Runische Schriftlichkeit


The research project “Runische Schriftlichkeit in den germanischen Sprachen / Runic Writing in the Germanic Languages (RuneS)” investigates the oldest writing system in the Germanic languages, the runic script. As a means of communication this script was used in different variants in large regions of Europe (with centres in what is now Germany and the Netherlands, in Great Britain and Scandinavia) over a period of more than 1,400 years. In these languages, it preceded and for a long period co-existed with Latin literacy. Apart from editorial work, research on runic monuments has hitherto concentrated predominantly on understanding the text of the individual inscriptions and their historico-cultural interpretation. Our project, in contrast, explicitly regards the runic script as a system evolved in various ways over the centuries, serving diverse communicative functions within the different historical societies it was used in. It is the aim of the project to describe and analyse runic writing systematically, supra-regionally and temporally in a comprehensive way. Both aspects of writing, the phonetic-phonological aspect (Graphemics) and the text-pragmatic and functional aspect (Pragmatics) will be investigated. A comprehensive database of the inscriptions from all language areas (Germany, the Netherlands, England, Scandinavia) has been developed as research basis. The findings of the investigations will also reflect on new editions (inscriptions in the Older fuþark, the Pre-Old English and Old English inscriptions, the Pre-Old Frisian and Frisian inscriptions and the so-called Runica Manuscripta). The comprehensive design of the project with regard to time and space makes it possible to focus on the above issues more consistently and to formulate comparative statements on the development of runic writing from a historico-cultural perspective. As runic writing existed alongside Latin literacy over a longer period of time, the question of the influence the Latin script exerted on the creation and development of the runic script is central and possible interdependencies will be highlighted in the course of the project.


  • Prof. Dr. Edith Marold (Project Leader)
  • Prof. Dr. Elke Ronneberger (Office Site Leader)
  • Prof. Dr. Ursula Lenker (Office Site Leader)
  • Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Heizmann (Office Site Leader)
  • Dr. Christiane Zimmermann (Research Associate)
  • Dr. Ute Zimmermann (Research Associate)
  • Prof. Dr. Gaby Waxenberger (Research Associate)
  • PD Dr. Kerstin Kazzazi (Research Associate)
  • Sophie Heier M.A. (Research Associate)
  • Jens Bahr M.A. (Technical Research Associate)
Running time
Project type

Contact person for the academies' programme

Sebastian Zwies M.A.

Geschäftsstelle Mainz
Union der deutschen Akademien der Wissenschaften
Geschwister-Scholl-Straße 2
55131 Mainz

Tel: 06131/218 528-17