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Runes: Martin Findell

Runes - Martin Findell

Tell You The Future I Shall…

Well, apparently not. Despite becoming a staple in role-playing games and fantasy lore runes are proper language, not gibbering portentous nonsense like Tarot. While that is vaguely disappointing, that sadness is counter-balanced by discovering that they are vastly more interesting than that.

One of the finest humans I know, Dr Martin Findell, has a new book called Runes (the clue to its content is definitely in the title) out now. Published by The British Museum to accompany their new exhibition on the Vikings this is a beautifully illustrated and accessible guide to these mysterious symbols, their uses, meaning and history of the people who used them.

re-blogged from The British Museum Press:

The lives of others in runic inscriptions

A guest blog by Martin Findell

Call it perversity, but in my own research I’ve always had a taste for the unfashionable and the unglamorous areas of runic writing.  I get more excited about a name scratched onto the back of a brooch than about a large and richly decorated runestone; and as a historical linguist, I take more pleasure in trying to work out problems of the relationship between spelling, speech and the changing structure of language than in broader questions of cultural history and society.  Of course the two are interdependent, and while I concern myself with the troublesome nuts-and-bolts details of language, language is an aspect of culture and must be studied alongside other aspects of culture.  Even the briefest and most unattractive inscription is an instance of language use by real people who belonged to a community in which the act of writing had some purpose.  Rather than regale you with tales of unstressed vowels, I thought it would be more interesting to share my interest in some of the texts we find written in runes, and what they might tell us about the people who produced them.

Read the rest of the blog post here.

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You can order the book from the British Museum shop online or from

Even better, Dr Findell is one of a number of experts we’ll be able to watch in the cinema when The British Museum’s Vikings Live from The British Museum comes to Cineworld from 24th April. I know we’ll be there!

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