Rune Stones Erected in Inga's Name


The three stones from Snottsta and the one from Vreta were all erected by Inga in memory of her husband Ragnfast. […]

As well as being especially long, the Hillersj÷ inscription is unusual in that, unlike the vast majority of Swedish runestones, it does not begin by saying that ‘X made this monument in memory of Y'. Rather, it tells us that:

Geirmund married Geirlaug when she was a girl. Then they had a son, before he [i.e. Geirmund] drowned and the son died later. Then she married [Gu]drik. Then they had children, but only one girl survived. She was called [In]ga. She was married to Ragnfast of Snottsta, then he died and [their] son [died] later, and the mother [i.e. Inga] inherited from her son. Then she was married to Eirik. She died there, and there Geirlaug inherited from her daughter Inga. […]


The importance of this becomes clear in the final stage of the story, which is when Inga dies. She is a wealthy woman, having acquired property from two marriages and inherited from her father, and has only one surviving relative with the right to inherit, her mother Geirlaug. Women could not inherit directly from their husbands if there were surviving children, but in the same way as Inga herself inherited her husband's property from their child who predeceased her, so Geirlaug also inherits Gudrik's property through their daughter Inga. As Inga's sole heir, moreover, she got quite a lot more wealth into the bargain and obviously used part of it to commission the Hillersj÷ monument, telling her life story and describing her path to riches.

Source: Judith Jesch, Rune Stones Erected in Inga's Name in Women in the Viking Age, (Woodbridge, Suffolk and Rochester New York: The Boydell Press, 1986), 54-55. Notes: Book: Women in the Viking Age

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