Topic: Norse history and culture
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The sequence alu (ᚨᛚᚢ) is found in numerous Elder Futhark runic inscriptions of Germanic Iron Age Scandinavia (and more rarely in early Anglo-Saxon England) between the 3rd and the 8th century. The word usually appears either alone (such as on the Elgesem runestone) or as part of an apparent formula (such as on the Lindholm "amulet" (DR 261) from Scania, Sweden). The symbols represent the runes Ansuz, Laguz, and Uruz. The origin and meaning of the word are matters of dispute, though a general agreement exists among scholars that the word represents an instance of historical runic magic or is a metaphor (or metonym) for it. It is the most common of the early runic charm words.
The word disappears from runic inscriptions shortly after Migration Period, even before the Christianization of Scandinavia. It may have lived on beyond this period with an increasing association with ale, appearing in stanzas 7 and 19 of the Old Norse poem Sigrdrífumál, compiled in the 13th century Poetic Edda, where knowledge of invocative "ale runes" (Old Norse ölrúnar) is imparted by the Valkyrie Sigrdrífa. Theories have been suggested that the unique term ealuscerwen (possibly "pouring away of alu"), used to describe grief or terror in the epic poem Beowulf, recorded around the 9th to 11th century, may be directly related.
- "Alu (Runic)" | 2020-09-19 | 78 Upvotes 25 Comments
In Norse mythology, Ragnarök ( (listen); Old Norse: Ragnarǫk) is a series of events, including a great battle, foretelling the death of numerous great figures (including the gods Odin, Thor, Týr, Freyr, Heimdallr, and Loki), natural disasters, and the submersion of the world in water. After these events, the world will rise again, cleansed and fertile, the surviving and returning gods will meet and the world will be repopulated by two human survivors. Ragnarök is an important event in Norse mythology and has been the subject of scholarly discourse and theory in the history of Germanic studies.
The event is attested primarily in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. In the Prose Edda and in a single poem in the Poetic Edda, the event is referred to as Ragnarøkkr (Old Norse for 'Twilight of the Gods'), a usage popularised by 19th-century composer Richard Wagner with the title of the last of his Der Ring des Nibelungen operas, Götterdämmerung (1876), which is "Twilight of the Gods" in German.
- "Ragnarök" | 2022-10-04 | 23 Upvotes 7 Comments
The sunstone (Icelandic: sólarsteinn) is a type of mineral attested in several 13th–14th-century written sources in Iceland, one of which describes its use to locate the Sun in a completely overcast sky. Sunstones are also mentioned in the inventories of several churches and one monastery in 14th–15th-century Iceland and Germany.
A theory exists that the sunstone had polarizing attributes and was used as a navigational instrument by seafarers in the Viking Age. A stone found in 2002 off Alderney, in the wreck of a 16th-century warship, may lend evidence of the existence of sunstones as navigational devices.
- "Sunstone (Medieval)" | 2022-12-26 | 95 Upvotes 7 Comments
Tafl games (pronounced [tavl], also known as hnefatafl games) are a family of ancient Northern European strategy board games played on a checkered or latticed gameboard with two armies of uneven numbers. Most probably they are based upon the Roman game Ludus latrunculorum. Names of different variants of Tafl include Hnefatafl, Tablut, Tawlbwrdd, Brandubh, Ard Rí, and Alea Evangelii. Games in the tafl family were played in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Britain, Ireland, and Sápmi. Tafl gaming was eventually supplanted by chess in the 12th century, but the tafl variant of the Sámi people, tablut, was in play until at least the 18th century. The rules for tablut were written down by the Swedish naturalist Linnaeus in 1732, and these were translated from Latin to English in 1811. All modern tafl games are based on the 1811 translation, which had many errors. New rules were added to amend the issues resulting from these errors, leading to the creation of a modern family of tafl games. In addition, tablut is now also played in accordance with its original rules, which have been retranslated.
- "Hnefatafl" | 2023-01-03 | 181 Upvotes 45 Comments