Runic (Unicode block)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

(96 code points)
ScriptsRunic (86 char.)
Common (3 char.)
Major alphabetsFuthark
Assigned89 code points
Unused7 reserved code points
Unicode version history
3.0 (1999)81 (+81)
7.0 (2014)89 (+8)
Code chart
Note: [1][2]

Runic is a Unicode block containing runic characters. It was introduced in Unicode 3.0 (1999), with eight additional characters introduced in Unicode 7.0 (2014).[3] The original encoding of runes in UCS was based on the recommendations of the "ISO Runes Project" submitted in 1997.[a]

The block is intended for the representation of text written in Elder Futhark, Anglo-Saxon runes, Younger Futhark (both in the long-branch and short-twig variants), Scandinavian medieval runes and early modern runic calendars; the additions introduced in version 7.0 in addition allow support of the mode of writing Modern English in Anglo-Saxon runes used by J. R. R. Tolkien, and the special vowel signs used in the Franks Casket inscription.[b]


The distinction made by Unicode between character and glyph variant is somewhat problematic in the case of the runes; the reason is the high degree of variation of letter shapes in historical inscriptions, with many "characters" appearing in highly variant shapes, and many specific shapes taking the role of a number of different characters over the period of runic use (roughly the 3rd to 14th centuries AD). The division between Elder Futhark, Younger Futhark and Anglo-Saxon runes are well-established and useful categories, but they are connected by a continuum of gradual development, inscriptions using a mixture of older and newer forms of runes, etc. For this reason, the runic Unicode block is of very limited usefulness in representing of historical inscriptions and is better suited for contemporary runic writing than for palaeographic purposes.

The original publication of the Unicode standard is explicitly aware of these problems, and of the compromises necessary regarding the "character / glyph" dichotomy. The charts published show only "idealized reference glyphs", and explicitly delegates the task of creating useful implementations of the standard to font designers, ideally necessitating a separate font for each historical period.[c] Glyph shape was taken into consideration explicitly for "unification" of an older rune with one of its descendant characters.[d] On the other hand, the Younger Futhark era script variants of long-branch, and short-twig, in principle a historical instance of "glyph variants", have been encoded separately, while the further variant form of staveless runes has not.[e]

The ISO Runes Project treated the runes as essentially glyph variants of the Latin script. Everson argued that the native futhark ordering is well established, and that it is unusual for UCS to order letters not in Latin alphabetical order rather than according to native tradition, and a corresponding sorting order of the runic letter Unicode characters was adopted for ISO/IEC 14651 in 2001.[f]


The original 81 characters adopted for Unicode 3.0 included 75 letters, three punctuation marks and three "runic symbols".

The names given to the runic letter characters are "a bit clumsy" in a deliberate compromise between scholarly and amateur requirements. They list simplified (ASCII) representations of the three names of a "unified" rune in the Elder Futhark, the Anglo-Saxon and the Younger Futhark traditions, followed by the letter transliterating the rune (if applicable).[g] The ordering follows the basic futhark sequence, but with (non-unified) variants inserted after the standard Elder Futhark form of each letter, as follows:

