The Runic love letter

Happy Valentine’s day!

In Sigtuna we celebrate by quoting a decipeherd 900-year-old runic inscription: ”Kiss Me”! Read more about it in this article from MailOnline (2014), saying:

A 900-year-old Norse code has finally been cracked, and experts believe it’s the Viking equivalent of a Valentine’s day card. The message, which is thought to say in part ‘kiss me’, means scientists may have stumbled upon a nearly millennium-old love letter. It came after PhD student Jonas Nordby unravelled the mysterious Jötunvillur code, which dates back to as early as the 9th century.

The ‘Kiss me’ carving, thought to have been made in the 12th or 13th century in Sigtuna, Sweden, was written in cipher runes, the most common code known from medieval Scandinavia.

‘The problem with this code system is that it is impossible to read because the code gives many possible solutions,’ Mr Nordby told MailOnline.
Mr Nordby, from the University of Oslo, is the first person to study all the findings of runic codes in Northern Europe, totalling around 80 inscriptions.

‘In the cases I have been able to read, the text they contain personal names.’
‘It is, however, possible – with some uncertainty – to interpret the runic inscription on a piece of bone found in Sigtuna as “Kiss me”’.

Mr Nordby bases his interpretation on his work on the jötunvillur code, but is keen to highlight that there are differences to the two codes that could mean the message is something different althought.

‘For the jötunvillur code, one would replace the original runic character with the last sound of the rune name,’ he explained in an interview with Forskning.no.

‘For example, the rune for “f”, pronounced “fe,” would be turned into an “e,” while the rune for “k,” pronounced “kaun,” became “n.”’

Cryptologists previously thought the code was used to communicate secret messages, but Mr Nordby thinks the pattern might have been vital in the teaching of rune instead.

The carving was discovered in Sigtuna, Sweden. Cryptologists previously thought the code was used to communicate secret messages, but Mr Nordby thinks the pattern might have been vital in the teaching.

One of the reasons for his claim is that the jötunvillur code is written in a way that makes the interpretation ambiguous.

Mr Nordby says that jötunvillur can only be written and not read, which would make it pointless for use in a message.

Instead, Mr Nordby thinks the Vikings memorised rune names with the help of the jötunvillur code.

The ‘kiss me’ carving suggests that the code may also have been used as a type of puzzle for others to interpret.

‘People challenged one another with codes. It was a kind of competition in the art of rune making. This testifies to a playfulness with writing that we don’t see today,’ said Mr Nordby.”

 

The bone with the Kiss Me-rune inscription was found in Sigtuna 1999, and is part of the collections of Sigtuna Museum.

Curious about runic stones in Sigtuna? Click here!

 

Read more:

www.forskning.no

www.theguardian.com

www.huffingtonpost.com

www.mailonsunday.co.uk

Leave a comment