Last updated 8 years ago
In the age of the Vikings (800-1100AD) Scandinavia used a runic alphabet known as Younger Futhark (fuþark). It was made up of 16 sound symbols known as runes. Younger Futhark developed from Elder Futhark (150 to 800 AD), an older form of Germanic language consisting of 24 runes. Both alphabets are called after their first six runes F-U-þ-A-R-K. Younger Futhark is basically the written form of Old Norse – the language of the Vikings.
An early runestone: the Möjbro Runestone from Hagby (first placed near Möjebro), Uppland, Sweden. As with other early runic inscriptions, (e.g. Kylver Stone from about 300 - 400 CE) this is written from right to left, while later Runestones were written from left to right. The text is “Frawaradar anahaha is laginar”
Viking Runes Through Time
Carved Viking stone with runes. Those who used runes for magic took the supernatural powers of the runes seriously. As one Viking poet put it, "Let no man carve runes to cast a spell, save first he learns to read them well." While many in the upper classes could read and write runes, the Vikings called in a specialist when dealing with the talismanic properties of their alphabet. These experts, called Rune Masters, were specially trained to bring runes into play for divination and sorcery.
Kiss me – the world of runes
Runestone from Norway, ca. 400. Usually interpreted: ‘IuthingaR. [Maybe: IuthingaR (lies here).] I, WakraR, have learned writing.’ Another suggestion is that WakraR says he ‘took land’, that is, settled down. Runes are not a language, but the Old Germanic alphabet. Each sign represented a sound. Runes were developed around the birth of Christ, probably in Scandinavia. By 500 AD they were being used by Germanic peoples from the Black Sea in the south to Norway and England in the north.