN.


No. XVI.

  MAETH, THAERI, OGHSE, ER, ATE, KOR, UKR.
  TRAENILSONR, FYRIR, SUNAN LANT.

  _With that Axe which Kor owned hews.
  Traenaldson along South-lying lands._--Professor STEPHENS.


  MAETH, THAEIREI [RUNE]HSE ERATI KOUKR TRAENILSONR.
  FYRIR SUNAN LANT.

_With this Axe which Goukr Traenaldson owned or possessed on the south
side of the country._

The beginning of the inscription is wanting. Gauk Trandilson was the
foster-brother of Asgrim Elsdagrimson--described in "Burnt Njal," one of
the chiefs in the south of Iceland about 990. The writer probably means to
say that these runes were engraved with the same axe which Gauk Trandilson
possessed at the end of the 10th century. The runes here found were
perhaps engraved about the year 1152. No doubt "the land" here spoken of
is Iceland, and the engraver an Icelander, perhaps even a descendant of
the old chieftain.--Professor MUNCH.


  MAETH THAERI ÖHSE ER ATI GÖUKR TRAEN
  ILS SONR FYRIR SUNAN LAND.

_With this Axe, owned by Gauk, the son of Trandil, in the South of the
country._--Professor RAFN.


No. XVII.

HAEMUNTR, HARTHEKSI, RAEIST RUN.

_Haermunt Hardaxe carved these Runes._--Professor STEPHENS.


HAERMUNTR HARTHEKSI RAEIST RUN.

_Hermund Hardaxe engraved these Runes._--Professor MUNCH.


HAERMUNDR HARTHIGSI RAEIST RUN.

_Hermund Hardaxe carved the Runes._

Hermund probably had in his possession the axe which formerly belonged to
Gauk Trandilson, and was used by him in carving the runes.--Professor
RAFN.

(_Note._--Professors Stephens, Munch, and Rafn, all agree that some
letters have been lost or miscarried. The letters, [rune] [rune] at the
end of the word run are obviously wanting.--J. F.)


No. XVIII.

RIST SA MATHR ER RUNSTR ER FYRIR VAESTAN HAF.

_The man did cut most versed in Runes in the western countries._

Professor Rafn gives nearly the same description of Gauk as Professor
Munch. He reads Nos. xvi. and xviii. together. The words Fyrir vaestan
haf, to the west of the sea, refer to the western countries, more
especially the British Isles. The Palm-runes are rarely capable of being
deciphered.

(_Note._--This No. is taken in conjunction with No. xvi. by Professor
Rafn.--J. F.)


RIST, SA, MATHR, ER, RUNSTR, ER, FYRIR, VAESTAN HAF.

_(These runes) risted that man, in Runes most skilful o'er the Western
Seas._

The Palm Runes on the first line indicate Thisar Runar--these
Runes.--Professor STEPHENS.


RIST SA MATHR ER RUNSTR ER FYRIR UAESTAN HAF.

_That man engraved who is the best runed West of the Ocean._

No doubt the writer belonged to Orkney, or to some of the other Norwegian
possessions. The Bough-runes are not easy to decipher.--Professor MUNCH.


No. XIX.

      SIA, HOUGHR, UAR, FYRLATHIN HAELR,
      THAEIR, UORO, HUATER, SLITU, ORO,
      UT, NORTHR, ER, OLGHIT, MIKIT, THAT, UAR.
  SIMON, SIGHRIK.
    SIGRITH.                    INRONINSE ÆI.

_This How was closed up--was quite abandoned. Out North is Fee (treasure)
buried much. That was in Roninsey (North Ronaldshay Island)._

The writing is in different hands apparently, and it is probable that the
How was abandoned when the inscriptions were engraved. The three names are
most likely the names of the writers: they point to treasure buried in
North Ronaldshay.--Professor STEPHENS.

(_Note._--North Ronaldshay is a wild island half-way between Kirkwall and
the Fair Isle, and not easy of access.--J. F.)


No. XX.

