Runes are the alphabet used by certain Germanic tribes from the first or second century A.D. onwards. In Scandinavia they were used through the Viking Age and long into the Middle Ages. In early times runes were regarded as sent from the gods and although they were primarily used for written communication, they were also given a magical value. The runes could therefore be used to divine future events and fortunes.


Memorial stones with runic inscriptions, and usually decorated with elongated animal designs or pictorial motifs. There are about 3500 rune stones in Scandinavia, the great majority to be found in Sweden.