Runes are the letters in a set of related alphabets that were used to write various Germanic languages before the adoption of the Latin alphabet. From late antiquity through the early middle ages, peoples across northwestern Europe inscribed runes on gravestones, buildings, jewelry, and weapons in a range of forms from crude scratchings to sophisticated relief carvings. Reading and deciphering this script has called on the expertise of a number of academic disciplines including archaeology, art history, linguistics, and forensic science.
The runes illustrated in this lively introduction, which include memorials for the dead, business messages, charms, curses, and prayers, offer a fascinating glimpse into the beliefs of early Anglo-Saxon and Germanic cultures. The author traces the history of these ancient symbols from their mysterious origins to their development as a widely used script, concluding with a brief discussion of their use in modern mystery and fantasy literature, including the runic adaptations of J. R. R. Tolkien.
Martin Findell is a research associate at the University of Leicester, United Kingdom.
5 3/4 x 8 1/4 inches
30 color illustrations
Imprint: J. Paul Getty Museum
Series: Ancient Scripts