poetry and prose about place

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a bridge for the soul

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In eleventh century Sweden, rune stones were often raised by landowners as a memorial of their accomplishments.

Jarlebanke was a landowner and a local magnate who lived in Uppland, Sweden during the second half of the eleventh century.  He took pains to ensure he would be remembered, and six stones survive of the many he ordered to be carved.

Four of the surviving stones stand at the ends of the Täby bru. The Täby bru is a ‘bridge’ or causeway marked with two rune stones at each end.

One of these stones (U127) was used in the 17th century as the threshold of the church in Täby; it now stands to the side of the church door.  The inscription (in runes) says: Iarlabanki let ræisa stæina Þessa at sik kvikvan, ok bro Þessa gærđi fyr and sina ok æinn atti Tæby allan.  This has been translated as: “Jarlebanke let raise these stones after himself, while he was living, and he made this bridge for his soul, and he himself owned the whole Täby.”

The stone depicts two serpent creatures enclosing a Latin cross.  Symbols of the old religion and Christianity are often found together on rune stones, evidence of transition in belief systems.  Jarlebanke was not taking any chances when he recognized both religions on his rune stones.  The  facimile (below) of the runes on the stone is from:


facimile of carvings on rune stone U127


a bridge for the soul

Danderyds church, Täby, Uppland


ok bro Þessa gærđi fyr and sina…

            and he made this bridge for his soul…

                                        –       inscription on a Täby bridge runestone


Jarlabanke made this bridge

for his soul

a causeway crossing marshy ground



for though he owned all Täby

he was afraid


he raised these four while living

a rare deed

the stones, of course, never care


first at the ends of the Täby bru

then at the threshold

of the south church door


the Cross tethered to old faith


best wager for passage into heaven


© Jane Tims 2003

Written by jane tims

November 21, 2011 at 8:12 am

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