The mystery of the runes

The holy runes

Odin hung on the windswept sacrificial tree for nine nights, pierced by a spear and without food or drink; then he caught up the runes with a shout. With insight into the holy runes, he could now heal the sick, make wounds whole, yes, even raise the dead. He could break all chains, turn the arrow in its flight, appease flames, waves and wind, reconcile enemies, or give happiness (luck) to a child as well as kindle love and seduce women.

The old Germanic word "rûna" means whisper, advice or secret. In the days of the Vikings, the word - and especially the runes themselves - had a definite influence on the physical world. Words could bring both good luck and bad, which was why strict penalties were imposed for the use of "nid": disparaging and unkind words.

The runestone at the Manor farm, 980 AD

At Ribe Viking Centre the rune carver Eric the Red took 300 hours to turn 4.8 tonnes of granite into a monument to the power and influence of the influential farmer Vestein. The inscription on the stone's west side is similar to how an original Viking text might have sounded:

Véstæinn satti stæin þannsi aft Ásvið, sun sinn, harða góðan dræng. SaR druknaði utan af Norvegi
Vestein raised this stone in memory of Asvid, his son, a very good boy, who drowned on the way back from Norway.

The inscription on the east side is intended to attract the Vikings' power for the benefit of Ribe Viking Centre:

DaniR í Hvitingi gærði arðrfaraR í Ljósum sandi
The Danes in Hviding made furrows in the pale sand

DaniR í Rípu gørva slóð þessa lìfandi
The Danes in Ribe make these tracks come alive

Karen ok Bjarni létu gørva kumbl at mikit afl ok líf donum
Karen and Bjarne had this monument made to give the Danes power and life

EirikR rauði risti
Eric (the) Red carved 

The Mural in the Thing-hall in Ribe town, 825 AD

In celebration of Ribe's 1300 years' anniversary, artist Trine Theut has painted a 20 m long mural over the course of the summer of 2010. The chalk painting covers the two long walls of the Thing House, the most lavish of the reconstructed town houses from 825 AD at Ribe VikingeCenter.

The work was sponsored by Region Syddanmark and is a depiction of the earliest history of Ribe, from approx. 710 to 825 AD. Forming part of the mural are six runic texts that can be translated as follows:

AngantiR þiakna furstR
Angantyr (the) finest (among) princes

Oðin munk blota þor munk biðja
sacrificed (to) Odin, prayed (to) Thor

ias Ribi uan
won Ribe for himself

Bjarni sun sin AngantiR
Bjarni son of Angantyr

hafiR þrukialt akat
has collected tribute

karði torp
(and) built (the) town