Bildstenen från Fröjel
port till en glömd värld
This essay deals with a picture-stone that was found in a pre Christian grave during the archaeological excavations of the Viking Age harbour and trading place at Fröjel parish, Gotland, in 1999. The stone is at least 100 years older then the male grave in which it was found. The picture-stone can be dated to late 8th century or early 9th century, and the grave is probably from the late 10th century. One of the main questions in this essay is why the people of that time re-used an older picture-stone in a younger burial. I believe that the stone was reused as a grave-gift. To re-use the older picture stone was to seek legitimacy for the status of the family through the forefathers. The picture-stones were originally monuments erected in the honour of dead men. The elite could display their social position and power through these monuments. The depicted figures on them can be interpreted as symbols of the transition between life and death. The Gotlandic picture-stones of this type have connections to beliefs of Odin, the Norse God of wisdom, war and death. My theoretical perspective is that through studies of picture-stones, knowledge can be gained about ideologies and social structures within the Gotlandic society during the Viking Age.