Bind rune

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A boat whose mast is formed with the bind runes þ=r=u=t=a=ʀ= =þ=i=a=k=n, on the runestone Sö 158 at Ärsta, Södermanland, Sweden. The bind runes tell that the deceased was a strong thegn.

A bind rune or bindrune (Icelandic: bandrún) is a Migration Period Germanic ligature of two or more runes. They are extremely rare in Viking Age inscriptions, but are common in earlier (Proto-Norse) and later (medieval) inscriptions.[1]

On some runestones, bind runes may have been ornamental and used to highlight the name of the carver.[2]


There are two types of bind runes. Normal bind runes are formed of two (or rarely three) adjacent runes which are joined together to form a single conjoined glyph, usually sharing a common vertical stroke (see Hadda example below).[3] Another type of bind rune called a same-stave rune, which is common in Scandinavian runic inscriptions but does not occur at all in Anglo-Saxon runic inscriptions, is formed by several runic letters written sequentially along a long common stemline (see þ=r=u=t=a=ʀ= =þ=i=a=k=n example shown above).[4] In the latter cases the long bind rune stemline may be incorporated into an image on the rune stone, for example as a ship's mast on runestones Sö 158 at Ärsta and Sö 352 in Linga, Södermanland, Sweden, or as the waves under a ship on DR 220 in Sønder Kirkeby, Denmark.[4]


Elder futhark[edit]

Examples found in Elder Futhark inscriptions include:

Anglo-Saxon Futhorc[edit]

Bind runes are not common in Anglo-Saxon inscriptions, but double ligatures do sometimes occur, and triple ligatures may rarely occur. The following are examples of bind-runes that have been identified in Anglo-Saxon runic inscriptions:[6][7]

Cryptic runic inscription on a silver knife mount, with several bind runes
The "Derbyshire bone plate", showing the name Hadda with ligatured double
  • The word gebiddaþ is written with a ligatured double (dd) on the Thornhill III rune-stone
  • The name Hadda is written with a ligatured double (dd) on the Derbyshire bone plate
  • The word broþer is written with a ligatured and (er) on some Northumbrian stycas
  • The Latin word meus is written as mæus with a ligatured and () on the Whitby comb
  • The inscription [h]ring ic hatt[æ] ("ring I am called") is written with a ligatured and (ha) on the Wheatley Hill finger-ring
  • The names of the evangelists, Mat(t)[h](eus) and Marcus are both written with a ligatured and (ma) on St Cuthbert's coffin
  • The name Dering may be written with a triple ligatured , and (der) on the Thornhill III rune-stone (this reading is not certain)
  • The word sefa is written with a ligatured and (fa) on the right side of the Franks Casket
  • Double ligatured runes ᛖᚱ (er), ᚻᚪ (ha) and ᛞᚫ () occur in the cryptic runic inscription on a silver knife mount at the British Museum
  • The word gægogæ on the Undley bracteate is written with ligatured and () and and (go)
  • A ligatured and (nt) occurs in the word glæstæpontol on a cryptic inscription on a silver ring from Bramham Moor in West Yorkshire
  • A triple ligature , and (dmo) occurs on a broken amulet found near Stratford-upon-Avon in 2006. This is the only known certain Anglo-Saxon triple bind rune. There is possibly a faint , (ed) bind rune on the reverse of the amulet.[8]
  • The name Ecgbeorht engraved on an armband from the Galloway Hoard is written eggbrect with ligatured and (ec), and the final (t) added above the final letter
  • The otherwise unattested Anglo-Saxon name Eadruf ᛖᚪᛞᚱᚢᚠ is inscribed on a gold Latin cross pendant, with ligatured and (dr) and probable ligatured and (ea)[9]

Modern use[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Enoksen, Lars Magnar (1998). Runor: historia, tydning, tolkning, p. 84. Historiska Media, Falun. ISBN 91-88930-32-7
  2. ^ MacLeod, Mindy (2006), "Ligatures in Early Runic and Roman Inscriptions", in Stocklund, Marie; et al. (eds.), Runes and Their Secrets: Studies in Runology, Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, p. 194, ISBN 87-635-0428-6
  3. ^ Elliott, R. W. V. (1980). Runes. Manchester University Press. p. 22. ISBN 0-7190-0787-9.
  4. ^ a b MacLeod, Mindy (2002). Bind-Runes: An Investigation of Ligatures in Runic Epigraphy. Uppsala University. pp. 16–18, 158–59, 162–163. ISBN 91-506-1534-3.
  5. ^ Richard Lee Morris, Runic and Mediterranean Epigraphy, 1988, p. 130.
  6. ^ Elliott, R. W. V. (1980). Runes. Manchester University Press. pp. 87, 105. ISBN 0-7190-0787-9.
  7. ^ Page, Raymond I. (2006). An Introduction to English Runes. Boydell Press. pp. 48, 163, 169, 172. ISBN 0-85115-946-X.
  8. ^ "Amulet WAW-4CA072". Portable Antiquities Scheme. 6 September 2010. Retrieved 2013-01-06.
  9. ^ "Penndant DUR-B62F57". Portable Antiquities Scheme. 23 June 2020. Retrieved 2021-01-10.

External links[edit]