An unread woman’s name on the rune stone U 932 from Uppsala Cathedral

By Magnus Källström

In: Ortnamnssällskapets i Uppsala årsskrift 2021


The rune stone U 932 from Uppsala Cathedral (Figs. 1–2) is carved on three sides and must originally have included a great many names, but unfortunately many of these have been lost as a result of later damage. Of the names of the individuals who raised the stone, only two have been identified with certainty. The man’s name Mūli begins the inscriptions on the two sides that are carved with runes, and may be assumed to refer to the same person. On side A of the stone no other name has been preserved, but on side B the remains of another three can be found. Only one of these names – Īgulfastr – has so far been definitely identified. Between Mūli and Īgulfastr there is a sequence of runes that has been read as kunị… and assumed to represent a name with the first element Gunn-, provided that the krune that also forms part of a preceding conjunction auk ‘and’ is to be read twice.

What has previously been overlooked is that this sequence ends with an hrune, observed by as early a scholar as Johannes Bureus in 1643 (Fig. 3) and still partly visible on the stone (Fig. 2). The fourth rune has previously been regarded as an uncertain i-rune, but given its damaged state it may have represented several other runes as well and therefore has to be left unidentified. The sequence of runes in question should thus more correctly be rendered as kun-…h, which can hardly be the remains of anything other than one of two women’s names: Gunnlaug or Gunnborg. It was already known that the names of the raisers on this side of the stone must have included a woman’s name, as the following pronoun ‘they’ is declined in the neuter.

The carving on side B provides no basis for choosing between the two alternatives, but if we examine the remnants of characters preserved after the name Mūli on side A of the stone, we find traces of runes that can be read as ụṛḥ (see fig. 5) If the same name was carved here, it would suggest that Gunnborg is the correct interpretation. This is a name not previously found in any Viking Age runic inscription.