Runic Love Quotes

The fire of 1955 destroyed part of Bryggen, the old quarter of Bergen (Norway). This made possible large scale excavations of a medieval town. Archeologists brought to light over 550 objects with runic inscriptions, dating to 1150-1350. The most of them are on wooden sticks with flattened sides. At a time when everyone had a knife, such sticks, called in Icelandic rúnakefli, served as both notebooks and a way to send a letter. Bergen inscriptions revealed much about everyday life in a society, in which runes played a very important role. Below are a few runic inscriptions from Bergen that deal with love. Throughout this post, first goes the Bergen Index number (it is also a link to a picture of the original inscription, if available) with the date, then the runic text, a transcription, the same text in normalized orthography, and an English translation.

B017, after 1248

ost:min:kis:mik
Óst min, kyss mik
‘My love, kiss me’

Above is perhaps the most cute runic inscription I’ve ever seen.

B465, before 1198

mun:þumik:man:(ek)þik:un:þu:mer:an:ekþ(er)

Mun þú mik,
man ek þik.
Unn þú mér,
ann ek þér.

‘Remember me,
I remember you.
Love me,
I love you’.

A naive, but also a very sincere love poem. Next goes a much more down-to-earth saying:

B039, before 1332

smiþur:saarþ:uiktisi af:snæltu:benum
Smiður sarð Vigdisi af Snældubeinum
‘Smidur made love with Vigdis of the Snældubeinar’

Sounds a bit boastful. The following quote is of the same kind:

B390, before 1198

inkebiørkunimerþaerikuarisþafakri
Ingibjörg unni mér þá er ek var í Stafangri
‘Ingibjörg loved me when I was in Stavanger’

The next message was possibly addressed by a worried wife to an errand husband:

B149, after 1248

gya:sæhir:atþu:kakhæim
Gyða segir at þú gakk heim
‘Gyda says that you are to go home’

The following lines are highly dramatic:

B644, before 1198

aneksua:konomansatmer:þykikaltræltr:
enekemuinr:uifsþæsua

Ann ek svá konu mans at mér þykkir kaldr eldr.
En ek emi vinr vifs þessa.
‘I love that man’s wife so much that fire seems cold to me.
And I am that woman’s lover’

The final runic quote here shows that Scandinavians read Virgil. Isn’t it terrific to see his Latin verse written with runes:

B145, ca. 1248

omnia:uinciþ:am(or):æþ:nos:cedamus:amor(i)
Omnia vincit amor, et nos cedamus amori
‘Love conquers all; let us too yield to love.’

Images above are copyright © The Viking Rune

97 comments… add one
  • Friedrich

    B 465 is not a naive poem. It is the poem by a young man of low class to the higher class maiden and they were torrentially in love. Circumstances prevented them from being together and they had made a pact for the afterlife. Her name was Siennafair — mine is still Friedrich. Thank you for finding it.

  • Oxana Kurasevich

    Hello, I am very grateful for you website! Thank you very much for your work.
    I would love to get tattoo with quote:
    Remember me,
    I remember you.
    Love me,
    I love you’.
    But I am not sure about transcription, because I want it in Old Futhark.
    I used your rune converter but I need your advise – Your added “ek” and “er” to origin quote and I don’t if I should write it together or separetly from next word. This is according to your converter:

    Is it right? Thank you for your asnwer.

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