Runes // Viking text

Runic alphabet Runic/Futhark

Origin:

Little is known about the origins of the Runic alphabet, which is traditionally known as futhark after the first six letters. In Old Norse the word rune means ‘letter’, ‘text’ or ‘inscription’. The word also means ‘mystery’ or ‘secret’ in Old Germanic languages and runes had a important role in ritual and magic.

Here are some theories about the origins of runes:
  • The alphabet was probably created independently rather than evolving from another alphabet.
  • Runic writing was probably first used in southern Europe and was carried north by Germanic tribes.
  • The Runic alphabet is thought to have been modelled on the Latin and/or Etruscan alphabet.

The earliest known Runic inscriptions date from the 1st century AD, but the vast majority of Runic inscriptions date from the 11th century. Runic inscriptions have been found throughout Europe from the Balkans to Germany, Scandinavia and the British Isles.

Notable features
  • The direction of writing in early Runic inscriptions is variable. Later they settled down into a left to right pattern
  • Word divisions were not generally recognised in Runic writing, although one or more dots were occasionally used for this function.
Types of runic inscriptions include:
  • ‘Hrolf was here’ type inscriptions on cliff walls, large rocks and buildings
  • Grave stone inscriptions, often with who carved the runes and who was buried, and also who made sure the stone was raised. (Later grave slabs or stone coffins were sometimes inscribed with Christian texts carved in runes)
  • Religious/magic inscriptions: prayers and curses, formulas on charms, etc.
  • Inscriptions related to trade and politics: There are many examples of trade communication: stock orders and descriptions, excuses for not having payed on time, trade name tags for bags or cases of produce, etc. The trade inscriptions are often carved on wooden rune sticks. Political inscriptions are to do with matters of the law, historical figures state that they were somewhere hiding from the enemy, secret messages to do with the fighting of wars, etc.
  • Personal letters: love letters, greetings between friends, proposals, etc.
  • Rude messages, similar to modern graffiti
  • Art and craft-signatures: Goldsmiths, blacksmiths, wood carvers, church builders, etc., often put their name on what they made. Objects also somtimes had names carved onto them – either the name of the object itself, or the name of the person who owned it.

Write your name in runes HERE

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