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The three most well known runic alphabets are:

  1. The Elder Futhark (around 150–800 AD). 

  2. The Anglo-Saxon Futhorc (400–1100 AD).  

  3. The Younger Futhark (800–1100 AD).


The Younger Futhark is divided further into:

  • The long-branch runes, also called Danish, (although they were also used in NorwaySweden and Frisia).

  • The short-branch or Rök runes, also called Swedish-Norwegian, (although they were also used in Denmark).

  • The stavlösa or Hälsinge runes (staveless runes)


The Younger Futhark developed further into:



In popular culture, Runes have always been seen as possessing mystical properties. Once in a while, a fantasy computer game comes by with puzzles written in runes or uses runes within gameplay, games such as God of War, Runescape,   Runes of Magic, Rune Ragnorak, Dragon Age, with a side quest of Runes in the Lost Temple, Diablo 3 plus games using "gem runes" for gameplay in Dead Cells, these are symbolic as we saw with modern emoticons in smartphones for easier pictographic communication.























                                  Rune Stone Pack by Collected Worlds - GameMaker.


Runic culture has grown and evolved within modern time, and it is often seen that many Wiccan covens or sects use Runes ceremonially and ritualistically. As runes dated from before the time Northern Europe became Christianised, it became associated with the "pagan" or non-Christian past, and hence a mystique is cast upon it. Even the supposed etymology of the word rune, the German word raunen which means "to whisper", helped in adding a secretive bend to Runes.


The Runic alphabet is also known as Futhark, a name composed from the first six letters of the alphabet, namely f, u, th, a, r, and k. In this way, "Futhark" is analogous to the word "alphabet", which is from alpha and beta, the first two letters of the Greek alphabet. And why were the letters ordered in such a way? Nobody knows the answer, but it might be some form of a mnemonic function that was not preserved.


The first Runic inscriptions that have survived to the modern day dated from around 200 CE. The alphabet consists of twenty-four letters, eighteen consonants and five or six vowels depending on the history you read, below are the runes are from the Proto -Norse language vowels, as illustrated in the following chart:
























Proto-Germanic  has the (Z) ending in runes, the older form. Tha has been transliterated into the newer Proto-Norse form that has the (R) ending on the rune name,  both are shown in the list below.  The five vowels below, represented by five runes (the (ː) means ‘short or long’; they could also be nasalized):


Proto-Germanic                                                Proto -Norse                                                                           Vowels long or short sounding

URUZ  -                                                              *ūruʀ –                                                                                                       /u(ː)/

ANZUS –                                                            *ansuʀ –                                                                                                    /a(ː)/

ISA –                                                                     *īsaʀ –                                                                                                       /i(ː)/

EHWAZ –                                                          *ehwaʀ –                                                                                                  /e(ː)/

OTHILA –                                                         *ōþilą –                                                                                                    /o(ː)/


These could be either short or long, and some were also nasal.


In later Proto-Norse, they may not have always sounded exactly like that. The language experienced something called umlaut, where a sound in one part of the word affected a sound in 

Note: In the traditional transliteration of Runic inscriptions, the letter j stands for the semivowel /y/, and y stands for the vowel /ü/. The digraph th stands for /θ/, and ng stands for /ŋ/.


Traditionally, the 24 letters are divided into three groups of eight letters called ættir. In the previous chart, each row is an ætt (the singular of ættir). This means that f, u, th, a, r, k, g, and w belong to the first ætt; h, n, i, j, æ, p, z, and s belong to the second; and t, b, e, m, l, ng, d, and o belong to the third. Also, a rune has a position within each ætt, so for example, k would be the 6th rune in the 1st ætt, and t would be the 1st rune in the 3rd ætt.