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Migration Period Picture Stones from Gotland – Current research on their history of origin
The picture stones are a unique group of monuments that were erected from the Migration
Period to the end of the Viking Age (c. 400-1100 AD) on the Swedish island of Gotland. Particularly striking are the decorations, applied by shallow incisions and subsequent painting on the front, which give the stones their names. The oldest, Migration Period (c. 400-600 AD) picture stones differ from the later monuments with their distinctive axe shape as well as the predominantly geometric-abstract image program. The genesis of these early stones has always been considered a mystery. Since they appear almost suddenly and without preceding development phase, we need to look for parallels outside
Gotland. Striking similarities exist to stone monuments from the Roman provinces. Such
comparisons can give clues to wide international networks that illustrate the intercultural exchange and hybridity of Gotlandic culture.
Med Hannah Strelau, Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology, Schleswig, Tyskland.