You Discovered a Rune!
In the story, runes are used as symbols of magic. They are based on the runic alphabet, a system of writing developed by Germanic tribes in early medieval Europe. Though we may think of them as simple letters, they had a much deeper meaning to the cultures that used them.
Scandinavian mythology traces the runes back to the god Odin. In the pursuit of knowledge, Odin impaled himself onto the world tree, where he hung for nine days until the runes were revealed to him. Some people suspect this story was influenced by Christianity.
Like our alphabet, every rune represents a sound, but they also each have a meaning, and some, an association with a god. Though some people could read and write, the majority of Norse poems and stories were passed down verbally. Writing in rune was reserved for special occasions, like marking grave sights. The Norse believed runes were associated with power and magic. They were used to cast spells, curses, and could give insight into one's future. Rune sets are still sold today.
There are three variations of the runic alphebet, shown below.
The Elder Futhark
The Elder Futhark is the oldest version of the alphabet, consisted of 24 symbols. This is the version the characters in the Runestone Guardians use.
The Younger Futhark
The Younger Futhark came later, using only 16 runes. As language changed over the centuries, the alphabet followed. The Younger Futhark was further split into two versions: 'short twig' and 'long branch'.
The Anglo-saxon Futhark
It is unclear if this alphabet was brought to England by Norsemen or Frisians, but was is known is it was used to write Old English in the 5th century. This alphabet is 33 symbols long, based on the Elder Futhark. In the 7th century AD, the Latin alphabet became the most common.