  LOTHEBROKRA SYNAR,{1} GHAENAR,
  MAEN, SAEM, THAEIR, UORO, FYRI, SIR,{2}--
  IORSALAFARAR, BRUTU, ORKOUGH{3}--LIFMUT
  SA, LI, AI, ARIS, LOFTIR,{4}--HIR UAR, FI FOLGHIT
  MIKIT.{5} (RAEIST). SAEL ER, SA, ER, FINA,
  MA, THAN, OUTH, HIN, MIKLA.{6}
  OKO, NAEKN, BAR, FIRR, OUGHI, THISUM.{7}

{1}_Lothbrok's sons._ {2}_Doughty men as they were for them, or, what
doughty men they were._ {3}_Ierusalem Farers (pilgrims) broke open Ork
How_--{4}_Shelter mound; that ill (this bad retreat) aye ariseth lofty
(still stands erect)._ {5}_Here was fee buried much._ {6}_Happy is he who
find may that treasure the mickle (that great wealth)._ {7}_Otho Naern
bare past part how this. Otho was carried past this How in the ship
Naern._

Written apparently by seven different persons, perhaps some of Lothbrok's
sons. This first writing was probably inscribed about the year 870 or 880,
by the celebrated Scandinavian sea kings, and the others at a later
period. One appears to complain of the mound itself--that bad
retreat--perhaps on account of its affording shelter to the pirates who
devastated the island; another inscription describes the breaking into the
How by the Jerusalem travellers, and the later writings refer to the
common belief at that time of the existence of concealed treasure. Naern
is frequently used as a name for ships in Scandinavia. The word Baeirt (at
the end of the fourth line) is not in the same hand as the rest of this
line, and can only be considered as a mere scribble.--Professor STEPHENS.


Nos. XIX. and XX.

These must be taken together. The two first lines in both numbers, the 3d
in No. xix. and the 4th in No. xx., must be read in continuation.

  SIA HOUHR UAR FYLATHIN H . . . R LOTHBROKAR SYNER, HAENAR, THAEIRUORO
        HUATER
  SLETUORO MAEN SAEM THAEIR UORO FYRISIR.

_This tumulus was formerly erected as tumulus_ (_for_ Lodbrok, if Haugr is
read, or "_as that_ of" if we read hennar) _her sons they were gallant,
hardly (there) were men (such as they were). For themselves_ (_i. e._
shewed themselves).

Then read line 3 in No. xx.--

IORSALAFARAR BRUTU ORKHAUG.

_The Jerusulem travellers broke the Orkhill._

Then line 3 in No. xix. and 4 in xx., 4 in xix. and 5 in xx., taken in
continuation, give--

  UTNORTHR ER FE FOLGIT MIKIT THAT ER LA EFTIR, HER VA FE FOLGIT MIKIT
        (RAEIST SIMON
  SIGB. . . . SIGRITH) SAELL ER SA ER FINNA MA THAN OUTH HIN MIKLA.

_North-westerly is much money absconded, that which lay behind, here was
much money absconded (Simon----engraved); lucky is he who may find that
great treasure._

The raeist Simon, etc., was written afterwards, and does not belong to the
sentence.

The 6th and last line in No. xx. is--

OKONAEKN BAR FE UR HAUGI THESSUM.

_Okonaekn bore money out of (away from) this tumulus._

It seems, then, that it was supposed to have been originally erected for a
mighty woman called Lodbrok, who had gallant sons, and that the Jerusalem
pilgrims had dug into the Orkhill, which was probably a different place to
this Maes-Howe, that the treasure contained there had been taken away, and
that he would be lucky who found it. It also implies that Okonaekn carried
off some of the treasure.--Professor MUNCH.


Nos. XIX. and XX.

