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

Óst min, kyss mik
‘My love, kiss me’

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

B465, before 1198


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

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

Gyða segir at þú gakk heim
‘Gyda says that you are to go home’

The following lines are highly dramatic:

B644, before 1198


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 vincit amor, et nos cedamus amori
‘Love conquers all; let us too yield to love.’

Images above are copyright © The Viking Rune

107 comments… add one
  • MIMI

    Thank you for this website. I recently went to The Viking Show at The Disciver Center on 44th Street in Manhattan, NY where I saw the love rune mentioned here: Remember me, I remember you. Love me, I love you but I believe the rune at the show was quoted as: Think of me, I will think of you. Love me, I love you.

    Nonetheless, I searched the Internet for a love poem because I am getting married on Friday and wanted to incorporate poetry into my ceremony and I just might use this rune because of its pure simplicity reflecting timeless universality of such emotions.

    Thanks again.

    • Viking Rune

      Thank you for sharing this.

      • Micah

        Is there a picture of these runes? My wife and I are celebrating our 5 year anniversary and found this poem beautiful. Would like a way to print out the runes so we can get this poem tattooed to celebrate. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

        • Viking Rune

          Micah, the picture is above.

  • Brandi L Beaver

    wow…..I am blown away Sir by the passion u clearly have for this culture. As well as your kindness in effort to share it with the world so flawlessly. I can’t remember the last time I was so intrigued and just utterly enveloped in any one persons work. Thank u for creating this site, my husband and I are thoroughly enjoying it! God Bless! also, we were going to play with the rune converter, however, it seems to be a broken link. Ill b checking back to see if it becomes accessible. Thanks again we’ve learned so much!

    • Viking Rune

      Thank you, Brandi, for your warm support. Please use this link, it should work: rune converter. Let me know if it doesn’t.

  • Jøsefine

    I noticed that in these inscriptions, they didn’t differentiate between ‘u’ and ‘v’. What of Old Norse words that begin with ‘v’? Did they use the rune fé, or úr?

    Thoughts from Norway.

    • Viking Rune

      Hello Jøsefine. It so happens that in the inscriptions above v is always before a vowel. In this position it was written (or rather carved) as úr (since it probably sounded w). It is also true for the initial position in the word: see vinr and vif in B644.

  • Jon Cooper

    What I want is a simple transcription that is unique for me and my love.
    Since she is Swedish, I really do not want it transcribed into English

    If I wanted to transcribe modern swedish into runes instead of modern english into runes, would this simply me taking the rune sounds into modern swedish?
    “I found you” in swedish is “Jag hittade dig”
    “You found me” in Swedish is “Du hittade mig”

    • Viking Rune

      These phrases would probably have been written like that:

  • Jon Cooper

    I just figured out my earlier question. The translator “TRANSCRIBES” modern sound into Rune alphabet, whereas the love quote are “TRANSLATED”, correct?

  • Jon Cooper

    I am a beginner and very interested in gaining a basic level of understanding. I have read your pages with great interest. I want to be able to create a Rune expression of “I found you; You found me”.
    Could you please answer a question that is bothering me. If I take the rune to English translation above and use the online converter, I would have thought to see a equivalent or highly similar translation.
    For example, ‘My love, kiss me’ from bergen B017 should be able to use the reverse translation to get something similar to the original. However, it is not.
    Since I do not know which rune alphabet was used in Bergen, I tried all the types and found nothing remotely similar.
    What am I missing in my understanding?

    • Viking Rune

      Hello Jon. The converter substitutes letters for runes, it doesn’t do translation.

  • Tom

    Hello! I would love some help with the text B465. Which part of the runes in the runic quote mean; “Love me, I love you”?

    • Viking Rune

      Hello Tom. This one: un:þu:mer:an:ekþ(er).

  • Elliot

    Hi, i was wondering if you knew of any rune scripts that use the word stone or rock (steinn).

    • Viking Rune

      Uppland runic inscription Fv1986 84 mentions Steinn as a personal name.

  • Matthias

    Hello, what would you charge to engrave a sterling silver signets rings shoulders with the words “Folk” and “Sippe”?


    • Viking Rune

      Hello Matthias. I do not do engravings. If you meant to ask whether I can write these words with runes, the answer is you can do it yourself for free using my rune converter.

  • Haiko

    I love the quotes! A wonderful example of life in runic script. Thank you!

    • Viking Rune

      Thanks for the feedback, Haiko! I am glad you liked the quotes.

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