Icelandic Man Gets Rune Tattoo, Feels Regret - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Icelandic Man Gets Rune Tattoo, Feels Regret

Published February 12, 2015

Nanna Árnadóttir
Photos by
Vísindavefurinn

An Icelandic man feels cheated after getting a rune tattoo that – it turns out – is not composed of actual runes.

Vísir reports that the tattoo artist informed Haukur Unnar Þorkelsson that the symbols were called “Valhalla Runes” and were a variety of spell runes.

Later however, after Googling the symbols and coming up short, Haukur turned to academia for help.

“Can anyone tell me what these runes that I got tattooed on [my arm] mean?” asked Haukur of Vísindavefurinn – a website run by the University of Iceland that pairs people’s questions with academics and specialists who then answer them.

“It’s easy to see that these are not really runes,” wrote rune specialist Þórgunnur Snædal, who suggested Haukur search spell books or manuscripts to see if he might stumble upon them there. “What’s more difficult is working out where these symbols were even found in the first place. It’s probably best if you seek out the tattoo artist and ask him where he found these symbols, which are not actually decipherable runes but more a basic representation of what runes kind of look like.”

In an interview with Pressan, Haukur explained that he got the tattoo in honour of his son but was later puzzled by the fact that he was unable to track down a meaning for these mysterious symbols. Haukur told Pressan that he felt dissatisfied and cheated, especially given that it will be expensive to correct or remove the tattoo.

The artist who did the tattoo for Haukur has since apologised and expressed a desire to make it up in some way. “I got the runes several years ago from a jeweller who had a shop on Laugavegur,” said the tattoo artist. “He was making rune necklaces and told me they were spell runes. He said they were Icelandic and unfortunately I took him at his word.”

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