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The futhork runic alphabet (so called for the sounds of the first six letters in the alphabet) was in wide use throughout northern Europe from roughly the 3rd to the 12th century. At first, 24 letters were used, but in the 9th century, the futhork alphabet was simplified to 16 letters, beginning in Denmark, then spreading throughout the region. Many variations of the futhork alphabet were used; one of the Danish variants is shown above.
In the age of the Vikings (800-1100AD) Scandinavia used a runic alphabet known as Younger Futhark (fuþark). It was made up of 16 sound symbols known as runes. Younger Futhark developed from Elder Futhark (150 to 800 AD), an older form of Germanic language consisting of 24 runes. Both alphabets are called after their first six runes F-U-þ-A-R-K. Younger Futhark is basically the written form of Old Norse – the language of the Vikings.