Talk:Runes/Archive 1

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General discussion

Not totally sure where this should go so I've added here. With regards to the comment concerning the shape of the Armanen rune Gibor I quote the following from the main page

" The "Wolfsangel", while not a rune historically, has the shape of List's "Gibor" rune." - This is untrue.

The shape of the Armanen runes as envisaged by Von List is substantially different to the form currently used. Who exactly it is that changed the shape of Gibor is open to debate, but it appeared in its 'new form' in the early 1930's. However, if one examines Von List's original documents one will find a somewhat different design, one that bares little resemblance to the 'Wolfsangel'. (talk) 00:49, 2 February 2008 (UTC)

Lord of the Rings

What about the runes from the Lord of the Rings? The LOTR page links here . . . I think that it would make a nice addition. -Frazzydee 00:29, 27 Apr 2004 (UTC)

They probably ought to have their own separate article, as Tolkien made them up himself and they did not exist historically. Yggdræsil
Good idea. I lost my LOTR runes->english translation sheet- but whoever decides to do that, make sure you change the link on the lord of the rings page -Frazzydee 03:01, 29 Apr 2004 (UTC)

"They probably ought to have their own separate article, as Tolkien made them up himself and they did not exist historically." is not entirely true. Cirth (Pronounced 'Kerth') looks very much like the ancient runes on this page.

Yes, but Tolkien's runes have completely different phonetic values. Their resemblance is just because there are only so many different symbols you can chisel into wood/stone. DopefishJustin (・∀・) 22:10, 24 October 2004 (UTC)

A few questions

A few questions about the current content.

From the first sentence: "Celtic" doesn't belong here. In just about every sense, the Celtic peoples are not a subset of the Germanic peoples (a few confused Roman authors to the contrary). Also there is not a lot of evidence that Celtic people used runes. There are a few cases of English and Norwegian runes in Scotland (and maybe Ireland) and it's just concievable that Celtic people did these, but seems more plausible it was the English and Norwegians. That's about it. I think the Celtic connection with runes is very weak and not worth mentioning.

From the "Use of Runes" section: "It appears that runes may actually be much older. The rune for the sound æ, as in sAd, was not used in writing for at that time the Germanic Languages didn't have that sound. Yet, in every list of characters it always appeared. However, in Proto-West Germanic æ appears to have existed as a full-blown phoneme."

I am not sure about this. Are there some serious scholars pushing this view? It's entirely plausible that the runes are significantly older than 200AD, since many of them can't easily be dated, and the ones that are easiest to date are the ones in wood, which usually doesn't last that long. I have vague memories of a Roman author 1st century BC mentioning something that might have been runes, sorry, i can't remember any details now.

But this æ argument sounds a bit dubious to me. From your text, it looks like you are saying æ is in (constructed) proto-West-Germanic, but disappeared from West Germanic languages before 200AD. Old English is certainly a West Germanic language, and the æ letter occurs in Old English at dates much later than 200BC. On the continent, West Germanic languages are not written (except possible runic fragments, see below) until about 800AD, so it seems to me to be difficult to say if they had æ or not around 200AD.

Early runic inscriptions on the continent are mostly very short and difficult to follow. If they don't use æ in actual words it may be because the inscription is so short that that letter doesn't happen to be used. It is also difficult to identify the languages for most of these. Some might be Saxon, Friesian, and other West Germanic languages, but they could also be just about anything else.

For runes, West Germanic is not the only game in town. The Scandinavians used runes, and some of their languages have æ still today, i guess they probably did in runic times? There were also the East Germanic languages, and for all we know other lost Germanic branches, and they may well have used runes also.

This brings alternative hypotheses: Runic script could have been invented by Scandinavians or English, or some other language speakers who had æ and then most of the continental Germans who copied these runes had æ in their alphabet but never used it. Or maybe if the runes are based on Greek script as a few scholars think, &aelig could represent a Greek letter that turned out to be not very useful for some Germanic languages. Or maybe the continental West Germanic languages still had æ in 200AD but lost it sometime between then and 800AD.

Professor (Emeritus) Elmer Antonsen of the University of Illinois presents the case that letter 13, eihwaz, originally represented the vowel \æ\, later lost in Germanic (only to reappear in Anglo-Saxon). This implies that the use of runes as a writing system is somewhat older than previously thought. See Antonsen, Elmer H. 1989. "The Runes: The Earliest Germanic Writing System," in: The Origins of Writing, ed. by Wayne Senner, pp. 137-158. Lincoln & London: University of Nebraska Press

I'm at best an interested outsider when it comes to runes, so i don't really want to jump in and attack this stuff. Do we have an expert who can evaluate it and fix if needed?

I hate to say it, but there are a number of mistakes in this article. For a start, runes were used to write several non-Germanic languages, such as Hungarian. Remote parts of northern Norway continued using the runes until the 20th century (or so I have read). Btw, the English can't have invented the runes - the runes existed before the English did.

I don't know what you want to make of it, but some interesting side factoids:

  • runic inscriptions in other languages: Sven B.F. Jansson states there are about 80 known inscriptions in Sweden written in latin. (Jansson could be considered the principal 20th c. authority on Swedish runes, I guess). Sorry, I don't have any literature data in anything but Swedish for this. For reference, Sweden has about 2500 rune inscriptions catalogued, the majority in Old West Nordic (local language during the viking age)
I seem to remember reading not too long ago that one runic inscription written in a Semitic language had been found in Sweden.
I think the semitic theory is proposed by one sole linguist in Norway, who is generally regarded as a crackpot theorist who interprets everything he sees acording to his "Semitic Fertility Cult" ahenda. 惑乱 分からん 16:45, 28 February 2006 (UTC)
  • In the early 17th century in Sweden, a half-hearted attempt was made to adopt (re-introduce) runes as the official way of writing. Johannes Bureus published a "Runic ABC", meant for use in schools in 1611.
  • In not uncommon use into the 19th century in Sweden were rune-staves, ie calendars using runes. Graffiti also shows that it still wasn't uncommon for people to use runes instead of latin letters, at least until the 16th century, regionally into the 18th.
  • the East Germanic language did use runes, at least early on - they are the Goths, and though only few finds have been made, there are, I believe, at least 3 items of (fairly certain) Gothic origin with Gothic rune characters, found in present day Romania and Ukraine and dated between 200-300 AD (time, place and in one case inscription all indicate Gothic context). The later Gothic writings use latin style alphabet (Codex Argentus is a prime example, I'm not sure of the exact type of alphabet used though) and a while later Goths as a body of people and the Gothic language cease to exist. I do not know enough to theorize on their use of ae though ;-)
  • would a list of literature for the various national collections of inscriptions be interesting? Anything else?


The Goths, by and large, used the Gothic alphabet, an descendant of the Greek alphabet. Hungarian runic is also entirely distinct from Germanic Runic; the similarities seem to be because of the similar mediums used for writing. --Prosfilaes 23:30, 27 Jun 2004 (UTC)
This discussion applied to a very old version of the article, and is some formatting has been lost - the part above the bullets were not by me, and there's text inserted in the middle too - but anyway... The Gothic runes predate the Gothic alphabet and are distinct from it. There are only a dozen or so finds from it. I believe all of them are dated before the assumed invention of the gothic alphabet (c 370 AD iirc). See Gothic language, Ulfilas. // OlofE 00:51, 30 Jun 2004 (UTC)


The above opinion on no Celtic connection with runes is short sighted. Tribes were often so mixed that separate racial terms often seem complete nonsense. The early scripts of the Celts are exactly runic in style and shape. Runes were used throughout Norse/Gaelic areas of Scotland and Ireland and even combined with ogam. It is difficult to attach any exclusive racial term to runes and rune use. The best we can say is that they were used by tribes of North European origin.

ThormodRaudhi (talk) 11:41, 19 June 2009 (UTC) Thormod.

please note that the above discussion is five years old.
if you want to reopen this, it may be best to do it in a new section.
Fwiiw, I am not aware of any evidence of Celtic interaction with the runes in the Elder Futhark period. The Norse-Gaelic contacts you mention of course date to the Viking Age, some 500 years after the evolution of the runes.
this is of course not about "racial" associations of the runic scripts, but about linguistic ones. I.e. what languages are written in runes. The runes are, after all, a writing system. If you are aware of any identifiable non-Germanic language with a runic (futhark, not "Turkish runes" etc.) record, I would be interested to hear about it. --dab (𒁳) 14:07, 19 June 2009 (UTC)

On the Negau helmet of 200BC we have the inscription harigastewa, a Germanic rendering. Accompanying it were several other helmets bearing name inscriptions in Celtic. The runic style script has been identified as North Etruscan, in the opinion of some the forerunner of the Elder Futhark. Celtiberian is also a runic style script. It is extremely unlikely that Celtic speakers did not carry knowledge and use of such letters into the Elder Futhark period, given the many mixed Germano-Celtic tribes sharing so much else. Little different from rune use among the Norse-Pictish-Gaelic population of the Viking Age. The Hunterston brooch AD700 bears the inscription Malbrithastilk (Melbrigda owns this brooch), which serves to show that words of Celtic derivation were inscribed in runic.

Thormod. —Preceding unsigned comment added by ThormodRaudhi (talkcontribs) 16:00, 19 June 2009 (UTC)

well, "runes" is a name especially reserved for the Etruscan/Phoenician script after it had been adopted by the Germanic peoples. Your term "runic style script" seems to refer simply to Phoenician derived scripts in general. Of course the Etruscan, Greek, Anatolian and Germanic alphabets are all Phoenician-derived, and as such "runic style" in your terminology. The problem is that this isn't what "runic" generally means. You should just say they are "alphabetic".
Concerning Ogham and its 4th century origin, it is generally accepted that it is inspired by some earlier alphabetic script, likely Latin. It is unlikely that Ogham is inspired by the Elder Futhark, because that was itself in its earliest stages and confined to Denmark and northern Germany at the time of the creation of Ogham. We do have mention that Düwel (1968) points out similarity with ciphers of Germanic runes at Ogham#Origins though. --dab (𒁳) 18:09, 19 June 2009 (UTC)

I did not claim that the ogam was inspired by the Elder Futhark, only that it was sometimes used in combination with runic inscriptions in Gaelic areas during the Viking Age. Runes were referred to as ogam lochlannach (or foreigner ogam) by the Gael because ogam was a convenient and familiar term for runic letters, although the word RUN also existed in Scots and Irish Gaelic.

