The Lion from Piraeus
People were aware of the fact that one of the lions had been defaced with strange marking across its shoulder. This was apparently some kind of writing, but it was not recognised as a runic inscription until it was seen by Johan David Åkerblad (died 1819).
By this time parts of the inscription had eroded away, making interpretation very difficult. It was agreed that at some time in the eleventh century travelling Vikings had carved the inscription, but there was considerable dispute as to its exact meaning.
There are various interpretations of the runic script, but Erik Brate’s interpretation from 1914 is considered to be the most successful one:
hiuku þir hilfninks milum
hna en i hafn þesi þir min
eoku runar at haursa bunta
kuþan a uah
riþu suiar þita linu
fur raþum kul uan farin
tri(n)kiar ristu runar
[a rikan strin]k hiuku
þair isk[il-] [þu]rlifr
litu auka ui[i þir a]
roþrslanti b[yku] –
a sun iuk runar þisar.
ufr uk – li st[intu]
kul] uan farn
They cut him down in the midst of his
forces. But in the harbor the men cut
runes by the sea in memory of Horsi, a
The Swedes set this on the lion.
He went his way with good counsel,
gold he won in his travels.
The warriors cut runes,
hewed them in an ornamental scroll.
Æskell (Áskell) [and others] and
had them well cut, they who lived
in Roslagen. [N. N.] son of [N. N.]
cut these runes.
Ulf? (Úlfr) and [N. N.] colored them
in memory of Horsi.
He won gold in his travels.