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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




CM 1974.9-10.1

Coin-swords were a form of talisman used in southern China to ward off evil influences, especially those causing fever. They were made by tying together 'cash' (the pidgin term for Chinese coins with a square hole in the middle) on to an iron rod.

The coins in this sword are almost all from the reign of the Qianlong emperor (1736-95). However, it is thought that coin-swords made with coins of his grandfather, the Kangxi emperor (1662-23), were even more effective in driving away evil influences. This is because the Kangxi emperor reigned for a full sixty-year cycle of the Chinese calendar, and his name means good health and prosperity.

Today, the easiest place to see a coin-sword in use is in Chinese kung fu movies, where, if a person is writhing on his sickbed, tormented by fever, there is often a coin-sword hanging on the wall above the bed.