2. On the runic material from Bergen

Anne Haavaldsen

The excavations.


Apart from the main excavation, taking place from 1955 to 1979, there have been a number of smaller excavations on the Wharfside and the area south of the Wharf, called Vågsbunnen. Reports from parts of the main excavation have been published in Bryggen Papers, the main serie from 1985, supple-mentary volumes from 1984. Asbjørn Herteig, the excavation leader, has written Kongers havn og handels sete (Royal Harbour and Centre of Trade) about the archaeological investigations on the Wharf 1955 - 68.

The excavations have been given the following numbers:
000: The main excavation on the Wharf 1955 - 1979

Excavations on the Wharfside and Vågsbunnen, the area south of the Wharf:
003: Sandbrugaten 3.
076: Rosenkranz gate 4.
083: Dreggsallmenning.
086: Øvregaten.
090: Søndre Svensgården, the stable.
094: Øvregaten 39.
104 Finnegården 6A.
110: Finnegården 3A.
115: Finnegårdsgaten.
237: Dreggsallmenning 14 -16/Øvre Dreggsallmenning 2 - 4.
342: Vetrlidsallmenning.
346: Bankgaten 4/Skostredet 10.


The artefacts

Small sticks of pine seem to have been the preferred material for carving runes on, both at the Wharf and in the rest of Bergen. Only three sticks of birch and one of beech are specially mentioned in the Liestøl Archive. A survey of the inscriptions on artefacts other than wooden sticks can be found on page 40.

Two of the artefacts - a wooden plate, B002 without identifiable runes, and a wooden post, B579 with the runes iiiri, are lost. The rest of the objects are kept at Bryggens Museum.


The dating

The Liestøl Archive has few find informations and no datings. A review of the find circumstances for the inscriptions published in NIyR showed that most of the artefacts were found partly in the filling heaps in the wooden foundations of the harbour, partly between the different layers of fire. The datings are therefore bound to be approximate.


Sorting of inscriptions.

After computerising the B-numbers, they were sorted according to the informations from the Liestøl Archive. Basis of the sorting was my assessment of the inscriptions. As a starting point, the inscriptions were divided into eight different groups with sub-groups. For example, the group no IV had originally five sub-groups: 1. Longer Old Norse inscription. 2. Other Old Norse inscription. 3. Only an Old Norse personal name. 4. Possible Old Norse inscription. 5. Uncertain Old Norse inscription. In the course of sorting, this net turned out to be far too fine-meshed. so the final sorting turned out as follows:

I.1 no identifiable runes
I.2. capitals
I.3. personal marks
II.1 rune-like characters
II.2 traces of runes
III one or two runes
IV.1. Old Norse inscription, including inscriptions with only one personal name
IV.2 possible Old Norse inscription
V cryptic runes
VI Latin inscription
VII.1 complete fu>ork inscription
VII.2 incomplete fu<ork inscription
VII.3 fu<ork + Old Norse inscription
VIII inscription that doesn't fit into any of the groups

Due to the sorting, one inscription could fit into two or more of the groups. A list of the group VIII inscriptions can be found on page zz.

The sorting gave the following results:

In the autumn of 1993, 670 conceivable runic finds were registered since the main excavation started in 1955. These are registered with the numbers B001 - B670 in the Runic Archive. 170 of these have been published in volume VI of Norges Innskrifter med de yngre Runer (Norway's inscriptions with the younger runes). Of the 500 unpublished inscriptions

14 have no identifiable runes,
4 only a personal mark,
4 capitals
28 rune-like characters and
13 unreadable traces of runes

Which means that 65 out of a total 670 B-numbers do not contain runes or that the runes are unreadable.

The survey of B-numbers without a runic inscription starts on page 24. The list of what we consider to be inscriptions without an apparent `meaning' and therefore would be difficult to publish in an ordinary volume of NIyR, starts on page 29. The survey consists of everything from one single rune to longer, incompre-hensible inscriptions, in all 118 B-numbers. In additions, around 70 other B-numbers have hardly what we would call a coherent, meaningful text, but we have restricted the survey only to consider only the most apparent `non-meaningful' inscriptions.

The survey also indicates that several of the inscriptions are damaged or only partly preserved.

The Latin inscriptions have been published by Liestøl in NIyR:VI:1 and by Dyvik in Bryggen Papers, Supplementary series No 2 1988. The only unpublished Latin ones are, as far as we have been able to judge, B003 auema, B143 maria and most likely also B536 [.]uaria.

It was beyond the aims and the time limit of this project to make a survey of the Old Norse inscriptions. They consist of everything from just one per-sonal name to longer inscriptions like B448, the letter from Sigurd Lavard, King Sverri's son. (Liestøl 1964:54ff) According to our estimates, there are around 130 - 150 unpublished, comprehensible inscriptions. All B-numbers are available via WWW on URL: http://www.nb.no/baser/runer/eindex.html.

There are separate surveys of the 70 fu<ork inscriptions, the 13 objects with cryptic runes and the 31 inscriptions on artefacts other than wooden sticks. Unless otherwise stated, the surveys are bases on informations from the Liestøl Archive. Some of the Old Norse inscriptions were published by Liestøl in Runer frå Bryggen (Runes from the Wharf) and by Dyvik in Middelalderbyen (The Mediaeval Town).

The survey of the personal names is based on informations from the Liestøl Archive, published material and Kjersti Markali's unpublished cand. philol. dissertation on the personal names from the Wharf.


Transliteration of the inscriptions

a+r means a bind rune, [..] an unreadable rune and m an uncertain rune.

-] and [- mean that the inscription has been damaged, either at the beginning or at the end. P stands for the p-rune with the form [pi] on B278, B436, B541/N638 and B582, ö the ø-rune with the form ö on B035, B188 and B259 and [pi] for the ø-rune with the form Ö on B190, [dieresis] for the o-rune with the form [apple] on B087. [daggerdbl] stands for an `open' r-rune on B307, [lozenge] for [lozenge] - a- on B615 and D for d with the form [partialdiff] on B625.