EDIT The Runic Alphabet exists in a couple of different versions. The oldest one is the Elder Futhark, it had 24 characters beginning with F and ending with O. Other versions are the Gothic Runes, Anglo-Saxon Futhorc, Younger Futhork, Hungarian Runes (Székely Rovásírás), Turkic (Orkhon) Runes, and, as a modern version, Cirth, Tolkien’s Runic-like alphabet. The name Futhark or Futhork is based on the first six characters of the Runic Alphabet, just like the word »Alphabet«is based on »Alpha, Beta«. »Rune« means letter or inscription in Log Norse or mystery or secret in Old Germanic.

Runes were the oldest characters of the Germanic people. Runic characters have been used in northern Europe since about the first century AD until medieval times. Most inscriptions are from around the 11th century.

The letters were used for divination and magical purposes, to write down prayers or curses, for inscriptions on gravestones (including the information on who was buried, who created the inscription and who was responsible for the erection of the gravestone), but also for business records like stock orders and debts. There are also some political notations, little lovenotes, as well as signatures on objects of art (anything from neclace to church building) or simple marks of ownership, up to name tags on places someone visited, akin to a »John was here« you would find today. The use for magical purposes or gravestones was most common in Scandinavia whereas in middle Europe the inscriptions where mainly of the short, mundane and worldly kind.
Literacy in those times was generally very low, though, and the main tradition during those times was oral. There are no books or lengthy texts written in Runic, and the main part of the public memory of the time stays lost to us.

An important characteristic of the runic Alphabet is the double capacity of the characters. Apart from their phonetic value they also have a symbolic meaning. The letter Fehu for example (U+16A0) represents the sound »f«, but also means cattle and, in a related sense, wealth.
The writing direction of the Runic Alphabet was variable at first and later became left-to-right.
 
EDIT Origin and History There are many opinions on the origin of the Runic Alphabet. Some scholars say it is based on the Greek/Latin Alphabet, but historical and archaeological evidence suggests it was an invented alphabet first used in northern Italy. Similarites to the Latin Alphabet could be explained by both Alphabets being based on the Etruscan Alphabet.

Linguistic and phonetical analysis suggests an origin from around 200 B.C. When the Nordic people started adopting the Alphabet they began to name the characters according to aspects of their daily life, thus creating a basis for their symbolic use in religious and magical contexts.

Around the fifth century a change occured, beginning in Frisia. Then the Anglo Saxons brought the characters to England and the shape of some of the runes started to change, especially A/O, C/K, H, J, S and Ng. To be able to display new sounds about five to nine runes were added, and the new Alphabet is known as the »Anglo-Saxon Futhark«.

In Scandinavia, the Elder Futhark stayed in use until the 8th century (time of the Eddas) by which time it had been widely replaced by the »Younger Futhork«. The time of the Vikings began and when the language began to change, the Alphabet was adapted too to display new sounds. It was the main Alphabet in Norway, Sweden and Denmark. The Younger Futhork also reduced the number of characters from 24 to 16, with some Runes representing more than one sound. The shape of some of the letters was simplified. this version of the Runic Alphabet made its way to Iceland and Greenland, maybe even to America. The Younger Futhork was in use for a couple of hundred years until the Christianisation of most of Scandinavia led to its being largely replaced by the Latin Alphabet by about 1200.

Later after the arrival of christianity in Scandinavia, a latinised version of the Runic Alphabet was created and used until 1850, although mainly for decorational purposes. The letter U+16D4, Runic letter dotted-p, for example, is part of this alphabet and doesn't appear in one of the older Runic Alphabets.
 
EDIT Oldest Document The oldest inscription that is definitely Runic is the engraved »harja« on a comb from Vimose (Odense, Denmark). It is dated around 150-200 AD and kept in the National Museum.
 
EDIT Ideological Abuse Since the runes seemed to be a purely Germanic creation it was easy to abuse them for ideological and political purposes. Most widely known is their use by the Nazis in Germany, especially of the Runic s for writing SS. The neonazis today use specifically the Runic o, but also other Runes. The historic connotation and their roots in old Nordic mythology appear to be identity-giving.
 
