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Although the Vikings had an oral tradition of story-telling (they would pass their legends and myths on through spoken word rather than writing them down) they did use writing.

The type of writing that the Vikings used was called Runic. Runes were symbols, similar to our modern alphabet, that were used to spell words but also had individual meanings of their own. In fact the word 'rune' means 'letter' or 'inscription' and even, in some older versions, 'mystery'!

There were many different variations on the runic alphabet but, for the sake of clarity, let's look at the Elder Futhark.


This is the earliest of the Scandinavian alphabets and the others are variations of this one. It is called the Futhark because they are the first 6 letters in the alphabet.

You will notice that there are no curved lines. This is because the letters were carved -either in wood or on stone or metal. The script ran either right to left or left to right in the beginning but, by the time of the Viking age, it was running left to right in the same way that we write.

There have been examples of Viking runes found in extremely varied places and for very different reasons - official documents, gravestones, personal letters, trade orders and agreements, love letters and even graffiti!

Did you know? When writing using the Futhark runes the Vikings didn't use spaces in between words.


Occasionally they might use a dot to indicate a new word but normally all of the words would run together.

Weapons, such as spear heads or sword blades, would have runes carved into them to give them magical powers!

Vikings 112

If we named our alphabet the same way it would be called the "ABCDEF" - catchy!

Sample Vikings Wallchart



Create your own rune to add to the futhark.


What does it look like?

What does it sound like?

What does it mean?


(ie "Thurs" - looks like a hammer, sounds like "th", means "giant")

Contact us to get your copy of this colourful wallchart! Just email  Hannah on [email protected]