Christian or Pagan?: Some Reflections on the Iconography of U 448

Ann-Sofie Gräslund
2021 Reading Runes: Proceedings of the Eighth International Symposium on Runes and Runic Inscriptions, Nyköping, Sweden, 2–6 September 2014   unpublished
The iconography of the rune-stone U 448, a peacock and a rider, forms the basis of this paper. The inscription is a normal memorial one and has no explicitly Christian element. The ornamentation does not include a cross. However, I will argue that the peacock and probably also the rider may be interpreted as images loaded with Christian meaning. The peacock, originally a sun symbol in India, was taken up by early Christianity in the Mediterranean area as a symbol of immortality. At the same
more » ... the fondness for representations of domestic fowl may show continuity with Old Norse mythology and Viking-Age burials, where unburnt skeletons of domestic fowl are found in cremation graves. The rider may be regarded as an image of a holy rider and is compared with riders on Pictish symbol stones. My conclusion is that many of the images on rune-stones may be interpreted as a kind of syncretism, in fact Christian but understood as having a background in Old Norse religion.
doi:10.33063/diva-438875 fatcat:23iji2dw7na6dpxmjivelzxsga