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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site


Samuel Palmer, Classical River Scene, watercolour and gouache on card

Samuel Palmer, Classical River

Height: 23.100 cm
Width: 35.200 cm

PD 1958-7-12-360

This representation of late evening is quiet and meditative, even idyllic. The sun has already set, leaving a purplish glow in the sky; the moon and the evening star can be seen in the clear sky above. There is a sense of the chill of early autumn in the colours. Dark-coloured birds, probably rooks, are circling in the sky above the castle on the river, while a single white bird flies across the river.

In the foreground, on a promontory overlooking the river, there is a shepherd and his family. He pipes while leaning against a tree while his wife - in deep blue costume - tends the baby who gestures in excitement at the sight of the birds. Lower down, on the other bank of the river, travellers are making their way along a narrow path in the direction of the castle.

The theme and treatment are similar to some of the Milton subjects included in this section of the tour, in particular A Towered City and The Lonely Tower. However there is no evidence in this case of Palmer illustrating a particular text.