Thormod. —Preceding unsigned comment added by ThormodRaudhi (talkcontribs) 19:00, 19 June 2009 (UTC)

Moved from article

Moved here from article:

Was the first article actually written for Nupedia or copied from a reference work? Do we know who wrote the original version? --LMS i WROTE THE FIRST ARTICLE. User:Wathiik

I think Larry is complaining (as am I) that the reference numbers are unclear. Please use footnotes that reference directly into the bibilography of the article itself, and mark page numbers as such. I've given one example that I think is correct, but you'd know better how to match up the references. --LDC

—Preceding unsigned comment added by Jeronimo (talkcontribs) 06:46, 19 September 2002 (UTC)

Runic numbers

A question that I did not find an answer for; "How were numbers written in runes?" Egil

I'm not aware of any such application of the runes. And in The Western Mysteries, David Hulse writes, "No record of a true number code for the runes has survived." (This book is basically about alphabets and their related numerical systems, and the esoteric interpretations of same. ISBN 1-56718-429-4 ) RL Barrett 16:07 May 7, 2003 (UTC)
Numbers are written by spelling them out using letters. No figures. The usual way of writing e.g. years, is to refer to some historic event in a measure of man-ages (~40 years). Several numbers are found written on the Rök Stone. Nixdorf 23:25, 28 Apr 2004 (UTC)
For completeness: Late inscriptions (typically 18th century I believe) from Scandinavia occasionally use pentadic numbers - such numbers also appear on the Kensington stone. If I understand correctly, they are irrelevant for "classic" rune inscriptions (very few and no occurrence before 1300?). OlofE 00:11, 29 April 2004 (UTC)

Alphabet image

I might like to see the alphabet in here as a PNG or GIF image. I can't seem to get my browser to work right with the UTF-8 or Unicode or whatever it is; all I see is squares with four hexadecimal digits squeezed into them. I have similar issues with a lot of the Japanese, Chinese, and other non-Roman alphabets, but it would be a bit much to want words in general changed into images, I know. But I think when the article is about the alphabet itself, it mightn't be too much to ask. -- John Owens 08:03 Apr 3, 2003 (UTC)

I'd have to agree. What was the reason for the unicode in the first place? Wouldn't it have been easier to upload an image instead? RL Barrett 16:07 May 7, 2003 (UTC)
(I'm using Mozilla on Windows XP Home BTW) I followed the second external link [1] and wound up at Lars Törnqvist’s Fonts (it's a sub-frame so you'll have to select the Fonts option). I downloaded the Hnias font and it seems to work a treat. HTH HAND Phil 14:19, Dec 22, 2003 (UTC)
᛫ᛁᛏ᛫ᚹᚩᚱᛣᛋ᛫ᚠᛁᚾᛖ᛫ᚠᚩᚠ᛫ᛗᛖ᛫ᛏᚩᚩ᛫ Crusadeonilliteracy 16:06, 22 December 2003 (UTC)

Copyright violation discussion

Well, at least the pictures I uploaded was not copyviolated, since I made them myself. At not all the text either, I think. Den fjättrade ankan 21:32, 5 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Nor were my pictures violations, I drew them myself and none of them appear on the referenced page. I also wrote a lot of text on this page, which is not violations. Nixdorf 05:35, 6 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Only some of the text is a copyvio; the template message doesn't really have a way to indicate that. Feel free to add your stuff back to a new article at Runic alphabet/Temp (you can get at old versions of the article with the history link). DopefishJustin (・∀・) 05:53, Jul 7, 2004 (UTC)
If only some of the text is a copyvio, I question the necessity of adding the whole article to the copyvio thing, which the boilerplate on the article page says means the article could very well be deleted. Why not, in this particular case, remove the offending text, give a warning to the person who did the copyvio, and keep the rest? -Branddobbe 06:21, Jul 7, 2004 (UTC)
The problem is then the copyrighted text stays in the article history. These alphabet copyvios (there are several of them) are very old and in many cases are actually the first revision of the article, so you can't just kick out the latest edit from the database. If you feel that just removing the offending text is the best course, you have no less authority than I do; this was done at Latin alphabet for example because the article has just tons of history. Another approach is being taken at Greek alphabet, where the previous article without the copyvio text has been placed on the temp page, with a copy-paste of the history on the talk page to give proper credit. I'm sorry to kind of "boilerplate and run" but I don't really have the time to personally fix these articles. I've already noted on Wikipedia:Copyright problems that they shouldn't be deleted for now. DopefishJustin (・∀・) 15:53, 7 July 2004 (UTC)

Removal of redirect from Rune

I am proposing soon to remove the explicit redirect from the topic rune since runes, in the true sense of the word as used, particularly in Norse Mythology, have only a passing relationship to the runic alphabet and it is my intention to fully deal with this topic at some very near point. I will however ensure that a link remains and resolve any links which need attention as a consequence.Sjc 19:23, 21 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I actually already started doing this (just noticed your comment now). I've gone through and fixed a bunch of the old links but there still remains a fair amount left to do. I'll try to get through the rest in the next few weeks. -Averisk 00:45, 17 December 2005 (UTC)


What's the reason for separate articles Runic alphabet and Runic script? -- Pjacobi 00:34, 11 Aug 2004 (UTC)

they should be merged! Dbachmann 07:29, 24 Aug 2004 (UTC)
I wrote Runic script , mostly because this page was prevented from edits (due to copy-violation) during that time. // Rogper 01:19, 12 September 2004 (UTC)

Alphabet map

Living at Strängnäs, Sweden, I am surrounded by runestoens, usually dated from 'around 1050' on the little sign next to them. Over the last 10 years I have photographed and tried to read rune stones in Sörmland, Västmanland and Uppland. I do not recall any stone that uses any of the futharks depicted in the article. What you see seems to be a mixture of newer Swedish/Norwegian runes and Medieaval runes. Examples: in a:s and n:s, the side strokes cross the staffs, the R:s are rounded, the t:s have a little roof on top. Why does nobody publish the rumes as they were actually used? Klaus Fuisting -- 13:28, 13 Sep 2004 (UTC)

You certainly have a point in that. I suggest we make an "Alphabet table" of most commonly used glyphs (There is such ones, usually with multiple columns for each glyph style), and split the page into multiple pages: Old Fuþark, Anglo-Saxon Fuþorc, Gothic runes, Younger Fuþark, Danish Fuþ?rk, Swedish-Norwegian Fuþ?rk, Norwegian Mixed Fuþ?rk, Middle Age Runes, Hälsinge Runes, Scandinavian Pointed Runic Alphabet. Lets put them in Category:Runes. // Rogper 14:40, 22 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Of course we should have a Unicode table and I think something similar to the table on the right (showing the Etruscian alphabet in the example) would be desired, too. // Rogper 10:11, 20 November 2004 (UTC)

HTML / HTML 4.0 characters

I'm not so very good at HTML characters and had problems obtaining that "cedilla" on the a-character. Thanks for providing me with info. :-) // Rogper 10:11, 20 November 2004 (UTC)

lot of thinks to do

  • I could not see many of the characters displayed at the articles refered above. I think that some guidence (a Unicode "how to ..." (sub-)section in those articles) about what fonts to install, alternatives about where you can get them, what browser are supporting those chracters could be added. Articles could be linked to other languages, missing could be translated. The look and feel from many of these articles is quite different. Some efforts could be done here as well.
  • Hope to be able to identify persons working on this. Regards Gangleri | Th | T 05:37, 2004 Nov 19 (UTC)

In fact, I have problems viewing the glyphs, too. It doesn't show anything on my computer besides rectangular squares. Do you have Runic glyphs? // Rogper 10:11, 20 November 2004 (UTC)

Script or Alphabet

Isn't this a script rather than an Alphabet? the characters do not represent sounds that can be broken down to pronounce something else, the characters represents full words, like the Chinese script, which should not be called an Alphabet either.


You're wrong, the letters do indeed symbolize sounds that are used to spell out letters, the names Fehu, Ûruz, Thurisaz etc. are just names given to the letters, similar to how the first three letters of the Greek alphabet were given the names Alpha, Beta and Gamma, but also only represented single sounds, or how W isn't pronounced as double-you in every word containing it. 惑乱 分からん * \)/ (\ (< \) (2 /) /)/ * 17:25, 29 April 2007 (UTC)


Displays fine for me, but isn't test.wikipedia on UTF-8? Then no problem is expected. You can also use the better looking link:

For fonts always start seeking at Alan's:

