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Two Personal Names in Recently Found Anglo-Saxon Runic Inscriptions: Sedgeford (Norfolk) and Elsted (West Sussex)

  • John Hines EMAIL logo
From the journal Anglia


In 2017 two objects carrying runic inscriptions that are identifiable as personal names were found. Both date to the ninth century; both are dithematic (compound) names. The object identified as a spoon or fork handle from Sedgeford in Norfolk bears a familiar male name, Biarnferð. This contains a runic graph hitherto unseen, which may, despite the provenance of the find, be interpreted as a representation of the diphthong ia that developed in the Kentish dialect by the middle of the ninth century. There is in fact a historically known individual of this name who witnessed a series of Canterbury charters in the mid-ninth century. The other object, a strap-end from Elsted in West Sussex, carries what can be identified from its final element, ‑flǣd, as a female name, although the whole name cannot be read. What is legible cannot be identified with any previously recorded personal name. Evaluation of these finds emphasizes how Anglo-Saxon runic writing practice continued to adapt to changes in the language and the regularization of roman-script literacy in the ninth century. Finally, the role of literacy within a nexus of cultural relationship involving individuals and artefacts is also highlighted.

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Published Online: 2019-06-11
Published in Print: 2019-06-07

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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