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Runic inscriptions after the Reformation

Norwegian culture suffered in the late Middle Ages, partly as a result of the Black Death which struck Norway in the mid-1300s. The genuine runic tradition seems to have died out during the 1400s in Norway.

Calendar sticks came into use in the Middle Ages, and some used runes or symbols developed from runes. The first seven runes, f u þ o r k h, were used to indicate the days of the week. This tradition continued after the Norwegian Reformation in 1536

Not long after the Reformation, scholars began to take an interest in runes and wrote about them. Thus knowledge about runes spread. People ‘took up the runes’ again, but now based on book-learning. The inscriptions no longer belonged to a living tradition from the Middle Ages.

Today, runes appear in new settings and on mass-produced articles like the glass plate displayed here with motifs and runes from the Dynna stone. It was designed in 2009 by Maud Gjeruldsen Bugge at Hadeland Glass for ODIN Fund Management.

Image may contain: Brown, Wood, Font, Tan, Rectangle.
Photo: Eirik Irgens Johnsen © Museum of Cultural History

Bildet kan inneholde: gul, tekst, linje, skrift, beige.

1. ‘This barn was built in 1637 by Pastor the Honourable and Venerable Mr. Zacharias Skancke, and now by Pastor the Honourable and Venerable Mr. Hans Wille repaired and the foundation redone in this year 1756. Erected as a reminder at Høye Natted(al).’ Plaque from Seljord parsonage. Dated 1756.

Image may contain: Brown, Line, Font, Rectangle, Tan.
Photo: Eirik Irgens Johnsen © Museum of Cultural History

Bildet kan inneholde: gul, tekst, skrift, rektangel.

Image may contain: Wood, Brown, Line, Khaki, Font.
Photo: Eirik Irgens Johnsen © Museum of Cultural History

2. ‘f u þ o r k h [repeated]’ (runes and pseudo-runes). Calendar stick of unknown provenance. Dated 1739.

Bildet kan inneholde: metall, beige, gjenstand, antikk, naturlig materiale.

3. ‘Rollef Gunlecksen.’ Oval box from Håsom farm, Telemark (privately owned). Dated 1690.

Photo: Mårten Teigen © Museum of Cultural History

Bildet kan inneholde: blågrønn, turkis, fargerikhet, aqua, sirkel.

4. ‘Saga’ (older runes). Ashtray from Arol Ceramics in Halden. 1960s?

Photo: Mårten teigen © Museum of Cultural History

Bildet kan inneholde: skrift, majorelle blå, rektangel.

5. ‘Odin’, ‘Frigg’, ‘Thor’, ‘Froya’, ‘Idun’, ‘Fakse’ (mixture of rune-types). Napkin rings from ‘EH’, i.e. Eivind G. Hillestad, Aust-Agder. 1968.

Photo: Mårten Teigen © Museum of Cultural History

Image may contain: Darkness, World, Circle, Space, Metal.

6. ‘(Gunnvö)r made a bridge, Þrýðríkr’s daughter, in memory of Ástríðr, (her) daughter.’ Plate with runes and motifs from the Dynna stone, Hadeland Glass. 2009. (See also the large dish at the entrance to the exhibition.)

Photo: Mårten Teigen © Museum of Cultural History

Bildet kan inneholde: brun, fotografi, insekt, virvelløse dyr, svart.

Bildet kan inneholde: gul, linje, oransje, rav, skrift.

7. ‘Løk’ (magisk formel i eldre runer, feilstavet med -r for -R; forfalskning). Skår av klebersteinskar fra Brandval, Kongsvinger, Hedmark. Innlevert 1937.

Foto: Mårten Teigen © KHM

Published Dec. 18, 2020 8:49 AM - Last modified Mar. 8, 2021 9:13 AM