Pjacobi 10:09, 17 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Thanks Pjacobi for the answer and the link. What browser are you using? At [3] I found [4] and [5] and a reference to ALPHABETUM. Is this the only Unicode runic font or is there one available as public domain too? Regards Gangleri | Th | T 18:06, 2004 Nov 17 (UTC)
I'm using Mozilla 1.7 which does a fine job in automatically selecting the right font for a each character. A good starting point for a wide range of Unicode support is Code 2000, but it's shareware. Quite a few free choices exist for Runic, but I've found that the current version of Caslon actually didn't contain Runic, against its documentation. I have Junicode and Chrysanthi installed, download links for all fonts are on Alan's main font page. Or go directly to
Pjacobi 19:52, 17 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • Thanks Pjacobi! I realized that UTF-8 is just a "different" / "another" Unicode standard compared to ISO 8859-1. I made a lot of tests. You can see them at User:Gangleri/tests/Unicode ISO 8859-1/Runes.
  • Thinks what "we" should do:
    • some documentation / recomendation about what brwoser to use, what fonts to install;
    • some investigations about keyboards;
    • include "runic" sections at articles displaying runic stones, pictures etc; maybe after the runic text a transliteration would be suitable;
    • ...
    • think about a template (with shortcuts to the items listed above) to be inserted at ...
    • bring people interested about this topics together, identify some experts [6], at [7] ([8]) ...
  • What do you think about this? Regards Gangleri | Th | T 13:01, 2004 Nov 18 (UTC)
Sorry to dampen your enthusiasm, but I have no special interest in Runic. I'm on this page by involvement in Unicode and I18n issues and some amateur interest in Writing systems. So I ended up with some 200 fonts installed on my poor W2K computer. Of course, if you have any questuion I might be able to answer, don't hesitate asking me. -- Pjacobi 19:04, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I do think you should include your list of Unicode runic characters in the Unicode section of this article.dab (T) 10:33, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)
  • Sorry for coming way too late but the instructions here were still of no use to me. Fortunately I managed to find TITUS Cyberbit Basic from TITUS (actually I found the site, wrote a stub on the project and just afterwards found the stub about the font :-)). It worked like a charm on Mozilla 1.7.5 (W2k) without even restarting the browser (page reload was all I did), and was tested on Firefox and IE. -- Goldie (tell me) 10:47, 17 December 2005 (UTC)


Runic script should behas been made into a redirect to this page.dab (T) 10:33, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Same with Elder_futhark_script. Also created Category:Runes. dab (T) 15:18, 9 December 2004 (UTC)


The Older Futhark section approaches full article length and may be exported to a separate article (with only the description of the alphabet remaining here) dab () 09:32, 15 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I did that, with the purpose to have more room to discuss individual inscriptions there. dab () 09:51, 15 December 2004 (UTC)


sigh. it seems 'Elder Futhark' is much more common than 'Older' or 'Old Futhark'. Anynone who wants to clean up the article for consistency is welcome to it. dab () 14:49, 17 December 2004 (UTC)


The Category:Runic alphabets uses incorrect terminology since it includes Cirth and Orkhon script -- only the Nordic and Saxon ones could be "Runic alphabets" per se. It should be changed to Category:Runiform scripts. Can someone do this? I don't know how. Evertype 09:44, 2005 Jan 14 (UTC)

We don't need this. How is 'runiform' different from 'alphabetic'? Just remove the Orkhon. The Cirth, imho, should remain, since, although fictitious, they are cleary derivative of the Germanic runes. dab () 14:25, 14 Jan 2005 (UTC)

We do need this correction. "Runiform" means 'shaped like Runes'. Runes per se are quintessentially the Germanic Runes. Not Orkhon, not Old Hungarian, and not Cirth. Cirth may look like Runes, but the relation of its glyphs to their meanings are based on a different system, more closely related to Tengwar than the Germanic Runes. Cirth is, then, runiform. To be correct, this Category should be either Runiform scripts or Runiform alphabets. But Runic alphabets is an error. Evertype 15:55, 2005 Jan 14 (UTC)

I agree that Orkhon etc. should not be in Category:Runic alphabets. I maintain that Cirth is debatable, but don't object to removal from the category. My main point is that 'runiform' is not a word. Runic alphabets is category for alphabets related to the futharks. All other scripts with accidential similarity should just go to 'Alphabetic scripts'. Otherwise, the Etruscan and Latin alphabets are 'runiform' too. dab () 15:57, 21 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Runiform is most certainly a word. It means "like a rune", particularly in shape, and refers precisely to the straight-incised shapes of things which we tend to call "runic" though they are not really Runes. Runiform alphabets are Runes, Orkhon, Old Hungarian, and Cirth. If you take the last three out, then there's no point in having Runic alphabets as a category at all. But if we are to have it, it should be correct, and that means it should be Runiform alphabets. Get it right, or delete the category. Evertype 11:34, 2005 Jan 22 (UTC)

I agree. "Runiform alphabets" could possibly be a sub-category to "Runic alphabets".

No, Runiform alphabets/scripts is the superordinate category. It comprises Runes (including the different Runic alphabets), Orkhon, Old Hungarian, and Cirth. Evertype 00:02, 2005 Mar 2 (UTC)

And you base this on what source? Our runiform article? :o) I argue the word "runiform" was invented for Orkhon, and should not be applied to Cirth, let alone to actual runes. I'm all for deleting the "runiform" category. There is no criterion to exclude the Etruscan, Latin, Ogham, Karosthi, or any number of other alphabets from your definition of "runiform". dab () 17:14, 5 Mar 2005 (UTC)

We seem to be having terminological difficulties here, and I'd like to try to get that sorted out. The term alphabet is problematic, as is script. In this age of Unicode, there is a tendency -- also here on the Wikipedia -- to use script to indicate a "writing system" and alphabet as a subset of that. If we can do this more effectively accross the Wikipedia, it will be be possible for users to learn about letters, alphabets, and scripts more easily. Evertype 17:15, 2005 Mar 5 (UTC)

yes, I suppose the correct category is Category:Alphabetic writing systems, meaning sets of letters. we have abjad and abugida of which neither applies here. "script" is the most general term, including cuneiform writing and what not. dab () 17:18, 5 Mar 2005 (UTC)

We seem to be having terminological difficulties here, and I'd like to try to get that sorted out. The term alphabet is problematic, as is script. In this age of Unicode, there is a tendency -- also here on the Wikipedia -- to use script to indicate a "writing system" and alphabet as a subset of that. If we can do this more effectively accross the Wikipedia, it will be be possible for users to learn about letters, alphabets, and scripts more easily. Evertype 17:15, 2005 Mar 5 (UTC)

yes, I suppose the correct category is Category:Alphabetic writing systems, meaning sets of letters. we have abjad and abugida of which neither applies here. "script" is the most general term, including cuneiform writing and what not. dab () 17:18, 5 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Category:Alphabetic writing systems is certainly one of the appropriate categories. The terminological problem otherwise has to do with the original use of the word rune in English. Runes refers to individual runic letters as well as to the entire runic script. Runic alphabets refers to the specific traditions (English, Older and Younger Futhark, Proto-Germanic) which are subsets of the runic script. In addition, there are a number of other scripts which, because they look like runes, have been called runic: Old Hungarian runes, Old Turkic runes, and Tolkien's runes are probably the only real representatives of this set. The term runiform script is, properly, a superset of these three, but also includes the Runes themselves, since they are the standard by which the others are judged. I don't believe that Etruscan or Latin can properly be referred to as runiform (nor do I believe that anyone has ever done so). Ogham is sometimes called Ogham runes but this is not because they are runiform; it is an error made by people who really don't know the terminology very well. I'm going to save this now so you can have a look at it, while I formulate what I hope to be an acceptable recommendation. Evertype 17:41, 2005 Mar 5 (UTC)

I think we basically agree. I added Category:Runes to Category:Letters by alphabet, since, as this category was intended to parallel Category:Greek letters etc. There is Category:Runology that can hold anything related to the futhark, but I object to the idea that "runiform" is a superset of "runic". Already "runic" is an adjective "like runes", and runiform is simply a ridiculous term, coined apparently because some people insisted that the Hungarians are entitled to have "runes" of their own, probably because of the connotations of the term due to runic mysticism and what not. Can you find me a definition of "runiform"? Who coined the term? Obviously, it is intended to mean "formed like runes", but what would stop us to e.g. exclude Linear B, or, as you say, Ogham? It is too vague to be appropriate as a category. We can add these associations to the articles in question, but I see no reason for a category that would include futhark, orkhon and cirth (other than Category:Alphabetic writing systems, because that's what they all are). Categories categorize without comment, and we should beware of lumping together things that would need qualification. dab () 10:26, 6 March 2005 (UTC)


I feel the article is reasonably cleaned up now, and I'd like to hear criticism from WP:FAC. dab () 16:02, 21 Jan 2005 (UTC)

it failed, mainly because of rendering problems of the unicode runic codepage. dab () 11:29, 28 January 2005 (UTC)

Removal of Ogham

I agree - Ogham does not belong in this category. Cbdorsett 18:42, 6 March 2005 (UTC)


What about the recent runic discoveries in Italy? Etrusc writings ar at lest 3 to 4 hundred years older than any of the mentioned in this article. Etrusc runes are not new, they are derivates from much older times, mostly agglutinative languages of the past. Beppo on the new theories. [[[User:]]]

Such information would belong on Old_Italic_alphabet (which needs updating badly) dab () 20:22, 12 March 2005 (UTC)
There are no "Etruscan runes"; it's not appropriate to use that word to describe Etruscan.

Meaning of runes

A friend of mine suggested this page,, with lengthier descriptions of what the runes mean. I am not sure if this is authentic or new age, but it may be useful to incorporate that information. Radiant_* 11:29, 30 March 2005 (UTC)

see Talk:Elder Futhark. dab ()

Images of runes

Someone may want to check the Japanese version of this article where they seem to have found images of all of the runes stamped onto some sort of little metal planchets... We might want to consider using them. --Dante Alighieri | Talk 19:46, Apr 8, 2005 (UTC)

Looks like a modern invention. I have never heard of runes being used on metal plates before. They used to be carved mostly on wood and bone. The fact that most remaining runes are found on stone is because it is a more permanent material.--Wiglaf 19:50, 8 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I imagine they are modern reproductions of some sort, but I don't see how that's relevant. They have the distinct advantage of being images that are viewable to anyone with a web browser without having to figure out Unicode. --Dante Alighieri | Talk 21:53, Apr 11, 2005 (UTC)
They look very good, but I think it is difficult to see the runes on some of them.--Wiglaf 22:01, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I do not think they look good at all. They look like an archaeologist just found them. No need to pseudo-age our illustrations... If you want difficult-to-read runes, there is always Image:Einangsteinen_inscription.jpg :o) I do think we should have images of individual runes (maybe to implement a wiki-rune syntax, similar to wiki-hieroglyphs), but they should be plain black-on-white pngs. In fact, someone could just crop the individual letters on Image:Runes_futhark_old.png (I was going to do that sometime. Especially now my linux box broke down, and I can't see my own Unicode runes anymore :o\ )dab () 05:53, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
The Danes have done such images at the Danish Wikipedia: [9] :)--Wiglaf 18:30, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Anyone speak Danish and want to figure out how to get EN some images like that? --Dante Alighieri | Talk 18:05, Apr 14, 2005 (UTC)
Sure, it'll be fixed in an hour or so.--Wiglaf 18:39, 14 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Here you are : User:Wiglaf/runes, but the jera rune looks strange.--Wiglaf 20:11, 14 April 2005 (UTC)

The West Germanic Hypothesis

The "West Germanic hypothesis" assumes an introduction by West Germanic tribes. This hypothesis is based on the earliest inscriptions of ca. 200, found in bogs and graves around Jutland, which exhibit West Germanic name forms, e. g. wagnija, niþijo, and harija, possibly names of tribes located in the Rhineland.

