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Runes are letters in a set of related alphabets known as the runic alphabets which were used to write various Germanic languages before the adoption of the Latin Alphabet. The term runes is used to distinguish these symbols from Latin and Greek letters.There are two major variations, Scandinavian and the Anglo Saxon. 

The earliest Runic inscriptions date back to 150 AD. Runes were used in Central Europe till 700AD and were used in Northern Europe till 1100 AD. Runes were utilized for mainly decorative purposes as late as 1800AD in rural Sweden. The three best known Runic Alphabets are the Elder Futhark  (around 150–800 AD), the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc (400–1100 AD), and the Younger Futhark (800–1100 AD). The Younger Futhark developed further into the Medieval Runes (1100–1500 AD), and the Dalecarlian runes (around 1500–1800 AD).The oldest Runic inscriptions are found in Denmark and northern Germany.

It is possible that the early runes were not used so much as a simple writing system, but rather as magical signs to be used for charms.The name rune itself, taken to mean "secret, something hidden", seems to indicate that runes were used as charms for personal and spiritual purposes. 

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