Deciphering secret runes

July 2, 2010 § 1 Comment

For deciphering or writing secret runes, the basics are found in the “families” of runes.

The upper row in the Elder Futhark, Freyr’s aett is often counted as the 3rd aettir, the middle row, Hagall’s aett is counted as the 2nd aettir, and the lower row, Tyr’s aett, is counted as the 1st aett.

Some secret rune inscriptions place the aettirs in their normal ranking, i.e, count futharkgw as the 1st aett.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
3. aett fehu uruz thurisaz ansuz raidho kenaz gebo wunjo
2. aett hagalaz naudhiz isa jera eihwaz perthro elhaz sowilo
1. aett tiwaz berkano ehwaz mannaz laguz ingwaz othala dagaz

Images in table link to a short description of the rune.

Secret runes are often written 2/3 or 23, which would mean the 3rd rune in the 2nd aettir = Isa, the i-rune. In this number system “Raven” would read: 35 34 38 13 22

Interpreting inscriptions

To interpret inscriptions, the first rule is to find the styles of the runic form: In “Boustphedon” the first sentence proceeds from right to left and the second sentence, below the first, proceeds from left to right.

Venderuner are reversed pattern runes – mirror images.

Stupruner were written upside-down.

Tree runes

For example, in Tree runes, the sign or twigs on one side (the left or right) never have a number higher than 3 – these signs or twigs represent the aettir. The number of twigs on the left side of the staves below indicate the aett to which the rune belongs. The number of twigs on the right side of the stave indicates which rune it is in this aett.

Raven reads:

The inscriptions from the Norum Church and the Rök stone, are methodologically similar. Carvings from the Rotbrunna and Vålsta stones seem also based on comparable structural rules.

Rotbrunna stone

The following inscription is from the Rotbrunna stone:

It was written with the younger runes and futhark is counted as the 3. aett. The long lines state the aettir. The thus coded runes say airikr, which is the name “Eirik”. The 4 following runes on the stone say hiuk, which mean “trace, scratch, chop, hew (in stone with chisel)”. The runic text can be translated “Eric wrote (these runes)”.

Be aware though! In some inscriptions the short lines are the aettir and the long lines represent the runes ranking in the aettir.

“Raven” would look like:

Vålsta stone

The Vålsta stone’s inscription has secret runes using a summation of both methods:

The inscription is written with younger runes and futhark is counted as the 3. aettir.

Signs to indicate the rune and aettir can also be used. The number of left-turned signs gives the aett and the following number of right-turned signs gives the ranking of the rune in the aett. Futharkgw is counted as the 3. aett, not the first.

Rök stone

An inscription found on the Rök stone reads thu on the upper line, and r in the lower line:

translates to:

Norum baptismal font

The inscription from the Norum baptismal font in Norum Church in Sweden uses similar secret runes:

The order of aettir is reversed. The 3. aett is Tyr’s: B.


In runes found at Byrggen in Bergen, Sweden, the base staves have become more than linear. The staves of the runic inscriptions take on shapes like the head of a man and the body of a fish. There is little difference in which shapes symbolize the character set and the characters from the Early Age to the Middle Ages.

Found among several runic inscriptions from the Middle Age at Bryggen was a secret rune inscription using a man’s head as the stave:

The system of counting the aettir and the ranking of the runes is in this case equal to all other above described ways of writing secret runes. The fourth from the right is a “S-rune”, i.e. the 5. rune in the 2. aett.

Also found at Bryggen was a secret runic inscription using a fish as the stave. It is likely that staves in the shape of fish expresses the influence of Christianity. But the system is the same as in all other above described ways of writing secret runes.

This inscription reads 6. rune in 3. aett (k) + 2. rune in 3. aett (u) + 3. rune in 3. aett (th) + 6. rune in 3. aett (k) + 3. rune in 2 aett (i) + 1. rune in 3. aett (f) + 3. rune in 2. aett (i) -> kuthkifi, for whatever that means. Anybody know?


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