Runic Riddles: Time Capsules

B.L. Freeborn © December 2022               (PDF version here.)

Runic riddles are riddles written in runes. Runes are alphabets that were in use in northern Europe, Britain and other northern areas. They were used for centuries but died out with the coming of Christianity.

There are a certain group of inscriptions from this period that are either difficult to interpret, very short, have unexplained symbols, use bindrunes (letters stuck together), and/ or are unusual for some reason. Here is an example from Norway (Lomen No. 2; Norges Inscrifter Med De Yngre Runer, Vol.1, Pg. 216) deemed to be a magic incantation. It is simply a riddle. The solution is at the end of the post.

These unusual ones are where the riddles hide. Primarily they were created for amusement, in the same manner as crosswords are today. Besides providing unique puzzles for people to solve, they often contained phrases and ‘secret messages’ that we find strange or incomprehensible today. They are little windows into a bygone era before the cleansing of facts by ‘modern’ teachers, internet myths, and the Catholic church. The latter worked especially hard via genocide and threats to stamp out Paganism. Throw the Black death into the picture which killed half the population of these areas and it is not surprising that the information these riddles reveal seems …. surprising to say the least.

Sadly, the numbers of inscriptions still in existence are declining with each passing year. They were once abundant. Many now only exist in photos. The few remaining tell us something of importance.

Many preserve the concepts of Baal and Paganism. This religion can be traced back 12000 years. The remaining practitioners faced with the power of the Catholic Church found a way to preserve some hints of it in these riddles. Others tell us of extraordinary journeys. They reveal an important part of our lost knowledge.

The following posts bring a few of these riddles to you. Others are available as pdfs at the bottom of the posts.

Hopefully, they are both enjoyable and educational to you.


This is called a magic formula – ISTIL form. The number of duplicated runes varies. This one uses triplicates and to match the three makes bindrunes of the six initial runes. The transliteration of the three bindrunes and duplicated runes is RT UÆ KN III SSS TTT III LLL. This is an anagram for ‘stlis’ in Latin which means ‘quarrel’ or ’cause’ and/or ‘tellus’ meaning Earth or region. This implies a ‘global difficulty.’

The three bindrunes and the triplicates suggest 3. This is equal to Th (or D) rune. Simplify and add the Th:    Th    R T U Æ K N    I S T I L. As numbers this is: 3   5 12 2 4 6 8     9 11 12 9 15.

The group ISTIL has four notable values. 9,11,12 sum to 32✓; then 9,15 sum to 24✓; then 12,9,15 sum to 36✓; and the total is 56.✓ All of these numbers are important. (For checked ✓ number meanings see below**. See next table for rune/number equivalents.)

The first group containing the bindrunes has no meaningful sums except for the total with the 3 (Th) included which is 40. A square of sides 40 has 56.56 as a diagonal. This repeats the ISTIL sum. The group does have the significant series 4 6 8 which in reverse is 864.✓

From Wikipedia

There are several elements of the riddle missing. The author and year are often stated and the number 792 (always present) is missing. This is long enough to contain both. Mongé derived the name KanutR from the first six runes. His solution is different than what is presented here. (Landsverk, Ancient…, pg. 127-138) However, by inspection the name Thorniut is found. (The Æ includes the sound O. Also, the I rune can be an E.) The only letter missing is an I and a K is left over. There are two I’s in the last group, so this implies letter sharing. If the K shifts to the last group notice this list of small abbreviated words can be formed: KIL (kill); I TIL (I tell); I LIS (I lies); S (south); I TI LI S (I tie lie South). When taken altogether the following is suggested:

I Thorniut tell. The I tie lies South where it was killed in the global upheaval.

This is a typical Baalist statement including the name of the author but the number 792 is still missing so the solution is incomplete. If Thorniut is converted to numbers as given (without the I) one finds: 3 4 5 8 2 12. Now the following sums are noted: 3,4 sums to 7; then 4,5 sums to 9; then 3,4,5,8 sums to 20 so that we now have 7920.✓

The year would complete the picture. Some indication of the year and three other numbers is sought: the Golden Number (GN), the Day Letter (DL) and the Line #. These numbers are used to find dates on the Perpetual Easter Table (here). A complete discussion of this is found in any of Landsverk’s books listed below.

