The runes are found in all Teutonic countries, and the Romans were in close contact with the Germans on the Rhine before the beginning I For further details of these alphabets, see Conway, The Italic Dialects, ii.
It has, however, been contended that a system of primitive runes existed whence some at least of the later runes were borrowed, and the ownership marks of the Lapps, who have no knowledge of reading and writing, have been regarded as borrowed from these early Teutonic runes.
It is highly illustrative of the tenacity with which the ancient sepulchral usages were retained even after the introduction of Christianity that King Harold, son and successor of Gorm the Old, who is said to have christianized all Denmark and Norway, followed the pagan custom of erecting a chambered tumulus over the remains of his father, on the summit of which was placed a rude pillar-stone, bearing on one side the memorial inscription in runes, and on the other a representation of the Saviour of mankind distinguished by the crossed nimbus surrounding the head.
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