U+16A0U+16A1U+16A2U+16A3U+16A4U+16A5U+16A6U+16A7U+16A8U+16A9U+16AAU+16ABU+16ACU+16ADU+16AEU+16AFU+16B0U+16B1U+16B2U+16B3U+16B4U+16B5U+16B6U+16B7U+16B8U+16B9U+16BAU+16BBU+16BCU+16BDU+16BEU+16BFU+16C0U+16C1U+16C2U+16C3U+16C4U+16C5U+16C6U+16C7U+16C8U+16C9U+16CAU+16CBU+16CCU+16CDU+16CEU+16CFU+16D0U+16D1U+16D2U+16D3U+16D4U+16D5U+16D6U+16D7U+16D8U+16D9U+16DAU+16DBU+16DCU+16DDU+16DEU+16DFU+16E0U+16E1U+16E2U+16E3U+16E4U+16E5U+16E6U+16E7U+16E8U+16E9U+16EAU+16EBU+16ECU+16EDU+16EEU+16EFU+16F0U+16F1 NOT ASSIGNEDU+16F2 NOT ASSIGNEDU+16F3 NOT ASSIGNEDU+16F4 NOT ASSIGNEDU+16F5 NOT ASSIGNEDU+16F6 NOT ASSIGNEDU+16F7 NOT ASSIGNEDU+16F8 NOT ASSIGNEDU+16F9 NOT ASSIGNEDU+16FA NOT ASSIGNEDU+16FB NOT ASSIGNEDU+16FC NOT ASSIGNEDU+16FD NOT ASSIGNEDU+16FE NOT ASSIGNEDU+16FF NOT ASSIGNED
U+16A0 RUNIC LETTER FEHU FEOH FE F
U+16A1 RUNIC LETTER V
U+16A2 RUNIC LETTER URUZ UR U
U+16A3 RUNIC LETTER YR
U+16A4 RUNIC LETTER Y
U+16A5 RUNIC LETTER W
U+16A6 RUNIC LETTER THURISAZ THURS THORN
U+16A7 RUNIC LETTER ETH
U+16A8 RUNIC LETTER ANSUZ A
U+16A9 RUNIC LETTER OS O
U+16AA RUNIC LETTER AC A
U+16AB RUNIC LETTER AESC
U+16AC RUNIC LETTER LONG-BRANCH-OSS O
U+16AD RUNIC LETTER SHORT-TWIG-OSS O
U+16AE RUNIC LETTER O
U+16AF RUNIC LETTER OE
U+16B0 RUNIC LETTER ON
U+16B1 RUNIC LETTER RAIDO RAD REID R
U+16B2 RUNIC LETTER KAUNA
U+16B3 RUNIC LETTER CEN
U+16B4 RUNIC LETTER KAUN K
U+16B5 RUNIC LETTER G
U+16B6 RUNIC LETTER ENG
U+16B7 RUNIC LETTER GEBO GYFU G
U+16B8 RUNIC LETTER GAR
U+16B9 RUNIC LETTER WUNJO WYNN W
U+16BA RUNIC LETTER HAGLAZ H
U+16BB RUNIC LETTER HAEGL H
U+16BC RUNIC LETTER LONG-BRANCH-HAGALL H
U+16BD RUNIC LETTER SHORT-TWIG-HAGALL H
U+16BE RUNIC LETTER NAUDIZ NYD NAUD N
U+16BF RUNIC LETTER SHORT-TWIG-NAUD N
U+16C0 RUNIC LETTER DOTTED-N
U+16C1 RUNIC LETTER ISAZ IS ISS I
U+16C2 RUNIC LETTER E
U+16C3 RUNIC LETTER JERAN J
U+16C4 RUNIC LETTER GER
U+16C5 RUNIC LETTER LONG-BRANCH-AR AE
U+16C6 RUNIC LETTER SHORT-TWIG-AR A
U+16C7 RUNIC LETTER IWAZ EOH
U+16C8 RUNIC LETTER PERTHO PEORTH P
U+16C9 RUNIC LETTER ALGIZ EOLHX
U+16CA RUNIC LETTER SOWILO S
U+16CB RUNIC LETTER SIGEL LONG-BRANCH-SOL S
U+16CC RUNIC LETTER SHORT-TWIG-SOL S
U+16CD RUNIC LETTER C
U+16CE RUNIC LETTER Z
U+16CF RUNIC LETTER TIWAZ TIR TYR T
U+16D0 RUNIC LETTER SHORT-TWIG-TYR T
U+16D1 RUNIC LETTER D
U+16D2 RUNIC LETTER BERKANAN BEORC BJARKAN B
U+16D3 RUNIC LETTER SHORT-TWIG-BJARKAN B
U+16D4 RUNIC LETTER DOTTED-P
U+16D5 RUNIC LETTER OPEN-P
U+16D6 RUNIC LETTER EHWAZ EH E
U+16D7 RUNIC LETTER MANNAZ MAN M
U+16D8 RUNIC LETTER LONG-BRANCH-MADR M
U+16D9 RUNIC LETTER SHORT-TWIG-MADR M
U+16DA RUNIC LETTER LAUKAZ LAGU LOGR L
U+16DB RUNIC LETTER DOTTED-L
U+16DC RUNIC LETTER INGWAZ
U+16DD RUNIC LETTER ING
U+16DE RUNIC LETTER DAGAZ DAEG D
U+16DF RUNIC LETTER OTHALAN ETHEL O
U+16E0 RUNIC LETTER EAR
U+16E1 RUNIC LETTER IOR
U+16E2 RUNIC LETTER CWEORTH
U+16E3 RUNIC LETTER CALC
U+16E4 RUNIC LETTER CEALC
U+16E5 RUNIC LETTER STAN
U+16E6 RUNIC LETTER LONG-BRANCH-YR
U+16E7 RUNIC LETTER SHORT-TWIG-YR
U+16E8 RUNIC LETTER ICELANDIC-YR
U+16E9 RUNIC LETTER Q
U+16EA RUNIC LETTER X
U+16EB RUNIC SINGLE PUNCTUATION
U+16EC RUNIC MULTIPLE PUNCTUATION
U+16ED RUNIC CROSS PUNCTUATION
U+16EE RUNIC ARLAUG SYMBOL
U+16EF RUNIC TVIMADUR SYMBOL
U+16F0 RUNIC BELGTHOR SYMBOL
U+16F1 
U+16F2 
U+16F3 
U+16F4 
U+16F5 
U+16F6 
U+16F7 
U+16F8 
U+16F9 
U+16FA 
U+16FB 
U+16FC 
U+16FD 
U+16FE 
U+16FF 
CHARACTER  < BLOCK > 
U+16A0 – U+16FF Runic
DEUTSCH : ENGLISH