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I am a firm believer that without speculation there is no good & original observation.
Charles Darwin. Letter to A. R. Wallace, 22 December 1857.

 

The Auzon Runic Casket, a carving made of whalebone, counts among the most outstanding objects from Anglo-Saxon days.
After a long and obscure history it is now exhibited in the British Museum in London, named after its donor 'Franks Casket'.

It was made in the 1st half of the 7th century somewhere in the North of England, most likely in Northumbria. With its pictures taken from most different sources it is a testimony of a syncretistic era, the transition period from Germanic paganism to Christianity.

Inspired by the new religion is the choice of some of the pictures and, in particular, the way of scenic depiction. Rather of pagan nature is the attempt to work magic with the help of pictures and runes, i.e. inscriptions, numbers and values.

With the sequence of pictures the rune-master has developed a programme, designed to protect his client's way of life (wyrd) from birth to death and beyond. This programme starts - from right to left - on the front (F-Panel) with the picture of the Magi and continues with the depiction of the mythical smith, Welund. The inscription on this panel, the verses on the whale, does not seem to relate to the images, not at the first glance, at least.

The left side (R-Panel) continues with the depiction of the Roman dioscuri, Romulus and Remus. Here the runic inscription comments dírectly on the scene.

The back (T-Panel)shows the conquest of Jerusalem (70 A. D.) by Titus. This scene, too, is explained by the text on the edges, but after a first line, Anglo-Saxon words kept in runes, it changes into a text, mainly Latin in word and letter, the cryptogram of a Metonic Cycle .

The programme continues on the right side (H-Panel) with a dramatic scene, the death of a hero, derived from Germanic mythology, commented on in runic cryptography.

The sequence of pictures ends with the image of an archer Ægil on the lid (Æ-Panel).

The runic texts seem to be meant to explain the pictures. But summing it all up the Conclusion shows that not only runes, but also their number and value are part of rune magic which is meant as a support to picture magic. The mathematical structure of all inscriptions and the interaction of pictures and runes can be proved,
i.e. they are not just casual. Actually, while the number of runes seems to aim at a "solar" total, their value reflects their "lunar" equivalent, with both calendars harmonized
by cycles of 8 and 19 years. This may be to keep the spell working. In further "supplements" annotations etc. may follow.
I would be grateful for any help:

Contributions, suggestions and other material at E-Kontakt

    Introduction
- The casket
- Northumbria in the 7th century
- Magic with runes and numbers
- Programme: Reliquary or Hoard box?
- The casket, a warrior's life?

Front (F-Panel)
- The inscription: The verses on the whale
- Picture: Adoration of the Magi
- Picture: Welund, the smith
- Runic numbers and values

Left Side (R-Panel)
- The inscription: Romulus and Remus
- The picture
- Runic numbers and values

Back Side (T-Panel)
- The inscription: Titus
- The picture
- Runic numbers and values

Right Side (H-Panel)
- The inscription: Herh-os
- The picture
- Runic numbers and values

Lid (Æ-Panel)
- The inscription: (Ægil)
- The picture
- Runic numbers and values

Synopsis
- summa summarum
- Inscriptions: Runic Numbers & Values
- Inscriptions: A Magic Spell
  "powered by" a Luni-Solar Calendar

- Mythology: Fylgja and Valkyrie
  The Warrior's Companions through Life&Death

Supplement
- Runic Calculator
- People and Places
- England's North-East
- Weland Saga Tradition
- Selected literature
- Links to other pages
- The Virgin and the Vamp
- Anglo Saxon History
- Icons, Runes, Numbers and Values

-Poetic Edda
- Baldur's Dream
- Grimnismal
- Havamal
- Lokasenna
- Alvissmal
- Vafthrudnismal
- Vœlundarkviða
- Vœlundarkviða

Lieder-Edda (German version)

Guest Contributions
- Barthelmess, "Stranded Whales"
- Szabo, "Bad to the Bone?"
- Stone, "The Knots of Death"


Detailed texts on the topic and a comprehensive bibliography in:
Alfred Becker, Franks Casket. Zum Runenkästchen von Auzon
(Regensburger Arbeiten zur Anglistik und Amerikanistik,
Bd. 5), Regensburg 1973; 306 S.

A few copies are still available at E-Kontakt



Deutsche Nationalbibliothek has archived the electronic publication "Franks Casket",
which is now permanently available on the archive server of Deutsche Nationalbibliothek

The British Library has archived the electronic publication Franks Casket in February 2012

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