Little is known about the origins of the Runic alphabet, which is traditionally known as futhark after the first six letters. In Old Norse the word rune means 'letter', 'text' or 'inscription'. The word also means 'mystery' or 'secret' in Old Germanic languages and runes had a important role in ritual and magic.
Here are some theories about the origins of runes:
- The alphabet was probably created independently rather than evolving from another alphabet.
- Runic writing was probably first used in southern Europe and was carried north by Germanic tribes.
- The Runic alphabet is thought to have been modeled on the Latin and/or Etruscan alphabet.
There are several historical runic inscriptions, found on everything from swords to stones to bronze pendants, which list the entire runic alphabet in order. One of the oldest and most complete of these is the Kylver stone, found in Gotland, Sweden and dating from the fifth century.
However, A runic code called jötunvillur has finally been decrypted. and may help solve the mystery of the Vikings’ secret codes.
Two men, Sigurd and Lavrans, carved their names both in code and in standard runes on this stick, dated from the 13th century and found at the Bergen Wharf. This helped researcher Jonas Nordby crack the jötunvillur code.
Did Vikings use codes when they wrote in runes? Were the messages secret, or did they have other reasons for encrypting their runic texts? Researchers still don’t know for sure.
But Runologist K. Jonas Nordby thinks he has made progress toward an answer. He has managed to crack a code called jötunvillur, which has baffled linguists and historians for years.
His discovery can help researchers understand the purpose behind the mystery codes.
“It’s like solving a riddle,” says Nordby.
“After a while I started to see a pattern in what appeared to be meaningless combinations of runes,” he says.
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