About the Runic Alphabet

The Runes (or Runic Alphabet) are an alphabet developed by Germanic speaking peoples during the Roman Era based on letters from both the Roman alphabet and the Greek alphbet. It was later used for writing Gothic, Old Scandinavian, Old Norse and Anglio-Saxon/Old English and some letters such as thorn (þ) were used to write Old English and Icelandic. In fact, the use of þ for "the" survived in English for many centuries and is still used in Modern Icelandic and Faeroese.

The letters all have names like thorn (þ) for "th" /θ/ and isaz () ‘ice’ for /i/. Ancient Germanic did use them for "magical" purposes but they also used it for everday writing. For Germanic languages like English, it’s actually a little more efficient because it has single letters like thorn (þ) for sounds that need to be written with two letters in the modern Roman alphabet.

Because the Runic alphabet was used over several centuries and for multiple languages, there are several variant forms for many characters, and the same character may be prounced differently in different languages. Two key stages are Elder Futhark (Old Germanic/Old Scandinavian) and Futhorc (Anglo Saxon), but other variants exist.

Note: This Runic alphabet should not be confused with "Hungarian Runes" or "Turkic Runes." Although the forms look similar, the pronunciation and symbols are quite different.

Font Recommendations

Test Passage

If you see a question mark or a bunch of squares below, then you need to install a runic font. See the list in the following section for details.

ᚠᚢᚦᚨᚱᚲ "FUÞARK" (the first six runic letters)


If your operating system does not contain a Runic font, the following options are available. See the Fonts page for font installation instructions.

Freeware Unicode Fonts for Runic

These feature anglular forms such as would be carved in wood or stone.

These feature curved Runic forms like a manuscript.

Additional fonts may be available, but you should ensure thaty they are encoded Unicode fonts.

Creating Runic Text

Inputting from Character Utilities

For short passages, it may be practical to input characters from either the Windows Character Map or the Macintosh Character Viewer/Palette. In some cases, you may need to adjust the font to a Runic font.

Typing Runic Characters

Neither Microsoft or Apple provide a Runic keyboard, but there may several freeware keyboards which can be installed
Note: Not all applications have been tested.

Web Development

This section presents information specific to the Runic script. For general information about developing non-English Web sites, see the Encoding Tutorial or the Web Layout sections.


Unicode (utf-8) is the required encoding to correctly Germanic Runes. Pages not encoded as Unicode may not display Runic characters correctly.

Language Codes

Language Tags allow browsers and other software to process Runic text more efficiently. Some possible languages that could use the Runic script include:

Unicode Entity Codes

Runic numeric Unicode entity codes can be used for small pieces of text or when other
methods to not work.

Runic Language

Runic Unicode Fonts

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