The Icelandic Sagas tells of the exploits of various Viking travels. Because these were songs or stories of heroic adventures, not every detail is included. However, the The Saga of Erik the Red or Eiríks saga rauða–one of the Vinland Sagas–is an account of Viking travels in the new world, over 400 years before Columbus. Many of the characters we have in Episode 8: Vikingr are directly from this saga. We even quote a section about the exploits of Freydis, a woman who fought off a band of Skrælingar, or indigenous people.
In Episode 8: Vikingr, we mention record keeping. Vikings had an alphabet or runes they used to write. Although many of their sagas–including the sage we include in our episode, Eric the Red–were handed down through oral tradition, they did write fairly extensively. The Viking letters or runes are called FUTHARK for the first six letters: Fehu,Uruz, Thurisaz, Ansuz, Raido and Kenaz. There are actually two types of runes, Elder Futhark and Younger Futhark.
The Elder Futhark is the oldest form of the runic alphabets. It was a writing system used by Germanic tribes for the northwestern and Migration period dialects. Its inscriptions are found on jewelry, amulets, tools, weapons, and rune stones from the 2nd to 8th centuries.
In Scandinavia, from the late 8th century, the script was simplified to the Younger Futhark, while the Anglo-Saxons and Frisians extended the Futhark which eventually became the Anglo-Saxon futhorc. Unlike the Anglo-Saxon and Younger Futharks, which remained in use during the Early and High Middle Ages, respectively, knowledge of how to read the Elder Futhark was forgotten until 1865, when it was deciphered by Norwegian scholar Sophus Bugge.
The style our vikings would have used would be Younger Futhark. The Younger Futhark is divided into long-branch (Danish) and short-twig (Swedish and Norwegian) runes, in the 10th century further expanded by the “Hälsinge Runes” or staveless runes. The lifetime of the Younger Futhark corresponds roughly to the Viking Age.
We try to incorporate as much historical information in our episodes as possible, pulling from a variety of sources to ensure the events we portray are as accurate as possible–even though the premise of time-travel is fictitious at this point.
Doctor Sage went to Italy for the holidays and fell in love. Now she must rebuild her heart and refocus her energies on the work of navigating time and space. This month we join our Steampunk adventurers on a journey to the New World and an introduction to Viking culture in VIKINGR. Never doubt the power of electrical charge and one woman’s determination to change the course of history.