There was an alphabet used by the native Anglo-Saxons, though not for protracted writing of books: they were an oral culture and memorised their literature.
These are sides of the Franks Casket, carved from whale-ivory in England, possibly Northumbria, in the first half of the 8th century. It shows an eclectic mixture of classical, biblical, and pagan Germanic scenes. The inscriptions around the scenes are written in Runes.
This first side shows Romulus and Remus being suckled by the she-wolf.
This second side shows a legendary Germanic scene, contents unknown, though the three figures on the right have been identified with the Norns.
Here is a section from the inscription on the Romulus and Remus side (upside-down). It is transcribed below .
From the front of the casket, a description of the whale from which the bone came:
If you are interested in finding out more about runes, try R.I. Page Runes (London: British Museum, 1987).
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© MEG TWYCROSS 1998