Runic Inscriptions

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     The original creation of the runic futhark occurred before the 1st. century c.e., when the Northern Italic scripts were absorbed and replaced by the Latin alphabet. The name "futhark" for the list of letters, like the word "alphabet", is derived from the first few letters in the runic sequence. The order of the letters  differs from the order of the Latin alphabet and is unique amongst alphabetic scripts. The futhark originally consisted of 24 letters, beginning with F and ending with O, and was used by the northern Germanic tribes of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Northern Germany. This form of the runes is known as the Elder, or Germanic Futhark. Later versions are the Anglo-Saxon futhorc and the Younger Futhark.

     The Rök rune stone from Östergötland, Sweden was composed in the ninth century by Varin Sibbi in a distinctive Swedish-Norwegian runic alphabet of 16 characters. Nine lines were carved in the older 24 character Elder Futhark. It contains a total of 735 runes.

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     The text reads: For Vaermod stand these runes. And Varin wrote them, the father for his dead son. I tell the ancient tale which the two war-booties were, twelve times taken as war-booty, both together from man to man. This I tell second who nine generations ago...with the Reidgoths; and he died with them, because of his guilt.

Theodoric the bold
king of sea warriors,
ruled over
Reid-sea shores.
Now sits he armed
on his Gothic horse,
shield strapped,
protector of Maerings.

     This I tell in the twelfth instance where the horse of the Vakyrie sees food on the battle-field, where twenty kings lie. This I tell in the thirteenth instance, which twenty kings sat on Sjaelland for four years, with four names, sons of four brothers, five called Valke, sons of Radulu, five Reidlulus, sons of Rugulu, five Haisls, sons of Harud, five Gunnmunds, sons of Björn... I tell the tale which of the Ingvaldings was revenged through a wife's sacrifice. I tell the ancient tale to what young warrior a kinsman is born. Vilin it is. He could slay a giant...I tell the ancient tale; Thor Sibbi, guardian of the sanctuary, ninety years of age, begot a descendant.

Sven B. B. Jansson, The Runes of Sweden,
The Redminister Press, 1962, p. 12-13.

     Gorm the Old (ca. 840-958) and Thyra "Danebod" (ca. 850-935) were King and Queen of Denmark at the end of the 9th century. Gorm erected a stone in memory of his queen. It is pictured on this Danish stamp.

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     The text, carved in runic letters, reads, "King Gorm made this monument for Thorvi (Thyra), his wife, the jewel (Danebod) of Denmark . This is the first time that the name "Denmark" appears in written form.

     The Jelling stone was erected by King Harald Bluetooth, the son of Gorm and Thyra,  about 980 at Jelling in Jylland, the royal residence.

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Harald the King ordered this memorial made for Gorm his father and Thorvi his mother, this Harald who won Denmark for himself and Norway, and made the Danes Christian.


     The other two sides of the Jelling stone are shown on this Danish stamp.

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