Old Norse Dictionary - bauta-steinn

Meaning of Old Norse word "bauta-steinn" in English.

As defined by the Cleasby & Vigfusson Old Norse to English dictionary:

Eg. 94.; Snorri (Hkr.) constantly uses the pl. form, but bautaðarsteinn, Fagrsk. 19, and bautarsteinn, Hm. 72; m. the stone monuments of the olden age, esp. in Sweden and Denmark; the Hávamál l. c. (sjaldan bautarsteinar standa brautu nær, nema reisi niðr at nið) tells us that these stones used to be placed along the high roads, like the sepulchral monuments of old Rome; cp. the standing phrase on the Swedish-Runic stones—hér skal standa steinn ‘nær brautu;’ or, má eigi ‘brautar-kuml’ (a road monument) betra verða; the high roads of old Sweden seem to have been lined with these monumental stones; even at the present time, after the destruction of many centuries, the Swedish-Runic stones (of the nth and 12th centuries) are counted by thousands. A great collection was made and drawings executed during the 17th century (Buræus, etc.), but only published A. D. 1750, under the name of Bautil. The etymology of this word is much contested; some render it by ‘stones of the slain’ (bauta, to slay), but this is contradicted by the passage in Hm. l. c. and by the inscriptions themselves. The bauta stones were simply monuments erected by the piety of kindred and friends without any respect to sex or manner of death, either in war, on sea, or through sickness; some were even erected to the memory of living persons. They were usually tombstones; but many of them are memorial stones for men that died in foreign lands, Greece, Russia, the British Islands, etc. Neither is Snorri right in saying (Hkr. pref.) that the bautasteinar belonged to the old burning age (brunaöld), and were replaced by the cairns (haugar) in the subsequent cairn age (haugaöld)—þá skyldi brenna alla dauða menn ok reisa eptir bautasteina, en síðan er Freyr hafði heygðr verit at Uppsölum þá görðu margir höfðingjar eigi síðr hauga en bautasteina. Svíar tóku lík hans ok var hann brendr við á þá er Skúta heitir, þar vóru settir bautasteinar hans, Hkr. Yngl. ch. 17—the passage in Hávamál and the monuments refute this statement. The great bulk of the Scandinavian bauta stones seem to be of the nth and even 12th century. In Icel. no stones of that time are on record: var hann þá her heygðr skamt frá bsenum, ok settir upp bautasteinar, þeir er enn standa her, Hkr. i. 269; hávir bautasteinar standa hjá haugi Egils ullserks, 153,—where Fagrsk. reads, í þau skip var lagðr í valrinn, ok orpnir þar haugar utan at; þar stendr ok bautaðarsteinn (= bautarsteinn in Hm.?) hár sem Egill féll, p. 19;—en eptir alla þá menn er nokkut mannsmót var at, skyldi reisa bautasteina, ok hélzt sa siðr lengi síðan, Hkr. Yngl. ch. 8. It is worth remarking that the word ‘bautasteinn’ never occurs out of Icel. literature, and there only in the above passages, viz. once in the old Hm., once in the Fagrsk., four times in the Hkr., whence it has passed over to modern writers. The word is most probably only a corruption from brautarsteinar, lapides viae, (by dropping the r); cp. the analogous Swedish word, brautarkuml, monumentum viae, which occurs in the inscriptions themselves.

Possible runic inscription in Younger Futhark:ᛒᛅᚢᛏᛅ-ᛋᛏᛁᛁᚾᚾ
Younger Futhark runes were used from 8th to 12th centuries in Scandinavia and their overseas settlements

Abbreviations used:

A. D.
Anno Domini.
et cetera.
Iceland, Icelander, Icelanders, Icelandic.
l. c.
loco citato.

Works & Authors cited:

Egils Saga. (D. II.)
Fagrskinna. (K. I.)
Heimskringla. (E. I.)
Hává-mál. (A. I.)
➞ See all works cited in the dictionary

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This headword also appears in dictionaries of other languages descending from Old Norse.