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Ancient Runes Lesson 4

Lesson 4 First Years

The Elder and The Younger Futhark

The Elder Futhark

The name "futhark", like the word "alphabet", is derived from the first few letters in the runic sequence, which differs considerably from the order of the Latin alphabet and is unique amongst alphabetic scripts. The futhark originally consisted of 24 letters, beginning with F and ending with O, and was used by the northern Germanic tribes of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Northern Germany. This form of the runes is known as the Elder, or Germanic Futhark.

The Anglo-Saxon Futhorc

Sometime around the fifth century AD, changes occurred in the runes in Frisia (the area around the northern Netherlands and north-western Germany). This period coincided with the Anglo-Saxon invasions from this area and the appearance of similar runes in the British Isles. The forms of several of the runes changed, notably the runes for A/O, C/K, H, J, S, and Ng. Also, changes in the language led to between five and nine runes being added to the alphabet to compensate for the extra sounds, and several runes were given different corresponding letters. This alphabet has become known as the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc.

The Younger Fuşark (Danish variation)

In Scandinavia, the Elder Futhark remained in use until some time around the eighth century (the time of the Eddas), when drastic changes in the Old Norse language occurred, and corresponding changes in the runic alphabet were made to accommodate the new sounds. However, unlike the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc, the Younger Futhark (as it is now called) reduced the number of runes from 24 to 16, and several runes came to represent multiple sounds. The forms of the runes were also changed and simplified. There are several variations of this futhark - Danish, long branch, Norwegian, dotted, etc.

This form of the runic alphabet spread from Denmark north into Sweden and Norway, and was carried into Iceland and Greenland by the Vikings. It is possible that they were also brought to North America with the Vinland expeditions, but so far no authenticated inscriptions have been found.


1. Where are the runes associated with (pertaining to its origin)?

2. What are the different meanings of Runes?

3.Where are the runes used for?

4.Where is the name futhark derived from?

5.How many letters did it originally consist of?

6. What is the other name for the Elder futhark and what are the places which practiced it?

7..What is the area around the northern Netherlands and north-western Germany?

8. What type of futhark reduced the number of runes? How did they compensate for the lost runes?

Dont forget, the first student to send me the correct answer to the Trivia question will receive an extra 10pts. for their house.
Assignments will be due on: November 27th

Please send your assignments to Professor Parson at the link below. Please click on Flying Harry