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vikings runes

vikings runes

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Published by faby

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Published by: faby on Aug 20, 2008
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04/29/2013

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© Prepared by Jim Cornish, Gander, Newfoundland, Canada.
 Viking Runes
Origin of the Runes
(1) Like wrestling, swimming andfighting, writing was considered aspecial skill among the Vikings. Thealphabet they used was invented bytheir 
ancient
Norse
ancestors
around 200 B.C. The letters or 
runes
may have been based on theearly Latin or Greek
alphabets
or on Neolithic (stone-age) characterscarved in rocks throughout northern Europe. Whatever their origin,the runes were changed slightly by the Norse, probably becausethey had few things with which to write.(2) The word
rune
means
mystery 
or 
whispered secret 
. In Vikingmythology, the runes were a gift from their all-powerfulgod
Odin
. In order to learn them and the magicalpowers they
possessed
, Odin hung upside down on thetree of knowledge for nine days. When he saw therunes, he used his sword to carve them into the tree. Inreturn for gaining the
wisdom
and magic powersassociated with the runes, Odin gave up his left eye.Because of this
sacrifice
, the Vikings considered therunes to be
sacred
.
 
© Prepared by Jim Cornish, Gander, Newfoundland, Canada.
The Viking Runic Alphabet
(3) The Viking alphabet is often called the
futhark 
after the first sixletters of the
original
alphabet of twenty-four letters. The alphabetwas later reduced to sixteen runes. This made spelling difficult for rune carvers because all of the sounds in the Norse languagecould not be covered. It also made it difficult for 
translators
whotried to understand their meaning.(4) Viking runes weren’t written with pen and ink on paper.Instead, runes were carved into stone, wood, clay and bone with aknife or 
chisel
. To make carving into these surfaces easier, therunes were made using only straight lines. Words were formed by
separating
groups of runes with what we call a
colon
(
:
). In somecases, just a single period was used.
 Uses of Runes
(5) Runes were used for many
ordinary
and
extraordinary
things. Ordinary Vikings used them to
label
household itemsand personal belongings like the fishing sinker pictured above.Viking merchants used runes to keep records of items boughtand sold. Viking warriors
decorated
their swords with
runes
to
identify
the owners. Because the Vikings though the runeswere magical, the believed their weapons became stronger inbattle. Warriors who knew how to read and write runes could
blunt
enemies’ weapons, break chains, cure illnesses andguard against witches. The runes were also carved on
amulets
, pieces of jewelry worn by a
deceased
Vikings for protection in the next world.
 
© Prepared by Jim Cornish, Gander, Newfoundland, Canada.
 Viking Rune (Memorial) Stones
(6) The Vikings used runes to inscribe
memorial
stones.Some of the
inscriptions
were
tributes
to fallen heros and lovedones. Other stones
mocked
a dishonest Viking who had
betrayed
family and friends. Nearly 3000 runestones have beendiscovered across Scandinavia. A much smaller number have been
unearthed
in other parts of Europe.(7) The rocks used to make runestones were usually largeboulders with at least one naturally flat surface. Before theybecame Christians, the stone contained only runes. After 
conversion
, pictures were added. The imagesand inscriptions were often
decorated
with black,red, blue and white paint
extracted
from berries, garden plantsand clay-like earth. The stones often
depicted
snakes,horses and ships.
 Archaeological Importance of Viking Runes
(8) Wherever the Vikings went, they carved runes onrocks, buildings and
statues
. Some coins have beenfound that have Viking runes carved in their surfacestoo. It’s lucky for us they were
graffiti
artists. Someof what we know about the Vikings has come fromtheir graffiti. Runestones and the sagas recorded by
skalds
(Viking poets) have helped archaeologists
reconstruct
some of what we know about theVikings. Some runestones are
petroglyphs
andtheir pictures give us a
glimpse
of what Vikinglife was like. What do you think the Thor’shammer hanging from the top of this stone saysabout the
deceased
?

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Theres so many things we can learn from looking at artifacts of the past. New innovations like cremation jewelry http://www.jewelrykeepsakes.com/Crema... give families the option of having a small jewelry accessory that is filled with a tribute to the deceased and passing it down to future generations.
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