Not strictly speaking appropriate to the Viking Age, but deucedly worth it! Help the Staffordshire Hoard examination. We did! http://www.staffordshirehoard.org.uk/donate Via David Constantine
Write a Verse That Tells Me What You Think of Me
“Rune” is derived from the word run, “mystery secret” reveals much about the limited extent to which members of the tribe were trained in runes. Perhaps the best way to keep a secret during the Anglo-Saxon period was to write it down. The fuþark was initially just another literary alphabet, Although used for some religious or magical purposes. Limiting its use to magic is similar to saying that since the Latin alphabet was used to write down charms and prayers that the Latin alphabet was solely a magical alphabet! The fuþark did not attain its current occult mystery that later writers ascribed to it until much later. It was not used on divination boards or stones during the era of its heyday.
After all, the fuþark was used in many prosaic situations. There is the Halfdan’s bored graffiti in the Haga Sophia in Constantinople, and we are told of a barrow in the north of England where a graffiti was scrawled that might as well be scrawled today: “Birgit was a good lay.” However, when rune writing was “rediscovered” and became almost instantly popular, they were instantly linked to magic. Their use as divination apparently dates from the twentieth century, and nowadays the only place to find books on runs is in the newage section of the bookstore, and the books have more to do with newage philosophy than with actual history!
The actual name fuþark came from the first six of its characters, just as the Latin alphabet is known as the ABCs from its first the characters. The names of the characters are given below, though not only did the names vary and differ with time, the meanings of the runes themselves has remain controversial and probably varied from place to place.
Readin’ an’ Writin’ an’ Runematic…
Runic inscriptions are sometimes difficult to understand, and even after concentrated study, the same runic inscription, academics can come up with several different readings. This is very normal, since there are several things about the writing of runes that make them difficult:
1. There are two major variations of the younger fuþark and several variations
2. Each character in the younger fuþark meant several sounds and so the words formed by runes could stand for several words
3. Runic inscriptions could be written forward or backwards according to the artistic taste of the carver
4. They runic words often had no spaces or other divisions between them but ran on
5. The same letter following itself was generally not be repeated, even if it were written in separate words
These should also be kept in mind when writing your own runic inscriptions. It is advantageous to consult the following chart; good luck!
The subject of rune lore is extensive and fascinating. We may very well having another installment in this, touching on the many matters that we did not speak of here, or to comment further on that which we did.
There is an excellent section in Anders Winroth’s The Age of the Vikings that speaks on runes and runestones, and I have stolen from it liberally. Readers may want to see my inspirations in a book that is altogether fascinating on other subjects as well!