Old Norse Manuscript Studies and Runology

Undergraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

The aim of this course is to expand the students' ability to read and understand Old Norse texts presented in a form close to the source, i.e. photographic facsimiles of script, diplomas and runes.

The foundation for this course is the study of the Latin alphabet in Old Norse scripts and diplomas (palaeography) and the younger runic alphabet in Old Norse inscriptions (runology). The course will also give an introduction to the transcription of both the alphabets, as well as to the transliteration of runic inscriptions.

Learning Outcomes


After successfully completing this course, students will have:

- Basic knowledge of the development of the Old Norse literary culture in the Latin alphabet and its abbreviation system.

- Clear understanding of a selection Old Norwegian and Old Icelandic texts presented in photographic facsimile.

- Clear understanding of a selection of runic inscriptions from the Middle Ages (1050-1350).


- The ability to transcribe texts from photographic facsimiles in the Latin alphabet.

- The ability to detect and explain abbreviations in the handwriting.

- The ability to transcribe and transliterate runic inscriptions that are presented in a decipherable condition.

- The ability to normalize and translate a selection of handwritten texts and runic inscriptions.

General Competence

- The ability to recognize and analyse the palaeographical characteristics of texts presented in the Latin alphabet and in other medieval languages.

- The ability to work with texts in other languages that use the runic alphabet.

- The ability to work with transcription in general and to be familiar with general problems connected with transliteration from one alphabet to another.

Level of Study


Semester of Instruction


Place of Instruction

Required Previous Knowledge


Students must have a good knowledge of the Norwegian language.

Recommended Previous Knowledge
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
NOFI110 overlaps completely with parts of the previously taught course NOFI102, so that those who have taken NOFI102 will not also be awarded credits for NOFI110.
Teaching and learning methods


The teaching will be held in the last third of the semester.

The teaching is planned with the intention that the students participate actively, and it is therefore expected that they carry out the assignments (written and/or oral) that will be set as a part of the teaching.

If less than five students are registered for a course, the department might reduce the teaching, please see the department's guidelines regarding this on Mitt UiB. Regarding a course where this is a possibility, the students will get information about this at the beginning of the semester, and before the deadline regarding semester registration 1st February/1st September.

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

Obligatory attendance at at least 75% of the scheduled lectures

The compulsory requirements are valid for the given semester.

Forms of Assessment

Written examination of four hours.

It is permitted to write in Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, English or German.

Examination support material is permitted. Permitted support materials are an Old Norse dictionary and a grammar. The student is responsible for bringing his or her own support material.

International students may also use a dictionary from their own language to Norwegian.

Grading Scale
Grade scale A-F.
Reading List


A. Primary Texts

1. Old Norwegian in facsimile: approx. 3 pages of photographic representation of handwriting or the representation of Norwegian facsimiles that are mentioned in chapter 4 by Odd Einar Haugen in Handbok i norrøn filologi, ed. Odd Einar Haugen, Bergen: Fagbokforlaget (2013).

2. Old Icelandic in facsimile: approx. 3 pages of photographic representation of handwriting or the representation of Norwegian facsimiles that are mentioned in chapter 4 in Handbok i norrøn filologi.

3. Younger runes: 10 inscriptions, e.g. from the selection in chapter 3 by Karin Fjellhammer Seim in Handbok i norrøn filologi.

B. Secondary Texts

1. Palaeography, e.g. chapter 4 in Handbok i norrøn filologi.

2. Runology, especially younger runes, e.g. chapter 3 in Handbok i norrøn filologi.

The department will announce the complete syllabus. There is the opportunity to change parts of the literature on the syllabus in consultation with the lecturer. In this case, the candidate must contact the course lecturer as soon as possible, and hand in and have the syllabus list approved within the advertised deadline.

Course Evaluation
Evaluation will be conducted in accordance with the University of Bergen's quality assurance system.