Written sources from Viking times are very scarce in the Nordic Countries. The only contemporary sources we have are runic inscriptions on stones, sticks, jewellery, coins, weapons and tools. The text is often very brief and the occurrence of the inscriptions is very scattered, both geographically and chronologically.

-When did the Vikings use runic writing?

-What can the runic inscriptions tell us today?

-Make your own runic stone with wire netting and papier mâché.

-Engrave a runic stick with a penknife and write a runic text.

-Make a lino-print with runes, inspired by the runic inscriptions from the Viking Age.

-Shape a lump of clay into a large stone/picture stone, a carved cross or something else and engrave patterns and runic inscriptions upon it.

Maes Howe

Maes Howe on Orkney is one of the largest and most famous runic sites in Europe. Thirty runic inscriptions have been found in a grave chamber from 3000 BC from when Vikings broke in and engraved their “graffiti” on the walls. 

-Are there places outside Scandinavia where “graffiti” made by the Vikings has been found?

-Design your own graffiti which you can leave as a memorial for future generations.

-Write an essay about how you would like to be remembered in 1000 years.


This exercise contains problems, suggestions for practical activities and written work as well as the worksheet The runic alphabet.

The exercise deals with topics such as:

  • Runes
  • Written sources for the Viking Age
  • Ornamentation/picture stones in the Viking Age 

The following places and subjects described on the Sea Stallion's website may help in solving the excercise: Maes HoweHaithabu, Aarhus, Crown and State, Christianity comes to Denmark, Written sources for the Viking Age and Iconographic sources for the Viking Age. The pupils should also seek material and inspiration in the library and on the Internet, i.e. examples of runic and picture stones.

This exercise can be used for all ages – with the setting of appropriate questions and activities.

For the ages 10-13 the exercise can, for example, be linked with some parts of A good story, Stories aboard, Who writes history and The heathen barbariansin a project about story tellers and written sources from the Viking Age.

Some parts of the above exercises, as well as Historical criticism, can be combined in a project on written sources for the ages 15-20.

This exercise can also be combined with work on written characters and language in various parts of the world through time.

Subjects: Art, History, English.

Suitable for age: 10-13 & 15-20 years.