I have not been able to find a single resource online that has (unicode encoded) Runic inscriptions like a full text of ᚠᚢᚦᚨᚱᚲ, or even a dictionary. This site lists some resources, most of which are dead. One that seemed promising was this, but it doesn't work and/or it only gives you words like this:

biærtr (OWN: bjartr), adv. 'bright, shining, illustrious'.
bræiðr (OWN: breiðr), adj. 'broad, wide'.
bæria (OWN: berja), v. 'to beat, strike, fight'.
bærias (OWN: berjask), v. 'to fight, battle'.
bætr (OWN: betr), adv. comp. 'better'.

This dictionary also seemed promising, but doesn't seem to work. However, it produces this:

aldr (noun m.) ‘life, age’ - 3
alfr (noun m.) ‘elf’ - 1
allgóðr (adj.) ‘very good’ - 5
allmikill (adj.) ‘very great, very large’ - 2
allr (adj.) ‘all’ - 34
almáttigr (adj.) ‘almighty’ - 2
andi (noun m.) ‘spirit, soul’ - 12
Andrés (noun m.) ‘[Andres]’ - 1
1. annarr (pron.) ‘(an)other, second’ - 8
arfi (noun m.) ‘heir, heiress’ - 17
arfr (noun m.) ‘inheritance’ - 6

Another one that seemed potentially helpful was this Scandinavian Runic Text Database. I downloaded the .zip and the text folder, which contained a few strange text files and an excel spreadsheet containing this:

Signum  Plats   Socken  Härad   Kommun  Placering   Koordinater Urspr. plats?   Nuv. koord. Sockenkod/Fornlämningsnr. Runtyper  Korsform    Period/Datering Stilgruppering  Ristare Materialtyp Material    Föremål Övrigt  Alternativt signum  Referens    Bildlänk
Öl 1 $  Karlevi Vickleby sn Algutsrums hd   Mörbylånga      6275755.1538971 ja      0879 (Vickleby), 10 [objektid=10087900100001]           V s 900-t   RAK     sten    smålandsporfyr  runsten västnordisk inskrift    B 1071; L 1323; DR 411  $=ATA Dnr 323-3515-2002; $=Gustavson 2002; Strid 1991:44; Svenska landsmål 1995 (321) s. 436 med n. 3; BN 1 http://kmb.raa.se/cocoon/bild/object_list_simple?query=Öl1&showthumbnails=true
Öl 2 †$     Algutsrums kyrka    Algutsrums sn   Algutsrums hd   Mörbylånga      6283750.1544290         0785 (Algutsrum)            V   Pr3     sten        runsten     B 1076; L 1324  $=Plansch IV fig. 2, 145ff.; BN 2    
Öl 3 †$     Resmo kyrka Resmo sn    Algutsrums hd   Mörbylånga      6268390.1539280         0858 (Resmo)            V efter 1050    Pr3 - Pr4? sten     fragment av runsten Parsten till Öl 4. Runföljden -unilu har av Bruce Nilsson lästs sueinu och tolkats Svæinu, Söderberg tolkar slutet som moður sina, Randvi. L 1588, L 1589   $=SRI 1 plansch IV fig. 3; BN 5  

I don't see anywhere in these two places anything that looks like ᚠᚢᚦᚨᚱᚲ.

My question is, how does the academic transcriptions of the actual Runes carved on rocks (which do look like ᚠᚢᚦᚨᚱᚲ) map to unicode runes like ᚠ ᚢ ᚦ ᚨ ᚱ ᚲ. Is there a direct mapping of old-english-like letters to the runes? Or is it something simpler, or more complicated?

I would like to know how to take a runic transcription such as one of these and convert it to ᚠᚢᚦᚨᚱᚲ. Do those dictionary entries above somehow encode the runic inscriptions so they could be translated into runes ᚠᚢᚦᚨᚱᚲ? I would like to know how to convert it. That last link has stuff like this:

raþ| |þu : runaR : ret : lit : rista : toliR : bry[t]i : i roþ : kunuki : toliR : a(u)k : gyla : litu : ris... ...- : þaun : hion : eftiR ...k : merki srni... haku(n) * (b)aþ : rista

Råd du runorna rätt! Tolir bryte i Rod lät rista [dem] åt konungen. Tolir och Gyla lät rista [runorna], makarna båda som minnesmärke efter sig[?] Håkon bjöd rista.

Would love to know how to recover the unicode runes from these transcriptions somehow if possible.

Thank you.

