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The inscription “Interpret these runes” was common.“People challenged one another with codes.
But I think the codes were used in play and for learning runes, rather than to communicate,” says Nordby.
Runic codes drawn as figures also show that Vikings played with writing.
Henrik Williams, a professor at Uppsala University’s Department of Scandinavian Languages and a Swedish expert on runes, says that Nordby’s discovery is important.
There were no rune schools then but knowledge of this alphabet could be transferred from generation to generation by linking it to games, poetry, drills and codes, Nordby says. Nordby is the first person to study all the findings of runic codes in Northern Europe, around 80 inscriptions.
His Ph D research has taken him to several countries to analyse runic inscriptions dating back as far as 800 AD.
It would be pointless to use it for messages,” says Nordby.
This is why he has considered other possible uses for the code.Being good at writing and breaking codes ensured a certain amount of status, and people bragged about their proficiencies.On the Orkney Islands, for instance, someone wrote in code: “These runes were carved by the most rune-literate man west of the sea”.The inscription is in cipher runes and in regular runes.It was found in a burial chamber from the early Stone Age that Scandinavians broke into in the 1100s on the Orkney Islands.“A typical bunch of male adolescents were fooling around and wrote tall tales about treasures and their own sexual prowess,” says Runologist Jonas Nordby. Lundberg/Riksantikvarieämbetet)Coded declarations such as “Kiss me” demonstrate that the use of code was not limited to issues of political significance.