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|North Germanic, Runes|
Etymology. Runes have always been seen as possessive of mystical properties in the popular culture. One possible etymology of the word rune is the Germanic word *run-, meaning "to conceal", "a secret". This meaning can be explained the following way: at first runes were used as a sacred writing system, and later became not only the magic, but also every day script.
The first Runic inscriptions appeared around 200 AD, but its origins may lie much deeper in the pre-history of Northern Europe. For the next thousand years it was used in Germany, Scandinavia, England, and only in late Middle Ages it was replaced by the Roman script everywhere in Northern Europe. This alphabet was used in ancient Rome and was later adopted practically everywhere in Western and Central Europe. It is also called Latin.
Runes usually were inscribed on metal, stone or wood boards, this is the reason for their strange sharp forms. The most ancient of the inscriptions found is the one from Norway written on the edge of the spear in about 200 AD. Since the alphabet, which was probably invented in Scandinavia, was spreading to the British Isles and to continental Europe, its symbols changed somehow, as well as the number of them. Modern science makes a distinction between:
.The Elder Runes, used mostly for magic purposes, contain many personal names and their lexicon is sometimes hard to understand, though the language is clear. We know about 150 runic inscriptions of this period, and some of them contain just one or two symbols.
Ðorn byþ ðearle scearp; ðegna gehwylcum
Thorn is exceedingly sharp,
The rune Ð later was replaced by the combination
of the letters th when Norman scribes were rewriting Old English
manuscripts. Thus in modern English we have letters th in the words with
the sound [Ø] or [ð] showing the place of the ola rune.
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