Code point Rune Name Elder Futhark Anglo-Saxon Younger Futhark
Younger Futhark
Medieval Dalecarlian
16A0 FEHU FEOH FE F checkY checkY checkY checkY checkY checkY
16A1 V checkY
16A2 URUZ UR U checkY checkY checkY checkY checkY checkY
16A3 YR checkY
16A4 Y checkY
16A5 W checkY[h]
16A6 THURISAZ THURS THORN checkY checkY checkY checkY checkY checkY
16A7 ETH checkY
16A8 ANSUZ A checkY checkY[i]
16A9 OS O checkY
16AA AC A checkY
16AB AESC checkY
16AE O checkY
16AF OE checkY checkY
16B0 ON checkY[j]
16B1 RAIDO RAD REID R checkY checkY checkY checkY checkY checkY
16B2 KAUNA checkY
16B3 CEN checkY
16B4 KAUN K checkY checkY checkY checkY
16B5 G checkY
16B6 ENG checkY[k]
16B7 GEBO GYFU G checkY checkY checkY[l]
16B8 GAR checkY
16B9 WUNJO WYNN W checkY checkY
16BA HAGLAZ H checkY
16BB HAEGL H checkY
16BE NAUDIZ NYD NAUD N checkY checkY checkY
16BF SHORT-TWIG-NAUD N checkY checkY checkY
16C0 DOTTED-N checkY[m]
16C1 ISAZ IS ISS I checkY checkY checkY checkY checkY checkY
16C2 E checkY
16C3 JERAN J checkY
16C4 GER checkY
16C5 LONG-BRANCH-AR AE checkY checkY checkY
16C6 SHORT-TWIG-AR A checkY checkY checkY
16C7 IWAZ EOH checkY checkY
16C8 PERTHO PEORTH P checkY checkY
16C9 ALGIZ EOLHX checkY checkY
16CA SOWILO S checkY
16CB SIGEL LONG-BRANCH-SOL S checkY checkY checkY checkY
16CC SHORT-TWIG-SOL S checkY checkY checkY
16CD C checkY
16CE Z checkY
16CF TIWAZ TIR TYR T checkY checkY checkY
16D0 SHORT-TWIG-TYR T checkY checkY checkY
16D1 D checkY
16D2 BERKANAN BEORC BJARKAN B checkY checkY checkY checkY checkY
16D4 DOTTED-P checkY
16D5 OPEN-P checkY
16D6 EHWAZ EH E checkY checkY
16D7 MANNAZ MAN M checkY checkY
16D8 LONG-BRANCH-MADR M checkY checkY checkY
16D9 SHORT-TWIG-MADR M checkY checkY
16DA LAUKAZ LAGU LOGR L checkY checkY checkY checkY checkY checkY
16DB DOTTED-L checkY[n]
16DC INGWAZ checkY
16DD ING checkY
16DE DAGAZ DAEG D checkY checkY
16DF OTHALAN ETHEL O checkY checkY
16E0 EAR checkY checkY
16E1 IOR checkY
16E2 CWEORTH checkY
16E3 CALC checkY
16E4 CEALC checkY
16E5 STAN checkY
16E6 LONG-BRANCH-YR checkY checkY checkY
16E9 Q checkY checkY
16EA X checkY

The three "punctuation marks" are three variant forms of separators found in runic inscriptions, one a single dot, one a double dot and one cross-shaped.

Code point Rune Name

The three "runic symbols" are the Arlaug, Tvimadur and Belgthor symbols used exclusively for enumerating years in runic calendars of the early modern period.

Code point Rune Name

The eight additional characters introduced in Unicode 7.0 concern the Anglo-Saxon runes. Three are variant letters used by J. R. R. Tolkien to write Modern English in Anglo-Saxon runes, representing the English k, oo and sh graphemes.[o]

Code point Rune Name

The five others are letter variants used in one of the Franks Casket inscriptions, "cryptogrammic" replacements for the standard Anglo-Saxon o, i, e, a and æ vowel runes.

Code point Rune Name


Numerous Unicode fonts support the Runic block, although most of them are strictly limited to displaying a single glyph per character, often closely modeled on the shape shown in the Unicode block chart.

Free Unicode fonts that support the runic block include: Junicode, GNU FreeFont (in its monospace, bitmap face), Caslon, the serif font Quivira, and Babelstone Runic in its many different formats. Commercial fonts supporting the block include Alphabetum, Code2000, Everson Mono, Aboriginal Serif, Aboriginal Sans, Segoe UI Symbol, and TITUS Cyberbit Basic.

Microsoft Windows did not support the Runic block in any of its included fonts during 2000—2008, but with the release of Windows 7 in 2009, the system has been delivered with a font supporting the block, Segoe UI Symbol. In Windows 10 the Runic block was moved into the font Segoe UI Historic.[13]


Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
1.^ As of Unicode version 15.0
2.^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points


The following Unicode-related documents record the purpose and process of defining specific characters in the Runic block:

Version Final code points[p] Count UTC ID L2 ID WG2 ID Document
3.0 U+16A0..16F0 81 N1210 [14]
X3L2/95-117 N1222 [15]
UTC/1995-xxx [16]
N1229 [17]
N1230 [18]
N1239 [19]
X3L2/95-090 N1253 (doc, txt) [20]
X3L2/95-118 N1262 [21]
X3L2/96-035 N1330 [22]
X3L2/96-051 N1382 [23]
N1353 [24]
UTC/1996-027.2 [25]
X3L2/96-100 N1417 (doc, txt) [26]
X3L2/96-101 N1443 [27]
N1453 [28]
X3L2/96-123 [29]
L2/97-048 N1542 [30]
N1620 [31]
L2/97-288 N1603 [32]
L2/98-077 N1695 [33]
L2/98-132 N1771 [34]
L2/98-134 N1772 [35]
N1763 [36]
L2/98-286 N1703 [37]
L2/01-023 [38]
7.0 U+16F1..16F8 8 L2/11-096R N4013R [39]
N4103 [40]
L2/12-007 [41]
N4253 (pdf, doc) [42]


