Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • In the 8th century CE, Vikings surged across the misty seas.

  • They came from Scandinavia in Northern Europe, but would travel far and wide.

  • Some plundered and settled in the British Isles and France; others braved Artic exploration or forged clever new trade routes to the Middle East.

  • With their steely navigational skills, advanced long-ships and fearsome tactics, the Vikings sustained their seafaring for over three hundred years.

  • But for all their might, they left few monuments.

  • Instead, fragments of stone, bark, and bone provide the keys to their culture.

  • Found in graves, bogs, and sites of ancient settlements, many of these objects are inscribed with messages in Old Norse written in runic letters.

  • But the Vikings also scratched runes into household goods, jewelry, weapons, and even shoes.

  • Deciphering these messages is no easy task.

  • Runes are short, straight, and diagonal lines that make up an alphabet called the "futhark."

  • All classes of people spoke and wrote this language, in many different dialects.

  • There was no standard spelling, they wrote the individual runic letters by pronouncing the sounds of their regional accents.

  • Some of these inscriptions also bore the influence of other cultures the Vikings interacted with.

  • The runic inscription "love conquers all," for example, is originally a Latin phrase from the poet Virgil.

  • Many, like the enigmatic Rok runestone, were carved in verse, highlighting the tradition of Old Norse poetry.

  • So even though modern runologists can read runes, their meaning isn’t always obvious.

  • Still, in spite of the remaining mysteries, many inscriptions memorializing the dead and recording local histories have been decipheredalong with some containing magical incantations.

  • The Ramsund runes in Sweden are carved on a rocky outcrop beside a bridge for travelers passing over swampy ground.

  • This causeway was commissioned by a prominent local woman named Sigríðr.

  • She proclaimed both her importance and her family’s power by carving their names in stone, and even associated herself and her family with mythical heroism by carving illustrations of Sigurd the dragon slayer.

  • In the town of Jelling in Denmark, two standing stones from the 10th century memorialize different generations from a royal family.

  • The first was erected by King Gorm the Old in memory of his Queen Thyrvi, and the second by their son, Harald Bluetooth, after Gorm’s death.

  • The stones announce the power of this Viking Age dynasty, and they are among the earliest historical documents of Denmark.

  • They indicate that Denmark was the earliest major Viking Age kingdom, by telling that Harald controlled southern Norway, and that he converted to Christianity.

  • Today, Harald Bluetooth’s initials make up the Bluetooth logo.

  • The 10th century warrior poet Egil was a well-known carver of runes.

  • According to poetic accounts, he once carved runes on a horn filled with poison, causing the horn to shatter.

  • In another story, Egil saves a young girl’s life by placing a piece of whale bone carved with healing runes under her pillow.

  • Norse poetry tells of runic spells, cast to ensure calm seas, safe childbirth and triumphant battles.

  • But the exact nature of these spells isn’t fully understoodmany of the inscriptions on swords, axes, and spears are indecipherable.

  • Other objects, like the Lindholm amulet, have inscriptions that could be incantations, riddles, or religious messages.

  • While it’s difficult to pinpoint the end of the Viking era, by 1100 CE their sea-borne expansion had mostly come to an end.

  • However, people continued to speak versions of Old Norse throughout Scandinavia, and runes remained in use in rural areas into the 19th century.

  • Today, many runestones remain standing at their original sites.

  • The inscription on the Danish Glavendrup stone has fearsomely declared for a thousand years:

  • “A warlock be he who damages this stone or drags it in memory of another!”

  • Did you know that the Hagia Sophia, an ancient Byzantine structure erected on the Mediterranean Sea in 360 A.D., is decorated with ancient runes?

  • How did they get there? Watch this lesson to dwell into this fascinating history of one of the most significant buildings in human history.

In the 8th century CE, Vikings surged across the misty seas.

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B2 TED-Ed viking norse carved bluetooth stone

The secret messages of Viking runestones - Jesse Byock

  • 1026 84
    林宜悉 posted on 2021/10/21
Video vocabulary