U 5b
New find 2015

The runestone was found in the spring of 2015 in the middle of what was once the city of Birka. The runestone was located in one of the many cultivation mounds where remains of the city's streets, fireplaces and house foundations are found.

A cultivation mound is a collection of stones built up over a long period of time by the farmer when he worked the land. Stones that came to light during plowing were moved to an unusable piece of land where they eventually formed a cultivation mound.

In the black soil (the city of Birka) there are meny and large large cultivation mounds. Me and my friend Roger Wikell realized that these were largely remnants of the city of Birka's paving stones, fireplaces, stairs and perhaps roads etc.

On May 5, 2015, we visit an ongoing excavation and decide to also look a little closer at the cultivation mounds. Perhaps we could see some traces of the long-lost city of Birka.

And we did!
We saw a large amount with smaller parts of red sandstone where several had clear traces of having been used as e.g. grindstone. At the edge of a centrally located mound, a piece of sandstone could be seen sticking out of the ground and in the light of the spring sun, thin carved lines could be seen... we had found a rune stone on Birka!

We marked the find site and took the runestone to the ongoing archaeological excavation. I walked a little ahead of Roger and met the archaeologists who had just started their "fika" break, they jokingly asked me:

- did you find any rune stones?
(They know me and my great passion for rune stones).

Just as jokingly, but still honestly, I could answer:
- Yes, but only a small runestone...

They smiled and laughed a little and then continued their fika break.

Then I got an idea!
I asked if I could take a picture when they had their coffee break, which was perfectly fine, "click".

My idea was to take one picture before and one after the runestone was shown by Roger to see if it made a difference... and it did :-)

But the archaeologists had also made a sensational find that day, they had just found the bronze dragon head that matched the mold found in the 19th century. The same dragon head as Birka's logo.

Here lies the newly found bronze dragon head on the newly found runestone, both found on the same day and only within an hour.
What an amazing day :-)

Details on the runestone

The missing part should be able to be found near the find site as that fracture surface appears to be of a later date. Maybe it broke when the runestone was thrown onto the cultivation mound? The missing part may have another 2-3 runes.

Stone of red sandstone that can be easily split into thin fine slices. Sandstone is also much easier to carve than granite.

The fact that it easily splits into slices makes it popular as a building material such as stepping stones, paving stones, standing by the fireplace, etc.

I'm guessing that it belonged to one of the houses on Birka and that someone there took the opportunity to practice rune carving when it was still there as a threshold stone or similar.

The cutting grooves are very narrow and the lines a little uncertain.
Both + + are nice and well made.

Compare with similar carvings at Birka and Adelsö

There are not that many runic carvings that are older than the year 1000, but at Birka there seems to have been an unusually large number. Runestones this old are more difficult to decipher, partly because there are few to compare with and partly because the runes have a different shape.

On the National Antiquities Office's website "Runes" you can find the best interpretations of the runic inscriptions from Birka and Dalby on Adelsö.

To Runor about U 4 at Borg
Daughter asked to make a memorial, this after Juta

To Runor about U 5, new find 1936
-sni(r)iR (u)s----

To Runor about U 5b, new find 2015
Tru-a : B- ??

To Runor about U 10 from Dalby, Adelsö
Eft Ybi the son stone sa--- (+ a name?)

Visit the runestone?

The rune stone has been on Gotland since autumn 2015 for cleaning.

In the spring of 2019, I was told that it would come back and perhaps be placed in the museum at Birka.

In the summer of 2023, it was not in the museum and, as far as I know, it has not yet been examined by runologists or published....
A very frustratingly long time!

To be continued....


Google map > Find the runestone

Populär Arkeologi > No. 1 in 2016
Newspaper about the runestone, only in Swedish

Kalle Runristare > Large pictures and information in Swedish

Contact: kalle@runristare.se
If you want to be of help or have a question.

All runestones in the

Runestone Park

We start from the north and go clockwise

U 11 - Adelsö, Hovgården
The King's Runestone in Hovgården, Adelsö

U 3 - Hovgården, Alsnöhus
Found during an excavation in 1916

U 1 - Adelsö church
Former threshold stone to the sacristy. Now built into the wall in the sacristy.

U 2 - Adelsö church
Destroyed by fire around 1660. Former threshold stone to the church.

U 10 - Dalby Adelsö
Found in 1920 at Stora Dalby, northern Adelsö. Now built into the wall of the sacristy, Adelsö church.

U 6 - Björkö village on Birka
Several fragments as a puzzle. Now in the museum at Birka.

U 5b - Birka 2015 (New find 2015)
2024.03.10 Not yet documented or published.

Sö 141b - Aspa bridge (Sö Fv1948;289)
New find in 1937 with the name Svitjod (Sweden).

Sö 179 - The Gripsholm runestone 
Mariefred, the most famous of the Ingvars runestones.

U 887 - Skillsta runestone
One of the world's most beautiful runestones.

Vs 29 - Sala parish church
The runecarver Livsten's masterpiece.

U 1125 - The old man in Krogsta
1500 year old rune stone carved with the older runes, the Old Norse runes.

Uppdaterad 17 mars, 2024 av Kalle Runristare