HDAK00717U DAN; AFLYST Danish and Swedish Manuscript and Runic Culture

Årgang 2017/2018
Engelsk titel

Danish and Swedish Manuscript and Runic Culture



Vernacular writing in Eastern Scandinavia dates back to the Golden Horn of Gallehus, which contains a runic inscription in a language that can neither be called “Danish” nor “Swedish”, but a common ancestor to these two languages. During the Viking age and Early Middle Ages thousands of runic inscriptions carved on rune-stones, portable objects, animal bones and wooden sticks document the society and language(s) in Scandinavia. By the High Middle Ages the Latin alphabet was introduced to Scandinavia, providing a new medium for writing the vernacular, which had then begun to diverge into separate dialects or languages. Writing on parchment and later paper began to flourish in medieval Denmark and Sweden, covering a multitude of genres – law, religion, adventure, romance, medicine, cuisine, and more. Many of the manuscripts containing these texts – from small, undecorated paper to large illuminated vellum – are housed in the Arnamagnæan Collection at the University of Copenhagen.


This course introduces the student to the vernacular texts of pre-Reformation Denmark and Sweden and to the artefacts that contain them. With the necessary tools the student will be able to read these texts directly from the stones and manuscripts and trace the developments from a single, Common Scandinavian language to the East Norse languages of Old Danish, Old Swedish, and Old Gutnish. The student will also be given hands-on access to manuscripts in the Arnamagnæan Collection, and will learn how to handle, describe, date, and analyze these artefacts for their content, function, and use.


Outside the classroom the student will be given the opportunity to see runic monuments on field trips to Jægerspris in Zealand, the Danish National Museum, and the city of Lund in southern Sweden, where course attendants will also visit the Lund University manuscript collection.


Learning outcomes

  • Read and transliterate runic inscriptions

  • Read and translate non-normalized Old East Norse texts

  • Describe runological features of Viking Age and early medieval runic inscriptions

  • Describe the codicological and paleographic features of medieval manuscripts

  • Analyze the language and genre of medieval texts from Eastern Scandinavia

  • Trace major linguistic changes that define East Norse and the daughter languages Old Danish, Old Swedish, and Old Gutnish

  • Kategori
  • Timer
  • Eksamensforberedelse
  • 146,5
  • Holdundervisning
  • 56
  • Undervisningsforberedelse
  • 210
  • I alt
  • 412,5
Skriftlig prøve
Fri skriftlig hjemmeopgave/ written take-home assignment, optional subject