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Michelle Nevins has written a very informative essay, Deciphering Runes in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey detailing the use of various runic systems in the film and related materials. She did a splendid job laying it out in PDF format, and I can find no better way to share it since it is full of runes, which I am not going to try replicating in WordPress.

Please follow this link to open the document – An Introduction to Runes in The Hobbit.

My gratitude to Michelle for being patient with my requests for additions and changes – we kept finding more items to add to the list of known runes. And I’m sure there are even more we’ve missed. In fact, I can think of one now. The runes on the garments of the dwarven craftsmen in Erebor.

These were originally seen in one of the vlogs, and deciphered by Grinman during a discussion on TORn last year. Although we can’t see every letter, we can make a good guess that they spell BROTHERHOOD in Futhark.

In the film you can see these craftsmen (craftsdwarves?) in the flashback in Erebor, but catching sight of the runes may be difficult (maybe on Blu-ray).

There is a wealth of runes visible in the scene in Erebor right before the uncovering of Smaug.  I’ve taken a screencap from this video from Weta, and Michelle and I have been able to make out a word or two (maybe), though there are some issues even with these.  The large runes on the stairway appear to read THE FOUNDA HAMMER, while below that I think I can make out what looks like ?EREBOR.  And there are runes all along the upper landing, which you might be able to read.  With the DVD coming out next month this should become much easier to decipher.  Please feel free to post any suggestions/corrections in the comments below.

erebor runes

Just hours before I was going to post this I happened upon a brand new blog by David Salo himself.  Thanks to the urging of Khuzdul enthusiasts such as the Dwarrow Scholar, Mr. Salo created a site called Midgardsmal to share insights on constructing new words and languages for the Hobbit film.  Obviously anyone with an interest in this topic will want to watch his site for future revelations. There is already an interesting explanation of why there are different runic systems present in the film, and more info about the runes on Dwalin’s axes, and whether or not we will be seeing any Angerthas Erebor in the future.

Below are high-res references for some of the examples mentioned in the essay.

[Click to enlarge]


Replica staff of Gandalf, by Weta Workshop


Original dust jacket design for The Hobbit, by Tolkien


Master Swordsmith Replica of Orcrist, by Weta Workshop

Master Swordsmith Replica of Orcrist Scabbard, by Weta Workshop

Graham McTavish as Dwalin


Dwalin’s Axes replicas, by Weta Workshop