Bergakker inscription

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The Elder Futhark runes from the 5th-century Bergakker inscription, found in Netherlands.

The Bergakker inscription was found in 1996 near the town of Bergakker, near Tiel. It is a 5th-century Elder Futhark inscription on a metal mount for a sword scabbard.

Runic writing at the time was used along the North Sea coast, in Frisia, but there are very few other known inscriptions from Francia. There is consensus that the find dates from the period 425-475 and that the inscription is most likely a singular direct attestation of the Old Frankish language.

The inscription can be read as

ha?VþV??s : ann : kVsjam :
: logVns :

where V is a non-standard rune, apparently a vowel (variously read as e or u, or as "any vowel").

Several readings have been presented in literature. There seems to be consensus that the ann means "give/bestow/grant". Several authors read the first word as a personal name in the genitive (indicating property), and the last word as meaning "flame, brand", a kenning for swords. The third word is read either as kusjam, meaning "chooser" or "chosen", or as keisjam meaning "cut" or "cutter", also referring to swords or sword-fighters.

Examples of scholarly readings:

  • Quak (2000): Ha(þu)þ[e]was ann k(u)sjam log(u)ns, interpreting it as "[property] of Haþuþewaz. I bestow upon the choosers of the swords".
  • Vennemann (1999): Haþ(ur)s ann k(u)sjam lōg(u)ns "[property] of Haþur. I grant lodging to the swordblades".
  • Seebold (1999): h(ǫ)þ(u)was ann k(u)sjam log(u)ns. "I grant combat to the choosers of the sword".
  • Odenstedt (1999): hā(le) þ(e)was ann k(eis)am lo(ka)ns: "hale servants [warriors] I [the sword] like. I place cuts".
  • Looijenga (1999): Hā(le)þ(e)was ann k(e)sjam log(e)ns. "[property] of Hāleþewaz: He grants the swords to the swordfighters" (possibly a maker's inscriptions).
  • Bammesberger (1999): Haþ(u)þ(u)ras ann k(u)s(j)am lōg(u)n[r]... "I grant to Haþuþuraʀ and his chosen [bride] the wedding-rune".
  • Mees (2002): Ha(þu)þ[ȳ]was ann k(u)sjam lōguns. "[property] of Haþuþȳwaʀ. He grants a flame [=brand, sword] to the chosen".
  • Grünzweig (2004): Ha(þu)þ(ewa)s ann k(u)sjam log(ō)ns "[property] of Haþuþyewaʀ - he grants the choosers [enemies?] the flame [sword?]".

There is a possibility that the text refers to the Dutch-Flemish folk tale which survives in folk ballad 'Van Here Halewijn' (in English: The Song of Lord Halewijn). In that case the reading would be: Hā(le)þ(uin)s ann k(u)sjam log(u)ns "I grant Halewijn's [sword] to the chooser of the sword(s)", the chooser of the sword (vs. the noose) being the maiden/princess about to be killed by Lord Halewijn.

References[edit]

  • Bammesberger, Alfred. 'Die Runeninschrift von Bergakker: Versuch einer Deutung' in: Pforzen und Bergakker. Neue Untersuchungen zu Runeninschriften, ed. Bammesberger, Göttingen 1999 (=Historische Sprachforschung, Ergänzungsheft, 41), 180-185.
  • Grünzweig, Friedrich E. Runeninschriften auf Waffen. Inschriften vom 2. Jahrhundert n. Chr. bis ins Hochmittelalter. Wien 2004 (=Wiener Studien zur Skandinavistik, 11).
  • Looijenga, Tineke. The Bergakker Find and its Context in: Pforzen und Bergakker. Neue Untersuchungen zu Runeninschriften, ed, Bammesberger, Göttingen 1999 (=Historische Sprachforschung, Ergänzungsheft, 41), 141-151.
  • Mees, Bernard (2002). "The Bergakker Inscription and the Beginnings of Dutch". In Vennemann, Theo. Amsterdamer Beitrage zur Alteren Germaninstik 56. Rodopi. pp. 23–26. ISBN 90-420-1579-9. 
  • Odenstedt, Bengt. 'The Bergakker Inscription. Transliteration, Interpretation, Message: Some Suggestions' in: Pforzen und Bergakker. Neue Untersuchungen zu Runeninschriften, ed. Bammesberger, Göttingen 1999 (=Historische Sprachforschung, Ergänzungsheft, 41), 163-173.
  • Quak, Arend, 'Wieder nach Bergakker' in: Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik', 53, 2000, 33-39.
  • Seebold, Elmar. 'Die Runeninschrift von Bergakker' in: Pforzen und Bergakker. Neue Untersuchungen zu Runeninschriften, ed. Bammesberger, Göttingen 1999 (=Historische Sprachforschung, Ergänzungsheft, 41), 157-162.
  • Vennemann, Theo, 'Note on the Runic Inscription of the Bergakker Scabbard Mount' in: Pforzen und Bergakker. Neue Untersuchungen zu Runeninschriften, ed. Bammesberger, Göttingen 1999, 152-156.
  • Heer Halewijn

External links[edit]