hy did Vikings sometimes use codes when they wrote in runes? Were the messages secret, or did they have other reasons for encrypting their runic texts? Researchers still don’t know for sure.
But Runologist K. Jonas Nordby thinks he has made progress toward an answer. He has managed to crack a code called jötunvillur, which has baffled linguists and historians for years.
His discovery can help researchers understand the purpose behind the mystery codes.
“It’s like solving a riddle,” says Nordby.
“After a while I started to see a pattern in what appeared to be meaningless combinations of runes,” he says.
Codes in frequent use
Ancient codes prompt associations with treasure hunts and conspiracies as depicted in The Da Vinci Code. But mysterious codes are not just the stuff of fiction and films. Real-life Vikings and medieval Norse people carved runic codes onto sticks of wood, stones and other objects.
The codes are found in many forms and contexts. They have turned up all over Scandinavia, the British Isles and other places where runes were used.
“It was very common to use codes. Much of the population mastered them. That’s why I think they were something people picked up at the same time they learned the runic alphabet. If you had learned to read and write, you had also learned codes,” says Nordby.
The use of the code as a tool in learning is not as odd as it might seem. There were no rune schools then but knowledge of this alphabet could be transferred from generation to generation by linking it to games, poetry, drills and codes, Nordby says.
He is working on his doctorate in runes. Nordby is the first person to study all the findings of runic codes in Northern Europe, around 80 inscriptions. His PhD research has taken him to several countries to analyse runic inscriptions dating back as far as 800 AD.
Read More: Here