Real runestones were carved primarily as commemorative markers, either of living people, or loved or respected persons who had died. They were sometimes used as crossroad markers, or to impart messages. A great many of them were destroyed by Christian priests and monks at the time of conversion of each country. The priests viewed them as reminders of the pagan past. More have been broken up for construction material by those who did not recognize their historical significance. The present day hazard is defacement by vandals. Carved runestones have been found primarily in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland, with a few others scattered elsewhere. Each year one or two more rune stones are discovered or rediscovered in Sweden.
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