The Viking runestone embedded on a street corner in Gamla stan, the old town of Stockholm, is believed to be older than the city itself. Though its origin is unknown, it’s estimated to date back nearly a millennia, to the 11th century.
Officially called “Uppland Runic Inscription 53,” the Gamla stan stone is prominently located at the intersection of Prästgatan and Kåkbrinken streets, but can be hard to spot without a guide as there are no signs or plaques pointing out its significance.
The stone depicts a serpent body in decorative winding loops, and an inscription that has been partially translated as “Torsten and Frögunn had the stone erected after their son.” The name of the son is sadly lost. The female name, Frögunn, is a known pagan name, which lent a clue as to the origin of the text. It’s believed the stone was brought into Gamla stan from a neighboring area to be used as construction material.
Inscription 53 is one of three runestones found in Stockholm’s old town. Another, known as “U 274” was originally found in a wall and is now displayed in the Museum of Medieval Stockholm. The third was found in a church stairway but has been lost to history.