Could someone provide references for this one? My work of reference says that these forms are Proto-Norse. Should it be rewritten or deleted?--Wiglaf 18:02, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)

It's from Looijenga [10]. Don't know if it's true, but that's what she says. dab () 07:03, 13 Apr 2005 (UTC)
OK, thanks. I guess this is a typical case of perspective. Scholars studying Scandinavian rune inscriptions call it North Germanic, whereas Looijenga who study West Germanic rune inscriptions call it West Germanic. I don't know what to make of it, since we're talking of a time close to the Proto-Germanic stage.--Wiglaf 07:08, 13 Apr 2005 (UTC)
it's on page 52f.; she doesn't discuss in detail what is supposed to be West Germanic in these names, but she cites her sources. Maybe we can just say "Looijenga:52f." next to that part and leave it at that (unless you want to dig into her references...) dab () 07:21, 13 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I don't want to cast doubt on Looijenga, but I am a bit suspicious of a theory which asserts that the forms are West Germanic when it is apparently contested, and then connects the forms to unknown and unattested West Germanic tribes as far away as the Rhineland.--Wiglaf 07:29, 13 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I can't read her files, my pdf reader freezes. I'll leave it for a while.--Wiglaf 07:36, 13 April 2005 (UTC)

Inspiration to carve /strike runes and form alphabets

Runes are found in the northern hemisphere of the planet because a mucousal oracle bead is concealed [not congealed] and well-protected underneath a roadside limestone chapel in the state of Pennsylvania. The mucousal oracle bead holds a tiny voice strip struck within, and the sight of the voice strip has inspired manual applications of its appearance upon such materials as bark, stone, and clay. Directly from the voice strip itself we can postulate that cuneiforms were the first manual attempt to bring the bead contents to light; and that the runes [rheum, rue, room, roam, run] have resulted from highly opinionated attempts to countermand the effects of the oracle-maker's [o-m] creation. Analogous artifacts include the oracle bones of China, with some acknowledgment of the similar-ity of bone to mucous as a primary physiological secretion. It is a colloquialism to say that someone's nose is "running" or "runny" when the brain mass is discharging mucous during the grief process. Beadtot 22:18, 12 November 2005 (UTC)

Wtf? The words "rune" and "run" aren't even related. They only look similar in modern English. 惑乱 分からん * \)/ (\ (< \) (2 /) /)/ * 12:39, 17 May 2007 (UTC)

Runes in Portugal

there is also a rune tradition in Póvoa de Varzim, Portugal due to Viking explorers and settlers. Althought the tradition of the use of Runes are now declining (due to education, people dont need to use runes no more and decline of fishing activity), after (I believe) 1000 yrs of use.-Pedro 20:28, 2 Jun 2005 (UTC)

The name "rune" is sometimes applied to signs that aren't technically runes. Could you provide an image of Portuguese runes? It would be very interesting :).--Wiglaf 21:22, 2 Jun 2005 (UTC)
    • I'll try to photograph some examples, though it wasnt used in stones, but rather painted or craved in wood (these can be seen in the First Church - but I'm not in the mood to go to the church :S). I'll try to photograph family inscriptions in the beach (maybe some families still use it, even in here it is declining) and symbols in sidewalks. Some of the symbols in here, I already knew them. I've added some info about that in the article Póvoa de Varzim, in the culture section. People used the runes because they didnt know how to write so when they got in touch with the people from Northern Europe in the 9th century they started using it (many of those people are descendants). BTW they didnt read the runes, they were used as symbols for remembering something or as a family symbol/signature, it wasnt an alphabet.--Pedro 22:34, 2 Jun 2005 (UTC)
    • I found this on the net, some drawings were added later like the star of david (because each family must have their own signature): [11] -Pedro 22:47, 2 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Some of the signs do indeed look like runes. However, these signs would not be called "runes" in Scandinavia. They would be called "bomärken". There is no specific term for this in English, but a "bomärke" was a signature that a family put on objects that belonged to it.--Wiglaf 07:18, 3 Jun 2005 (UTC)
    • Yes, that was its main use, at least the one that has prevailed until today. So they didnt create the signatures, they just continue to use that tradition? how the symbols were passed to the children? they would all have the same signature? Or they had a divergent one? What's the tradition on Scandinavia on who rules the family and who's the hair of the family (this is related to the signature), because these two are distincting features of the city in relation to the rest of the country. How the vikings eat, in a table or in the ground? --Pedro 09:37, 3 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Here is a link to an encyclopedia [12], and as you can see the symbols are similar. Some of the signs were only used by an individual whereas others belonged to the farm and were used for generations. I am not sure whether the custom should be attributed to the Vikings. Perhaps, they were a common European tradition in medieval times. The Vikings normally ate at the table, like we do today.--Wiglaf 10:39, 3 Jun 2005 (UTC)
  • nopes. There is no similar tradition in the rest of Portugal and there wasnt in the past. And it is known that they went into the region in the 9th century. I dont know if you know but people from Northern Europe established during some time in the city, i believe 100 yrs. There are proofs of that, even typical desieses from Northern Europe exists, due to that. And a large number of blond people, today especially among the fisherman and the rural areas. I was asking you the rest to see if like the runes, the rest could be related, about the symbols "everyone" knows it is. BTW, what's the cultural relation of the Normands with the Vikings? Another people that was in the region often to stell. -Pedro 17:59, 3 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Norman and Viking are often the same thing, but in English Norman usually means descendants of Vikings who had settled in northern France. I did not know about Scandinavian influence in Portugal. It is new to me.--Wiglaf 19:47, 3 Jun 2005 (UTC)
    • thx. That's why some say Normads other vikings. Well, in Portugal only the roman heritage is acclaimed. Most backgrounds are ignored, such has the celts. The typical pullovers from the city: [13] the example has also the name in Portuguese, but traditionally only had the runes. The pullovers were bought has white and clean ones, and people imidiately putted their rune and sea motives, as a sign it is theirs. I used to have one. Now these pullovers are very expensive. it was used for festivities and it stopped being massively used because of a tragedy in the sea in 1892. -Pedro 21:48, 3 June 2005 (UTC)

Military use

Hello folks, I cleaned up some sections in the "modern use" section to better organize the mass of information and references there. I did not remove any information but reworded some of it a bit to reflect their moves. The "Military use" is of particular interest, which is something we added to the odal page, reflecting the fact that the modern German military uses the odal rune in a variety of ways. Does anyone know if any other modern Scandinavian or Germanic military use runes similiary? --Bloodofox 08:59, 26 November 2005 (UTC)

so there is a linear design on Bundeswehr shoulderpads that looks like the Odal rune. That doesn't mean much, it's just a simple angular hoop. Unless there is some reference that the Bundeswehr actually said that the design is meant to represent a rune, I don't think there can be any claim that the design is 'runic'. After all, you could go and claim every straight line you see is the "Isaz" rune, and every angle the "Kaunaz" rune. That's silly. Of course, if you have information that the Bundeswehr does describe the design as runic, by all means quote it. Nazi use of runes goes well beyond the "military", and deserves its proper section. dab () 09:02, 26 November 2005 (UTC)

Well, considering the controversy runes still cause in post-WWII Germany, I think it's pretty obvious that the Bundeswehr of all militaries knew they were putting the odal rune there when they did this. I assume with just about any other military, It's a reflection of native culture, especially since this rune refers to home. I can see if I can dig something up though for more info to further 'authenticate' it, though all I've found so far is in German, so it's been a bit tough. I'd really like to get a complete list of ranks within the Heer and German Navy that also use it. --Bloodofox 09:13, 26 November 2005 (UTC)
googling for Odal + Bundeswehr, I find lots of forum postings from people who, like you, have noted the similarity. But no evidence that the design was consciously chosen as Odal rune. Seeing that the rune was used as a symbol by the Hitler youth, it would seem very strange, and I suppose the similarity is a coincidence. But whatever we think is irrelevent, we'll need to find some authoritative source about the history of these shoulder pads. dab () 16:48, 26 November 2005 (UTC)

Removal of Thor Steinar

Hello, I've removed the Thor Steinar from the article, which was previously under the Third Reich section. Thor Steinar have repeatedly stated they are not a Neo-Nazi company, that their use of runes derives from Norwegian use of the wolfshook, for example. Placing them in this portion only furthers this misconception, which is disputed by the company itself. Their official site contains no mention of anything remotely 'neo-nazi.' [14] Even if the brand is popular with right wingers, it is also popular with subcultural crowds and sometimes pagans, due to the use of runes. The Wikipedia article about it is also wrong, it unfairly places the company under the 'Neo-Nazi' tag solely because of some of their consumers and the fact that they use, oh dear, runes. I can think of a few polo shirt manufacturers that have had problems alike it in the past. --Bloodofox 21:02, 26 November 2005 (UTC)

Unfortunately, I can't seem to find Thor Steinar's old disclaimer. Checkout the German Wikipedia Thor Steinar article for more info:[15] --Bloodofox 21:37, 26 November 2005 (UTC)

Thor Steinar should be mentioned somewhere in the "fascist use" section; the company may be apolitical itself, I cannot judge if their disclaimers are tongue-in-cheek, but it is undisputed that they were very popular among Neonazis, and their court case was notable for the status of runes wrt the German constitution. dab () 09:58, 31 December 2005 (UTC)

Bindrunes? Colons? Owner's Marks?

