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
  • P

    Could you provide your sourcing for the B465 inscription? I have been unable to find reference to that particular inscription anywhere other than this website and various jewelry websites. Thanks so much.

    • Viking Rune

      Search for this: N B465 Gullskoen, Bryggen, Bergen

  • Benton D. Fagan

    What rune format is being used

  • Andrew

    Hi, love the site, one question, the first “Love poem”
    How have you arrived at Óst to mean Love?
    To me, that poem translates as someone asking for, what essentially would be, a kiss on the private area.

    Just curious, as I cannot find Óst to translate to anything near love.

    Thanks again for the site, it’s a great resource.

    • Kimmo

      The modern Icelandic equivalent is ‘ást’ .)

  • Julian

    Hi, I have a questions about b145, the part that says “omnia:uinciþ:am(or)” which translates to “love conquers all”: why is only the “am” part of “amor” in the inscription? I guess just for space issues (or there are rules that I don’t know of?). Second question: given that the runes used here are of the later medieval variant, I wonder how it would be the same verse in the similar Younger Futhark (it’s for a tattoo). This website is great by the way, thank you!

    • Viking Rune

      Julian, it’s unclear why part of the word is missing here. May be the carver simply omitted a couple of runes by mistake.

      If you’d like to have it in the Viking Age Younger Futhark runes, follow the guide How to Write in Old Norse With Runes, as if Latin were Old Norse.

  • Anna

    I’d like to get the first half of the poem ‘Remember me,
    I remember you.
    Love me,
    I love you’
    tattooed. But since I can’t read runes myself I don’t know what that would be exactly. Which part of the runes translates into “remember me, I remember you”?

    • Valnir

      it translates to say “you remember me” “I remember you” “you love me” “I love you”

      if you just want remember me I remember you then “Mun þú mik,
      man ek þik.” is what you want but literally translated that means remember you me, remember I you but in English we would say “you remember me” or just “remember me” “I remember you”

    • Viking Rune

      Anna, the first half is the first four segments divided by dots.

  • Heidi

    We are getting married next year and my Fiance would like a runic inscription on the outside of his silver wedding ring. He did think about having my name, Heidi. Do you have any ideas on short love inscriptions? I would be grateful for any advice or help. Thanks, H

    • Viking Rune

      Heidi, I think some of the inscriptions above would be quite nice for a wedding ring.

  • Jackson Scanlon

    I like a lot of the proverbs on this site, but is there any way to get them into their original runic form (as opposed to a translation into English and then back into runes)? Thank you.

  • Shayna

    I’m wanting a tattoo that says “my wolf my love”

    I used the name translator but not sure if it’s saying what I want it to, like when sayings are backwords in spanish, could you show me the right way to write it.

    Thank you!

    • Viking Rune

      Shayna, it’s not a translator, it’s a converter. It does not translate anything into Old Norse, it just substitutes letters for runes. All you need is to spell it correctly in English.

  • Josh P

    I was wondering if you can write in runes using the meaning of them instead of the sounds. For example naudiz means necessity so if I put so and so is a necessity would I spell it with the sound or be able to use naudiz and it mean the same?

    • Viking Rune

      Josh, sometimes runes were used that way in magical inscriptions (for instance, on runic amulets). However, normally runes were used as an alphabet.

  • Greg S

    I want to get “Family above all else” in Norse runic what would you recommend for style?

    • Viking Rune

      Hello Greg. Probably Elder or Younger Futhark.

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