900-Year Old Viking Code Broken. This Secret Message Says "Kiss Me."

(Photo: University of Oslo)

UPDATE 2/17/14: Journalist Ida Kvittingen emails to inform me that I have misunderstood the situation. She writes:

The above artifact was not written in the jötunvillur code, but a runic code that is already well-known, called cipher runes. Only 9 of the approximately 80 runes that Jonas Nordby examined are written in the jötunvillur code.



Archaeologists have succeeded in breaking a Norse code that dates back to the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries. Runologist K. Jonas Nordby discovered how the code known as Jötunvillur works. Medievalists.net explains:

For the jötunvillur code, one would replace the original runic character with the last sound of the rune name. For example, the rune for ‘f’, pronounced fe, would be turned into an ‘e’, while the rune for ‘k’, pronounced kaun, became ‘n’.

“It’s like solving a puzzle,” said Nordby to the Norwegian website forskning.no. “Gradually I began to see a pattern in what was apparently meaningless combinations of runes.”

However, those thinking that the coded runes will reveal deep secrets of the Norse will be disappointed. The messages found so far seem to be either used in learning or have a playful tone. In one case the message was ‘Kiss me’. Nordby explains “We have little reason to believe that rune codes should hide sensitive messages, people often wrote short everyday messages.”

In many instances those who wrote the coded runes also left comments urging the readers to try to figure it out. Sometimes they would also boast of their abilities at writing the codes.

-via Erik Kwakkel

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