Should this article have a section regarding the runic usage of colons? For example, :OFTEN:RUNIC:INSCRIPTIONS:APPEAR:LIKE:THIS: on rune stones, plus the colon practice has even survived to this day in some Germanic countries, where sometimes you will find words framed with colons in a similar way. What about bindrunes? Maybe bindrunes deserve their own article, or perhaps not, but it'd be good to see a complete history of the bindrunes. I know that they were also used during the middle ages, as well as commonly as bomarke which later spread to Portugal, as someone mentioned here. --Bloodofox 21:56, 26 November 2005 (UTC)

Do you mean bindrunes as in two runes sharing the same stave? As far as I know, this was the common way of writing runes, and the way it was implemented was up to the individual writer. Don't think they should have an individual article, but it should definitely be mentioned, as it is the reason why many runic inscriptions are hard to make out for people who expect to see only the rune-forms you find in the neat futhark. (Barend 22:27, 29 November 2005 (UTC))
Yes, or multiple runes being bound on the same stave. Basically, a bunch of runes together forming a unique-looking symbol. These are sometimes used by neopagans these days as signatures or 'seals.' I understand and also agree that most of the 'rune maker' sites you see on the internet are almost entirely based on new age nonsense, with runes on little stones and so forth. However, I think that bomarke/owner's mark could also be seen as a 'bind rune.' In fact, couldn't owner's marks have their own section here? They appear to often be based off of ancient runes, meaning it's an extremely old practice in the region, even before it directly spread to Portugal. It seems this article is missing some integral elements of the runes. What do you think? --Bloodofox 02:01, 1 December 2005 (UTC)

Popular culture

we need to branch out a "pc" article soon, we cannot mention every videogame or fantasy novel with a rune in it here. dab () 09:56, 31 December 2005 (UTC)

Agreed, this is really getting out of control. :bloodofox: 22:00, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

Björketorp runestone and Ergi

I wonder about the section of the Björketorp runestone, the word "argiu" links to "Ergi", while the translation gives the modern Scandinavian meaning "anger", maybe someone with better knowledge of Old Norse could check it out and provide a good translation. 惑乱 分からん 01:57, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia prefers not to translate in its own voice if some translation is available. But Proto-Norse argiu does correspond to Old Norse ergi which is why I added that link. What ergi means is a question of interpretation :) - Haukur 02:03, 29 January 2006 (UTC)
OK, thanks. So where does the translation come from? 惑乱 分からん 02:40, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

glyph tables

I am considering adding tables to the individual rune articles, along the lines of those we did for the Phoenician/Canaanite letters, e.g. Gimel. The problem is that nobody has uploaded images of the Futhorc/Younger Futhark glyphs, so I am dumping them on this talkpage for now; help is welcome. dab () 10:03, 3 February 2006 (UTC)

Please add phoenician/Greek/Latin alpabets for comparison


name Proto-Germanic Anglo-Saxon Old Norse
*Fehu Feoh
shape Elder Futhark Futhorc Younger Futhark
Runic letter fehu.png
transliteration f
IPA [f]
Position: 1


name Proto-Germanic Anglo-Saxon Old Norse
*Ûruz/Ûram Ur/Yr Úr
shape Elder Futhark Futhorc Younger Futhark
Runic letter uruz.png Runic letter uruz.png Runic letter uruz.png
ᚢ ᚣ
transliteration u u y u
IPA [u] [u] [y] [u]
Position: 2 2 27 2


name Proto-Germanic Anglo-Saxon Old Norse
*Þurisaz Þorn Þurs
shape Elder Futhark Futhorc Younger Futhark
Runic letter thurisaz.png
transliteration þ
IPA [θ]
Position: 3


name Proto-Germanic Anglo-Saxon Old Norse
*Ansuz Os/Ac/Æsc Óss
shape Elder Futhark Futhorc Younger Futhark
Runic letter ansuz.png
ᚩ ᚪ ᚫ
transliteration a o a æ ą
IPA [a] [o] [a] [æ] [o]
Position: 4 4 25 26 4


name Proto-Germanic Anglo-Saxon Old Norse
*Raidô Rad Ræið
shape Elder Futhark Futhorc Younger Futhark
Runic letter raido.png
transliteration r
IPA [r]
Position: 5


name Proto-Germanic Anglo-Saxon Old Norse
*Kaunan Cen Kaun
shape Elder Futhark Futhorc Younger Futhark
Runic letter kauna.png
transliteration k
IPA [k]
Position: 6


name Proto-Germanic Anglo-Saxon Old Norse
*Tiwaz Tir Týr
shape Elder Futhark Futhorc Younger Futhark
Runic letter tiwaz.png
transliteration t
IPA [t]
Position: 17 12

Clip art

we have dozens of images of important runic artefacts, and we feature an image of some cheap "fortune telling" runes as an image illustrating "Elder Futhark"? Quite apart . from the dubious merit of generic clip art, modern systems of divination belong to the "modern uses" section. Nobody saw it necessary to give any details about these. There can easily be an article on Runic divination, discussing whatever divination systems people have come up with, and I suppose the image could be used to illustrate that, even though it will not be useful for illustrating the article unless it is explained what is going on in the image (I see two index fingers pointing at an o rune flanked by l and b runes, incised on oval wooden or plastic chips). dab () 15:01, 14 April 2006 (UTC)

Dalrunes are wrong

The dalrunes in the article are wrong. In fact, the runes claimed to be dalrunes are actually medieval runes (i.e. post Viking age but before c:a 1500AD). The dalrunes were evolved from the medieval runes in the 16th century when the runes were not commonly used anymore in other parts of Scandinavia, so there's a clear connection though. But to claim the general scandinavian medieval runes to be dalrunes is somewhat anachronistic.

Here's a link to how the dalrunes actually looked like:

This also means that there's no discussion concerning the extremely important medieval runes in the article. (These are probably the runes which were most widely used ever between 200AD and 1900AD.) The time period 1100AD to 1500AD is simply lost, somehow.

Jens Persson ( 17:15, 4 May 2006 (UTC))

I have now traced the guilty edit for this relabelling of the Middle Age runes to "Dalecarlian Runic script" (which later became "Dalrunes", which BTW sounds strange in my ears). Here it is: . So, the guilty guy is some Dbachmann. I wonder what he was thinking about here. And more seriously, why didn't anyone notice during two years this mistake in the article? i mean, the Middle Age runes were extremely important, maybe the most important runes ever used since they were more widely used than the earlier Runic scripts.

Jens Persson ( 19:18, 4 May 2006 (UTC))

Very well spotted. The middle age runes were mentioned already in point 2.3: Common use. But they should definitely be mentioned in the historic overview as well, and the mix-up of Dalrunes with middle age runes was embarassing. I have made an effort to improve matters, maybe others would like to pitch in as well. (Barend 16:32, 5 May 2006 (UTC))
Jesus, "the guilty guy is some Dbachmann" - it's not like I insisted on this or anything; it was, rather, a false conclusion at the merging of Runic script into this article where "Dalecarlian runes" and "medieval runes" were equated, back in 2004, I have no opinion whatsoever on the matter, and haven't wasted a thought on it for 18 months, being busy on Elder Futhark. Now since your link to "Wodensharrow" doesn't work, and since that wouldn't qualify as much of a reference anyway, feel free to present a coherent and sourced presentation of how the Dalrunes rather than being identical to, evolved out of the "Medieval runes". dab () 17:34, 5 May 2006 (UTC)
Well, let's conclude that the Middle Age runes and the Dalecarlian Runic script are two completely different scripts, though related through the fact that the latter evolved out of the former. Trust me, the Dalecarlian Runic script in the link looks alright to me. "Now since your link to "Wodensharrow" doesn't work, and since that wouldn't qualify as much of a reference anyway,..." Well, obviously it was a better reference than this article. May this link work? . I know the following link to an Älvdalen Dalecarlian musical is not much of a reference, but it provides you with a detail concerning the Dalecarlian runic script: ; note the look of the O in the title, i.e., looking like Greek Φ or Norwegian/Danish Ø. (The title Oðerwais is Älvdalen Dalecarlian for 'different'.) This is consistent with the Wodensharrow page, but not consistent with equating the Middle Age runes with the Dalecarlian runic script. What was your source for identifying Dalecarlian runes with Middle Age runes?
Jens Persson ( 17:08, 6 May 2006 (UTC))

your belligerence is completely unnecessary. Your link [16] seems to rather confirm that our "Middle Age Runes" are Dalrunes. Obviously, I can spot the variants. So instead of all the fuss, you could discuss how some letters like o and q developed variants in the time leading up to 1900. From what point do we talk of "Dalrunes", and if the "Middle Age Runes" are not "Dalrunes", what are they? What are our sources for verifying this? Do we have to travel to Sweden and talk to old folks, or has anybody discussed Dalrunes in published literature? What is required to make a given inscription "Dalrunic"? I know that the defining feature of Futhorc is the ōs rune. What exactly are the variants that need to be present for a script to be "Dalecarlian"? I wouldn't call two scripts "completely different" if the later evolves out of the earlier by introducing a few letter variants. Otherwise we could hardly claim to be using the "Latin" alphabet right now. dab () 06:44, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

Beligerence is unnecessary yes, assume good faith mr Persson! I am sure we all want this article to be as good as possible. Dbachmann, your terminology is a bit confusing in your last posting - Saying that "Middle Age Runes" are "Dalrunes" is reversed chronology. The point is that the "Dalrunes" (which I find a strange word) are the latest living relics of the "Middle Age Runes" (which I have renamed "Medieval Runes" in the article for better English). The Younger Futhark survived into medieval times with an expanded inventory, lived and prospered for a few hundred years, then dwindled away until by the 16th century they only survived in isolated areas, of which the last was Dalarna in Sweden, where they were still in use in the 1800s. Over the centuries, naturally, they changed. Therefore, it has become common to give a separate name to the runes used in Dalarna in the 18th and 19th centuries. I wouldn't say the "dalrunes" are completely different from the medieval runes, they developed out of them, and gradually changed some signs over the centuries. Sources telling us this would be any good book on runes. (Barend 15:18, 12 May 2006 (UTC))

Information sources for Dalarna runes

The runes displayed under "Dalrunes" are a generic medieval Scandanavian runic alphabet, with the usual suffling around of c, s, and z (which were apparently fairly interchangable). Try as I might, I can't find a single non-Wikipedia source that ties these specifically to Dalarna.

