This comprehensive list was compiled and provided by:
- Tristan Mueller-Vollmer, Ph.D.
- Scott Shell, Ph.D.
Sveriges runinskrifter (Sweden’s Runic Inscriptions)
This is the currently 15-volume series launched in 1900 that serves as the main foundational source for runic inscriptions within Sweden. It created the now-standard cataloging system for Swedish runic inscriptions, which uses the province in which the inscription occurs plus a number (e.g., U 73, Vg 13, etc.). If you can read Swedish, this is an excellent starting point on scholarly research for any included inscription from Sweden.
Scandinavian Runic-text Database
The other main resource for runic research and study is the Scandinavian Runic-text Database, available through the program Rundata. The application is free to download and runs on Windows. Rundata is a versatile program that allows the user to display inscriptions according to country, region, age, material, and much more, and also provides English translations of every interpretable inscription.
Runic Inscriptions Through Time & Space
This website allows users to search geographical areas for runic inscriptions. The controls allow one to search according to the century and original/current location of the inscriptions and restrict the search to the type of object (runestones, rune sticks, coins, etc.). This is a great way to get an overview of how many inscriptions are in any geographic region and can be helpful when planning field excursions.
Christer Hamp’s website
This is a fantastic website for finding pictures of runic inscriptions. It is divided into two eras: “old” (160 to 1700 CE) and “new” (1700 to present day). One can browse through the listings for all countries or search within the inscriptions’ transliterations and Swedish translations. At the bottom right are links to pages organized around known rune carvers, the Ingvar stones, the Jarlabanki stones, stones with images from the story of Sigurd the dragon slayer, and newly published pages.
Uppsala Rune Blog
The Uppsala Rune Blog is written by the director of the Uppsala Runic Forum, Professor Henrik Williams, and has been on the web since September 2016. The posts deal with a variety of topics such as interesting new discoveries, special lectures, runic excursions, and other runic topics of interest that are well-worth reading. One can even sign up to receive emails when new posts are published and never miss a beat.
Norse and Viking Ramblings
Judith Jesch’s highly recommendable blog has been on the web since 2008 and spans across various runic- and Viking-related topics from new archaeological discoveries to upcoming films, books, Viking ship replicas, and many other items of interest. It always makes for an interesting, informative, and entertaining read.
Futhark is an annual journal published by the universities of Oslo and Uppsala and is free for anyone to read and download. Most of the articles are in English, so it is accessible to a wide audience. Futhark is perhaps the best journal to help readers keep abreast of current international scholarly runic research.
Michael Barnes’ Runes: A Handbook
If you read only one book on runes, this would be an excellent choice. Barnes lays out the basics of the field in a very readable way and provides good examples in each section. The book’s recent publication (2012) means it is up to date, and it is a very sound scholarly work. This is a great foundational work for any runic library.
Erik Moltke’s Runes and their Origin: Denmark and Elsewhere (Translated by Peter G. Foote)
This out-of-print classic can be hard to find but worth the search. The book consists of two parts: one about the development of the Scandinavian runic alphabets, and one extensive part on runic inscriptions, divided into Pre-Viking Age, Viking Age, and the Middle Ages. This book is a must if you are especially interested in runes in Denmark.
Terje Spurkland’s Norwegian Runes and Runic Inscriptions
As the title suggests, this book provides an overview of the Norwegian runic inscriptions, from the earliest runestones to the numerous medieval rune stick inscriptions found in Bergen. Spurkland offers accessible linguistic information and cultural insights relevant to runic inscriptions in Norway.
R. I. Page’s An Introduction to English Runes
If you are interested in English runes, this is the book for you. Page lays out an almost exhaustive introduction to the Anglo-Saxon runes and runic inscriptions on stones, coins, manuscripts, and other materials. This book makes for an excellent addition to a well-rounded runic library.
Martin Findell: Runes
This book tells the story of runes from their mysterious origins, their development as a script, to their use and meaning in the modern world. Illustrated with a range of beautiful objects from jewelry to tools and weapons, Runes will reveal memorials for the dead, business messages, charms and curses, insults, and prayers, giving us a glimpse into the languages and cultures of Europeans over a thousand years ago.
Sven Jansson: The Runes of Sweden
Jansson’s tome is beautifully illustrated and describes the more than 3,000 runic inscriptions known from Sweden—nearly four times as many as are known from the rest of the Germanic world. It describes Viking raids, ventures in trade, events in farming communities, and the introduction of Christianity.
The Viking Rune Translator
Want to have some fun writing your name in six different Runic alphabet variances? Then visit The Rune Converter that transforms the Roman alphabet, as used in modern English, into five systems of Germanic runic writing: Elder Futhark, Anglo-Saxon runes, Long Branch Younger Futhark, Short Twig Younger Futhark and staveless runes (note that it does not translate the words themselves. It only converts letters into runes). There are links to convert phrases and even to have the correct lettering for a tattoo.
The Runor Laddar: Search Runic Carvings
This web site features the ability to search runic carvings for words in standard search patters of “contains,” “begins with,” “whole word,” and “ends with” in 22 runic and modern alphabets, featuring such languages as Old West Norse, Proto Norse, Runic Swedish, Runic Danish, and more.
The RuneS-Project is a database, which provides comprehensive information regarding the Elder Fuþark, Younger Fuþ?rk, and the Anglo-Frisian Fuþorc. Wherever possible, it includes details concerning translations, transliterations, findspots, datings, iconographic elements and much more.
This project is funded by the Union of the German Academies of Sciences. The research is conducted at the Universities of Kiel, Eichstätt-Munich, and Göttingen.
Elmer Antonsen: Runes and Germanic Linguistics
This is a great source for those who would like to see the strong connections between linguistics and runology. Antonsen’s approach shows that many unfounded claims, where magic was claimed to be associated with runic inscriptions, was based on ad-hoc applications of linguistics.
Antonsen’s work primarily focuses on the Elder Fuþark runic corpus.
Klaus Düwel: Runenkunde
Klaus Düwel’s Runenkunde is a classic among runologists in Europe. Düwel covers everything from the oldest runic inscriptions all the way up to the late medieval period. Unlike Antonsen, this work is not as conservative. In addition to his translations, Düwel also offers insight on mythic connections, ritual actions, and archeological contexts. This work is in German.
Mindy MacLeod and Bernard Mees: Runic Amulets and Magic Objects
A scholarly discussion on runes and magic. It focuses on runic objects with formulaic runic words, invocations, and allusions to pagan gods and the Christian god, heroes, spirits of disease and potential lovers. The work is a nice compliment to the so-called skeptical approach in runlology, which sometimes claims complete denial of any magical element whatsoever in the runic inscriptions. This work reevaluates the question of runic magic, attested not only in the medieval Norse literature dealing with runes, but primarily in the fascinating magical texts of the runic inscriptions themselves.
Elmer Antonsen: A Concise Grammar of the Older Runic Inscriptions
This work is absolutely fantastic for anyone who wants to view translations of the Elder Fuþark runic inscriptions in great detail. Antonsen provides a corpus of 121 runic inscriptions and breaks down each word so the reader can easily understand the function of each lexeme in the inscription. Knowledge of some linguistics is recommended.
McKinnell, John, Rudolf Simek, and Klaus Düwel: Runes, Magic and Religion: A Sourcebook
McKinnell, Simek and Düwel have compiled a corpus of runic inscriptions which offers an overview of religious or magical connotations from the Elder Fuþark to the late medieval period. This includes runes on weapons, jewelry, gravestones, and Christian amulets. It is intended as a scholarly answer against the common misconception of the supposedly dominant use of runes in magic.