Thursday, November 23, 2017

the Runes (part 3)

This commentary, in several parts, was sparked by a recent request to create a set of rune marked tiles as a custom order. 

The first time I wrote a commentary on the topic of 'Mystic Runes' was back at the very start of this blog (December 12, 2006).
The second part was seen recently 'the Norse Runes' (November 22, 2017)
NOTE: My intention with this series is to place the topic of Runes and Rune Lore into a purely archaeological context.

Historic use of Runes in the Viking Age

There is a very complete discussion of the development and use of Runic inscriptions available on the Wikipedia article 'Runes'
Generous use of Wikipedia references used here.

There are a progression of linked letter systems, listed loosely cultural and temporal:
Elder Futhark - Germanic / 100 - 700 AD / 24 letters
Anglo Saxon Futhorc - England / 400 - 900 AD / 29 - 33 letters
Younger Futhark - Scandinavia (Viking Age) / 800 - 1000+ AD / 16 letters
  further broken into long twig (Danish?) and short twig (Norwegian & Swedish?)
Medieval - Scandinavia / 1100 - 1400 AD / 27 letters (composite system)
Although there are hints that the Runes as a written system may extend to roughly 200 - 100 BC, the first actual artifact know bearing a Runic inscription is on a comb from the early AD period:
" The Vimose Comb from the island of Funen, Denmark, features the earliest known runic inscription (AD 150 to 200) and simply reads, ᚺᚨᚱᛃᚨ "Harja", a male name.[39] " (1)
Image from the National Museum of Denmark :
Obviously, the use seen, as a person's name (likely signifying ownership), indicates both widespread understanding, and everyday use, of a Runic letter system for language, even at this early date.
Generally, there are four well documented (supported by objects) Viking Age uses for Runes:
a) Memorial text - most typically carved on stones
b) Owners Names - may be just the name, or 'person owns me'
c) Makers Names - typically 'person made me'
d) Message text - records, personal notes

Memorial texts are often more complex than they first seem. The order of naming may be intended to represent inheritance sequence, the placement may indicate land boundaries. 
The best example of the last class - everyday notes, are the Brygeen Inscriptions, the collection of 670 found in Bergen, Norway. These include Christian themes (Latin language rendered in Runes), owners and makers, even pornography. (2)

As has been indicated earlier - what is completely missing from the artifact record is any kind of  'one rune' tile - in any material what so ever.

(1) Wikipedia - Runes

(2) Bryggen Inscriptions

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February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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