The letters as bindrunes were anagrammed for a reason so returning to those runes/numbers we have: 5 12 2 4 6 8. These can somewhat change order since there is no way to tell which rune of the bindrune should go first ie. 12 5 4 2 8 6 etc. Note the 1224 looks like a year and in fact, Line # 4 in the attached chart begins with that year. The 4 is present in the series. But year 1224 has GN 9 which is not present in this group. Since 3 is prominently noted by the triplicates, if taken to mean GN 3 then on this 4th line, year 1237 is indicated. It has day letter 4. The sum of this series of numbers is 37 confirming the date.

Other dates for similar reasons can be found. But after much searching 1237 seemed to have the most in its favor. Mongé dated this to 3 March 1199 using just the 3’s. There is good reason to accept his date except that all versions of Istil riddles repeating 3 times would then imply the same date. The reader is free to search for other plausible dates using the attached Easter Table.

I Thorniut tell in the year 1237. The I tie lies South where it was killed in the global upheaval.

Earlier Riddle Posts      Next Post

Similar Articles by this Author (pdfs uploaded as available)

* Easter Table pdf

** For numeric background see:

**Freeborn, B.L., Validating North American Runic Inscriptions,, November 2022.

Freeborn, B.L., Deciphering the Spirit Pond, Nomans Land and Narragansett Runic Inscriptions,, November 2022.

Freeborn, B.L., The Nomans Land – Leif Eriksson Inscription,, December 2022. (An excerpt from the above.)

Freeborn, B.L., Et in Arcadia Ego – OUOSVAVV DM – Deciphered,, December 2022.

Freeborn, B.L., Kensington Stone’s Secret Lairs,, February 2023.

Freeborn, B.L., Lifting the Veil of Time off the Rökstone of Sweden,, April 2023.

Freeborn, B.L., Runic Riddles: Time Capsules,, December 2022.

Freeborn, B.L., The Runic Riddles: Younger Futhork,, December 2022.

Freeborn, B.L., The Narragansett Inscription: A Translation with its Date of Dedication, Author and Inscriber,, October 2022.

Freeborn, B.L., The Newport Tower: Finding the Date of Dedication, its Designer and Builder,, October 2022.

Freeborn, B.L., The Vinland Map – Encoded Riddle,, February 2023.

Freeborn, B.L., Ancient Riddles to Test Our Wits: The Secret Chamber,, January 2016. (Two parts: post and page)

Book References:

Landsverk, O.G., Runic Records of the Norsemen in America, Erik J. Friis, Publisher, Rushford, MN, 1974.

Landsverk, O.G., Ancient Norse Messages, Norseman Press, Glendale, California, 1969.

Mongé, Alf & O.G. Landsverk, Norse Medieval Cryptography in Runic Carvings, Norseman Press, Glendale, California, 1967.

Syversen, Earl, Norse Runic Inscriptions: with their Long-forgotten Cryptography, The Vine Hill Press, Sebastopol, California, 1979.

Derogatory article by Aslak Liestol of Alf Mongé’s work:  and…. Landsverk responded to these comments in Ancient Norse Messages pg. 126-129; and often in Runic Records of the Norsemen in America.

As Plain as Day

By B.L. Freeborn © 2013, updated Nov. 2018

Book of Kells, Chi Rho Page. PD.

Book of Kells, Chi Rho Page. PD. Wikipedia.

Some things we know as plain as day and other things we see and do not comprehend. Let us return to the debate surrounding the Decalogue Stone. Two events were occurring in 1860. Mormonism, a newly created religion by the dubious con man Joseph Smith, was seeking legitimacy and the 84-year-old predominantly Christian nation of the United States was on the brink of collapse into civil war. A religion was rising, a nation was falling and for those involved in these issues life and faith hung in the balance. Their world became myopic and they could not recall that this is the way of things. History was repeating itself. Just as Scientology rises today, Mormonism rose then and before that Islam rose, and before that it was Christianity. And there we tend to stop. We know that with the rise of the United States a people and their land was conquered. We know that Islam today vows to conquer all. We know that young men in white shirts and ties come to our doors and attempt to persuade us to join their religion. They are subtle conquerors as all peaceful missionaries before them.

