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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


Crucifixion by Michelangelo, a drawing in black chalk

Michelangelo Christ Crucified

Height: 368.000 mm
Width: 268.000 mm

PD 1895-9-15-504

Michelangelo made this devotional image for his friend Vittoria Colonna. An aristocratic poet and religious reformer, she became his confidante in the mid-1530s. Unusually, Michelangelo shows the Crucified Christ alive and suffering, at once human and divine. This imagery, as well as Michelangelo's late additions of the lamenting angels and a skull, may reflect Colonna's input into the design. Upon receiving the drawing, Colonna wrote the following letter to Michelangelo to thank him:

Unique master Michelangelo and my most particular friend, I have received your letter and seen the Crucifix which has certainly crucified itself in my memory more than any other picture that I have ever seen. No image better made, more alive, or finished could be seen. Certainly, I could never explain how subtly and marvellously it is made, and for this reason I am resolved that I don't wish it to be in the hands of anyone else … I've looked at it closely using a lamp, a magnifying glass and a mirror: never did I see anything more finely executed. (British Library, Add. MS 23139, fol. 10)

Michelangelo was a devout Catholic and during the last three decades of his life, his faith deepened. This was partly inspired by Vittoria Colonna as well as a growing sense of his own mortality. The Crucifixion was a subject which he returned to right at the end of his life in a series of three drawings. The potency of this earlier image inspired a number of painted and engraved versions.