  SIA HÖUHR, VAR FYR LATHIN HAELR LOTHBROKAR
  SYNER HAENAR THAEIR VÖRO HVATIR SLIKT VÖRO
  MAEN SAEM THAEIR VÖRO FYRI SIR
  IORSALAFARAR BRUTU ORKHÖUH LIFMND
  SAILIA IARLS UT NORTHR IR FE FOLHIT MIKIT
  THAT URLOFOIR HIR VAR FI FOLHGET MIKIT
  RAEIST SIMON SIHR IN THO INGI SIHRITH
  SAELIR SA IR FINA MA THAN OUTH HIN
  MIKLA. OGDONAEGN BAR FI YR
  OUHI THISUM.

_This barrow was formerly a sorcery hall, erected for Lodbrok; her sons
were brave, such were men as they were for themselves (such we may call
valiant men, such as they were in their achievements)._

_The Iorsalafarar (visitors of Jerusalem) broke open Orkhow . . . Earls._

_To the north-west a great treasure has been hid (but few believe that), a
great treasure was hid here.[5] Simon sigr (victor) carved (the Runes) and
afterwards Inge._

_Happy he who may discover this great wealth. Ogdonaegn carried away the
goods from this barrow._

Ogdonagn is probably a Gaelic name, perhaps corresponding to the present
O'Donavan, and the person alluded to may have been of Scottish or Irish
origin.--Professor RAFN.


[Sidenote: _Plate XI._]

No. XXI.

ARNFITHR, RAEIST, RUNAR, THISAR, SONR STAINS.

_Arnfith risted Runes there, the son of Stain. Thruki Let._

The beginning of an unfinished formula.--Professor STEPHENS.


ARNFITHR, RAEIST RUNAR THISAR SORN STAEINS THRUKR LIT.

_Arnfinn the son of Steins engraved these Runes._

The other letters are defective and give no distinct meaning.--Professor
MUNCH.


  ARNFITHR RAEIST RUNAR THISAR SONR STAINS.
  THRUKR LIT.

_Arnfinn, a son of Steins, carved these runes. Thrud caused_ . . . .
(incomplete).--Professor RAFN.


No. XXII.

BOT ÆR OKTIL AT SOKUA, SUO IN KOTALANT.[6] _Sua Inklant._

_Boot (blood money) is also to seek, so in Gothland, so in England._

It may also be a fanciful Alphabet.--Professor STEPHENS.

There are peculiar Runes, but too obscure for interpretation. Similar ones
have been found near Baffins Bay. (_Vide_ Antiquitates
Americanæ).--Professor MUNCH.

This No. represents some signs belonging to the calendar--similar ones
have been found in the Paradise cavern, and at Hof in Iceland. (_Vide_
Rafn. Antiquitates Americanæ).--Professor RAFN.


No. XXIII.

IKIKAETHIR, KYNANA, IN, UAENSTA.

_Inkikaethr, of women the fairest._

Also the figure of an Otter with a fish in its mouth, meant for a
decoration.--Professor STEPHENS.


IKIKAERTH IR KYNANA IN UAENSTA.

_Ingigerthr is of women the most beautiful._--Professor MUNCH.


IGIGAERTH IR KYNANA IN VAENSTA.

_Ingigerth is the fairest of the women._--Professor RAFN.


[Sidenote: _Plate XII._]

No. XXIV.

No interpretation of this is offered by the learned Professors.


Nos. XXV. and XXVI.

A Dragon and Worm Knot.--Professor STEPHENS.


No. XXV.

This is a Dragon drawn with art. There is a similar one on a stone at
Hunstead in Scania. It may be ascribed to the heathen times, as well as
the construction of the barrow itself.--Professor RAFN.


No. XXVI.

A serpentine winding like those found on Runic stones in the Scandinavian
north and on other monuments from the last period of heathenism, and the
commencement of the Christian era.--Professor RAFN.


[Sidenote: _Plate XIII._]

The remaining Nos. are considered by all the learned Professors as
"scribbles" or scratches, and must be considered as unimportant.



[Illustration: PLATE VII.]


[Illustration: PLATE VIII.]


[Illustration: PLATE IX.]


[Illustration: PLATE X.]


[Illustration: PLATE XI.]


[Illustration: PLATE XII.]


[Illustration: PLATE XIII.]