Do we recall a time when Christianity swept north through Europe with the advance of Roman soldiers and conquered the Pagans? And from whence did the Christians come? They arose as followers of Paul’s church who distorted Judaism to suit his needs. From whence did the Jews come? They tell us they came out of Egypt and were allowed to return to their homeland. To Canaan they went where the cities of Ugarit lay buried beneath the soil. Or did they come out of Babylon in 485 BC. The priests of Babylon had been massacred by the Greeks. This is the story of another conquered people and the fall of a great religion that had lasted for centuries. And eventually Paganism, after fighting a long and hard battle, vanished in the middle ages in the burning and torture of its last beholders. We forget how very much history we lost as a result of the Greeks killing the intellectuals of their era followed by the killing of the Pagan priests in later centuries. The Pagan and Babylonian Priests were the keepers of their history. As victor, the Greeks wrote history and in that history they usurped achievements of bygone eras. But they could not lay claim to that which they could not comprehend such as measurement of longitude. The Pagan priests did not vanish in total, nor did the Babylonian Priests. They left us something as plain as day and yet we do not see it.

The monks of Ireland, newly Christian, laced their beliefs into their art as they decorated their new doctrine. From the art in the Book of Kells we see their beliefs have passed through time to us. And what is this image? We see a cross curled round and around the cross are circles. Does the art depict Christian or Pagan beliefs?

Does Jewish history reveal anything of the Pagans? Or perhaps we should call them Baalists, worshipers of Baal. This deity is little understood. Baal was the most significant god in the Canaanite pantheon.1 The religion conflicted with Judaism. The Book of Kings I tells how Elijah met the priests of Baal and had 450 of them killed. Book of Kings II relates that the “cult” arose again and was put down once more. This “cult” arose yet again and was again put down.

Book of Kells, Incipit to the Gospel of Matthew. PD. Wikipedia.

Book of Kells, Incipit to the Gospel of Matthew. PD. Wikipedia.

“Cult” makes it sound so small, trivial and such a local phenomena. Yet according to 17th century historian Geoffrey Keating at each Beltane in medieval Ireland there was a sacrifice made to a god named Beil. Some doubt the veracity of Keating’s facts.2 Either way, Beltane is a festival celebrated on May Day that involves the union of male and female, and this is symbolized by the maypole and the cords woven around it. Very little ancient information is available on the significance of Beltane except that it involved bonfires and blessings. Martin Brennan in his book “The Stones of Time: Calendars, Sundials, and Stone Chambers of Ancient Ireland” relates that “Baal or Bel is another name for the sun and forms part of many place names in Ireland including Bel-ain, which means ‘Bel’s ring’ or the sun’s circuit.” 3 The name is similarly found in place names in the area of Israel.

Brennan also tells of the old native Irish god Dagda who was all-powerful and omniscient. This deity was considered to be the good god and Lord of Great Knowledge. In the distant Mediterranean archaeologists have uncovered the Temple of Dagon in Ugarit. Whereas Baal, “the King,” was the son of El; Dagon was the god of fertility and wheat.4 So we have two gods of similar names in these two distant lands. Is this the roots of Paganism, the religion that Judaism in its rise to power in the Middle East sought to conquer? Or were the Jews Baalists all along pretending to be someone else to avoid persecution by the Greeks? Perhaps this was not a small cult but a religion that spanned all of Europe and was finally annihilated by the Christians rather recently.

The beauty in the Book of Kells cannot be argued. Do the images conceal Pagan beliefs? Is that the cross of Christ or the intersection of longitude and latitude in the first image? Is that diamond square a decoration or does it mean something significant? Is that backwards L a measuring square? Is that the maypole of Beltane next to it and the cords wrapping around it? In the next image, is that a serpent winding and twisting about in the monogram which is to remind us of something important, just as the Great Serpent Mound that graces southern Ohio?

When we look at the Decalogue stone and the little bowl found with it, are we looking at a piece of long forgotten history? Judaism was not always the seamless religion it appears to be today. It had its own battles as the Book of Kings I tells us to gain prominence, just as the religions we see rising into acceptance currently. Did the Baalists continue on by hiding their beliefs from those in power? Did Dagas/Dagon and Baal play a role in Newark, Ohio?

We return to Ohio and the mysteries of the mounds laid out there for us to ponder across time.


  1. Douglas, J.D., and Tenney, Merrill C., “NIV Compact Dictionary of the Bible,” Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1989.
  2. Wikipedia article: Beltane.  See:
  3. Brennan, Martin, “The Stones of Time: Calendars, Sundials, and Stone Chambers of Ancient Ireland,” Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions International, 1994.
  4. Wikipedia article:
  5. Book of Kells, Chi Rho Page Image. See:
  6. Book of Kells, Incipit to the Gospel of Matthew Image. See:



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