  1. ^ "At the Third International Symposium on Runes and Runic Inscriptions in Valdres, Norway, in August 1990, the need to represent runes by real graphic symbols in text production of various kinds was discussed. Project meetings were held in Oslo in March 1993 and in Stockholm in November 1994 and March 1995. The proposal from the "ISO Runes Project" (cf. Digitala runor, TemaNord 1997:623, København 1997) was accepted with some minor adjustments in 2001, and Unicode now includes runic characters in accordance with the proposal."[4][5]
  2. ^ This is not to be confused with Tolkien's own Cirth script which is "runic" in appearance but has no direct relation to the historical runes. This alphabet has no official Unicode encoding (although there is a proposed ConScript Unicode Registry encoding).[6]
  3. ^ "The known inscriptions can include considerable variations of shape for a given rune, sometimes to the point where the nonspecialist will mistake the shape for a different rune. There is no dominant main form for some runes, particularly for many runes added in the Anglo-Friesian and medieval Nordic systems. When transcribing a Runic inscription into its Unicode-encoded form, one cannot rely on the idealized reference glyph shape in the character charts alone. One must take into account to which of the four Runic systems an inscription belongs, and be knowledgeable about the permitted form variations within each system. The reference glyphs were chosen to provide an image that distinguishes each rune visually from all other runes in the same system. For actual use, it might be advisable to use a separate font for each Runic system."[citation needed]
  4. ^ "When a rune in an earlier writing system evolved into several different runes in a later system, the unification of the earlier rune with one of the later runes was based on similarity in graphic form rather than similarity in sound value."[citation needed]
  5. ^ "Two sharply different graphic forms, the long-branch and the short-twig form, were used for nine of the 16 Viking Age Nordic runes. Although only one form is used in a given inscription, there are runologically important exceptions. In some cases, the two forms were used to convey different meanings in later use in the medieval system. Therefore the two forms have been separated in the Unicode Standard. ... Staveless runes are a third form of the Viking Age Nordic runes, a kind of runic shorthand. The number of known inscriptions is small and the graphic forms of many of the runes show great variability between inscriptions. For this reason, staveless runes have been unified with the corresponding Viking Age Nordic runes."[7]
  6. ^ "On 2000-12-24 Olle Järnefors published on behalf of the ISORUNES Project in Sweden a proposal for ordering the Runes in the Common Tailorable Template (CTT) of ISO/IEC 14651. In my view this ordering is unsuitable for the CTT for a number of reasons."[8][9] "Due to the summer holidays, one of our experts was unable to report back to us by the due date of 2001-09-01. While we voted positively on 2001-08-30, Ireland would like to change our vote to DISAPPROVAL, with the following technical comment:
    In the tailorable template, the Runic script is ordered according to Latin transliteration order. This produces ordering which does not fully satisfy any user community. The Runes should be reordered to the Futhark order in the tailorable template.
    Note that the SC22/WG20 minutes are ambiguous as to what should have been sent out for ballot:
    'Runes were added after 14651 cut-off. Order of the Runes in N833 are according to the preference of the ISO Runes project (Sweden). Other people, such as Everson and Ken, disagree with the ISO project and prefer the current usage on the web. Reason: academic work is done in transliterations and the order is for the transliterated characters. Everson's proposal is very close to the binary order in 10646 (Futhark) for all extensions in various countries. Transliterated order would have to be a tailoring. Current draft table shows the ISO Runes order.... Discussion about the merits of either ordering. Decision that the order stays as in the table which is the Futhark order.' [...]
    We believe that ambiguities in transliteration ordering will mean that researchers in the Nordic countries and Britain and Ireland will have to tailor ANYWAY to get a correct transliteration ordering. Therefore the not-quite-perfect transliteration order in the tailorable template serves little purpose. On the other hand, the many non-researcher users of the Runes (who far outnumber the researchers), universally prefer the Futhark order, and require no tailoring for it. Since MOST users will not need to tailor, it seems only logical that the Futhark order should be the order used in the template."[9]
  7. ^ "The names given to the Runes in the UCS may be a bit clumsy, but they are intended to serve the needs of scholars and amateurs alike; not everyone is familiar with Runic transliteration practices, and not everyone is conversant with the traditional names in Germanic, English, and Scandinavian usage. So the names concatenate those three together with the scholarly transliteration letter."[10]
  8. ^ Modern innovation, intended as representing the Latin letter W in the context of medieval runic inscriptions.[clarification needed]
  9. ^ The Anglo-Saxon æsc rune with the same shape is encoded separately, as 16AB.
  10. ^ special case of a bind rune (ᚮ+ᚿ) being encoded, intended as representing the ǫ grapheme of Old Norse orthography in the context of medieval inscriptions.[clarification needed][citation needed]
  11. ^ The 1997 ISORUNES proposed name for this was "RUNIC LETTER YOUNGER K WITH DOT", intended as representing the /ŋ/ phoneme in medieval runic inscriptions (Elder Futhark already had a separate ng-rune, sometimes shown in ligature with the i-rune (the so-called "lantern rune"[11])
  12. ^ ᚷ is an alternative stylistic representation of ᛅ in Dalecarlian use.
  13. ^ The 1997 ISORUNES proposed name for this was "RUNIC LETTER YOUNGER N WITH DOT", transliterated as N.[clarification needed]
  14. ^ The 1997 ISO Runes proposed name for this was "RUNIC LETTER YOUNGER L WITH DOT", transliterated as L.[clarification needed]
  15. ^ The k rune was published with The Hobbit (1937), e.g. for writing Tolkien's own name, as ᛁ ᚱ ᚱ ᛏᚩᛚᛱᛁᛖᚾ. His oo and sh runes are known from a postcard written to Katherine Farrer (sic, the name is mistakenly given as Ferrer by Everson and West) on 30 November 1947, published as no. 112 in The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien (1981) ("A postcard, apparently written on 30 November 1947, using the system of runes employed in The Hobbit [...] Mrs Farrer, a writer of detective stories, was married to the theologian Austin Farrer, then Chaplain of Trinity College, Oxford.").[12]
  16. ^ Proposed code points and characters names may differ from final code points and names.


