Every year on Gotland, archaeologists find new medieval treasures in the
ground. On the biggest island in the Baltic the inhabitants have their own
language and a long exciting history. Gotlanders were successful traders,
they sailed on viking routes and brought home fantastic treasures from
The picture stones raised on Gotland are unique. One of the biggest was cut
in the parish of Ardre, in the south eastern part of the island about 750
AD. The stone is taller than the tallest man. It is decorated with ships
and horses and in the middle of the stone there is a smithy with tongs and
hammers. A woman turns away from a mighty eagle.
Volund forged himself eagle wings, Volund, the most skilful smith the tales
know about. The story about the master smith is one of the oldest songs in
the Icelandic Edda. There we are told how Volund and his brothers built a
house in the Valley of Ulv. Life was good until their women left. His
brothers searched for their women but Volund stayed at home alone. He
forged rings of red gold, and the most powerful sword in the world. The
fate of the sword was predestined - when Ragnarök, Doomsday, came, Volund´s
sword would send fire over the world.
King Nidad saw Volund´s treasures, he stole them and captured Volund. To
prevent him from escaping the tendons of his knees were cut. Volund avenged
himself and then took to the sky with his eagle wings. He found his woman
but she was desired by the gods. The fight for her was his last one. The
song about Volund ends when the god Thor himself kills Volund and hurls his
eye up in the sky. There it is, looking down on us as an ever glowing star.
In the Edda, Volund is placed in Svithjod, in Sweden. Maybe on Gotland? The
inhabitants of Gotland of ancient times were skilful smiths and the art of
forging was highly valued. The oldest picture of the art of forging is cut
in the stone which stood in Ardre for hundreds of years. But when
Christianity gained ground people trampled on the old Aesir beliefs. When
the church in Ardre was remonted in the year 1900 ten runestones and
picturestones were found under the wooden floor. This one, the Great Ardre
Stone was the mightiest and oldest one. Today you can find it in the Museum
of National Antiquities in Stockholm.
1250 years after it was cut, we have let the stone inspire us to create this
Gotlandic folk music production about Volund. The story contains everything
in human life and makes us consider the smallness of man. The story
concerns us all and the faith of Volund continues to fascinate people as it
has for over a thousand years in our part of the world.