Reference > Cambridge History > From the Beginnings to the Cycles of Romance > Runes and Manuscripts > The Franks Casket
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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume I. From the Beginnings to the Cycles of Romance.

II. Runes and Manuscripts.

§ 4. The Franks Casket.


Runic inscriptions have, moreover, been discovered on coins and various other objects, the most important being the beautiful Clermont or Franks casket. The top and three of the sides are now in the British Museum, the fourth side is in the Museo Nazionale at Florence. The casket is made of whalebone, and the scenes carved on it represent an episode from the Welandsaga, the adoration of the Magi, Romulus and Remus nursed by the she-wolf and, lastly, a fight between Titus and the Jews. The carving on the Florence fragment is still unexplained. The legends engraved around these episodes are intended to represent the capture of the whale and to elucidate the carving. On linguistic grounds it has been thought probable that the casket was made in Northumbria at the beginning of the eighth century. 8    11
  In several Old English MSS. runes are found in isolated cases, for instance in Beowulf, and in the Durham Ritual. In the riddles of the Exeter Book the occasional introduction of runes sometimes helps to solve the mystery of the enigma, and sometimes increases the obscurity of the passage. Occasionally a poet or scribe will record his name by means of a runic acrostic introduced into the text. Thus, the poems Crist, Juliana, Elene and the Vercelli fragment bear the runic signature of their author, Cynewulf.   12

Note 8. Napier, English Misc., p. 380. [ back ]

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  The Ruthwell Cross The Roman Alphabet  
 
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