  1. ^ "Unicode character database". The Unicode Standard. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  2. ^ "Enumerated Versions of The Unicode Standard". The Unicode Standard. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  3. ^ Everson, Michael; West, Andrew (10 May 2011). "Proposal to encode additional Runic characters in the UCS" (PDF). ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2/WG2 N4013R.
  4. ^ Gustavson, Helmer (2004) [2002]. "Nytt om runer". pp. 45–46. 17.
  5. ^ Digitala runor. Nordisk ministerråd (Nordic Council of Ministers. 1997. pp. see especially 29ff for the list of proposed characters. ISBN 9789289301404.
  6. ^ "Cirth: U+E080 - U+E0FF". ConScript Unicode Registry encoding.
  7. ^ "The Unicode Standard" (PDF) (3.0 ed.). January 2000. chapter 7.6, pp. 174–175.
  8. ^ Everson, Michael (2001). "Ordering the runic script" (PDF). ISO/IEC JTC1/SC22/WG20 N809. Everson's proposal was accepted and the character sort order was changed in 2001.
  9. ^ a b LaBonté, Alain, ed. (10 February 2001). "Final disposition of comments of ballot results on PDAM-1 to ISO/IEC 14651:2001". Project editor. ISO/IEC 14651:2001. SC22/WG20. SC22/WG20 N882R.
  10. ^ Everson, "Ordering the runic script" (2001) p. 1.
  11. ^ Morris, Richard Lee (1988). Runic and Mediterranean Epigraphy. p. 130. ISBN 8774926837.
  12. ^ Everson, Michael; West, Andrew (10 May 2011). "Proposal to encode additional Runic characters in the UCS" (PDF). ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2/WG2 N4013R.
  13. ^ "Script and Font Support in Windows". Microsoft. Archived from the original on 13 September 2015. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
  14. ^ Proposal Concerning Inclusion of the Runic Characters (Report). 28 April 1995.[full citation needed]
  15. ^ Everson, Michael (20 May 1995). Names and ordering of the Fuþark (Runic) characters: comment on N1210 [UTC/1995-028] (Report).
  16. ^ Meeting #65 Minutes (Report). Runic Proposal. Unicode Technical Committee. 2 June 1995.
  17. ^ Response to Michael Everson comments (N 1230) on Runic (Report). 16 June 1995.[full citation needed]
  18. ^ Everson, Michael (21 June 1995). Feedback on Runic (Report).[full citation needed]
  19. ^ Ólafsson, Þorvaður Kári (23 June 1995). Icelandic position on Runic (Report).[full citation needed]
  20. ^ Umamaheswaran, V.S.; Ksar, Mike (2–27 June 1995). WG 2, Meeting #28 Minutes (Report) (Unconfirmed ed.). Helsinki, Finland (published 9 September 1995). §6.4.8.
  21. ^ Everson, Michael (19 September 1995). Consensus Name and ordering proposal for the Fuþark (Report).[full citation needed]
  22. ^ Lundström, Wera (13 March 1996). Revised Proposal Concerning Inclusion into ISO/IEC 10646 of the Repertoire of Runic Characters (Report).[full citation needed]