However, I've found three sources which show Dalarna runes as a mix of medieval Scandanavian runes and modified Latin letters. Starting with The allrunes Font and Package, by Carl-Gustav Werner (2004/01/06, p. 6): the isolated province of Dalarna in Sweden a mix of runes and Latin letters developed, where it was in use into the 19th century.

Werner has a pretty extensive bibliography of academic literature on runes, so I'm inclined to credit him as a reasonable source. (He also has an excellent section on medieval Scandanavian runes in general.)

In addition to this article, I've found several websites which display Dalarna runes:

So far, I can't find any non-Wikipedia source which claims that the Dalarna runes are identical to the medieval Scandanavian alphabets (and if they are, why do they have their own section?).

Unless somebody else has a good citation, I'm going to remove the Unicode examples of "Dalrunes" (which are fairly misleading), and add a note about the frequent mixing of Dalarna runes with Latin letters. The rest of the section seems consistent with the other sources I've found. Thoughts? emk 16:52, 20 June 2006 (UTC)

Here's the second paragraph, which was interesting, but can't be reconciled with any source that I can find, nor with the material we have at Kensington Runestone.

There are other varieties of the Younger Futhark, in particular the Edward-script which can be considered as a variant of the Dalecarlian runes (see Image of Edward-script). In total, about 380 objects dating from 1500–1910 have been found in the provinces of Dalarna, Gästrikland and Härjedalen. The Edward-script was in use until the 1910s in Älvdalen, Dalarna, and also appears on the Kensington Runestone, which to most researchers indicates its status as a hoax.

In particular, the Edward-script looks like a slightly modified Younger Futhark, and certainly not like any of the pictures of the Dalecarlian or medieval Scandanavian runes we currently have in the article. Also, the Kensington article assumes that the Edward manuscript is of uncertain relation to runic practice in Scandanavia. So I'm not confident enough about this material to leave it in, and I'm moving it to the Talk page (as per WP:CITE).

Please, if you have sources for this content, cite them and move it back to the main page. emk 12:35, 21 June 2006 (UTC)


"Runestones: As some people started making runestones in modern times they had a problem with that some modern characters were missing from the older rune alphabeths so an updated version using ruffed runes was created.[1]"

I don't see what the depicted runes associated with this text has to do with modern runestones. The depicted runes look like the runes reanimated in the early 17th century by Johannes Bureus (Svenska ABC boken medh runor (1612), see ), and they were not meant to be used for runestones but rather to be written on paper like the latin characters. Actually, due to nationalistic felings, there were serious thoughts on introducing the runes as being the official script for writing Swedish back then, and Burues book was one attempt to standardise these runes.

Jens Persson ( 18:45, 4 May 2006 (UTC))

As far as I can tell that version was developed for use in runestones, but it's based on older runes. The link you provided don't seem to work. I just get the title page of the book. // Liftarn
One only gets the title of the book, yes.
Jens Persson ( 17:11, 6 May 2006 (UTC))

Rune name transliterations in the Germanic languages

I started this from many works I have on runes. I don't have pictures of the runes specifically and don't even have the proper font to display the ones in the article, so bear with me. The first set is my attempted transliteration of the Runic names into Proto-Indo-European in the order of the Futhark, the second set is the order of the futhark and the alternate names in different Germanic languages. (Gmc is Germanic/Proto-Germanic. OE is Anglo-Saxon/Old English, OFris is Old Frisian, ODu is Old Low Franconian/Old Dutch, Go is Gothic, ON is Old Norse, OS is Old Saxon etc.). I attempted very much to make the alternate spellings in the same language and transliteration of each language to be as historically attested as possible. Maybe someone with enough time on their hands can properly incorporate this information into the article, it's been sitting on my computer as a text file for years. If the name has a different root, such as 'sôwilô' "the sun" & 'sigiz' "victory", but is the same rune; I put each instance of the alternate example in brackets. Otherwise, the other examples in brackets are simply unattested forms as far as my sources go. Nagelfar 23:13, 18 May 2006 (UTC)


a reconstructed language-root of the futhark rune-names

[IE 'peku']
[IE 'uksen']
[IE 'tern']
[IE 'ansu']
[IE 'réi']
[IE ?]
[IE 'ghabh']
[IE ?]
[IE 'kaghlo']
[IE 'náu']
[IE 'eis']
[IE 'yér']
[IE 'eiwo']
[IE ?]
[IE 'olki']
[IE 'saewel']
[IE 'dyeu']
[IE ?]
[IE ?]
[IE 'man']
[IE 'leg']
[IE ?]
[IE 'agh']
[IE ?]

The futhark in the different teutonic languages

Gmc 'fehu'. OE 'fêoh'. ON 'fé'. Go 'faíhu'.
Gmc 'ûruz', 'uhsôn'. OE 'ûr'. OHG 'ohso'. ON 'úrr'. OS? 'ursache'.
Gmc 'þurisaz', ['þurnu']. OE 'þyrs', ['þorn'], ['þornu']. ON 'þurs'. Go 'þauris'.
Gmc 'ansuz', 'ansur', 'ansu', 'ans'. OE 'ôss', 'asc'. OHG 'ans'. ON 'áss'. 'ása'.
Gmc 'raidô', 'raiðô', 'rêdan', 'rêdaz'. OE 'ræd', 'rit'. OHG 'rât'. ON 'reið'.
Gmc 'kaunan', 'kaunaz', 'kênaz', 'kanô'. OE 'cên', 'kên'. ON 'kaun'. Go 'kuzma'.
Gmc 'gebô', 'gâbôn', 'geban', 'giftiz'. OE 'gift', 'gyfu', 'giefan'. ON 'gjöf', 'gefn', 'gefa', 'gipt'. Go 'giba'.
Gmc 'wunjô', 'wunnaz'. OE 'wynn'. Go 'winja'.
Gmc 'hagalaz'. OE 'hægl', 'hagol', 'hægel'. ON 'hagall'. Go 'hagl'.
Gmc 'nauðiz', 'naúþi'. OE 'nîed', 'nýð', 'nôt', 'nêod', 'nêd'. ON 'nauð'. Go 'nauðs'.
Gmc 'îsan', 'ís'. OE 'îs'. ON 'íss'. Go 'eis'.
Gmc 'jêran', 'jêram'. OE 'gêar', 'gêr'. OHG 'jâr'. ON 'ár'. Go 'jer'.
Gmc 'îhwaz', 'eihwaz', 'íwaz'. OE 'éôh', 'îw'. ON 'ýr'. Go 'aihs'. OS? 'iwas'.
Gmc 'perþo', 'perþ', 'perþro'. OE 'peorð'. Go 'pairþra'.
Gmc 'algiz', 'elhaz', 'eiwaz'. OE 'eolh', 'eolh-secg', 'eolhx'. ON 'elgr'. Go 'algs'.
Gmc 'sôwilô', ['sigiz'], 'sôwilan', 'sunniôn', 'sîwila'. OE 'sunna', ['sigel']. [OHG 'sigu'], ['sigo']. ON 'sól', ['sigr']. Go 'saúil'.
Gmc 'tîwaz', 'tíw'. OE 'tîw', 'tiig', 'tîr'. ON 'týr'. Go 'teiws'.
Gmc 'berkanan', 'birkanan', 'berkô'. OE 'beorc'. ON 'bjarkan'. Go 'baírkana'. OS? 'bar'.
Gmc 'ehwaz', 'ehwo'. OE 'êoh', 'eh'. ON 'jór'. Go 'egeis'.
Gmc 'mannaz'. OE 'man', 'mann', 'monn'. Ofris 'man'. OHG 'man'. ON 'maðr'.
Gmc 'laukaz', ['laguz'], 'lek'. OE 'lêac', ['lagu']. ON 'laukr', ['lögr']. [Go 'lagus']. {OS? 'laf'}.
Gmc 'ingwaz', 'inguz'. OE 'ing', 'eng'. ON 'ing'. Go 'iggws'.
Gmc 'dagaz', 'ðagaz'. OE 'dæg'. OHG 'tag'. ON 'dagr'. Go 'dags'.
Gmc 'ôþalan', 'oþilan'. OE 'œþil', ['eþel'], 'oðil'. ON 'óðal', 'odel'.

Old Frisian runes

Ofris 'ac', OE 'âc', ON 'eikr'
Ofris 'easc', OE 'æsc', ON 'askr'
Ofris 'os'

early alternate runes not in the futhark

[Gmc 'warha'], [OE 'ÿr']
[Gmc 'ahwô']
[Gmc 'ahira'], [OE 'êar']
[Gmc 'wôria'], [OE 'ior']
[Gmc 'quaîrnus'], [OE 'cweorþ'], [Go? 'quertra']
[Gmc 'axnâs']
[Gmc 'wai']
[Gmc 'krîda']
[Gmc 'tíwaz']
[Gmc 'ðêi']
[Gmc 'awjô']
[Gmc 'ôkân']

later alternate runes not in the futhark

[OE 'calc']
[OE 'stân']
[OE 'gâr'], [? 'gibor']
[OE? 'wolfsangel']
[Gmc? 'ziu']
[Gmc? 'erda']
[ODu? 'ualð'], [ON? 'ullr']
[ODu? 'wendhorn']
[ODu? 'fyruedal']
[ODu? 'irings']
[? 'aur']
[? 'belgtzhor']
[? 'zil']

More various examples from forms appearing; The following is a list I did at another time from forms appearing in different works, with the Mod. English form which probably isn't always correct and less concern about alternate etymologies.

