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"Here begins the tale, and tells of a man who was named Sigi, and called of men the son of Odin; another man withal is told of in the tale, hight Skadi, a great man and mighty of his hands; yet was Sigi the mightier and the higher of kin, according to the speech of men of that time. Now Skadi had a thrall with whom the story must deal somewhat, Bredi by name, who was called after that work which he had to do; in prowess and might of hand he was equal to men who were held more worthy, yea, and better than some thereof."
These are the opening lines of the Völsung Saga, which chronicles the lives of the mythical Völsung and Nibelung dynasties, but is known to most for its portrayal of the Norse hero Sigurd and his slaying of the dragon Fafnir.
The runestone depicted above (or rune block rather, as it is truly humongous), known as the Gök Stone, is one of a few runestones that depicts this same episode from Norse myth. While these so called Sigurd Stones are geographically spread from the British Isles to the east coast of Sweden, the Gök Stone is located where the concentration of Sigurd Stones, and runestones in general, is the highest; in the Mälardalen region of Sweden.
In the lower part of the stone you can clearly see Sigurd thrusting his sword, Gram, into the dragon (the scroll containing the runes). Sigurd and the other carved figures are quite simplistic, as the stone is probably a rather hamfisted imitation of the far more well known cliffside inscription known as the Ramsund Carving a couple of miles away in Eskilstuna.
While the Ramsund Carving is widely regarded as an important piece of Norse art, which the Gök stone is not, I find the Gök Stone's carvings more charming in all their simplistic glory (can you spot the horse looking like a dromedary?).
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