  23. ^ Runic Script: Description and Proposed Character Name Table (Report). 18 April 1996.[full citation needed]
  24. ^ Umamaheswaran, V.S.; Ksar, Mike (25 June 1996). WG2 Meeting #30 Minutes (Report) (Draft ed.). Copenhagen. §8.6.[full citation needed]
  25. ^ Greenfield, Steve (1 July 1996). UTC #69 Minutes (Report). Part 2, §E. Runic.[full citation needed]
  26. ^ Second Revised Proposal for Runic Character Names (Report). 23 July 1996.[full citation needed]
  27. ^ Everson, Michael; Jarnefors, Olle (4 August 1996). Allocating Ogham and Runes to the BMP: a strategy for making the BMP maximally useful (Report).[full citation needed]
  28. ^ Ksar, Mike; Umamaheswaran, V.S. (6 December 1996). WG 2 Meeting 31 Minutes (Report). Quebec. §8.6.[full citation needed]
  29. ^ Aliprand, Joan; Winkler, Arnold (5–6 December 1996). UTC #71 & X3L2 #168 ad hoc meeting Minutes (Report) (Preliminary ed.). San Diego (published 18 December 1996). §4.5 Runic.[full citation needed]
  30. ^ Everson, Michael (27 March 1997). Proposed pDAM text for Runic (Report).[full citation needed]
  31. ^ Everson, Michael (3 July 1997). Runic Proposal Update (Report).[full citation needed]
  32. ^ Umamaheswaran, V.S. (20 June – 4 July 1997). WG 2 Meeting #33 Minutes (Report) (Unconfirmed ed.). Heraklion, Crete, Greece (published 24 October 1997). §8.5.[full citation needed]
  33. ^ Paterson, Bruce (22 February 1998). Proposed Disposition of Comments on SC2 letter ballot on FPDAMs 16, 19, & 20 (Braille patterns, Runic, Ogham) (Report).[full citation needed]
  34. ^ Paterson, Bruce (6 April 1998). Revised Text of ISO 10646 Amendment 19 - Runic (Report).[full citation needed]
  35. ^ Paterson, Bruce (6 April 1998). Revised Text of ISO 10646 Amendment 20 - Ogham (Report).[full citation needed]
  36. ^ Paterson, Bruce (6 April 1998). Disposition of Comments Report on SC 2 N2970: Amendment 19 - Runic (Report).[full citation needed]
  37. ^ Umamaheswaran, V.S.; Ksar, Mike (16–20 March 1998). WG 2 Meeting #34 Minutes (Report) (Unconfirmed ed.). Redmond, WA, USA (published 2 July 1998). §6.2.3 FPDAM-19 on Runic and FPDAM-20 on Ogham.[full citation needed]
  38. ^ Everson, Michael (9 January 2001). Ordering the Runic script (Report).[full citation needed]
  39. ^ Everson, Michael; West, Andrew (10 May 2011). Proposal to encode additional Runic characters in the UCS (Report).[full citation needed]
  40. ^ WG 2 meeting #58 minutes (Report) (Unconfirmed ed.). 3 January 2012. §11.9 Additional Runic characters.[full citation needed]
  41. ^ Moore, Lisa (14 February 2012). UTC #130 / L2 #227 Minutes (Report). §C.5.[full citation needed]
  42. ^ WG 2 meeting #59 minutes (Report) (Unconfirmed ed.). 12 September 2012. §M59.16l.[full citation needed]