Rune Stones are, quite simply, stone monuments that have been inscribed in the runic alphabet. Although the purpose of a rune stone could be to memorialize a dead loved one, a late personage of eminence in the community or an honored hero, a wide variety of content has been inscribed into stones, including secret formulas or spells, heroic stories, and even illustrated figures. Most rune stones have been found in Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
The oldest existing record of Early Germanic runes is on the Kylver Stone, a 5th-century limestone slab that was found in Gotland, Sweden. The runes face the inside of a coffin and may have been meant to protect the grave. The Kylver Stone includes a pallindrome, sueus, that has never been interpreted and may not have been an actual word; it is believed to have been used for magical protection.
The longest runic inscription found thus far is on the Rök Stone. Dating to the 9th century and discovered in Östergötland, Sweden, the granite Rök Stone contains 725 runes that appear to be Nordic, and in addition to a memorial to the composer's slain son, it includes heroic verses, what might be considered a spell, and a stanza that may refer to Theodoric the Great.
The longest Early Germanic inscription can be found on the Eggjum Stone in western Norway. Much of the content included in the 200 runes is unclear; it may have been carved as far back as the 7th century.
The Helnaes Stone, which dates to about 800, contains the first known example of a memorial, providing the name of the person who had the stone carved (Rolf) and the person he had it carved for (his nephew, Gudmund). This stone was found in Fyn, Denmark.
Asmund Kareson was a professional rune carver in Uppland, Sweden, and the first professional whose work included an attribution: the Ängby Stone from the 11th century.