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The Vadstena bracteate.

The Vadstena bracteate (Rundata Ög 178) is a gold C-bracteate found in the earth at Vadstena, Sweden, in 1774[1]. Along with the bracteate was a gold ring and a piece of gold sheet: all were nearly melted down by a goldsmith who was stopped by a local clergyman.[2] The bracteate was stolen in 1938 from the Swedish Museum of National Antiquities and has not yet been found.

The bracteate is believed to have been made about AD 500. In the middle of the bracteate is a four-legged animal with a man's head above it, and in front of this a bird separated from the other image by a line.[1] (The image is commonly associated with Odin in bracteate iconography) The bracteate is most famous for containing a full listing of the Elder Futhark Runic alphabet. The entire inscription reads:[1][2]

tuwatuwa; fuþarkgw; hnijïpzs; tbemlŋo[d]

The last rune (d) is hidden below the necklace holder piece that has been molded on top of the bracteate, but archaeologists know what it is because a duplicate bracteate was found in Motala (image) which read:

(t)uwatuwa; fuþarkgw; hnijïpzs; tbemlŋod.

The first part of the inscriptions is not yet understood but is assumed to be associated with magic, this is however a common stock-explanation to runes not yet deciphered.[2]

The Motala bracteate has been struck with the same die and was found at a nearby town in the same province, Östergötland, in 1906. When it reached the Swedish Museum of National Antiquities, however, it was erroneously catalogued as deriving from Mariedamm in the adjoining province Närke (Nä 10). This misattribution lives on sporadically in the literature. Another persistent misconception regarding the Vadstena bracteate (probably also inspired by the 1906 find) is that two identical bracteates have been found in that town, bringing the total number of copies to three.


  1. ^ a b c Nordisk Familjebok, Owl Edition, page 262-263 [1]
  2. ^ a b c Enoksen, Lars Magnar (1998). Runor. Falun: Historiska Media. pp. 44. ISBN 91-88930-32-7.  

See also

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