Agnes Chang, Flickr
Built around 2800 BCE, the ancient Scottish burial chamber Maeshowe (a.k.a. “Maes Howe”) was broken into by some Scandinavian seafarers who sheltered there during the 1100s. The Vikings left behind a lot of graffiti, not just the items on this list—and though most of these selections are fairly innocuous, two might even make Hägar the Horrible blush.
1. “Thorni f***ed. Helga carved.”
Viking erotica at its finest! Official guidebooks usually tone this one down to something more appropriate, like “Thorni bedded. Helga carved.”
2. “These rules were carved by the man most skilled in runes on the Western Ocean with the axe that killed Gaukr Trandkill’s son in the South of Iceland.”
Self-aggrandizing graffiti artists were quite common back then.
3. “In the northwest, great treasure is hidden.”
4. “Jerusalem men broke into this hill.”
By “Jerusalem men,” the writer meant “crusaders”.
5. “Ingigerth is the most beautiful of all women.”
Most unflatteringly, a salivating dog was carved nearby.
6. The “Maeshowe Dragon”
This strange creature is usually identified as some sort of dragon—but since the artist didn’t bother to add a caption, it might instead be a wolf, a lion, or even an eagle attacking a hare.
Ever see something along the lines of “Melvin was here” scribbled on a bathroom stall? Thorir would have approved.
8. “Benedikt made this cross.”
Because contemporary Christians wouldn’t trade with Pagans, many Vikings were driven to adopt Christianity (or, at least, Christian-like beliefs).
9. “Is to me said that treasure is here hidden very well.”
To date, nobody knows if centuries-old rumors about treasure in Maeshowe are true. It’s possible that the fabled bounty consisted of neither gold nor silver, but instead precious flint.
10. “Thatir the Viking came here to weary.”
Exhausted from travel and/or combat, Thatir chronicled his fatigue before hopefully getting some shuteye.
11. “Many a woman has come stooping in here, no matter how pompous a person she was.”
“Stooping” could be a reference to ducking one’s head before entering the tomb. Or maybe it meant something a little more, shall we say, romantic? You be the judge.