Gerlög and Inga

Gerlög and Inga

Gerlög or "Geirlaug" and her daughter Inga were two powerful and rich women in 11th century Uppland, Sweden. Gerlög and Inga had their dramatic and tragic family saga documented for posterity on several runestones. They lived in a turbulent time of religious wars between Pagans and Christians concerning the sacrifices at the Temple at Uppsala, and like many people of their social standing they had chosen the new faith. Their saga has been the centre of an exposition at the Stockholm County Museum dramatizing their story.

The Hillersjö stone is the main inscription. It recounts that Gerlög married with Germund in her maidenhood [U 29: "Geirmundr got Geirlaug (to wife) in her maidenhood". Translation provided by Rundata.] , and they had a son who is not named, but Germund drowned and the son died [U 29: "Then they got a son, before he" (= Geirmundr) "drowned". "And then the son died". Translation provided by Rundata.] . Then Gerlög remarried with Gudrik and they had several children, but only one survived, who was named IngaU 29: "Then she got Guðríkr. He… this. Then they got children. And one maid lived; she was called Inga". Translation provided by Rundata.] . Inga married Ragnfast of Snottsta (also spelled Snåttsta) and they had a son who is not named, but both Ragnfast and the son died and so Inga inherited the estate SnottstaU 29: "Ragnfastr of Snutastaðir got her (to wife). Then he died, and thereafter the son. And the mother came to inherit from her son". Translation provided by Rundata.] .

The four Snottsta and Vreta stones at Snottsta and Vreta say that Ragnfast, Inga's husband has diedU 329: "Inga had these stones raised in memory of Ragnfastr, her husbandman. He was Gyríðr's and Ástríðr's brother". Translation provided by Rundata.] U 330: "Inga had the stones raised and the bridge made in memory of Ragnfastr, her husbandman. Ôzurr was his housecarl". Translation provided by Rundata.] U 331: "Inga had the runes carved in memory of Ragnfastr, her husbandman. He alone owned this estate after Sigfastr, his father. May God help their spirits". Translation provided by Rundata.] U 332: "Inga raised the staff and stones in memory of Ragnfastr, her husbandman. She came to inherit from her children". Translation provided by Rundata.] . Ragnfast was the sole inheritor of the estate Snottsta after his father Sigfast. One of the stones gives the central information "she inherited her child". This statement agrees with what is said on the Hillersjö stone, which is that Inga inherited her son, a son who was not named, probably because he was very young. The central message of these runestones is "Inga inherited Snottsta after Ragnfast".

Further information provided by the runestones is that Ragnfast had a housecarl named Assur. Why this is important is not mentioned, but it is likely that Assur had a strong position in the clan and may have inherited some of Ragnfast's property.

Furthermore, the Snottsta runestone U 329 contains some information about a third and a fourth woman, Estrid [Estrid is probably the same person as the Estrid who is mentioned on a number of the Jarlabanke Runestones in Täby and other locations (Broby bro Runestones, Hargs bro runic inscriptions and Uppland Rune Inscriptions 101, 143 and 147). This Estrid was the maternal ancestor of a great clan called the Jarlabanke clan, and she was the maternal grand-mother of the powerful Jarlabanke who claimed to own all of Täby. The runemaster of the U 329, where Ragnfast's sister Estrid is mentioned, was Fot who also made the runestones for the Jarlabanke clan. This strongly suggests that Estrid was born in Snottsta, married Östen of Täby and married for the second time in Harg near Snottsta.] and Gyrid. It says that Ragnfast is the brother of Gyrid and Estrid, and the reason why this is mentioned is possibly because there was a disagreement about the inheritance. What is clear is that they are mentioned to explain how they relate to Inga.

The Hillersjö stone continues the story by telling that Inga married again with a man named Eric, but apparently both Inga and Eric soon died without leaving any children, as Gerlög inherited her daughter [U 29: "Then she got Eiríkr. Then she died. Then Geirlaug came to inherit from Inga, her daughter". Translation provided by Rundata.] .

This text is completed with information by Inga from Runestone U 20/U 21, where it is said that both Gudrik (Gerlög's second husband and Inga's father) and Eric (Inga's second husband) had diedU 20/21: …"Eiríkr(?) his/her husbandman… and… Guðríkr, his/her father. May God help (his) spirit". Translation provided by Rundata.] .


ources and external links

* [ "Inga och Estrid - en såpa för tusen år sedan: Människor, händelser och platser i Ingas och Estrids liv, Människor, händelser och platser i Ingas och Estrids liv.". A page at the Stockholm County Museum.]
* [ "Gerlögs berättelse - fakta och fiktion" at the Stockholm County Museum.]
* [ "Inga & Estrid - en såpa för tusen år sedan", at the Stockholm County Museum.]
*Jesch, Judith (2005) "Women in the Viking Age". ISBN 0851153607
*Hillersjö stone (U 29)
*Färentuna Runestones (U 20/U 21)
*Snottsta and Vreta stones (U 329, U 330, U 331 and U 332)

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