Research topic: Runes

Runes were a practical writing system, an alphabet, which was used in Norway from ca. 100 A.D. to the end of the 1400s.

Originally, runes were used in the whole of Northern and Eastern Europe. From the 11th century, runes were characteristic of Scandinavia.

Runic inscriptions provide evidence of how the first Norwegians spoke. They give us first-hand knowledge about our ancestors and their souls, emotional lives, love and eroticism, the business of daily life and their relationship with higher powers.

Runes were not written, but rather carved, on weapons, tools, ornaments, wood and stone. The most hectic period for runic stones was from the 900s to the 1100s. Sweden has 1750 stones from this period, Denmark around 200, and Norway around 50.

The most intense runic period in Norway was during the Middle Ages, from ca. 1150 until well into the 1400s. When Christianity and the Latin alphabet came to Norway, runic writing did not die out.

For over 300 years, the runic the Latin alphabets co-existed, though by that time inscriptions were carved on wood rather than on stone. So far, 900 Norwegian inscriptions carved on wooden sticks have been found, where the content varies from the deeply religious to the most trivial.

Runology is the study of runes and runic inscriptions. It is an interdisciplinary linguistic discipline which draws on archaeology, history of art, history of religion and cultural history.

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Published Feb. 8, 2013 1:08 PM - Last modified Oct. 5, 2015 10:30 AM