Archaeological news about the Archaeology of Early Medieval Europe from the Archaeology in Europe web site

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Mysterious code in Viking runes is cracked

A runic code called jötunvillur has finally been decrypted. It just might help solve the mystery of the Vikings’ secret codes.

Two men, Sigurd and Lavrans, carved their names both in code and in standard runes on this stick, dated from the 13th century and found at the Bergen Wharf. This helped researcher Jonas Nordby crack the jötunvillur code. (Photo: Aslak Liestøl/Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo)

Why 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.

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