This is perhaps the oldest runic inscription in Denmark

An archaeologist from the Museum of History and Archeology in Odense, Denmark's third-largest city, has discovered what is believed to be the oldest runic inscription in the country's history. Runes are signs used for writing by various Germanic populations in northern Europe, such as the Angles, Goths and Norsemen. This inscription was found on an eight-centimetre-long iron knife and dates back nearly two thousand years.

In a statement reported by the Danish newspaper PolitikenOdense Museum He identified it “A completely unique discovery of national importance.”

Museum curator Jacob Bond discovered the pocket knife among the remains of a grave urn in a small cemetery east of Odense, in the eastern part of the island of Funen in southern Denmark. At first Bond thought it was just another knife, because the runes were not visible. He did not realize that it contained writing until after cleaning it. He said to guardian.

Runes are made up of parts because they tend to be engraved on hard surfaces, such as stone and wood, but also on weapons, artefacts and various tools, such as knives. The inscription on the knife consists of five runes which, according to the interpretation of archaeologists, spell out the word “herrilla”, which in Old Norse can mean “small sword”.

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It is impossible to ascertain with certainty whether this inscription refers to the knife itself or to its owner, who must have been a wealthy person in any case. Talk to guardianBond explained that the piece dates back to a period when the Danish population had ties to the Romans, and people who had a high status in society “in a certain sense tried to look like Romans, imported things from Rome and tried to adopt the Roman style.” Trends.” In short, Bond said that everything Roman was “very fashionable.”

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Lisbeth Emmer, a runes expert at the Danish National Museum, added an additional element. Runes were used by the Germanic population at least from the 2nd century AD until the Middle Ages, when they were gradually replaced by the Latin alphabet. However, about two thousand years ago, there were not many people who could read and write, so the ability to do so must have been associated with a certain status and power. “In the early period of runic history, those who were able to write were part of a small intellectual elite, and the first traces of these people can be found on the island of Funen,” Eimer says.

According to the Odense Museum, the discovery of the knife, which will be on display from February 2 at the city's Museum of Cultural History, will allow us to add another piece to the knowledge of runic writing in Northern Europe. The oldest runic inscription discovered to date is the so-called Famous combIt dates back to 160 AD, and was found in 1865 AD in a Danish swamp. On the other hand, the knife is 800 years old Polish rune stonesWhich was found in the Danish region of Jutland and dates back to the tenth century AD and is considered “Birth certificate in the country“, because it contains among other things the name of Denmark.

The oldest rune stone in the world was found in the fall of 2021 in Norway, during excavations at a funerary site that was discovered during the construction of a railway line near Lake Terefjorden, west of the capital, Oslo. Its inscriptions also date back to about two thousand years ago.

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– Read also: The oldest runestone in the world


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