Guta Myth 1



The Guta Myth 1



Agreement with the king of the Swedes

Gotland is christianized

S:t Olof

The first bishop on Gotland

Warefare organization


Exploration   Top of Page

Tjelvar was the name of the first man who discovered Gotland. In those days Gotland was tied by dark mights, so in daytime it sank under the water and during night-time it was above. This man was the first one to bring fire to the land, and afterwards it never sank

Tjelvar had a son whose name was Havde, and the name of his wife was Vitastjärna. These two were the first to settle and live on Gotland. The first night they slept together she had a dream where three snakes were twisted in her bosom. Then they slowly wriggeld out of her breast. She told Havde, her husband, her dream, and he interpreted the dream like this:

Everything is tied together
This will be
a settled land,
and we will have three sons.

He named them all before they were born:

Gute shall hold Gotland.
Graipar shall be the name of the second,
and Gunnfjaun the third.

Thereafter they divided Gotland in three parts, so Graipar, the eldest of the boys, got the most northern part, Gute the middle part and Gunnfjaun, the youngest of the boys, received the most southern part.

Gradually the number of people originating from these tree increased so much on Gotland, that the island could no more feed all of them. They drew lots so that every third man had to leave the country and they were allowed to bring with them everything they posessed of personal estate. They were reluctant to set out, so instead they went to Torsburg and settled there. The Gutnalting (the Supreme court) did not tolerate that, so they went to Fårö and settled there. There they could not support themseles, so they went to to an island near Estonia named Dagö, and there they settled and built a fortress, which can still be seen. They could neither stay there, so they went up a river, named Dyna, upp through Russia.


They went up through Russia, so far away that they came to Greece. There  they asked the king of Greece to settle down when the moon is new and on wane. The king promised it and he thought that it was not more than for one month. When the month was ended he was going to drive them away, but they answered that new and wane was forever and they said that so they had been pomised. The queen got to know about their dispute. Then she said: ”My lord and king, you promised them to settle down when the moon is new and on wane, and it is forever and everlasting. You may not take their right away ”. So they settled down there and they still retain a little of our language


Heathendom   Top of Page

 Before that time and long thereafter one believed in groves and mounds, in cult centres and in heathen gods. They sacrificed their sons, daughters and cattle. They did it according to their false believes. At the highest sacrificial feast they sacrificed  human beings. Otherwise each Third ("Treding" - administrative term) had its sacrificial feast, and at smaller districts they had smaller sacrificial feasts with cattle, food and beverage. They were called food- or cook-brothers because they prepared the sacrificial meals together

Agreement with the king of the Swedes   Top of Page

There were many kings who fought on Gotland while it was heathen. However, the Gotlanders were victorious and could preserve their right. Then the Gotlanders time and again sent messengers to the land of the Swedes, but nobody could establish peace before Avar Strabain from the parish of Alva. He was the first to conclude a peace treaty with the king of the Swedes.

When the Gotlanders asked him to go he answered: "You know that I am old and frail. If you want me to involve myself in such a danger, then give me three weregilds, the first for myself, another for my own son and the third one for my wife".  As the sagas tell, he was a wise man of great and varied learning. So he conluded  a treaty of prescribed right with the king of the Swedes. Sixty mark silver in one year, that is the Gotlander´s tribute which shall be divided so that the king of the Swedes shall receive forty mark of he sixty and the jarl twenty mark silver. This agreement had been decided by the country-council before he left from home.

So the Gotlandars voluntarily submitted to the king of the Swedes so that they freely and  without risk  could go to all places in the kingdom of the Swedes without customs and other charges. Likewise the Swedes have the right to go to Gotland without embargos and other prohibitions. The king would  give the Gotlanders protection and help when they needed and asked for it.

The king, and also the jarl, shall send messengers to the Gutnalting to receive the tax. These messengers shall pronounce freedom for all Gotlanders to freely go to all places belonging to the sea of the Uppsala king, and the same applies to everybody who calls on Gotland.

Gotland is christianized    Top of Page

Although the Gotlanders were heathens, they sailed with merchandise to all countries  both heathen and christian. The merchants saw christian manners and customs in christian countries and some of them were baptized there, and they brought christian priests to Gotland. Botair from Akebäck was the man who built the first church on this place which is now called Kulstäde (place of charcoal). This the Gutnalting could not tolerate so it was burnt Therefore the place is still called Kulstäde (charcoal place).

Some time after there was sacrifice in Vi. There another church the had been built built. Also  this church the Gutnalting wanted to burn. Then he himself climbed up on the church and said: "If you want to burn it, then you will have to burn me together with the church". He was a powerful man and he was married to a daughter of one of the most powerful persons of rank, whose name was Lickair the wise and who lived in a place which is now called Stenkyrka. He was the most influential person at that time, and he helped Botair, his son-in-law. And he said: "Don´t burn the man with his church although it is built in Vi down below the brow of he hill". Thus the church remained unburnt. In the name of all saints it was built on the site where S:t Peters church now stands. It was the first church on Gotland that was left unburnt. After some time his father-in-law, Lickair the wise let himself to be baptized, together with his wife, his children and all his domestic people, and he built a church in his homestead which is now called Stenkyrka. It was the first church in the northern Third on Gotland.

