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On a recent trip to the Netherlands, I toured the fairytale beauty of the little Dutch towns of Monnikendam and Broek in Waterland.
The small houses are ancient, exquisitely maintained, and often front charming canals graced with swans and other waterfowl.
The earliest runic inscriptions date from around 150 AD.
The characters were generally replaced by the Latin alphabet as the cultures that had used runes underwent Christianisation, by approximately 700 AD in central Europe and 1100 AD in northern Europe.
The Younger Futhark is divided further into the long-branch runes (also called Danish, although they were also used in Norway and Sweden); short-branch or Rök runes (also called Swedish-Norwegian, although they were also used in Denmark); and the stavlösa or Hälsinge runes (staveless runes).
Runology is the study of the runic alphabets, runic inscriptions, runestones, and their history.
Runology forms a specialised branch of Germanic linguistics.
The Runic script was used in Northern Europe to write various Germanic languages from about the 3rd century A. The Runic script is clearly releated to the Latin script, as can be seen from the Runic letters for A, B, K, F, H, I, M, R, S and T, although it is believed to be derived from a North Italic script rather than Latin itself.
The original "Common Germanic Fuþark" comprising twenty-four letters was developed on Continental Europe, but spread throughout Scandanavia, as far as Iceland, Greenland and Orkney; as well as to Anglo-Saxon England.