View Full Version : Beach walk leds to strange marks at Auckengill

25-Apr-13, 12:42
Riddle of the runes writing on rock

RUNIC writing found on the seashore in the far north of Scotland sparked excitement... and a mystery.
But chances of the community in the Caithness hamlet being at the centre of an amazing historical coup, were short lived. An expert on the strange symbols wasn’t convinced, and after studying photos, poured cold water on the find.
The writing was discovered by local teacher, Karen Begg, out on a shoreline walk, recently, near the small Auckengill Harbour off the north east tip of Scotland, with her young sons Ewan and Stevie, friend Anne Richard and her granddaughter Hannah.
The 10 characters strung along the top of a seven-feet wide flat stone beneath a cliff about 200 yards north of the harbour caught their attention. Mrs Begg took some sample photos which were e-mailed to London expert Michael Barnes.
His verdict-“There can be no doubt that the inscription was written in modern times”
The Emiritus Professor of Scandinavian Studies at University College, London, was able to confirm the rock chiselled onto the stone as runic – but not ancient.
He said that the writer had sought to convey the name of an important character in the Saga of the Orkney islanders, better known as the Orkneyinga (one word) saga written in Iceland in the late 1100s or early in the following century. The name-Sveinn Asleifarson..
Professor Barnes said: “The runes in use in Sveinn’s day would have been those of the so-called ‘younger futhark’ but what the writer here has employed, are those of the original runic alphabet, the older futhark which went out of use around AD700. Neither Sveinn nor any of his contemporaries, nor indeed anyone in the centuries that followed, would have written his name in the way it is done at Auckengill.”
The Professor concludes that someone conversant with the saga or Orcadian history has found the old futhark in a book and used it to inscribe the name.”
He added that the rock runes don’t look right and explained: “ They are extremely neat and fresh, very different from most runic inscriptions and, if genuine should have been worn with the tide washing over them for a long time.”
One mystery remains...who is the runic writer and why did he take the time and trouble to etch the name on a rock, gaining access only at low tide?