A runestone is typically a raised stone with a runic inscription, but the term can also be applied to inscriptions on boulders and on bedrock. The tradition began in the 4th century but most of them date from the late Viking Age, and it lasted into the 12th century. Most runestones are located in Scandinavia, but there are also scattered runestones in locations where the Norsemen went during the Viking Age. Runestones are generally memorials to deceased men. Runestones were usually brightly colored when erected though this is no longer evident as the color has worn off.
The tradition of raising stones that had runic inscriptions first appeared in the 4th and 5th century in Norway and Sweden, and these early runestones were usually placed next to graves. The earliest Danish runestones appeared in the 6th and 7th centuries, and there are about 50 runestones from the Migration Period in Scandinavia. Most runestones would be made during the period 950-1100 and then they were mostly raised in Sweden and Denmark, and to a lesser degree in Norway.