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An Introduction to English Runes [Paperback]

R.I. Page
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
RRP: 16.99
Price: 16.65 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

18 May 2006
Runes are quite frequently mentioned in modern writings, usually imprecisely as a source of mystic knowledge, power or insight. This book sets the record straight. It shows runes working as a practical script for a variety of purposes in early English times, among both indigenous Anglo-Saxons and incoming Vikings. In a scholarly yet readable way it examines the introduction of the runic alphabet (the futhorc) to England in the fifth and sixth centuries, the forms and values of its letters, and the ways in which it developed, up until its decline at the end of the Anglo-Saxon period. It discusses how runes were used for informal and day-to-day purposes, on formal monuments, as decorative letters in prestigious manuscripts, for owners' or makers' names on everyday objects, perhaps even in private letters. For the first time, the book presents, together with earlier finds, the many runic objects discovered over the last twenty years, with a range of inscriptions on bone, metal and stone, even including tourists' scratched signatures found on the pilgrimage routes through Italy. It gives an idea of the immense range of information on language and social history contained in these unique documents. The late R.I. PAGE was former Professor of Anglo-Saxon in the University of Cambridge.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 266 pages
  • Publisher: Boydell Press; New edition edition (18 May 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 085115946X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0851159461
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 16 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 138,189 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


Remains the only book-length study providing a comprehensive and scholarly guide to the Anglo-Saxon use of runes. The new edition has been substantially updated and expanded...No serious library of Anglo-Saxon studies should be without it. JOURNAL OF ENGLISH AND GERMANIC PHILOLOGY (John Hines)

About the Author

Professor R.I. PAGE is former Elrington and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon in the University of Cambridge, and Librarian of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating. 27 April 2011
To be honest I probably bought this cos of Tolkein, which would no doubt earn me Professor Page's eternal opprobrium... but never the less this is a fascinating little study.

Three things occur:

It is aimed at an academic audience, not a "popular history" one, though this doesn't make it unreadable to the lay person (me).

There really are very few runic inscriptions in England known to academia. If you find something in England with Runes on it covered in mud it will noticeably expand the corpus. Take it to a University or something.

Professor Page is slyly funny: "Younger, and therefore cleverer scholars have appeared in recent years..." and he can turn a phrase: "Defying the wreckful siege of battering days, I have...".

Heh heh.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading 9 April 2007
By S. Plowright - Published on Amazon.com
For anyone serious about studying runes, whether academic or esoteric. This one deals particularly with the English branch of the runic traditions. It contains historical facts about the runes as they were used by the Anglo-Saxons, along with many excellent examples of inscriptions reflecting their daily use.

Unfortunately, Page's books tend to be avoided by those interested in the esoteric side of the runes, merely because he does not subscribe to the more speculative theories of rune magic.

This is a great shame, and would-be rune magicians do not do themselves any favours by shunning the painstaking research and detailed knowledge that Page has to offer. Surely, we are better off building on a sound footing of verified fact than starting off our studies from the shaky speculations of New-Age Gurus & cultists. Once you know the basic facts, speculate for yourself, you will then be just as qualified as any esoteric "authority" on runes.

Page's books should be an indispensable part of any serious runic library.

The Rune Primer
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great introduction to a little subject 6 Aug 2003
By F. P. Barbieri - Published on Amazon.com
Considering the popularity of runes, the fact that this book has been in print for years, the fact that it is the second edition of a textbook that has been the standard of its subject for a quarter of a century, and finally its very high quality, I am amazed to be the first to review it. Well, it is excellent. R.I.Page of Cambridge is living evidence that specialization need not mean narrowness. He is surely the most specialized of specialists, not only a runologist, but one who spent all his life specializing in English runes - and I'll have you know that there are less than one hundred known English runic inscriptions! But Page's AN INTRODUCTION TO ENGLISH RUNES is a golden textbook, wise, witty and far-sighted, not only an exemplary display of interdisciplinary methods, but also an education in critical thought for the student; that I do not agree with him on some points (especially on his rather negative attitude to the magical interpretation of runes) does not detract from my admiration of a great master on a small subject.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good scholarly material 27 Jan 2013
By Kennan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Certainly this is a work of substance and authority; Page's scholarship is not to be doubted. However, I found the sub-text of magical negation a little difficult, when the evidence seems overwhelming. Yet it is a powerful work, full of information and interpretations that I have found most useful for my fuller appreciation of the runes, and the English runes in particular.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a classic study 18 May 2009
By Christopher R. Travers - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This work represents one of the most, perhaps even the most, important studies on English Runes available today. Page's approach combines careful historical linguistic studies along with the archaeology of the material. While I think he habitually understates the use of the Runes in magical practices, his contributions are extremely important and not to be ignored.

I highly recommend this work to anyone studying the Runes in any way.
4.0 out of 5 stars Page is not easy reading 1 April 2014
By Ron Spolar - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This author validates nearly everything he says. Clearly this world leading expert on runes considers their primarily use to have been as an alphabet. Page is very cautious concerning the magical use of runes but does define what evidence there is. Clearly he is not a fan of Thorsson and his opinion of Edred Thorsson is grim. This is a wake-up call for anyone who has read any of Flowers/Thorsson or other authors who dabble way too much in supposition. Runes were apparently carelessly scribed or carved in various ways; sloppy, upside-down, reversed, scrunched due to running out of space. There were regional differences in forms. Words were not always separated nor were sentences ended at the end of a word. Runes were scratched on small pieces of wood by husbands and wives communicating to one another; carved on monuments, walls, pottery, metal work; sometimes for decorative purposes only. They appear to have been a phonetic way for an illiterate society to communicate. This was a useful book to read but it is clearly an academic text book.
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