After the Gotlanders had seen the customs of christian people they listened to the ten commandments and the teaching of learned men and they unanimously adopted christianity of their own free will and without compulsion, so nobody forced them to be christians.  Afterwards when christianity had been commonly accepted the second church was built on Gotland in Atlinbo. It was the first one in the middle Third. Then the third church on Gotland in Fardhem in the southern Third. Afterwards churches grew up here, there and everywhere as churches were built for convenience.

S:t Olof   Top of Page

Some time afterwards S:t Olof, the king, came fleeing from Norway with his ships and put in at the harbour called Akergarn. There Olof was lying for a long time. Then Ormica from Henum together with many other men of importance went to him with their gifts. And Ormica gave him twelve rams and other valuables. Then the king, S:t Olof, in return gave him two vessels and a broadaxe. Then Ormica received christianity according to Olof´s faith. And  he built a chapel for himself on the place where the church of Akergarn now stands. From there S:t Olof went to Jaroslav in Holmgåd (in Russia).

The first bishop on Gotland   Top of Page

Before any bishop in earnest had been appointed on Gotland, bishops on pilgrimage to Jerusalem or returning  from there came to Gotland. In those days the way to Jerusalem went east via Russia and Greece. In the beginning they consacrated churches and cemeteries on the request of those who had built the churches.

When the Gotlanders entirely had converted to christianity, they sent messengers to the highest bishop in Linköping, since he was the nearest one, so that he may come to Gotland to assist them as agreed upon. Then it was decided that the bishop was to come to Gotland from Linköping  every third year with twelve of his men, who would accompany him around the country with the peasent´s horses, so many and no more.

So the bishop was to travel around on Gotland and consecrate churches. At a consecration he would in return have the right to demand three meals and nothing more. In addition three marks at each occation. For a consecration of an altar, one meal and twelve ören, if there was only an alter to  be conecrated. When both church and alter are consecrated, then both of them shall be consecrated for 3 meals and three marks of money.

From every second priest the bishop has the right to take remuneration for inspections, or 3 meals  and no more. From every second priest, who did not remunerate at this time, the bishop takes  security according to assessment of the churches. Those who did not remunerate a this time, they shall remunerate when the bishop returns the third year, and the others, who remunerated the previous time,  shall provide security.

In case of strife which rests on the bishop to judge, it shall be judged in the same Third, since those who are living nearest are those who best know the truth. If the strife is not judged it shall not be handed over to the Allting, and not from one Third to another one. If it turns to dissention or antagonism which is incumbent on the bishop to judge, then one shall await the arrival of the bishop and not sail over the sea unless it is out of necessity and very serious sins have been committed so that the dean himself cannot judge, but then one shall travel between Walpurgis and All Saint´s mass. But not thereafter during winter before Walpurgis. Bishop fines on Gotland are never more han three mark.

Warfare organization      Top of Page

After the Gotlanders had procured bishop and priests and wholly accepted christianity they agreed on going with the king of the Swedes in war missions with seven ships against heathen countries but not against christian.

In this  case the the king shall summon the Gotlanders to naval warfare when winter ha passed and within a time-limit of one month before their war-meeting, and that meeting shall be held before midsummer and not after. Then it is lawfully given, otherwise not. Then the Gotlanders have free choice, if they wish, to bring up their ships with 8 day´s provisions and not more. However, if they choose not to go, then they shall pay 40 mark pieces of money for each ship.  But this shall be payed not until the following year and not the same year when the summons were given. This is called ”ledungslame” (warfare tax) . During the determined month and during the first week the fiery-cross shall go out and summon to court-gathering. If it is then decided to go on warefare, then one shall make preparations for the voyage during half a month. Then the men shall be ready for action seven days before the rallying. From now on they shall await and be prepared, but if there is no sailing wind that week, then they shall wait for another seven days after the meeting day. If neither then there is any sailing wind  they can with impunity go back home because they cannot go across the sea by rowing but only by sailing. If the summons comes with shorter time-limit than one month, then they shall not go but stay at home without prosecution. If the king does not believe that the summons arrived in unlawful time or the wind prevented them during the determined time-limt, then the messengers shall, at the court-gathering next after St Peter´s mass, receive the oaths from twelve jurors chosen by the king´s messengers, that they with lawful excuse had stayed at home. No juror oaths are taken on Gotland except taken to the king.

 Are things going so badly that crowned king is banished from his kingdom, then the Gotländers shall not pay any tax but retain it for three years. They may collect the tax each year, but let it be lying. And after three years it is payed to whoever is ruling the country of the Swedes.  Closed letter with the king´s own seal shall then be dispached as proof of his right and not in open letter.

Top of page 

Home | Svenska | English | Interlingua | Text | Ordlistor

Last updated: 06/07/04.