From tumblr we have this reference:

    ᚠ - F
    ᚢ - U
    ᚦ - þ  (TH)
    ᚨ - A
    ᚱ - R
    ᚲ - K
    ᚷ - G
    ᚹ - W
    ᚺ - H
    ᚾ - N
    ᛁ - I
    ᛃ - J
    ᛇ - Æ (AE)
    ᛈ - P
    ᛉ - Z
    ᛋ - S
    ᛏ - T
    ᛒ - B
    ᛖ - E
    ᛗ - M
    ᛚ - L
    ᛝ -  ŋ (NJ)
    ᛟ - O
    ᛞ - D

Using that on the last sentence from that website with a bunch of inscriptions yields:

ᚱᚨᚦ| |ᚦᚢ : ᚱᚢᚾᚨᚱ : ᚱᛖᛏ : ᛚᛁᛏ : ᚱᛁᛋᛏᚨ : ᛏᛟᛚᛁᚱ : ᛒᚱy[ᛏ]ᛁ : ᛁ ᚱᛟᚦ : ᚲᚢᚾᚢᚲᛁ : ᛏᛟᛚᛁᚱ : ᚨ(ᚢ)ᚲ : ᚷyᛚᚨ : ᛚᛁᛏᚢ : ᚱᛁᛋ... ...- : ᚦᚨᚢᚾ : ᚺᛁᛟᚾ : ᛖᚠᛏᛁᚱ ...ᚲ : ᛗᛖᚱᚲᛁ ᛋᚱᚾᛁ... ᚺᚨᚲᚢ(ᚾ) * (ᛒ)ᚨᚦ : ᚱᛁᛋᛏᚨ

But there's (a) still a bunch of latin punctuation remaining, and (b), I just find/replaced every letter individually, is it that simple? Or are there context-specific things that need to be taken into account?

All I know is this:

We started with actual jaggedly shaped runes on rocks. We then transcribed them into some sort of alphabet that is not at all like them. I am guessing we do this by following our guesstimated knowledge such as "the [f] sound is ᚠ". How we know that I don't know. But so we go from runes on rocks, to the sound in our head, then we write the sound down in latin-ish script. As long as there is a 1-to-1 mapping between rune to english latin sound and glyph, then we can move backwards back to the runes. But I am not sure that they always represent each rune the same way. That's sort of what I'd like to know.

Hmm, after reading about rune transcription it looks like they don't use the sound. Hmm..

The runes are transcribed into normalized spellings of the languages the runes were written in, and normalizations are rendered with italics. Since a single rune may represent several different phonemes, normalizations can differ greatly from transliterations. The þ rune can represent both the Old Norse letter ð (as in English the) or þ (as in English thing).

Here we go, the first actual Runic sentence I've seen!

ᛆᚠᛂ ᛘᛆᚱᛁᛆ ᛬ ᚵᚱᛆᛍᛁᛆ ᛒᚱᚮᚦᛁᚱ ᛋᛁᛒᛒᛁ ᛬ ᚵᛂᛋᚢᛋ ᚴᚱᛁᛋᛐᚢᛋ

afe maria : gracia broþir sbbi : gesus kristus

Ave Maria gratia. Broder Sibbe. Jesus Kristus.

However, translating it with the tumblr thing gives a different result. Hence my concern of not having an exact map from the latin-ish script back to the runes. I got this:

ᚨᚠᛖ ᛗᚨᚱᛁᚨ : ᚷᚱᚨcᛁᚨ ᛒᚱᛟᚦᛁᚱ ᛋᛒᛒᛁ : ᚷᛖᛋᚢᛋ ᚲᚱᛁᛋᛏᚢᛋ

mine   ᚨᚠᛖ ᛗᚨᚱᛁᚨ : ᚷᚱᚨcᛁᚨ ᛒᚱᛟᚦᛁᚱ ᛋᛒᛒᛁ : ᚷᛖᛋᚢᛋ ᚲᚱᛁᛋᛏᚢᛋ
theirs ᛆᚠᛂ ᛘᛆᚱᛁᛆ ᛬ ᚵᚱᛆᛍᛁᛆ ᛒᚱᚮᚦᛁᚱ ᛋᛁᛒᛒᛁ ᛬ ᚵᛂᛋᚢᛋ ᚴᚱᛁᛋᛐᚢᛋ

Here's a strange one from "froglands":

ᚾᚨᛏ ᛬ ᚷᚨᚱᚨᚹᚨᚢᚩᛏᚨ ᛬ ᛞᛁ

...næt : gæræw-uotæ : di

The middle doesn't match up to my eyes.

Or how about this from "lindisfarne2.html":


I have found 4 translations of the letter "a" in that guys work: ᛆ ᚪ ᚨ ᚫ.

Same with others, like "i" and "h" of which there's at least 2:

  i: ᛁ ᛇ
  h: ᚼ ᚺ

How/why is this decided?

  • 3
    You need to know place and time, to choose Elder or Younger, Long branch or Short twig variants.
    – amI
    Sep 11, 2019 at 7:05

1 Answer 1


"Runes" aren't a single writing system: there are several variants, used in different places at different times to transcribe different languages. It's like asking "how do I convert text written in the Latin alphabet to IPA?"—first, you have to know what language and orthography is being used. They're not interchangeable!

Once you know what particular runic writing system is being used, there are standardized transliteration systems from each one into the Latin alphabet. When you're looking at actual inscriptions, especially in academic publications, the romanizations will tend to follow these standards. Any decent book on the relevant languages and writing systems should include tables showing this, but failing that, I'd at least recommend Wikipedia over Tumblr.

  • In his their own post the OP pinpoints half the problem too (and not at all unique to runes!): often times transcribers aren't being diplomatic normalize/modernize as they go. Such transformations are often not fully reversible. Sep 11, 2019 at 20:09

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