Rune-filter, can anyone translate this?
August 20, 2007 6:45 AM   Subscribe

On a recent trip to the Orkney Islands off northern Scotland I found a runic inscription on the inside of the neolithic tomb at Cuween Hill. I'm having no luck translating them, some of the characters seem to be outside the runic alphabets I can find online.

The images (all of the same inscription but from different angles) are here, here and here.
posted by hardcode to Writing & Language (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Boring answer? Email the Sites and Monuments people at Orkney Islands Council. They will probably have it on file. And it's their job to tell you.
posted by Helga-woo at 7:16 AM on August 20, 2007

This site points out that the runes are probably more recent than viking times, so maybe you're looking at the wrong set of runes in your translation efforts? Obviously you know that these runes are likely graffiti.
posted by deeper red at 7:23 AM on August 20, 2007

You might have trouble deciphering it because, as the Ancient Scotland website suggests, it is probably relatively recent graffiti.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 7:23 AM on August 20, 2007

Two of those do not look like runes to me, The B looking one and the last one which is a Christos?/ early Christian image which would not have been known at the time.

I echo Aloysius Bear's link.... They're later than runic
posted by Wilder at 10:58 AM on August 20, 2007

The "B" and the last "christian" glyph (Haglaz) are perfectly acceptable runes in the 16-character medieval futhark. They transliterate to b and h, respectively. The real mysterious one is the 3rd character, which seems to be a misshaped k. Anyway, that gives us:


This would be roughly "Jag, Björn" or "I, Bear" (which is a male personal name.) The use of h instead of n as the terminal glyph of björn I can't explain. It's only one stroke away from n in the runic alphabet, for what it's worth.

But the fact that the carving is interpretable does not prevent this from being a late 19th-century joke by an antiquarian-minded tourist.
posted by squid patrol at 12:32 PM on May 25, 2008

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