Runes are letters comprising the runic alphabets that were employed in writing numerous Germanic languages before it adopting the Latin alphabet. The study of runic inscriptions, runestones and the history of the alphabet called Runology, is also considered a special branch of Germanic linguistics.
Earliest evidence of runic inscriptions date back to 150 AD. They were discovered in Denmark and Germany. As Christianity spread in Europe from 700 to 1100 AD, runes were gradually supplanted by the Latin alphabet though its use in special circumstances still persisted.
The three widely-recognized rune alphabets are:
Anglo-Saxon Futhorc (400 to 1100 AD)
Elder Futhark (150 to 800 AD)
Younger Futhark (800 to 1100 AD)
The Younger Futhark is divided into three: the staveless runes, the Rok runes and the Danish runes. It also later developed into the Medieval runes and Dalecarlian runes between 1500 and 1800.
The runic alphabet was derived from the ancient Italic alphabets. However, there is a deception on which particular variant of the Old Italic was the runes based on. It could be either Old Latin, Etruscan or Raetic. During that time, those scripts are written in the same angular way perfect to the study of ancient inscriptions.
In the Norse mythology, runes certified beliefs on divine origin, as based on inscriptions dated 600 AD. A poem in Elder Edda an alternate story on how the runes was learned by humans was related. According to the poem, Heimdall had 3 sons on mortal women. His children were named Jarl (noble), Churl (freeman), Thrall (slave) who were believed to be ancestors of the 3 human society classes