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Baptismal font

Soapstone baptismal font. Damaged sides, the bottom is missing. The baptismal font was found in 1847 in a scrap heap in the cemetery of Norum Church during renovations. All four sides are decorated. On two sides there are looping dragons while on the third there are two stave crosses under arches. The fourth side has an inscription and another motif. The inscription runs: 'Sven made me', referring to the maker. The last five characters are thought to be a cipher for the word mik, meaning me. Underneath that is a man with his arms crossed over his stomach, as if they were tied. The man is surrounded by four snakes with their heads raised. Below his feet we can make out a large triangular object. The motif comes from the Völsunga saga, which also contains the legend of Fåvnesbane. It shows the episode where Gunnar Gjukeson is tied up and thrown into a snake pit for refusing to reveal where the gold was. In the snake pit he plays his lyre with his feet so beautifully that three of the four snakes fall asleep, but the fourth gives a deadly bite. The prehistoric hero saga survived the religious shift, with certain changes, and maintained its popularity in Christian times. The motif of Gunnar in the snake pit was transformed into the battle of the Christian martyrs and saints against evil. This motif also appears on some Norwegian stave church doors and on a wooden baptismal font from Näs in Jämtland. With its square shape the Norum font resembles others from Bohuslän, Norway and England. It might possibly be a result of English influence on early Christianity in Scandinavian. The runic inscriptions date the baptismal font to the early 12th century. Norum church, Norum Parish, Bohuslän.

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Object number: 46162_HST

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