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.
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.
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,
Now sits he armed
on his Gothic horse,
protector of Maerings.
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.
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.
Jelling stone was erected by King Harald Bluetooth, the son of Gorm
and Thyra, about 980 at Jelling in Jylland, the royal residence.
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.