Old Nordic letters and runes
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Old Nordic letters
Runes are letters in old Germanic languages and were widely used, in different forms, in countries like Germany, England and - of course - Scandinavian countries like Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Runes have altered shape and sound over time and place, and the original name of the rune alphabet was Futharc. There are three main runic alphabets:
- The Elder Futhark (150-800 AD)
- The Anglo-Saxon Futhorc (400-1100 AD)
- The younger Futhark (800-1100 AD)
The runes were most likely a development/interpretation of the old Italic alphabets. Germanic people often served in Roman armies which is likely the original point of contact between the different langages/alphabets. Runes were commonly used in Northern Europe until Christianization which took place between 700-1100 AD. Runes lasted the longest in Scandinavia which was Chistianed last. In some areas of Sweden and Norway runes are sometimes still used - in folkloric and decorative contexts.
Academic study of runes
The first attemts to study runes were made during the Renaissance, by a man named Johannes Bureus. This particular scholar believed the runes to possess magical powers and deemed them "holy". The studies were continued by Olof Rudbeck Sr. who presented his findings in a collection called "Atlantica". It continued like this for a few centuries until the 19th when runology became a specialized branch of German linguistics.
Vikings were Nordic merchants, discoverers and warriors with a powerful reputaion. They worshiped Nordic Mythological Gods like Odin, Thor and Freya. Runes were their letters and have thus become well associated with them. Anyone fascinated by Viking History will soon want to know more about their written language. Runes were often carved in stone - runestones - many of which are still out there to be seen in and around Scandinavia.
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