Part II of my series on the Elder Futhark!
So there are quite a few rune alphabets, I’ve listed the ones I feel are the most important below:
- Elder Futhark (2nd-8th Century CE)
- Anglo-Saxon Futhorc (5th-12th Century CE)
- Younger Futhark (9th-12th Century CE)
- Medieval Runes (12th- 16th Century CE)
- Dalecarlian Runes (16th – 19th Century CE)
Obviously what I’m focusing on here is the first of the rune alphabets, the Elder Futhark.
As I mentioned briefly before in Part I, the names and meanings of the 24 runes of the Elder Futhark have been lost. But the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc and the Younger Futhark are preserved in the three rune poems: Norwegian Poem, the Icelandic Poem, and the Anglo-Saxon Poem. Scholars have reconstructed the names and meanings of the Elder Futhark runes in common Proto-Germanic based on attestations in these poems as well as the Gothic Alphabet, so needless to say these are quite important to anyone studying the runes.
The Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem is the oldest of the poems and is recorded in a 10th century manuscript. The Anglo-Saxon Futhorc contains the 29 Anglo-Saxon runes, an extra five runes as compared to the Elder Futhark it evolved from. Each rune comes with a riddle of which the rune is the solution.
The Norwegian Rune Poem is preserved in a 17th century copy of a 13th century manuscript. The poem contains the names and descriptions of the 16 Younger Futhark runes. The Younger Futhark superseded the Elder Futhark and was used during Viking Era Europe. It is practically identical to the Elder Futhark except that it contains eight less runes than it’s older counterpart.
There are four known recordings of The Icelandic Rune Poem, the oldest of which dates from the 15th century. Exactly like the Norwegian Rune Poem, the Icelandic Poem contains the names and meanings of the 16 Younger Futhark runes.
This post was meant to serve as a very brief introduction to the rune poems. I will more thoroughly explain the poems and provide the poems on the posts for each individual rune.