Bryggen inscriptions

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The Bryggen inscriptions are a find of some 670 medieval runic inscriptions on wood (mostly pine) and bone found from 1955 and forth at Bryggen (and its surroundings) in Bergen, Norway. It has been called the most important runic find in the twentieth century. Before the find of these inscriptions, there was doubt whether the runes were ever used for anything else than inscriptions of names and solemn phrases. The Bryggen find showed the everyday use that runes had in this area, and presumably in other parts of Scandinavia as well. Another important aspect of the find was that many of the inscriptions were obviously at least as recent as the 14th century. Previously it was believed that the use of runes in Norway had died out long before.

The inscriptions have numbers for Bergen finds, mostly "B" followed by three figures.

Many of the inscriptions follow the formula Eysteinn á mik, (Eysteinn owns me, B001), and were most likely used as markers of property - like modern day name tags. Some contain short messages of different types, such as Ást min, kyss mik (my darling, kiss me, B017) and others have longer messages such as business letters and orders. Yet others contain short religious inscriptions, often in Latin, such as Rex Judæorum In nomine Patris Nazarenus (B005) and may have been intended as amulets.

The inscriptions are currently kept at Bryggens Museum in Bergen, and some are on display.

Examples found at Bryggen or nearby[edit]

B # Transliterated Text Normalized Text English translation Object inscribed External image links
B001 øystein:ami

hærmaþr haæþrmþr hærmaþr maria

Eysteinn á mi[k]

Herrmaðr Herrmaðr Herrmaðr Maria.

Eystein owns me

warrior warrior warrior Maria

Runekjevle Image Image
B003 auema Ave Maria Hail Mary (Latin text) Wooden plate Image Image
B004 io(an)a Jóhann á Johan owns Skull of walrus Image Image
B005 rexiudeorum innomini patrisnazarenus Rex Judæorum In nomine Patris Nazarenus King of the Jews in the name of the Father of Nazareth (in Latin) Part of a small wooden cross Image
B006 benatit a g l a la lagla [.](ln)bastii marhret. a g la ag l a ba. flkarel bar(aþ)olis Wooden cross Image
B007 a(ue)m(ar)ia Ave Maria Hail Mary (in Latin) Bottom piece of a wooden bowl Image
B008 ly(an)þkat(af)mn(un)æruþkit Shoe Image
B009 3/1 3/2 3/3 3/4 3/5 = fuþor


Fuþor Fuþor Cane Image
B010 tar
B011 felleg er fuþ sin bylli


Féligr er fuð sinn byrli


Lovely is the pussy, may the prick fill it up![1] Flat wooden stick Image Image
B012 inra ... inr á ... -inr owns Flat wooden stick Image
B013 mikæl petr ioanes andres lafranz tomas olafr klemet nikulas allerhælger

mengiætaimin notouk dahilfsminsouk salokuþsemikoksihni=kuÞkifiosbyrokkafomarih[..[lbemer ethialbemerallegzhlkarh[ ... ]

Mikjáll, Pétr, Jóanes, Andreas, Lafranz, Thomas, Ólafr, Klemetr, Nikulás. Allir helgir menn, gæti mín nótt ok dag, lífs míns ok sálu. Guð sé mik ok signi.

Guð gefi oss byr ok gáfu Mariu. H{já}lpi mér Klemetr, hjalpi mér allir Guðs helgir (menn)

Michael, Peter, John, Andrew, Lawrence, Thomas, Olaf, Clement, Nicholas. All saints, guard me night and day, my life and soul. God see me and bless. God give us ... and Mary's gifts. Help me Clement, help me all God's saints. Flat wooden stick, with a hole at the end. Image
B014 d(el)us deus god (in Latin) Piece of wood, shaped into a narrow cross. Image Image
B015 iuairfuþo ... fuþo ... fuþo Wood stick. Image
B016 a Piece of wood Image Image
B017 ost min kis mik


Ást min, kyss mik


My love, kiss me

Fuþorkhniastbmly (Younger futhark alphabet)

Wooden stick Image Image
B018 þr:inliossa:log:rostirriþatbiþa:(aþ)

yþænþuæt[-]nuka:ældiriþsu(an)ahiþar: s(au)dælakumlynhuit(an)ha[--]klko lotak(ol)ahbohas(ol)ar:fiartar:tahs[--] [ ... ]kuiþi þækanukabækiiar

Piece of wood Image Image Image Image
B019 yakæyrfiar


Squared broken wood piece Image
B020 blm[-




Fuþorkhniastblmy Smoothed piece of wood Image Image
B149 kya : sæhir : atþu : kakhæim : þ(an)sak : (ab)akist(an) : rþis Gyða segir at þú gakk heim Gyða tells you to go home Wooden stick Image

Other interesting inscriptions[edit]

  • One of the inscriptions, listed as N B145,[2] refers to the pagan Norns. It has both a complete alliterative verse and Virgil's famous verse "Omnia vincit amor et nos cedamus amori" engraved.[3]
  • Another one, listed as N B368 M[4] was written on the wax tablet and was supposed to be hidden under the layer of wax with some trivial writing.[5] It was a top-secret message calling to someone to change the sides in the civil war: "I would ask you this, that you leave your party. Cut a letter in runes to Ólafr Hettusveinn's sister. She is in the convent in Bergen. Ask her and your kin for advice when you want to come to terms. You, surely, are less stubborn than the Earl." The letter was continued on another wax tablet. Ólafr Hettusveinn is probably Olav Ugjæva, died in 1169.
  • N B257 (dated ca. 1335) is a poetic charm, apparently a piece of love magic, similar in content to a curse in the Eddaic poem Skírnismál.
  • Likewise, N B380 contains a pagan inscription, reading ”May you be healthy, and in good spirits. May Þórr receive you, may Óðinn own you.”

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Spurkland (2005: 194-195)
  2. ^ "Skaldic project".
  3. ^ MacLeod, Mindy; Mees, Bernard (2006), Runic Amulets and Magic Objects, Woodbridge: Boydell Press, p. 39, ISBN 1-84383-205-4
  4. ^ "Skaldic project".
  5. ^ The excavation of Bryggen, Bergen, Norway Asbjorn E. Herteig in Recent archaeological excavations in Europe edited by Rupert Bruce-Mitford, page 65, Routledge, 1975 - Social Science - 335 pages [1]

External links[edit]


Spurkland, Terje (2005): Norwegian Runes and Runic Inscriptions, Translated by Betsy van der Hoek, Boydell Press, Woodbridge