Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A stone says more than a thousand runes

Date:
May 28, 2010
Source:
Uppsala University
Summary:
It was not necessary to be literate to be able to access rune carvings in the 11th century. At the same time, those who could read were able to glean much more information from a rune stone than merely what was written in runes.

It was not necessary to be literate to be able to access rune carvings in the 11th century. At the same time those who could read were able to glean much more information from a rune stone than merely what was written in runes. This is shown in new research from Uppsala University in Sweden.

Rune stones are an important part of the Swedish cultural environment. Many of them are still standing in their original places and still bear witness about the inhabitants of the area from a thousand years ago. They thereby represent a unique source of knowledge about the Viking Age, providing us with glimpses of a period we otherwise would have known very little about. Among other themes, they tell us about family relations, travels, or matters of faith, and all of it in a language that scholars can understand fairly readily.

"The language and factual information of runic inscriptions are fairly well researched, but we know little about how Viking Age people read a rune stone," says Marco Bianchi at the Department of Scandinavian Languages, whose dissertation investigates Viking Age written culture in the provinces of Uppland and Södermanland.

There are a number of inscriptions with runes that do not convey any linguistic meaning. In Uppland they are found both in areas that are rich in rune stones and in those that have very few.

"But the fewer rune stones there were in the vicinity, the poorer writers the carvers of these non-verbal inscriptions were. What was important was thus not to convey a linguistic message, but to create a rune carving that was perceived by the local people as credible," claims Marco Bianchi.

However, rune stones entirely lacking in linguistic content are rather rare. On most rune stones you can read a little narrative in the form of a memorial inscription that often winds back and forth across a large stone surface. At first glance these runic inscriptions seem chaotic, but they are in fact very well structured. Usually they are meant to be read starting in the lower left-hand corner. Another observation Marco Bianchi makes is that many rune stones do not have any given reading order. Different parts of the inscription are in such cases visually separated from each other and can be read in any order the reader wishes.

"You can compare a rune stone text with a newspaper spread or a Web page, where the reader is attracted by headings and pictures," says Marco Bianchi.

The visual design not only structures the linguistic message but complements and nuances it as well.

"On many rune stones the interplay between ornamentation and the runes is striking. To people of the Viking Age, the actual runes were only part of the message of the rune stone," he says.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Uppsala University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Uppsala University. "A stone says more than a thousand runes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100527101057.htm>.
Uppsala University. (2010, May 28). A stone says more than a thousand runes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100527101057.htm
Uppsala University. "A stone says more than a thousand runes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100527101057.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Federal researchers are exploring more than a dozen underwater sites where they believe ships sank in the treacherous waters west of San Francisco in the decades following the Gold Rush. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Museum Traces Fragments of Star-Spangled Banner

Museum Traces Fragments of Star-Spangled Banner

AP (Sep. 12, 2014) — As the Star-Spangled Banner celebrates its bicentennial, Smithsonian curators are still uncovering fragments of the original flag that inspired Francis Scott Key's poem. (Sept. 12) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spinosaurus Could Be First Semi-Aquatic Dinosaur

Spinosaurus Could Be First Semi-Aquatic Dinosaur

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — New research has shown that the Spinosaurus, the largest carnivorous dinosaur, might have been just as well suited for life in the water as on land. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Meet Spinosaurus, the First-Known Water Dinosaur

Meet Spinosaurus, the First-Known Water Dinosaur

AFP (Sep. 11, 2014) — Spinosaurus aegyptiacus was adapted for both land and water, and an exhibit featuring a life-sized model, based on new fossils unearthed in eastern Morocco, opens at the National Geographic Museum in Washington on Friday. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

      Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:  

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile iPhone Android Web
      Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins