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How did the Vikings write?

The Vikings used a written alphabet and letters called runes.  

The Vikings believed that the god Odin gave them the runes as a gift so they were treated with great respect. They also believed that the runes were magical and could tell the future.

The Vikings did not have paper or parchment like material. Their history and culture was passed down orally through stories and poems. Instead, Viking runes were carved with a knife or chisel into stone and wood.

To make carving easier, the runes were made using only straight lines. Words were formed by separating groups of runes with a full stop.

Runes were not normally used to write down stories or poems. They were used record ordinary everyday things such as marking belongings or keeping a record of what was sold by a trader.

Viking warrior swords and spears were normally decorated with runes. The runes showed the owner of a weapon and also gave it magical power and strength in battle.

The Vikings also used runes to inscribe stones to remember dead family and friends. Thousands of rune stones have been discovered in Scandinavia and other lands that the Vikings invaded.

Sometimes, the Vikings also drew pictures such as horses, snakes and Longships on these rune stones together with the words.  These pictures would sometimes show a Viking story or Saga.  Much of what we know about the Vikings comes from archaeologists studying these rune stones.

The Viking runic alphabet was called the Futhark.

It was called the Futhark because the first six letters or Runes were: Fehu, Uruz, Thurisaz, Ansuz, Raido and Kenaz.

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Stone with 
Viking Runes
Stone with 
Viking Runes
Viking Runes on
spear heads

Viking Rune 
alphabet