Norse Runes

Norse runesThe eldest runestones, inscribed with Norse runes, date from the 4th century. These were the Elder Futhark runes. However, the most of the runestones were created during the late Viking Age and thus inscribed with the Younger Futhark runes. The runestones with Norse runes were usually erected to commemorate one or several deceased kinsmen, and in most cases these people died at home peacefully. Usually, men raised or commanded raising a runestone, while some of them are raised by women, usually widows of the deceased. It is believed that runestones were brightly colored. Nowadays, most of them are painted with falu red, Swedish deep red paint known for its use on wooden cottages and barns. The vast majority of the Norse runestones are located in Scandinavia, but they can be found at all places reached by the Norsemen during the Viking Age: from the Isle of Man to Berezan’ in the Black Sea region. It is interesting, however, that not a single runestone is known to be found in Iceland. Runestones were erected at assembly locations, near roads, bridges and fords. Norse Runestones marked territory, explained inheritance, and told about important events. They remain one of the most striking traces left from the Viking Age.

Photo: Runestone U 164 (one of the Jarlabanke runestones), detail. Courtesy Mararie. Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike 2.0 Generic Licence.

Should I Write in Runes Phonetically?

by Viking Rune 25.08.2014
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The idea of writing phonetically is probably the first thing people hear when they delve into the problem of having a runic inscription. Vikings used runes phonetically, they say, so should we, if we want to get something authentic, do the same? A few points have to be cleared up with respect to the way […]

How to Write an Authentic Runic Inscription

by Viking Rune 19.07.2014
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In my previous post on How to Translate Into Runes Correctly I wrote that no such thing as a correct representation of an English or Old Norse text in Norse runes can be achieved in practice. I know it sounds quite disappointing. Let’s consider what can be done about that. The practical advice I gave […]

How to Translate into Runes Correctly

by Viking Rune 12.07.2014
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You cannot translate anything into runes, full stop. Runes are not a language, they are signs devised to represent the sounds of a language, the same way as letters. You also cannot represent anything in runes correctly. No kind of correctness standard may be applied to the Viking Age runic inscriptions, at least in the […]

Nordic Runes Primer for Starters: Futhark 101

by Viking Rune 06.02.2014
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Nordic runes are writing systems developed by Germanic tribes. It is not certain whether the first Germanic runic alphabet was based on a preceding form of writing, for instance Old Italic alphabets. It may well be an original Nordic invention, since the oldest runic inscriptions were discovered in Northern Germany and Denmark. The word Futhark […]

A Guide to Writing in Norse Runes

by Viking Rune 28.09.2013
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If you want to write something in Norse runes, you have probably discovered that the task is rather challenging. This guide will help you through all the necessary steps. To begin, one has to look into how it works, and then figure out what kind of inscription is needed, since each type of converting into […]

Jelling Rune Stones Remain Outdoors

by Viking Rune 29.03.2009
Jelling runestones

The Jelling stones are two massive runestones standing in a churchyard in Jelling, Denmark, between two large mounds. Both date to the 10th century. The older and the smaller of the two was erected by Gorm the Old in memory of his wife Thyra. The Larger stone was erected by Harald Bluetooth in memory of […]