Viking Era Phallic Stone Discovered During Excavation of Burial Site
During the excavation of Viking burials in Tystberga, Sweden, archaeologists made a surprising discovery that both astonished and amused them. Among the ancient graves and residential structures, the team stumbled upon a large stone with an intriguing shape - it resembled a phallus and bore distinct carved lines that left no doubt about its intended depiction!
Phalluses Galore: A Stone Modified to Look Like a Penis?
Rebecka Jonsson, an archaeologist from Mission Archaeology, confirmed the phallic nature of the stone. Speaking to SVT, she said, “At first glance, it might just look like an ordinary oblong stone standing up. But if you look closely, you will see a number of elements that show that it is indeed a stone that has been modified to look like a penis.”
The peculiar stone, measuring approximately 20 inches (50cm) in height and dating to the Scandinavian Viking era, was discovered prominently placed within one of the graves, almost resembling a headstone in its position. Initial analysis suggests that the stone was crafted from locally sourced marble, likely obtained from a nearby quarry. Its purpose within this burial context remains unclear as of now.
The phallus stone with added markings for carved lines and the pit on top. (Uppdrag arkeologi)
The researchers wrote on their Facebook page that, “The stone was found superficially and centrally in the stone packing for a grave pile, and only a few meters next to it is an egg-shaped tombstone. Often they are interpreted with notions of fertility.”
Not long ago, researchers uncovered a peculiar wooden artifact at the Roman fort of Vindolanda, raising speculation about its possible association with sexual activities in ancient times, reports The Daily Mail.
In the case of the phallic stone discovered in Tystberga, its placement within the grave suggests a potential symbolic or ritualistic function.
“'Often they are interpreted with notions of fertility, where residual stones marked man's graves and tombstone women's graves. Based on this connection, the remaining stones have therefore generally been adopted to symbolize eroded penises. There are also chopped or carved lines and at the top a pit, and overall, it is difficult to misunderstand what you wanted the stone to emulate,” the team explained on their Facebook page.
Archaeologists hope further research will reveal how these beliefs, social dynamics, and cultural practices inform us about the popularly represented Vikings.
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Phallic Emblems: Fertility and Rejuvenation in Norse Mythology
Within Norse mythology, the deity Freyr held a significant place as a phallic god revered in Sweden. He was associated with concepts of peace, pleasure, and fertility, embodying the life-giving force of the phallus. In the Temple at Uppsala, Freyr was represented by a statue that prominently featured a phallic symbol, serving as a physical manifestation of his divine power and influence.
Some researchers propose that the phallus holds symbolic meaning for the god Heimdall, who, according to Norse mythology, will play a crucial role as one of the leaders guiding the new world after the cataclysmic event of Ragnarök. The phallus, in these contexts, represents the potency, renewal, and transformative energies associated with the gods and their involvement in shaping the fate of the cosmos, reports The Heritage Daily.
The statuette of Freyr from the front and the back. A prominent phallic symbol of his divine power and influence in Norse mythology. (Gabriel Hildebrand, Statens historiska museum. /CC BY 2.5)
The Vikings had a complex belief system with multiple gods and goddesses, and their rituals and ceremonies were intertwined with notions of fertility, life, death, and the cycles of nature. The phallus, as a symbol of vitality and life force, likely played a role in these beliefs and practices, emphasizing the importance of procreation and the continuation of the Viking community.
In Norse mythology, the phallus held symbolic value and appeared in certain stories and legends. For instance, the creation of Thor's hammer, Mjölnir, involved the use of a phallic stone as a mold. This mythical weapon represented the masculine power and potency of the thunder god Thor. The phallic imagery in this myth reflects the cultural importance placed on masculine strength and virility.
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It is important to note that phallic symbolism was not unique to Viking culture but appeared in various ancient civilizations worldwide. Cultural exchange and trade routes allowed for the dissemination of ideas and symbols across different regions, including the influence of Roman and classical traditions. Consequently, the presence of phallic imagery in Viking contexts may have been influenced by wider cultural interactions.
The presence of phallic emblems is not uncommon in ancient artifacts. Such symbols were prevalent in Roman culture and could be found on various objects, ranging from amulets to frescoes, mosaics, and lamps.
These depictions held symbolic significance, believed to bring good luck and serve as protective charms against evil spirits. Historical accounts, including those by the ancient author Pliny, reveal that even infants and soldiers would wear such amulets, seeking divine protection through these potent symbols.
Top image: Viking Era phallic stone and burial globe from Tystberga. Source: (Uppdrag arkeologi)
By Sahir Pandey
Milligan, M. 2023. VIKING AGE PHALLIC STONE FOUND IN SWEDEN. Available at: https://www.heritagedaily.com/2023/06/viking-age-phallic-stone-found-in-sweden/147609.
Lloyd, E. 2023. Unusual Discovery Of A Viking Age Phallic Stone In Tystaberga, Sweden. Available at: https://www.ancientpages.com/2023/06/12/viking-age-phallus-stone-tystaberga/.
Persson, R. 2023. Surprising excavation find: A snoop stone from the Viking Age. Available at: https://www.svt.se/nyheter/lokalt/sormland/overraskande-utgravningsfyndet-en-snoppsten-fran-vikingatiden.