Fee (Eng), Fehu (Gmc), Fe (ON), Feoh (OE), Faihu, Fé, Feh, Feo
Auroch (Eng), Uruz (Gmc), Ur (ON), Ur (OE), Uraz, Urs, Urur, Urus
Thorn (Eng), Thurisaz (Gmc), Thurs (ON), Thorn (OE), Thuith, Thurisa, Thurisar, Thorunisaz, Thyth
Answer? (Eng), Ansuz (Gmc), Ass (ON), Os (OE), Aesir, Ansur, Ansus, As, Aza, Easc, Oss
Read (Eng), Raido (Gmc), Reid (ON), Rad (OE), Radh, Raidha, Raidho, Raidu, Reda, Reidr, Reidh, Reidthr
Ken (Eng), Kauno (Gmc), Kaunaz, Kaun (ON), Ken, Cen (OE), Chozma, Kano, Kauna, Kaunan, Kaunaz, Kenaz, Kusmas
Gift (Eng), Gebo (Gmc), Gyfu (ON), Gyfu (OE), Gebu, Geuua, Geofu, Giba, Gifu, Gipt, Giof, Gjof
? (Eng), Wunjo (Gmc), Wyn (ON), Wyn (OE), Vend, Vin, Uinne, Winja, Wungo, Wunja, Wunju
Hail (Eng), Hagalaz (Gmc), Hagall (ON), Haegl or Ghaegl (OE), Haal, Hagalar, Hagl, Hagalz, Haglaz
Need (Eng), Naudiz (Gmc), Naudr, Nauthiz (ON), Nyd (OE), Naud, Naudhr, Naudir, Naudth, Nauths, Nied, Noicz
Ice (Eng), Isa (Gmc), Is (ON), Is (OE), Eis, Icz, Isar, Isaz, Iss
Year (Eng), Jera (Gmc), Ar (ON), Ger (OE), Gaar, Jara, Jer, Jeran, Yer
? (Eng), Ihwaz (Gmc), Eihwaz (ON), Eoh (OE), Eihwas, Eihwaz, Eo, Erwaz, Ezck, Ihwar, Ihwas, Iwar, Iwaz, Yr
Port? (Eng), Perth (Gmc), Pertho, Peorth (ON), Peorth (OE), Pairthra, Perb, Perthu, Peordh, Perthro, Perthrold, Pertra
Elk (Eng), Algiz (Gmc), Yr (ON), Eolh (OE), Elhaz, Algir, Algis, Algs, Elgr
Sun (Eng), Sieg (Ger), Sowilo (Gmc), Sol, Sowulo, Sunna (ON), Sigil, Sigel (OE), Saugil, Sighel, Sigo, Sil, Sowela, Sowilu, Sowelu, Solwulo, Sugil, Sulhil, Sulu, Sygel
? (Eng), Tiwaz (Gmc), Tiw, Tyr (ON), Tir, Tyr (OE), Teiws, Teiwaz, Tiwar, Ty, Tys
Birch (Eng), Berkanan (Gmc), Bjarkan (ON), Beorc (OE), Bairkan, Bercna, Berkana, Berkano, Beroc
? (Eng), Ehwaz (Gmc), Eoh (ON), Eh, Oe, Eoh (OE), Aihws, Ehol, Ehwar, Eol, Eow, Eykur, Eys, Ior
Man (Eng), Mannaz (Gmc), Madr (ON), Man (OE), Madhr, Madthr, Madthur, Mann, Manna, Mannar, Mannazold
Leak (Eng), Laguz (Gmc), Logr, Laukaz (ON), Lagu (OE), Laaz, Lagur, Lagus, Laukar, Laukr, Logur
? (Eng), Ingwaz (Gmc), Inguz (ON), Ing (OE), Enguz, Iggus, Ingvarr, Ingwar
? (Eng), Othila (Gmc), Odal (ON), Odal, Ethel (OE), Odhal, Odthal, Ogthala, Otael, Othal, Othala, Othalan, Othilia, Utal
Day (Eng), Dagaz (Gmc), Dag, Daeg (ON), Daeg (OE), Daaz, Dagr, Dagar, Dagur, Dags, Daguz
interesting, although PIE projections of the names are a bit over the top :) note that in Eihwaz I am saying that the Proto-Gmc should either be ihaz or iwaz but not ihwaz. Also note that afaik sigel has nothing to do with 'victory', but is an Anglo-Saxon orthographical quirk for siyel, from *siwel. The 'victory' association is from occultists like List and an indication of brownish connections. dab () 07:17, 19 May 2006 (UTC)
Ah, so it's a "Siȝel" essentially, I had never thought of that before. I usually think the same association in Ȝodan as Godan/Wodan but these W=G through yogh connections are usually discounted so that's probably why it didn't ever occur to me. What about Laukaz versus Laguz? Lake versus leak? Nagelfar 02:44, 20 May 2006 (UTC)
Sigel is Anglo-Saxon, while Godan is Lombardic; the "yogh" works only in Anglo-Saxon :) The Germanic name is laguz, English lake is from Latin lacus. I don't know why we would give Laukaz as a possible Proto-Germanic form, that seems to be a mistake. "leak" is a completely unrelated word, meaning "defect". Maybe the idea is that the rune was not named "lake" but rather "deficiency", here? dab () 08:53, 20 May 2006 (UTC)
ah, sorry, I didn't pay attention. laukaz is supposed to mean "leek" and is an alternative possibility besides laguz "lake". dab () 08:59, 20 May 2006 (UTC)
I know Godan is the Lombardic attested form, I always just felt, even though it is noncanonical now, that constructed forms like ON Goðinn, put together the likes of Mod Eng "God" and "Wod" (inspiration, possession as root meaning over the acceptable etymology), but of course every adcademic authority puts them in separate IE roots. Similarly; Is it possible, that the Ger. 'Sieg' as in victory was originally a term for sunbreak or the dawn or some similar association as well? I'm usually a reductionist when it comes to these things; splicing etymologies together when possible. (It seems language usually splits pronunciations into entirely separate meanings and thus new words with time). Anyway, I'm not wanting any argument, I know the Wodan = God is entirely "disproved" with modern word evolution theory. (I personally think it just touches a little too close to home for some and that's the reason why, but that's an entirely POV opinion and I'm not trying to pass it over in any article anymore than it actually exists elsewhere. i.e. no original research) Nagelfar 22:36, 20 May 2006 (UTC)
no, sieg is totally unrelated to sun, or to anything related to sunrise; moreover, sigel means simply "Sun", not dawn. Sieg is cognate to echein "hold, have, own", so the original meaning of siegen is pretty much "to pwn". There is no evidence whatsoever that the s rune was connected with this word. dab () 13:00, 21 May 2006 (UTC)
I didn't mean such a term meant 'dawn' just that it was an attribute of the solar concept, relating it's concept to the word, victory as epiphany, fiat triumphant condition. Though I wasn't aware of any alternate etymology prior. Nagelfar 22:55, 22 May 2006 (UTC)

I wrote Bülach fibula (for the first time inserting "penis penis penis" in a Wikipedia article :P I only hope Tawkerbot will let that pass...) to account for the "leek" meaning. I think that in the current mainstream opinion, people's imagination ran wild here, and I suppose laguz is a safer reconstruction. I suggest we move Laukaz to Laguz. dab () 09:49, 20 May 2006 (UTC)

That's possible, I also read somewhere that it was related to the word "lack" as in a pained condition, suffering. Thus a yearning for something one is without. I'll have to look for where I read this, I'm very certain I have a source claiming such somewhere. Nagelfar 22:36, 20 May 2006 (UTC)

"Dalarnan": awkward in English

I have never seen the word used outside this article (even after searching for it with Google). Most English-speakers would say either "Dalecarlian runes" or "runes from/in Dalarna". ISNorden 15:57, 3 July 2006 (UTC)

Thanks! I was planning to make that edit soon, after a longish discussion at Talk:Dalarna. "Dalecarlian runes" outnumbers all other variants in the English literature by a huge margin.

Meaning of Perthro disputed

I have read at least six interpretations of that rune's name in different books (some scholarly, some occult). For the sake of NPOV, I recommend labeling the translation of Perthro "[unknown/disputed]", and linking to the name theories in the article about that specific rune. --ISNorden 21:00, 15 July 2006 (UTC)

