Runes: a Handbook

Overview

Runes, often considered magical symbols of mystery and power, are in fact an alphabetic form of writing. Derived from one or more Mediterranean prototypes, they were used by Germanic peoples to write different kinds of Germanic language, principally Anglo-Saxon and the various Scandinavian idioms, and were carved into stone, wood, bone, metal, and other hard surfaces; types of inscription range from memorials to the dead, through Christian prayers and everyday messages to crude graffiti. First reliably attested ...
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Overview

Runes, often considered magical symbols of mystery and power, are in fact an alphabetic form of writing. Derived from one or more Mediterranean prototypes, they were used by Germanic peoples to write different kinds of Germanic language, principally Anglo-Saxon and the various Scandinavian idioms, and were carved into stone, wood, bone, metal, and other hard surfaces; types of inscription range from memorials to the dead, through Christian prayers and everyday messages to crude graffiti. First reliably attested in the second century AD, runes were in due course supplanted by the roman alphabet, though in Anglo-Saxon England they continued in use until the early eleventh century, in Scandinavia until the fifteenth (and later still in one or two outlying areas). This book provides an accessible, general account of runes and runic writing from their inception to their final demise. It also covers modern uses of runes, and deals with such topics as encoded texts, rune names, how runic inscriptions were made, runological method, and the history of runic research. A final chapter explains where those keen to see runic inscriptions can most easily find them. Professor Michael P. Barnes is Emeritus Professor of Scandinavian Studies, University College London.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Provides students with an introduction to the topic which is both accessible and erudite. It brings the reader up to date on current issues in the discipline and demonstrates the concern with methodological rigour for which its author is well known. HISTORY A user-friendly scholarly reference and resource. (...) Highly recommended. MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW Not only a handbook but a textbook for the study of runes. CHOICE, A prudently structured, lucidly written, and judiciously reasoned overview of a subject that has engendered much divisiveness among experts. (...) A first-rate contribution. ANGLIA, (An) immaculately produced book. (...) This book is both a pioneering textbook of runic studies and a reference resource on runes, thus serving the needs of students of language studies, medieval history and cultural matters, and the just plain curious. REFERENCE REVIEWS Overall, the book is abundant in interesting material, well-written, and.is a rare reliable source on this often overdramatized aspect of our field. COMITATUS An immaculately scholarly and notably rational introduction to runology. (It) tells the reader everything he or she needs to know about runes and how to study them. It will be invaluable to students. TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781843837787
  • Publisher: Boydell & Brewer, Limited
  • Publication date: 9/20/2012
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,043,534
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

List of illustrations viii

Preface xii

Abbreviations xiv

1 Introduction 1

1.1 Rune and runic 1

1.2 Runic writing/runic inscriptions 2

1.3 Transliteration 3

1.4 Rune-rows 4

1.5 Runology and runologists 7

2 The origin of the runes 9

2.1 Questions 9

2.2 Four basic points 9

2.3 Context 10

2.4 Source alphabets, writing practices, and phonological systems 12

2.5 Conclusion 14

3 The older fupark 17

3.1 Preamble 17

3.2 The fupark order 17

3.3 Rune forms 18

3.4 Rune names 21

3.5 The languages and orthographic system(s) of the older-fupark inscriptions 22

4 Inscriptions in the older fupark 27

4.1 Problems 27

4.2 Solutions 29

4.3 Summary 34

5 The development of runes in Anglo-Saxon England and Frisia 37

5.1 Anglo-Frisian innovations 37

5.2 English innovations 39

6 The English and Frisian inscriptions 42

6.1 The English inscriptions 42

6.2 The Frisian inscriptions 52

7 The development of runes in Scandinavia 54

7.1 Introduction 54

7.2 The reduction of the fupark: evolution or design? 54

7.3 The younger fupark: a new, phonetically multifunctional writing system 60

7.4 The younger fupark: variety of form 61

7.5 Summary 63

7.6 The staveless runes 64

8 Scandinavian inscriptions of the Viking Age 66

8.1 The Viking-Age rune-stone 66

8.2 Dating and the typology of rune-stones 66

8.3 Content 71

8.4 The rune-stone fashion 86

8.5 Inscriptions in materials other than stone 88

9 The late Viking-Age and medieval runes 92

9.1 The diversification of runic usage 92

9.2 The status of the additional characters 95

9.3 The medieval runic writing system 96

10 Scandinavian inscriptions of the Middle Ages 99

10.1 Introduction 99

10.2 Formal inscriptions 100

10.3 Informal inscriptions on loose objects 106

10.4 Graffiti 116

10.5 Antiquarian text-types 120

10.6 Inscriptions in Latin 122

10.7 The two-script community 126

11 Runic writing in the post-Reformation era 129

11.1 Introduction 129

11.2 The survival of traditional runic writing after 1500 129

11.3 Learned interest in runes in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries 133

11.4 Runes and runic inscriptions as re-creations 135

12 Cryptic inscriptions and cryptic runes 144

12.1 Introduction 144

12.2 Cryptic and pseudo-cryptic 144

12.3 Cryptic inscriptions written with plain runes 147

12.4 Cryptic inscriptions written with cryptic (graphically deviant) runes 148

12.5 Final thoughts 152

13 Runica manuscripta and rune names 153

13.1 Introduction 153

13.2 Runes in manuscripts 153

13.3 Rune names 157

14 The making of runic inscriptions 165

14.1 Introduction 165

14.2 Inscriptions in stone 165

14.3 Inscriptions in wood and bone 171

14.4 Inscriptions in metal 172

14.5 Inscriptions in other materials 173

14.6 Rune-carvers 174

15 The reading and interpretation of runic inscriptions 177

15.1 General considerations 177

15.2 Example 1: Kjølevik 180

15.3 Example 2: St Albans 2 183

15.4 Example 3: Birsay 1 186

15.5 Conclusion 189

16 Runes and the imagination: literature and politics 190

16.1 Literature 190

16.2 Politics 194

16.3 Conclusion 196

17 A brief history of runology 197

17.1 Introduction 197

17.2 The documentation, editing and publication of inscriptions 197

17.3 Broader runological research 203

17.4 Reference works 211

18 Where to find runic inscriptions 213

Glossary 218

Phonetic and phonemic symbols 221

Index of inscriptions 226

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