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Runic letters and class exercises

Runes were also used for correspondence. Runic letters were often written on wooden sticks, usually with four flat sides. Several of these were found during the excavations at the German Wharf in Bergen. One sent by King Sverrir’s son, Sigurðr Lávarðr (=Lord), was an order for spear-heads.

The inscription on the shorter stick in the display is a proposal of marriage in a love triangle. We will never know the outcome of this poignant drama. We see that the woman had tried to whittle away her own name and the names of her two suitors before disposing of the stick under the floorboards of Lom Stave Church.

The other stick seems to have been carved by several pupils learning runes. The first one mentions runic instruction. Then each one tries to outdo the other with his knowledge.

All four sides of each stick can be examined on the enlarged replicas. The parts that were erased on the proposal stick have been reconstructed.

Bildet kan inneholde: blå, brun, gul, tre, atmosfære.
Photos: Ann Christine Eek © Museum of Cultural History
Bildet kan inneholde: brun, gul, atmosfære, fotografi, hvit.
Photos: Ann Christine Eek © Museum of Cultural History
Bildet kan inneholde: tre, brun, gul, atmosfære, fotografi.
Photos: Ann Christine Eek © Museum of Cultural History
Bildet kan inneholde: tre, brun, gul, hvit, mønster.
Photos: Ann Christine Eek © Museum of Cultural History

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

1. ‘Hávarðr sends to Guðný[?] God’s greetings and his own friendship. And now it is my full will to ask for your hand, if you do not want to be with Kolbeinn. Consider your marriage plans and let me know your will.’ Runic letter found under the floorboards of Lom Stave Church. 1200s?

Bildet kan inneholde: brun, fotografi, hvit, vegg, khaki.
Photos: Eirik Irgens Johnsen © Museum of Cultural History

 

Bildet kan inneholde: brun, khaki, fotografi, atmosfære, hvit.
Photos: Eirik Irgens Johnsen © Museum of Cultural History

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

2. ‘Eilífr the Worthy owns me. Steingrímr and I have talked much between us for the reason that I want to learn runes from it. / eaauo. Knörr, I ask you. Will you give me that one to marry? And there are these: mistill [=mistletoe], ristill [=ploughshare], tistill, histill, kistill [=little box]. / O(ne) t(wo) th(ree) f(our) f(ive) s(ix) s(even) e(ight) n(ine) t(en) e(lleven) t(welve) th(irteen) f(ourteen) f(ifteen) s(ixteen) s(eventeen) e(ighteen) n(ineteen) t(wenty). / They are shacking up together, Clumsy-Kári and Vilhjalmr’s wife. Lucky you then!’ Rune-stick from Tønsberg. 1250–1325.

Published Dec. 17, 2020 10:42 AM - Last modified Mar. 8, 2021 9:13 AM