Runological Report on the Hogganvik Rune Stone

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Runologist James E. Knirk has published a report on the recently found Hogganvik rune stone. His transliteration is

[?]kelbaþewas:s(t)^ainaR:aaasrpkf
aarpaa:inanana(l/b/w)oR
eknaudigastiR
ekerafaR

His translation is

Skelba-þewaR’s [“Shaking-servant’s”] stone. (Alphabet magic: aaasrpkf aarpaa). ?Within/From within the ?wheel-nave/?cabin-corner. I NaudigastiR [=”Need-guest”]. I, the Wolverine.

So there isn’t actually an explicit lord-retainer relationship in the text, just a guy whose name includes the word for servant, thewar. It also occurs in two names inscribed on weaponry from Danish war booty finds.

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11 thoughts on “Runological Report on the Hogganvik Rune Stone

  1. It is also of course irefutable proof that Wolverine is much older than Marvel currently thinks. A new origin story seems necessary.

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  2. I think that “alphabet magic” is just because he kept his finger on the key for too long and runestones are so hard to erase on.

    More seriously, is it common that rune stones are that difficult to understand?

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  3. Yeah, the early ones are often quite impenetrable. Try writing English without spaces, without punctuation, without any standardised orthography, with some characters representing entire words, and with repeated characters (as in “the end”) compressing into single ones (“thend”). I often get the feeling that early runic writing was not actually intended to be read by people.

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  4. Do we know if there may have been a small class of specialists whose job it was to produce and interpret such writing, like the scribes of various ancient Near Eastern civilizations?

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  5. The current idea is that there were no specialised scribes, but that literacy was restricted to aristocrats and artisans involved in fine metalwork. This is the 5th century, when rune stones such as the one from Hogganvik (and indeed all runic inscriptions) are extremely rare. In the 11th century, when rune stones are erected everywhere and generally quite easy to decipher, it seems that there were professional rune stone carvers and that pretty much everybody could read.

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  6. Oh, so the early rune scribes operated on the same principle as Owl—they could write as long as no one else could read… We now await the finding of a rune stone saying ”Hätila ragulpr på fåtskliaben”.

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  7. Martin Wrote:
    “Try writing English without spaces, without punctuation, without any standardised orthography, with some characters representing entire words, and with repeated characters (as in “the end”) compressing into single ones (“thend”). ”

    Ah! It’s like texting with a teenager. Just get 2 13 year old girls, and you’ll have it translated in no time.

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  8. I, myself, am nothing even close to a rune scholar, but I have heard that nauðigastir might be some sort of poetic way of referring to a dead person, the guest of need, I guess it would be like their purpose (needs) on midgarðR had been fulfilled. also maybe the wolverine thing has some connection to the berserk idea of sort of becoming an animal in battle, that’s even more speculative though, because I know that I have never heard of a berserk having connections to wolverines, only bears or wolves.
    just a thought

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