I was watching the BBC One series “Merlin”, about the fabled magician as a young boy (three cheers for streaming Netflix!) when I came upon a scene in which Merlin’s mentor is poring over an ancient text.

For about two seconds the content of the book flashed on screen, just long enough for me to capture this image:

In many ways it is a fascinating image. The production designers clearly borrowed from actual Proto-Germanic glyphs, yet they took all sorts of liberties. The horizontal axis that runs through every line in this book has no correlate in ancient epigraphy. And you can see places where the designers just went wild — I can practically hear someone saying “hey, wouldn’t it be bloody marvelous if we threw in a few sine waves?”

Whatever the process behind this slightly daft reboot of ancient Runology, I’m struck by the fact that somebody clearly worked on it for a long time. Yet it flashes by on the screen for all of two seconds.

Ah well, one thing that hasn’t changed since Merlin’s time: Life is still unfair.

One Response to “Neo-runes”

  1. Hey Ken. I just stumbled upon this blog post of yours and thought I’d chime in. I have some experience with “forgotten” languages and immediately recognized this “script”. It’s an old Celtic script that is called “Ogham”. I’m quite proficient in it. With that being said they clearly “modified”/ornamented it a little.

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