Maltstenen (the Malt Stone)
- a rune stone from Viking times
In 1987, a rune stone was found between Skibelund and Københoved with a long and cryptic inscription. It was discovered as a result of the annual spring ploughing, when it was decided to remove a stone block from the topsoil, which had been an obstruction for the field workers for a long time.
The plan had originally been to drive the stone away from the field and unload it over the slopes down to the river Kongeå. But on the way it rolled on its side, and 153 runic characters and a carved male head were suddenly visible. The ploughing project was accordingly put on hold and archeologists were summoned.
Remembrance of a deceased person
The Malt Stone is made of layered reddish gneiss and has a height of 2.30 metres and a weight of 3.50 tons. It has a flat wide side where the runes have been carved into. The Malt Stone probably represents a stone a memorial to a deceased person from the local area.
The text runs both horizontally and vertically and the content is of a perceptive, mysterious and magical nature with references to Norse mythology. It is said to be the longest and most remarkable inscription to be found on stone in Denmark
The runologists' debate about how the text exactly should be deciphered and interpreted, is not yet complete. However, they do agree that the rune stone from Malt was carved and erected sometime in the 800s, i.e. in the early Viking Age.
The wording of the text
The translated text on the Malt Stone is roughly as follows:
"Thus, the inscription an inscription inside. Who is in in? The oldest of the gods Vefrødr. He made beer just like his beloved father. Kolfinn placed the runes of joy and eternity in it. Any man who becomes stiff from frost, is covered by a layer of ice. Bull. Bull. Bull. Out out out. In an instant, that which is difficult to chase away, is gone like a tomsing."
Laid in the same place for centuries
Excavation work has been performed at the site where the Malt Stone was found. It was discovered that the rune stone has stood in the same place for centuries. It stood on a 3.5 m high terrace on the north side of the river Kongeå, where the distance to the actual river was only 70 metres.
It appears that the Malt Stone stood with its back to the river. About 4 metres east of the stone, traces of a north-south running gully was found. It would have led down to the river and probably existed in conjunction with the erection of the rune stone.
Travellers coming from the north would have seen and read the inscription on the Malt Stone, shortly before they passed Kongeåen. There would certainly have been a bridge or a ford here. 300 metres east of here, records have been found of bridge-like foundations in the form of large stones ands downward-pointing posts.
During the Middle Ages, after the introduction of Christianity, the Malt Stone was turned over so the writing faced downwards. In many cases, rune stones in Scandinavia were found with the inscribed side hidden, which may be interpreted as the desire to render the pagan forces harmless.
The rune stone from Malt is displayed in Sønderskovs main building at Sønderskov Museum, Sønderskovgårdvej 2, 6650 Brørup.
Svend Aage Knudsen 1991. Runestenen fra Malt sogn nu på museum. Mark og Montre 1991, p. 3-23.
Karen Thuesen 1990. Maltstenen. En runologisk undersøgelse af den sydjyske Maltindskrift. Københavns Universitet.