I don't think there is a "dispute" so much as general agreement that any reconstruction has to be regarded as uncertain. Thus, I suggest it is enough to add "(uncertain)". Note that the same is true for "Algiz". "symbolizes dice cup or womb" is nonsense, of course. The rune shapes "symbolize" nothing, and we do not list hypotheses for what they symbolize, but for what they were called. The shapes are based on the Old Italic alphabet, and the shape of pertho is likely a modification of the B shape. "pear(wood/tree)" is the most likely hypothesis by far. "fart" can be considered a scholarly suggestion, but an unlikely (and maybe tongue-in-cheek) one (especially because it would lack Grimm(!)). "dice cup or womb" appears to be entirely inspired by the rune poem and has no etymological backing whatsoever, afaics. I would be interested in what other hypotheses you have read. The possibility of a link to Ogham and a Celtic etymology (and "fart") has been discussed by Helmut Birkhan if I remember correctly, but he came to opt against a Celtic origin of the name. dab () 14:23, 16 July 2006 (UTC)
I favor the "pearwood" translation myself, based on both the Celtic-cognate theory and the mention of lots carved from "a fruit-bearing tree" in Tacitus' Germania. Granted, the divination which Tacitus describes doesn't involve runes as such: the text itself is older than any runic description and never identifies the "signs" (notae) on those lots. However, given the importance of fate and divination in early Germanic cultures, a similar practice probably survived; the custom of using a special fruit tree for the lots may have given the P-rune its name.
Since you are interested, these are the other theories I have heard about this name:
  1. The "dice cup/lot-box" theory keeps the cultural significance of the name, but has no linguistic evidence to support it. It sounds plausible in the rune poem (gambling often develops from divination practices), but no other Old English text confirms that meaning.
  2. The "womb" theory has only tenuous linguistic support; those who favor it cite a possible Slavic cognate (pizda "vulva"). However, words for body parts are such basic vocabulary that they seldom get replaced: one would expect cognates elsewhere in Germanic, but no such words have survived. It does sound plausible in the rune poem; men drinking together might swap dirty jokes or stories about their sexual experiences. Still, that meaning cannot be confirmed in any other text.
  3. The "rock" theory originated with the Swedish historian Sigurd Agrell, who specialized in early Mediterranean cultures (not Germanic ones!). He asserted that *perthro was a cognate of Greek petros. That claim completely ignores Grimm's Law (as the "fart" translation also does, in the opposite direction). Furthermore, Agrell's other theories about runes and Nordic culture have generally been discounted: among other things, he has asserted that the "futhark" ordering was incorrect and that Norse pagan practices were strongly influenced by Mithraism. Someone with irrelevant credentials and poor knowledge of a subject rarely makes sound conclusions.
  4. The "grave mound" theory appears in the work of one Australian occultist (Jason Cooper). Neither linguistic evidence, cultural evidence, or the rune-poem stanza support that translation; Cooper claims its validity based only on his mystical experiences.
--ISNorden 19:36, 16 July 2006 (UTC)
interesting. well, the pizda, fart and petros theories all ignore Grimm's law. In fact, the 'pizda' theory is the 'fart' theory, with an ablauting root and semantic shift. The problem is that Germanic p is from PIE b, which was notoriously rare, word-initially, so most words beginning on p will have been loans anyway: pear is a loan itself, but since we know 'pear' was loaned, but we don't know of any word for rock, vulva or fart being loaned, the pear theory must be regarded as the most likely by far. For this reason, it is justified to say '"pearwood"? (uncertain)" here, and discuss the details on peordh. Since the runes are attested from the 2nd century, but the futhark row only from the 5th, it is very credible that there was no p rune to begin with, and that it was created as a modification of b later on, in order to write loanwords like pear. Exactly as in ogham! dab () 19:56, 16 July 2006 (UTC)
looking for the earliest testimony of p, I found that there is apparently no attestation in Elder Futhark outside the rune rows (Kylver Stone, Vadstena bracteate). First actual usage is in Futhorc, from about AD 700, and even then only five or six times altogether. An elusive grapheme indeed... dab () 21:25, 16 July 2006 (UTC)

Pure conjecture, but was there any connection to the romance rooted word "port", as in a seaport? Place to stow a sea faring vessel, i.e. longship..? Nagelfar 04:34, 24 December 2006 (UTC)

Proposal for runic literacy userbox: accepted!

Congratulations to Emk for adding a runic literacy category to the new writing-systems template! So far, he and I are the only listed users; if any of you can decipher runes tolerably well, feel free to update your own userpages now. --Ingeborg S. Nordén 17:48, 19 September 2006 (UTC)

can you please consider observing WP:GUS and place new userboxes in user namespace? dab () 17:40, 22 September 2006 (UTC)

Non-TITUS sources for Raetic ancestor of runes?

The following material appears to be derived from the TITUS page on the history of the Runic alphabet:

an Old Italic alphabet, more particularly the Raetic alphabet of Bozen-Bolzano, is usually quoted as a candidate for the origin of the runes, with only five Elder Futhark runes ( ᛖ e, ᛇ ï, ᛃ j, ᛜ ŋ, ᛈ p) having no counterpart in the Bolzano alphabet.

Unfortunately, the version of the Raetic alphabet on the TITUS page differs significantly from that in Schumacher's "Die Rätischen Inschriften". This is a widely-cited catalog of Raetic inscriptions. The alphabet it describes generally matches the alphabet on the Negau helmet and the images found on this page).

In particular, I can't find another source that agrees with the transliteration of the Raetic ᛞ as "d" (all the other sources transliterate this as "š"), and several other forms in the TITUS table do not appear in any of the inscriptions I can find.

Does anyone have another source which confirms the TITUS table? If we can't find one, it might be more accurate to cut the history section down to "a northern Italic alphabet" and not get into specific details like "only five Elder Futhark runes ( ᛖ e, ᛇ ï, ᛃ j, ᛜ ŋ, ᛈ p) [have] no counterpart in the Bolzano alphabet". But if someone's got a second source, one which traces the TITUS forms to specific artifacts, we can use it to update the appropriate sections of Old Italic alphabet.

See Talk:Old Italic alphabet for more discussion. emk 00:24, 10 September 2006 (UTC)

oh dear, this should definitely be checked. Obviously, I took the information from TITUS. I was myself slightly suspicious of ᛞ, which in any other Old Italic alphabet transliterates to š, and the implication of TITUS that in Raetic, it is d impressed itself on me as convincing evidence of Raetic origin. I shall be very disappointed with TITUS (which is generally a good source) if this turns out to be a mistake. dab () 09:33, 10 September 2006 (UTC)
Well, it's suprisingly hard to find photographic catalogs and line drawings for the alpine artifacts (Adolfo Zavaroni's site is actually more comprehensive than Schumacher's standard catalog, which contains only transliterations for many artifacts--have a look; it's really cool stuff).
So there's every possibility TITUS has sources I don't. But until such time as we find an academic paper arguing for Ratic ᛞ -> D (and which supports some of the other close matches), I'm going with the sources at hand. :-( I've sent an e-mail to TITUS; let's see what else they can tell us. emk 11:41, 10 September 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, I tried to find Raetic sources myself, earlier. After finding Adolfo Zavaroni's site, myself, but having a too hard time reading the scratches, I sort of gave up the idea of finding something conclusive... 惑乱 分からん 22:57, 25 October 2006 (UTC)

Instructions for runic magic?

Hello again! A question about the following passage:

Although Norse literature is full of references to runes, it nowhere contains specific instructions on divination or magic.

I don't know of any unambiguous references to runic divination. But there's a series of verses in Sigrdrífumál which sound like instructions for runic magic, the most specific of which is:

Ǫlrúnar skaltu kunna,   ef þú vill annars kvæn
   véli-t þik í tryggð, ef þú trúir;
á horni skal þær rísta   ok á handar baki
   ok merkja á nagli Nauð.[17]
Ale-runes ought you to know,   [lest you wish another's wife]?
   deal not with you in good faith, if you trust in (her?);
on drinking horn shall you scratch them   and on hand's back
   and mark on nail Nauð (ᚾ/"need").

Lee Hollandar translates this in much the same fashion in The Poetic Edda, and Gordon defines rísta as "to cut (runes)" in his Introduction to Old Norse. Cleasby and Vigfusson translate the last line as, "and mark (the character) Naud on one's nail," in their dictionary.

Given the relative consensus around this stanza, and the less explicit instructions in the the surrounding stanzas, I'm uncomfortable with the blanket statement, "[The Norse literature] nowhere contains specific instructions on ... [runic] magic."

I think there may also be something about the use of ᚦ in curses in one of the sagas, too, but I've never tracked it down. So I'm going to strike the "and magic" from the main page. If you disagree, please feel free to put it back. -emk 23:29, 13 September 2006 (UTC)

OK, after a bit of searching, it looks like may be one ᚦ-based curse towards the end of Skírnismál. But those are the only sources I'm aware of with anything like "specific instructions."
I also marked the second half-line above, which (on rereading) is beyond my skill to translate coherently. Oh, well. -emk 03:18, 14 September 2006 (UTC)
Interesting. I should accept Ǫlrúnar skaltu kunna, ef þú vill annars kvæn alone as positive evidence of the idea of Eddaic "runic magic", and I do suggest you insert this into the article (as well as to Runic divination -- which should maybe more aptly be titled Rune magic or similar). So what do I do if I want somebody's wife then? Scratch n on the back of my hand and a full futhark row on her drinking horn? :) dab () 06:56, 14 September 2006 (UTC)

That does seem to be the advice in the Sigrdrífumál, but in the Hávamál, Odin suggests that persuing other men's wives is a Bad Idea, based on personal experience :-) (verses 96-102, 115, 131[18]).

As for runic magic, there's also some good material in Egils saga (chapter 75), where Egil discovers curse-runes hidden in the bed of a sick woman:

Runes none should grave ever
Who knows not to read them;
Of dark spell full many
The meaning may miss.
Ten spell-words writ wrongly
On whale-bone were graven:
Whence to leek-tending maiden,
Long sorrow and pain.[19]

This sounds like actual written spells (which was typical all throughout Europe at the time), not necessarily the magical use of individual runes.

But as for runic divination, Hávamál 80[20], does seem to hint at some sort of explicitly runic divination:

er þú að rúnum spyrr
when you ask the runes

The next several lines suggest that (a) rúnum should be translated as "runes", not "mysteries" (fáði fimbulþulr especially), and (b) this consultation is considered to be a holy or mysterious process. (I can translate more tonight.)

None of this is conclusive, of course, but it suggests that Runic divination may benefit from some further research, too.

While we're discussing this stuff, can anybody recommend a good translation of the Edda for quoting on Wikipedia? The Bellows translation is way too loose for details like this, and Hollander's translation--though far more faithful to the text--is written in such an archaic style that it requires a glossary.

Ideally, I'd like a translation which is both academically solid, and easy to understand. Any thoughts? -emk 13:35, 14 September 2006 (UTC)

I don't remember the quote, but I think that I read somewhere that some word like malruna (language-rune) or something to that extent was used, to clarify that the runes were meant to be read, not to be magical here. That should mean that runes were sometimes used for magic, otherwise, the clarification wouldn't have been necesary... -惑乱 分からん 22:55, 25 October 2006 (UTC)
I agree, this sounds reasonable to me. Stick to the Facts 04:51, 5 December 2006 (UTC)