The Heathen Mythbuster

The Heathen Mythbuster

About the blog

As long as I have been on online heathen forums, I have encountered many modern myths. The internet are full of strange and wonderful theories and that is great, but many of them are not based on real facts or are ignoring facts to get their homegrown theory to fit. I will try to find the facts about these theories and share them here. Some of the posts will properly have to be rewritten/changed to accommodate new data or data I wasn’t aware of then posting the information on the first time. That’s only an natural development for such a blog.
Since I am Danish and English isn’t my first language, I will properly make many grammatical and spelling mistakes. Please bear over with me.

Runes in late Bronze Age

TechnologyPosted by Kim Pierri Thu, February 02, 2017 08:40:45

After a debate in the Facebook group “Norse Rune Writing/Translating” I became aware, that some people seems to think that the runes was invented in the Bronze Age. Then asked for sources guy who proposed the very early date could just say “i cant remember which old dusty book i found it in ...i dont have to show you the road though. you need to do more research .”. So I decided to do a bit of research.

What do the archeologist say:

Lisbeth M. Imer, Runologist at The National Museum of Denmark say in her book: Danmarks Runesten - En fortælling” 2016 says that the runes was properly created in the environment of the nobility in the second or third century CE (p. 30).

Jørgen Jensen, archeologist at The national Musem of Denmark wrote in his work: “Danmarls Oldtid -Ældre Jernalder“ 2003 write that the oldest inscriptions we know, are from the late second century, but that runes may be a bit elder, because Tacitus in about 100 CE that the Germanic people use marks cut in twigs to take omens from. (The original text can also be seen here: )

Professor Lotte Hedager from Oslo University wrote in Politikens Danmarkshistorie, bind 2 Danernes land (1988) that the runes must have been invented around the time of Christ, but that the first inscriptions are from the first century and that the use of runes became more common around year 200. (p 310) (The original text can also be seen here: )

So it’s quite clear that the runes was created in the start of the Common Era sometime between year 1 and 200. Why would someone then think that the runes went back to the Bronze Age (1700-500 BC), which are 500 years before the earliest date of the runes?

I tried to google “Bronze Age Runes” and found a couple of pages.

The first one I found was Oswald The Runemakers page ( ). He says: “Rune-like symbols appear as cave markings as early as the late Bronze Age (circa 1300 BC), and they are mentioned in the Bible, but their use in ritual and as an Oracle for consultation must certainly pre-date their use as a system of writing.”. The page seem to be a shop, where “Oswald” are seeling runeset for divination.

The second I found was History of The Runes from a Wicca group

They wrote: “Before the Germanic peoples of ancient Western Europe possessed a true alphabet, they used pictorial symbols to carve into stones their ideas and thoughts. Pre-runic symbols, or hällristningar, have been found in various Bronze Age rock carvings, primarily in Sweden. Some of these symbols are readily identifiable in the later alphabets, while others represent ideas and concepts that were incorporated into the names of the runes (sun, horse, etc.) The earliest known examples of these pictorial writings date from about 1300 BCE and may have been linked to Sun and Fertility cults … These pictoglyphs later evolved into the more abstract glyphs composed of lines resembling no particular objects. That there was great power endowed to those who were adept at the use of these glyphs is indicated by the name given to the glyphs themselves. These glyphs were called Runes, from the Gothic Runa, meaning “a secret thing, a mystery.”

This last article has references, but they are to two articles from 1898 and 1928. As you have seen in the references, I have made to moderns scholars, not what scholars think today.

Both pages are from people using runes for magic/divination and not as part of a historical research. When you read the homepages it also become clear that it’s not the rune-letters they are referring to. They interpret the figures on the Bronze Age carvings as having the same symbolic meaning as they think the runic letters have. This symbolic meaning are interpreted from the medieval rune poems written down very late (about 1500 years after the end of the Bronze Age).

It is fine in you religious practices to use pictures from Bronze Age Rock Carvings to represent the symbols you get from the Rune Poems, but there are no evidence for runes being from the Bronze Age.

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