Old English and Old Frisian Runic Inscriptions
Prof. Dr. Alfred Bammesberger
Katholische Universitaet Eichstaett, Germany

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) has kindly agreed to fund half a research post, so that we were able to start our project on 1 June 1995.

We are closely connected with Prof. Edith Marold's Forschungsprojekt Runendatei (University of Kiel). We also work with a Macintosh PC and the FoxPro software package. The results of both our projects will be available on CD-ROM.

It is our aim to provide a databank for the Old English and Old Frisian runic inscriptions on a predominantly linguistic basis. Our data bank consists of four complex files: OBJECT, INTERPRETATIONS, LINGUISTIC DATA and BIBLIOGRAPHY.

The file OBJECT provides background information on the object itself (material, place of find, present location, date, method of dating (archaeology, linguistics, history of art), etc.) and presents the transcribed inscription as well as details on the character of the inscription (e.g. pure runic, mixed text, cryptic runes, single runic inscription, etc.).

The various readings, translations, interpretations (and their plausibility if necessary) can be found in the second file INTERPRETATIONS.

The user has access to the individual word under the heading LINGUISTIC DATA. The analysis includes phonology; morphology (word class; gender; case; number; tense; etc.); word-formation (simplex; compound; derivation; suffixes, etc.); semantics; etymology and dialect. Author, title, publication and the year of print will be found in the file BIBLIOGRAPHY which also holds information on additional material (pictures, drawings, maps) provided in the various articles.

The individual fields of the four main files can be combined freely according to the user's own interests and needs. Thus it is possible, for example, to single out the corpus of the OE runic crosses with all the information relevant for the user (e.g. date, present location, readings, etc.). Should the user be interested in a certain area (e.g. Northumbria), he can easily find every inscription containing a personal name for example. If his special field is a certain runic inscription, he will conveniently obtain all the readings and interpretations concerning the right side of Franks Casket for example.

The inscriptions themselves will be available in a photo file (black and white) attached to the four main files. Our present OE corpus is mainly based on R.I. Page (1973), Introduction to Runes and M. Mitchell (1994), Corpus of English Runes. However, an up-to-date corpus of Old English (and Old Frisian) inscriptions has proved not only a demanding but also an extremely difficult task. Since it is impossible for us to gain access to the vast number of journals and periodicals of the shire archaeologies in search for new finds, we would be most grateful if any new finds could be reported to us directly.

Our second aim, a comprehensive critical edition (on paper) of the Old English runic inscriptions, will be another source of information additional to the data-bank. There we will have the space to provide more complex information on readings, interpretations, language, background information on the object, etc. which could not be included in the data-bank due to the limited capacity of a PC's memory.

The results of our research are intended to contribute to the Old English Dictionary (1986-) project of the University of Toronto. At present it is our main task to find and process every paper dealing with Old English and Old Frisian runes. Therefore we would be most grateful if scholars working in this wide and fascinating field would send information and material directly to the address given below.

We wish to thank Prof. Dr. R.I. Page, Prof. Dr. Klaus Duewel, Ms. Tineke Looijenga, Dr. David Parsons, Ms. Leslie Webster and Prof. Dr. E. Marold, Frau M. Dietz and Frau Ch. Zimmermann for all their kind help and advice.

Prof. Dr. Alfred Bammesberger
Dr. Gaby Waxenberger
Universitaet Eichstaett
Ostenstr. 26-28
D-85072 Eichstätt
e-mail: Gabriele.Waxenberger@KU-EICHSTAETT.DE

edited by JMG, nov. 96