Cracking the Viking Rune Code

Mysterious Viking Rune Code Cracked?
By Ida Kvittingen

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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Today in Medieval History: Happy Leif Erikson Day!

Today is officially Leif Erikson Day. Commemorated as a national holiday by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, the holiday is an observance of Leif Erikson and his companions as the first known Europeans to set foot in North America. The holiday gives the nation a chance to honor the contributions of Americans of Nordic descent and the overall spirit of exploration and discovery.

The date of October 9th is not the actual date Leif Erikson landed in North America, but it was chosen because the ship Restauration arrived in New York Harbor on October 9th, 1825, from Stavanger, Norway, which marked the beginnings of the first organized immigration from Norway to the U.S.

Secrets of the Viking Sword

Secrets of the Viking Sword - PBS - Documentary - Middle Ages History - Medieval HistoryI recently came across the Secrets of the Viking Sword documentary streaming on Netflix. The documentary is very interesting as it details how the famous Ulfberht sword was forged during that period. Unlike any sword of its day, the Ulfberht viking sword was far superior to its counterparts in how it was constructed. The documentary explains why the Ulfberht sword was so much better, and it attempts to demonstrate through a recreation how the forging might have been accomplished given the materials available during that period. Overall, I’d give the documentary 4 out of 5 stars. The documentary is a PBS production.

I wrote another post a long while back also talking about the Ulfberht sword. You can reference it here: http://steventill.com/2008/06/28/the-medieval-sword/

Vikings on the History Channel

Was curious if anyone has been watching the Vikings series on the History Channel? I watched the first couple of episodes but it just didn’t hook me. The characters were not all that interesting to me. Maybe it gets better and I should go back and give it another chance, but for me, a show or book really has to grip me from the beginning for me to invest the time in it. Years back I would have finished a book once I started it, but I’ve somewhat changed my philosophy on that. There is too much stuff competing for my attention these days to invest time in something that is frankly not all that interesting.

I did feel the show from the episodes I watched had an authentic feel to it in terms of its setting: houses, clothes, cultural mindset, etc. It was really the characters that failed to interest me. Thoughts anyone?

Pre-Viking tunic found on glacier

Reuters:

OSLO — A pre-Viking woolen tunic found beside a thawing glacier in south Norway shows how global warming is proving something of a boon for archaeology, scientists said on Thursday.

The greenish-brown, loose-fitting outer clothing — suitable for a person up to about 5 feet, 9 inches tall (176 centimeters) — was found 6,560 feet (2,000 meters) above sea level on what may have been a Roman-era trade route in south Norway. Carbon dating showed it was made around the year 300.

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What the Vikings did for entertainment

From Science Nordic:

The Vikings played ball, lifted stones and wrestled. Often the games turned violent and bloody, occasionally resulting in death.

Life in the Viking Age was tough and hard, and physical work filled much of their days, but their lives were not without leisure.

In a new study, Leszek Gardela uses archaeological findings and careful reading of Viking sagas to describe how Vikings killed time when they were in mood for entertainment.

The archaeologist paints a vivid picture of Viking life, but the familiarity of many of the activities suggests that while Vikings had shorter lives and arguably vented their frustrations in more violent ways than what most people do today, leisure time in the Viking Age was not too different from leisure time in 2012.

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The Battle of Stamford Bridge Society

Each year, the Battle of Stamford Bridge Society holds a big two day re-enactment event surrounding the battle that occurred on September 25th, 1066. This years event will be held on September 22nd/23rd. It attracts around 300-400 Saxon and Viking warriors. These folks set up living history tents and then re-enact various aspects of the battle. The tents depict what life was like for these people during the 11th century. Visitors can also listen to skalds telling sagas and watch court being held.

Viking-era ‘piggy bank’ yields silver treasure

From The Local (Swedish news):

A bronze, Viking-era “piggy-bank” containing thousands silver coins dating from the 11th century has been unearthed on the Baltic island of Gotland in what Swedish archaeologists have described as a “fantastic” treasure find.

The silver treasure was found last Thursday during an archaeological examination of a field in Rone, on southern Gotland.

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The Viking Invasion of England: Lindisfarne Abbey

The sack of Lindisfarne Abbey is considered by many historians to begin the period of the Viking invasions of England. It is mentioned briefly in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as such:

This year came dreadful fore-warnings over the land of the Northumbrians, terrifying the people most woefully: these were immense sheets of light rushing through the air, and whirlwinds, and fiery dragons flying across the firmament. These tremendous tokens were soon followed by a great famine: and not long after, on the sixth day before the ides of January in the same year, the harrowing inroads of heathen men made lamentable havoc in the church of God in Holy-island, by rapine and slaughter.

While this was not the first time the Vikings came to England, it is certainly the most memorable. This invasion would spark a series of subsequent invasions that lasted for the next few centuries as the Norsemen attempted to conquer the entirety of England.

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