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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


Coin-shaped charm

Coin-shaped charm

CM W163

This charm was intended for use in driving away evil or disease. The inscription reads 'drive out evil, and let good fortune come'. On the right is Zhong Kui, the famous demon-chaser, holding up his tablet of honour. He is chasing the spider, one of the Five Poisons. The Five Poisons are the lizard, the snake, the spider, the scorpion and the three-legged toad. These all feature on the back of the charm, together with the tiger, renowned for its powers in chasing away demons.

The tradition of using charms in the shape of coins dates back about 2000 years to the Han dynasty (206 BC-AD 220), and maybe even earlier. Coins, as money, represent power, and in traditional Chinese thought, the key function of a coin was to circulate. In this way, this coin-shaped charm can be seen as a very compact form of power, packed with symbolism, with far-reaching powers.