Footnotes:

[1] The country people state that the building was formerly inhabited by a
person named Hogboy, possessing great strength. Haugbuie, in Norse,
signifies "the ghost of the tomb;" and Haugr, "tumulus."

[2] Professor Rafn says Lothbrok--a pair of shaggy trousers--was the
well-known surname of Ragnar Lodbrok. At the time of the carving of the
inscription, a popular tradition current in the Orkneys may have ascribed
to far antiquity, and to the said hero of the mythico-historical times,
the construction of the barrow; and on account of the want of historical
knowledge, since the word lothbrok is of feminine gender, the hero may
have been mistaken for a woman, and besides, the accounts in the sagas of
his sons may have been repeated, that they were brave and valiant. The
account given in the Fridthiofs Saga of the Earl Angantyre, reminds us of
the pre-historic times of the Orkneys (_vide_ Tridthjóss Saga, c. 5.
Thorsteins Saga Vikings). Here a popular tale preserved to us in Runes,
does the same by telling us that this barrow was the sorcery platform
erected of old for the use of Lodbrok, and was probably also a temple and
place of worship.

[3] The word read by Professor Rafn, Maur, instead of Mar, and considered
as a proper name, is read mair or more by Professor Stephens. In the
engraving No. 7, the letters are [rune] [rune] [rune] [rune] obviously
m, a, i, r--mair. It must therefore be a matter of doubt whether we can
receive this word as a proper name, and consequently whether the
derivation of the word Maes-Howe, suggested by Professor Rafn, is
admissible.

[4] Professor Munch supposes that the Jerusalem travellers, who are
described in No. 13 as having broken into the how, were connected with an
expedition organized by Earl Ragnvald to the Holy Land. He says "many of
the northern warriors joined the Earl in 1152. They assembled in Orkney,
and after passing the winter there, sailed in the spring of 1153, and
after being in Spain in December of that year, reached the Holy Land in
August 1154; they went thence to Constantinople, where they passed the
Christmas of 1154-55, returning home by different routes. During their
stay in Orkney they had frequent quarrels with the inhabitants." As some
of the inscriptions seem to indicate the existence of treasure in the
tumulus, it is not unlikely that it should have been examined by these
warriors, and that they afterwards inscribed their names, together with
other remarks, on the walls.

[5] There is a similar allusion to hid treasure on the wall of a rock at
Berrig, in the Star valley North Throndheim County--"gull faitu nin alna
nither"--They hid some gold nine ells deep in the earth.

[6] This ("evidently very difficult carving," says Professor Stephens) may
be taken as a fair specimen of the Bind-rune form of writing.

"The first letter is B, a very rare form; the second an ornamental O, with
three side strokes instead of two; the third a T, the strokes being
reversed and repeated above and below; the fourth H/g, here used for Æ;
the fifth, R; sixth, O, as before; seventh, Kt--[rune] and [rune]; eighth,
[rune] (i and a), the side stroke being placed below; ninth, At,
Bind-rune; tenth, an S; eleventh, O again; twelfth, KU--K and U;
thirteenth, the monogram Asuo, A ([rune]), the side stroke thrice
repeated, then S ([rune] for [rune]), an uncommon form, then U ([rune])
below, and then ([rune]) with three strokes; fourteenth, the Bind-rune I N
K ([rune] [rune] [rune]); fifteenth, an O; sixteenth, an ornamental T;
seventeenth, the monogram Alant--A ([rune]) L ([rune]) reversed and below,
and [rune] taken again, and N ([rune]) and T ([rune]) above twice; then
eighteenth, the Bind-rune Sua, S ([rune]) U ([rune]) and A ([rune]) in the
centre; nineteenth, The Bind-rune Ink, I [rune], and [rune]; and lastly
the monogram lant L ([rune]), A [rune], and N [rune], and T in the
centre--formed thus [rune]."



Transcriber's Notes:

Passages in italics are indicated by _italics_.

Superscripted letters are indicated by {superscript}.

The original text includes Runic characters. For this text version, these
letters have been replaced with [rune].





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