Facebook
You are here: The Curmsun Disc»»Obverse – Latin Inscription

Obverse – Latin Inscription

The text on the obverse of the Curmsun Disc is most likely:

+ARALD
CVRMSVN+
REXADTAN
ER+SCON+J
VMN+CIV
ALDIN+

A transcription of the text will give us the following text:

HARALD GORMSØN KING OF DANES+SCANIA+JOMSBORG+CITY OF OLDENBURG

A full translation could give us the following text:

Harald Gormsøn king of Danes, Scania and Jomsborg in the bishopric of Oldenburg

HARALD GORMSØN (ARALD CVRMSVN)

ARALD CVRMSVN would most likely refer to Harald “Bluetooth” Gormsson.

Harald was probably born c. 935 and was a King of Denmark and Norway. He was the son of King Gorm the Old and of Thyra Dannebod. He died in 985 or 986 having ruled as King of Denmark from c. 958 and King of Norway for a few years; probably around 970. Some sources say his son Sweyn Forkbeard forcibly deposed him.

During his reign, Harald oversaw the reconstruction of the Jelling runic stones, and numerous other public works. Some believe these projects were a way for him to consolidate economic and military control of his country. Ring forts were built in five strategic locations: Trelleborg on Zealand, Borrering in eastern Zealand (the inner construction of this fort is still yet to be established), Nonnebakken on Funen, Fyrkat in Himmerland (northern Jutland) and Aggersborg near Limfjord. All five fortresses had similar designs: “perfectly circular with gates opening to the four corners of the earth, and a courtyard divided into four areas which held large houses set in a square pattern.” A sixth Trelleborg of similar design, located at Borgeby, in Scania, has been dated to about 1000 and may also have been built by King Harald and a second fort named Trelleborg is located near the modern town of Trelleborg in Scania in present-day Sweden, but is of older date and thus pre-dates the reign of Harald Bluetooth.

Trelleborgen
Trelleborgen, a reconstructed Viking ring castle in Trelleborg
Photo: Paul Peplow, Wikipedia

He constructed the oldest known bridge in southern Scandinavia, the 5 meters wide, 760 meters long Ravninge Bridge at Ravninge meadows.

While quiet prevailed throughout the interior, he turned his energies to foreign enterprises. He came to the help of Richard the Fearless of Normandy in 945 and 963, while his son conquered Samland, and after the assassination of King Harald Greycloak of Norway, managed to force the people of that country into temporary subjugation to himself.

The Norse sagas present Harald in a rather negative light. He was forced twice to submit to the renegade Swedish prince Styrbjörn the Strong of the Jomsvikings- first by giving Styrbjörn a fleet and his daughter Thyra, the second time by giving up himself as hostage, along with yet another fleet. When Styrbjörn brought this fleet to Uppsala to claim the throne of Sweden, Harald broke his oath and fled with his Danes to avoid facing the Swedish army at the Battle of Fýrisvellir.

As a consequence of Harald’s army having lost to the Germans at the Danevirke in 974, he no longer had control of Norway, and Germans settled back into the border area between Scandinavia and Germany. They were driven out of Denmark in 983 by an alliance of Obodrite soldiers and troops loyal to Harald, but soon after, Harald was killed fighting off a rebellion led by his son Swein. He is believed to have died in 986, although several accounts claim 985 as his year of death (link).

KING OF DANES (REX AD TAN ER)

REX AD TAN ER would most likely refer to REX AD DANER.

Danes are the citizens of Denmark, most of whom speak Danish and consider themselves to be of Danish ethnicity.

The first mention of Danes within the Danish territory is on the Jelling Rune Stone which mentions how Harald Bluetooth converted the Danes to Christianity in the 10th century. Denmark has been continuously inhabited since this period; and, although much cultural and ethnic influence and immigration from all over the world has entered Denmark since then, Danes tend to see themselves as ethnic descendents of the early Danes mentioned in the sources.

The first mentions of “Danes” are recorded in the mid 6th century by historians Procopius (Greek: δάνοι) and Jordanes (danī), who both refer to a tribe related to the Suetidi and which inhabited the peninsula of Jutland, the province of Scania and the isles in between. Frankish annalists of the 8th century often refer to Danish kings. The Bobbio Orosius distinguishes between South Danes inhabiting Jutland and North Danes inhabiting the isles and the province of Scania.

