The iconographic programme of Gotland’s picture stones offers unique insight into the religious ideas of the late antique and early medieval culture in the north. The stones constitute an unparalleled archaeological complex without comparison in the Germania. Created in a largely preliterate time, these monuments represent an invaluable source for Old Norse religions, mythology, and early Christianity – they are authentic evidence of an otherwise intangible world of ideas.

In this book, the results of Oehrl’s previous picture stone research are presented in detail. Based on selected examples, the relevance of digital methods in terms of iconography, including unpublished finds, is demonstrated, outlining the possibilities and requirements of future research. The application of new technologies and the inspection of unpublished material have effectively changed the research situation and thrown a new light on the picture stones on Gotland.

In the long run, a new edition of all Gotlandic picture stones must be aimed at, which is also suitable for detailed iconographical studies. Oehrl has demonstrated in his book how exhaustive investigations and interpretations, based on digital methods, can be implemented and how an adequate interdisciplinary re-edition of the Gotlandic picture stones should look like. His work considers itself as a first step in this direction as well as an impulse, stimulation, and essential groundwork. This lead to a new project financed by Vetenskapsrådet currently undertaken at the Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies and Gotlands Museum.

Oehrl’s book represents not only a study on the Gotlandic picture stones as well as Early Medieval and Viking iconography in general, but also on the understanding of the mentality and religion of past societies. This is due to a nuanced discussion of a wide range of parallels and written sources, where the author overcomes the challenges of interdisciplinary research, including Archaeology, Old Norse Studies, History of Religion, Art History, and Digital Heritage.


More information on the publisher's website.