900-Year-Old Viking Message Decoded

Some people dismiss Valentine’s day as a “Hallmark Holiday” (a holiday created specifically to sell postcards), and they may or may not be right, but even 900 years ago, people had a thing for sending each other romantic messages. At least, that’s according to runologist Jonas Nordby, who has decoded a 900-year-old viking message; “Kiss me.”

Eleventh- and twelfth-century Vikings had a habit of encoding their messages. Nordby, who has discovered a key to decoding this message, was then able to decode the fragment of wood with the romantic message. This particular piece of wood was encoded with the “jötunvillur” code, but there were many different variants as well.

The reason why the Vikings encoded their messages is not yet entirely certain, but scientists have different theories. Some speculate that the rune codes may have been used as a means of education. In the jötunvillur code, for example, the last letter of the name of a rune became that letter’s character – writing the “F” rune, which is pronounced “Fe,” would yield “E,” while “K,” pronounced “Kaun,” would yield “N.”

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