The first mention of Danes within the Danish territory is on the Jelling Rune Stone which mentions how Harald Bluetooth converted the Danes to Christianity in the 10th century. Between c. 960 and the early 980s, Harald Bluetooth established a kingdom in the lands of the Danes which stretched from Jutland to Skåne. Around the same time, he received a visit from a German missionary who, according to legend, survived an ordeal by fire, which convinced Harold to convert to Christianity. (link)

SCANIA (SCON)

SCON would most likely refer to Scania (Skåne in Swedish) which is the southernmost province of Sweden (Diplomatarium Danicum, Raekke 4, Bd. 5. 1393-1395, Herlut Nielsen, page 545).

JOMSBORG (J VMN)

J VMN would most likely refer to Jumne (Jomsborg).

In the Latin Alphabet during the 10th century the letter J did not exist. The letter I in the name IVMN (Jumne) seems to be a J. In old handwritten documents the letter I also seems to be a J, see the text to the right for an example. If the text were written on a paper before it was manufactured there may have been a twist to the left on the I. On coins that were produced later the letter I looks like the letter I (see for example Sweyn´s and Cnut´s coins above).

Letter J in latin script

The Nordic sagas use “Jómsborg” exclusively, while medieval German histories use “Jumne” or “Julin”, with the alternate names, some of which may be spelling variants, “vimne”, “uimne”, “Jumneta”, “Juminem”, “Julinum”, “uineta”, “Vineta” and “Vinneta”. There are different accounts for the origins of the order. Gesta Danorum tells that a settlement named Julinum was conquered by the King of Denmark, Harald Bluetooth, who gave it to the Swedish prince Styrbjörn the Strong. Harald then provided Styrbjörn with a strong force with which Styrbjörn terrorized the seas. Jomsborg is often thought to be identical with the present-day town of Wolin (also Wollin) on the southeastern tip of the isle of Wolin, probably located at Silberberg hill north of the town. In the Early Middle Ages, modern Wolin was the site of a multi-ethnic emporium (then known as Jumne or Julin). (link)

CITY OF OLDENBURG (CIV ALDIN)

Civitas Aldinburg is another name for the city Oldenburg (Hanswilhelm Haefs, Ortsnamen und Ortsgeschichten in Schleswig-Holstein: zunebst dem reichhaltigen slawischen Ortsnamenmaterial und den dänischen Einflüssen auf Fehmarn und Lauenburg, Helgoland und Nordfriesland: woraus sich Anmerkungen zur Landesgeschichte ergeben, page 180).

“Civitas” is clearly a name for an urban community, but there are different contexts in which the word is used, contexts which refer to different things. Tore Nyberg writes:

“Another important meaning of the word civitas has been clariied by recent local history research. During a given epoch from Charlemagne’s time until the 1100s, civitas did not mean ‘city’ but ‘diocese/bishopric’. The word denoted the inner section of a walled urban settlement, with the cathedral, the bishop’s palace, the canons’ residences and housing for people directly in the priests’ service. Within this area, the so-called immunity, there were special laws and privileges for the church and those living in the area.

Several times, where Adam refers to Bremen as a civitas, there is reason to interpret this as a designation for the inner part of the archdiocese … Another way of using the word civitas is in the lists, the so-called provincial, where all dioceses are listed. From Late Antiquity’s Christianity, the church inherited the idea that each diocese corresponded in principle to a particular tribe’s settlement area. In some listings, the diocese is therefore described with the tribe’s name, followed by the capital where the bishop resided. This capital is then referred to as civitas. So it was a habitual in the circles that used such lists that as soon as a tribe was presented by name, the ‘largest town’, ‘centre’ or ‘settlement’ should also be mentioned. It was usually the same as its diocese or bishopric.” (Tore Nyberg, Stad, skrift och stift. Några historiska inledningsfrågor, Adam av Bremen. Stockholm 1984.)

A new bishopric was installed in Oldenburg in 968 and was subordinated to the archbishopric of Hamburg-Bremen (Nora Berend, Christianization and the rise of Christian Monarchy: Scandinavia, Central Europe and rus´ c. 900-1200, edited by, page 301).

Oldenburg Museum
Oldenburg Museum

Oldenburg became extremely rich and the bishops could make use of their wealth as a means of binding the slavonian population and their princes to themselves (Augustus Neander, General History of the Christian Religion and Church, page 446).

With the language use that was current at the time of Harald’s life, the inscription CIV + ALDIN should thus be linked with the previous town name. The translation would then be “Jumne in the bishopric Aldinburg”. Jumne was after all, according to Adam of Bremen, the place of King Harald’s death, so the object’s closing inscription should thus, from a Christian point of view, pinpoint where Jumne was located. But Tore Nyberg also said in 1984 that such a clarification of older formulation belonged to more recent urban historical research. This could not therefore have been known in connection with an older forgery. However, the author completely rules out the idea of any forgery having been made in modern times as the object came into the possession of the current family in 1946 (link).