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Rune Monuments - Page 1 of 4


There are probably about 6000 runic relics and monuments in existence. They date from the start of the modern era (1-1200AD approx).

The very oldest runic relics are name-markers or protective talismans dating to perhaps as long ago as 200AD. The earliest stone monument I know of is at Valsfjord, Norway. It is carved halfway up a seaward cliff face and may have been done from the deck of a boat. the inscription reads "ek erilaz" meaning "I am the earl" and uses two bindrunes. "Earl" is a loose translation, the true meaning of the word "erilaz" is a matter of some contention. I take it to mean someone who has a familiarity with the runes and therefore may justifiably claim to possess a modicum of wisdom. Modern runesters use the word to mean "runemaster". I'm sorry I couldn't get permission from the copyright holder to show you a picture of the stone.

Most runic inscriptions are Death Runes, in other words, memorials. They are commonly referred to as runestones. It should be noted that casting runes for divining - whether they are made from stone or any other material - are called simply "runes" or more correctly "divining runes", but never "runestones".

Runestones in Britain date from about 450-1100AD. Strangely, the coming of Christianity did not completely eliminate the use of Runic inscription. It seems our early missionaries were more tolerant of Pagan culture than those in other areas of the Northern Tradition. So there is perhaps more runic survival in English culture than any other modern society, with the notable exception of Iceland.

For example, all other European languages use Latin-based words such as écrire, scriben, scriven, schreiben for the verb to write, but the English word comes from the old Saxon word wretan, to inscribe runes. Similarly our word read is from Saxon redan, to interpret runes. Other European languages base their word on the Latin root legere, as in lire, leggere, lezen, lesen.

Here are just a few examples of rune relics and monuments:

jpeg image: jelling stone


The Great Stone of Jelling
Raised by King Harald Bluetooth to his parents about 960-965 AD. Jelling in North Jutland, Denmark has an extensive complex of Runic remains.


The inscription on the Great Stone reads: "King Haraldr ordered this monument to be made in memory of his father Gormr and his mother Thorvi. This was Harladr who won all Denmark for himself and for Norway, and who made the Danes Christian."

Cunebald's Cross
gif image: cunebald's crossDetail from a 5th Century Runic monument from Lancaster, England.

The inscription reads: "Gebiddeth fora Cyunibalth Cuthbereng" which may be translated as "Pray-ye for (the soul of) Cunebald Cuthbertson".

The 3-foot high cross found in 1807 is now in the British Museum, where this drawing was made.

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