Runologist K. Jonas Nordby has decoded a 900-year-old Viking rune alphabet known as Jötunvillur. The mysterious inscriptions were found on over 80 different objects ranging from sticks to stones.
“It’s like solving a puzzle. Gradually I began to see a pattern in what was apparently meaningless combinations of runes”
So what’s the key? Turns out that you have to replace the rune character with the last letter of the sound it produces. For example, the rune for “f”, which is pronounced like “fe”, represents an “e”. Using this ‘cipher‘ on the inscription above translated it into a sweet little nothing: ‘Kiss Me’.
In the article, Nordby, who is doing his PhD on runes, explains that while many believe the Vikings used cryptography to hide secret messages, he thinks the codes were more likely used as a fun and novel way to learn runes themselves.
The inscription above, which dates back to the 1200s, was one of the objects Nordby used to crack the Jötunvillur code.