This article presents the first interpretation of a 5th century proto-Norse runic inscription discovered in 2017 at Øverby, Østfold, Norway: “Cut runes in, skilled iril, for Isni”. The meaning of the word iril is discussed in light of the ten other proto-Norse inscriptions in Scandinavia where irils are mentioned. Through analysis of the language, history, archaeology and landscape context of all the iril inscriptions, we argue that the iril in the Roman and Migration period was a military leader, an earl, subordinate to a King. The iril at Øverby was Earl in the medieval shire of Vingulmark. The Earls in this period were located in strategic places in the outskirts of larger habitation areas close to the shire borders. The findings are set in context with among other Danish bog offering sites. We consider the iril a military leader for major warrior groups that fought in Scandinavia and on the continent 1500–1800 years ago.
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