By Konstantin Von Cugunov, Hermann Parzinger, Anatoli Nagler, von Cugunov

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In most cases (%) the sponsors were closely related to, or married to, or were partners of, the deceased, but in Denmark and Norway the proportion of such relationships is lower. In the few inscriptions that do not specify the relationship between sponsors and the deceased, the people named may nevertheless have been related, if only by marriage, but that cannot be taken for granted (see Ch. ). In discussing this topic, attention will be concentrated first on the commemorations of only men (categories A, C, and E), next on the commemorations of only women (categories B, D, and F), and finally on the commemorations of both men and women (categories AB, CD, and EF).

24 One with Tor vige (Vg ), one with a hammer (Vg ), and one with a magical invocation (Vg , the same type as in Denmark). In Södermanland there is one with Tor vige (Sö ) and two with hammers (Sö , ). See discussion, Ch. . VAR1 10/18/00 1:23 PM  Page 20  Another significant difference is that, while tombstones are laid over women as well as men, the Viking-Age rune-stones were erected mainly in memory of men. Thus the transition to Christian burial customs cannot be the only reason; that would explain neither the uneven distribution, nor why so few women were commemorated by rune-stones (only %; half of them together with men).

There is general agreement that this fashion answered certain needs, but there is little agreement about what these were. Two explanations for the sudden proliferation of rune-stones, Viking activity or religious change, have been widely accepted. . Viking raids Viking raids are a possible explanation for the stones erected in honour of men who died abroad (see Pl. ), but since these would account for only a small minority of the commemorations they cannot explain the fashion. It is, however, hardly surprising that the erection of rune-stones is commonly connected with Viking voyages or trading expeditions, since inscriptions concerned with such activities have tended to attract most attention in both specialist studies and general works on the period,18 thus obscuring the fact that the overwhelming majority of stones were erected in memory of people who lived, worked, and died at home.

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