Mysterious runic inscription is found on a stone tool used to sharpen Vikings' blades more than 1,000 years ago

A stone tool used to sharpen Vikings' blades engraved with rare runes may have been used a Norse learning aid, over 1,000 years ago. Experts believe mysterious symbols on a chunk of slate are evidence of an unsuccessful attempt to carve a name or other simple word 

A stone tool used to sharpen Vikings' blades has been found engraved with rare runes.

Experts believe mysterious symbols on a chunk of slate are evidence of an practice attempt to carve a name or other simple word by an untrained writer.

The find suggests that the art of runic writing was relatively widespread in medieval Norway, where the artefact was uncovered.

Experts from the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research discovered the objects, dating from around 1050 to 1500 AD, in Oslo

The whetstone was among a number of finds, dating from around 1050 to 1500 AD, made during archaeological excavation work ahead of a railway construction project in Oslo.

The whetstone was among a number of finds made during archaeological excavation work ahead of a railway-construction project

Experts from the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) say some of the runes are difficult to identify, but it seems that the diphthong æ, as well as the letters r, k, n, and a appear on the whetstone.

Some of the runes are difficult to identify, but it seems that the diphthong æ, as well as the letters r, k, n, and a appear on the whetstone

NIKU commented that it was not easy to tell what the word is, but have suggested 'scared', 'ugly' and 'pain' as possibilities, as well as the writer's own name.

The organisation believes that the stone may have been used by an inexperienced writer who was practising how to carve the runes.

It suggests that, while semi-literate, many runic writers at the time would probably have known about the symbols, but were not adept at the skill of crafting them.

Kristine Ødeby, archaeologist and field supervisor on the excavations in the old town, said: 'Finding runic inscriptions on an archaeological excavation is rare, and the rumour spread quickly among the other archaeologists.

'The slate turned out to be part of a whetstone.

'It is unusual to find whetstones with runes, with only one from the Viking Age and Middle Ages found in Norway previously, in Bergen on Norway's west coast.' 

Runes were the first system of writing developed and used by the Germanic peoples. 

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