Preface to the English edition.

This report is based on the work on the project `Computerising the runic inscriptions at the Historical Museum in Bergen'. As we started the computerising, we felt that a simple survey of the inscriptions was lacking. This would have enabled us, on an early stage, to exclude inscrip-tions not suitable for the project. It would also have allowed us to concen-trate on those, which, at a first glance, seemed fit for the project. In 1993 we made a simple database of all the inscriptions registered in the archive of the Mediaeval Collection of the Historical Museum.

In 1994 this database was proof-read and transferred to a new system. In 1995 and -96 we have futher developed the database and added some 50 scanned photos. The database is available on Internet and can be found on: http://www.nb.no/baser/runer/eindex.html.

This report is a result of the work on the database.

This report has no pretentions of being a scholary publication of the inscrip-tions, it is only intended to give a survey of them. It is our hope that it can be of help to others, being in the same situation as we were when we started choosing inscriptions for research purposes at the beginning of 1993. During the computerising we have been met with the outmost friendlines at the Mediaeval Collection at the Historical Museum and the Foundation Bryggens Museum (The Wharf Museum). They have on several occations allowed us to occupy the archive room and fill it with people, computers and scanners. Our thanks goes to all those we have met there, with special thanks to Arne J. Larsen and Egill Reimers, who spent much of their time answering all our questions.

We also thank James E. Knirk, who helped us find our way around the Runic Archive at the National Museum of Antiquities in Oslo.

We are indebted to Dr. John Hines of Cardiff, who has been most helpful in straightening out the English terms for us.

The first Norwegian edition of this report was published in February 1994, a third revised edition in September 1996. The English edition was made during 1995/96.

Bergen, September 1996
Anne Haavaldsen
Espen S. Ore.


1. Introduction

In January 1993 Norwegian Computing Centre for the Humanities gained a research grant for three years from the Norwegian Research Council for the project Computerising the runic inscriptions at the Historical Museum in Bergen. The aims of the project are:

- to prepare the basis for a rune typology based on purely graphical criteria

- to develop and test computer-based methods for interpreting characters that are difficult to read

- to develop and test computer-based methods for the study of the form varieties of the runes

As part of the project, a database of the runic inscriptions at the Historical Museum will be made with a particular emphasis on the rune forms, including photos and drawings of inscriptions and single runes.


Project organisation

The project has a supervising committee that originally consisted of the following members:

Helge J. J. Dyvik, University of Bergen
Bjarne Fidjestøl, University of Bergen
Richard H. Pierce, University of Bergen

In 1994 Odd Einar Haugen succeeded as a member after Bjarne Fidjestøl's all too early death

Project leader is Espen S. Ore.

Co-workers 1993 - 95 have been:

Anne Haavaldsen, runologist
Anne Lindebjerg, scanning and photo adaption
Patricia Nordbø, scanning


Project work:

In 1993, a database in HyperCard was made, based on the archive files at the medieval collection at the Historical Museum and on published material. This database was converted to FileMaker in 1994. In addition, the photo-graphs from the archive were scanned.

The archive consists of photocopied index cards, most of them written by the late Aslak Liestøl. The archive will therefore be referred to as the Liestøl Archive. The originals are in the Runic Archive in Oslo. Since the copies were made, the informations have been updated. This applies both to the reading of the inscriptions and the datings. We have chosen to exclude these corrections, mainly because

a) our aim by the computerising was to get a survey of the material (text and photos) good enough to choose suitable inscriptions for a graphical analysis of the rune forms.

b) the revised informations in the Runic Archive will be transferred to the University of Oslo's database on language and culture (The Documentary Project)

Although we only wanted to computerise the Liestøl Archive, useful visits have been paid to the Runic Archive when the informations from the Liestøl Archive turned out to be unclear or insufficient.

The database of the mediaeval excavations at the Historical Museum (made in Mapper) contains corrections on the find data for all the runic inscriptions, based on informations from the Runic Archive. With the help of Egill Reimers, a copy of the runic database with corrections made up to spring 1993 was transferred from Mapper to Omnis7. The copy has now been converted to FileMakerPro. The Mapper database contains first and foremost find data and not informations on the texts or the condition of the artefacts. Therefore, it seemed natural to us to base our informations on relevant data from the Liestøl Archive.

The Liestøl Archive contains informations on the inscriptions B1 - B655. The Runic Archive holds informations on the B-numbers up to and including B670. B656 - B670 were therefore registered on informations taken from the Runic Archive or from Nytt om Runer.

The Liestøl Archive also contains photographs up to and including B578. In addition come photos of several other inscriptions. Most of these were made to give an overview of the inscription. Even if they do not always allow a detailed study of the runes, they are clear enough for us to decide if an inscription is fit for the project or not. One of the premises for a classification system based on graphical form is that there must be no doubt about the forms forming the basis of the system. Unclear or worn inscriptions are therefore of no use. The photographs in the Liestøl Archive are mostly copies of originals in the Runic Archive. There are also detail photographs of most inscriptions.

The Liestøl Archive made up the main body of the database. Subsequently, informations on inscriptions published in NIyR and informations from other sources (see bibliography) were registered. In addition, remarks and alternate reading were also registered, mainly take from Terje Spurkland's unpublished doctoral thesis.

In 1994 and -95, we have edited the scanned photos and revised the inform-ations in the database. This made a new edition of the report necessary.

The database in HyperCard has been transferred to FileMaker Pro and is now available on WorldWideWeb on URL (Universal Resource Locator): http://www.nb.no/baser/runer/eindex.html.


This report

One of the reasons we decided to make a database was that we needed a general survey of the inscriptions before we started to choose texts for our project. We also thought that if we needed a database like this, others could be in the same situation. This report contains such a simplified survey we wanted when we started the project. One thing that struck us when building the database was that several of the inscriptions would be almost impossible to publish in a scholarly edition of runic inscriptions (see Anne Haavald-sen's review of the runic material). The wish to make a catalogue of the "unpublishable inscriptions from Bergen" has therefore also been an underlying thought behind this report.

To prevent any misunderstandings, we would once again stress that this report does not in any way pretend to be a scholarly publication of texts. As far as the texts are concerned, they are either based on former publications or informations from the Liestøl Archive. There is only one exception - B579 - where the original is lost. Our reading is based on scanned slides from the collection of the Wharf excavations (slides no 6872 and 6873).

Data from the Runic Archive are now being registered as part of the Documentary Project. We do therefore hope that our database will be superfluous in a year or two.