The Viking Rune

This blog is on Vikings and for Vikings. Warriors and traders from Nordic countries reached as far as North America, leaving lasting marks of their presence everywhere. In battle, Vikings feared nothing, eager to join Odin in his hall. They knew that valkyries chose who would die and become one of the einherjar in Valhalla.

Viking shipThe 4th season of The History Channel’s Vikings started a few days ago. The TV series grew so popular that this year it will have twice as many episodes as in the previous seasons, with additional ten in fall, after a summer break. Many things in the Viking Age epic by Michael Hirst stir up controversy, like Ragnar’s fancy hairstyle or the runic inscription on the so called sword of kings that the mighty konung came to own. [click to continue…]


Ulfberht Viking swordViking swords are sometimes called Carolingian swords or Carolingian type swords. It is believed that they developed from Vendel type swords, which, in their turn, emerged under the influence of Spatha, a Celtic sword adopted by Roman cavalry along with the Celtic cavalrymen. A universally accepted Viking sword typology was created by Jan Petersen in his 1919 book De Norske Vikingesverd. The sword in the photo above is a type H sword. This type was the most widely spread and had the longest tradition of manufacture. [click to continue…]


Swedish flag

The list of top 100 popular Swedish names includes names that have been the most widespread during the last 100 years in Sweden. Some of them were popular once and then enjoyed less spreading. Others remain popular until today. The list is divided into top 50 male and top 50 female Swedish names. ON stands for Old Norse, OE for Old English, OHG for Old High German.

Male Swedish Names

Åke — ON Áki from Ancient Germanic *anuR ‘father’. May 8.
Arne — ON ǫrn ‘eagle’. August 4.
Arvid — ON ǫrn ‘eagle’ + viðr ‘forest, wood, tree’. August 31.
Axel — from Axelen, Old Danish form of Absalom. June 16.
Bengt — Old Swedish short form of Benedikt. March 21. [click to continue…]


Lord’s Prayer, the Vikings TV series 2nd season final episode, features a so called sword of kings, which is regarded as part of royal insignia, a symbol of power that passes from defeated Horik to victorious Ragnar. The weapon is loosely based on gorgeous type D Carolingian swords but it has an unusually long grip and untypical blade construction, the fuller starting at a distance from the guard. The runic inscription on the sword reads:

Anglo-Saxon runes, incorrect text [click to continue…]


RunesAll types of Germanic runic writing are basically kindred and go back to the Common Germanic Elder Futhark. One may be certain that these ancient runes had names. Alas, no rune-master of the Common Germanic period either left us a list of names for the Elder Futhark or explained what these names meant. Therefore modern expositions of the original rune-names and rune-meanings are more or less daring reconstructions. There are several sources that allow us to speculate about the Common Germanic names of runes: [click to continue…]


Runic manuscriptThe 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 runes were used in the early Middle Ages. Where does the whole notion of ‘writing phonetically’ come from? This is simply another way to state that Old Norse inscriptions carved with the Younger Futhark runes did not have a stable spelling.

This is not something unique or characteristic for the Viking Age Old Norse language. Spelling variants are found throughout the ancient literatures. Even today we have orthographical differences between British English and US English. [click to continue…]