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N-calendars-art - 8/12/97


"Runic Clog and Stave Calendars" by Gunnora Hallakarva. (The Viking Lady)


NOTE: See also the files: Norse-msg, calendars-msg, time-art, med-calend-art, sundials-msg, bells-msg, clocks-msg, Sandglass-art, V-Arts-and-A-art.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                 AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                         Stefan at florilegium.org



Date: Thu, 22 May 1997 01:22:54 -0500

From: gunnora at bga.com (Gunnora Hallakarva)

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Runic Clog and Stave Calendars


Heilsa, All!


I have put together some information in response to a question to The Viking

Answer lady about runic calendars (my answer thus far appears below), also

known as clog almanacs, primstaves, or rune staves.  However, I am lacking a

source for good, clear illustrations of these artifacts.  Ideally, I'd like

access to either books with photos or graphics files online with the images

I need. My dream is to locate a source which carefully discusses the runes

and other symbols used, their meanings etc.   Has anyone any good leads?



Viking Answer Lady Response on Clog Almanacs


In response to your question about clog almanacs, I have only one good

source of information on this topic, and alas, I have found some

questionable information in this source.  Nonetheless, it can be useful as

long as you double-check the information:


Pennick, Nigel.  Runic Astrology: Starcraft and Timekeeping in the Northern

Tradition.  Wellingborough: Aquarian Press.  1990.  ISBN 0-85030-871-2.

$12.95 softcover edition.


Pennick has a few illustrations.  I have actually seen people making modern

reconstructions of these, for example at some of the viking heritage

festivals in Minnesota.  An organization such as the Sons of Norway may be

able to lead you to additional information and possibly modern practicioners

of the art.


Apparently these staves were used from antiquity until the nineteenth

century.  There were two types of staves:  four-sided (square in

cross-section) and two-sided (like a ruler).  Four-sided staves were usually

divided by the quarters or seasons of the year, while the two-sided

varieties followed the more common Norse timekeeping practice of dividing

the year into summer and winter.  An uncommon variant on these is a "book"

of runestaves with seven flat staves tied together, so that thirteen of the

fourteen sides could each represent a week of the year.


In England, these calendar staves were known as Clogs or Clog almanacs: "clog"

being a word for a worked piece of wood, which we still have today in use

for a wooden shoe, and which is in some way related to "log" in its

connotation of a record of events.


The Danish term is Rimstock, from ON "rimur", a calendar.  Other

Scandinavian names include: Prim, Primestaves, and Messe-dag staves.


Primestaves provide the means for relating the lunar calendar to the solar



Swedish and Norwegian staves utilize a seven rune repeat to indicate weeks:

feoh, uruz, thorn, as, raido, kenaz, and hagal.  These runes do not map to the

named days of the week, but rather are used as a counting system (i.e., feoh is

not always Sunday, but varies based on what day the year begins with).


Over time, variations of the runes came to be used to denote more complex

numbers.  Since there were only 16 runes, compound or bind-runes were used

for numeric concepts above 16.


Pennick provides nice line drawings of six or seven calendric staves, as

well as diagrams of several runic notation systems in use on these staves.


A more useful source for understanding how the pagan Nordic peoples

understood time and the wheel of the year is the excellent scholarly work:


Hastrup, Kirsten.  Culture and History in Medieval Iceland: An

Anthropoligical Analysis of Structure and Change.  Oxford: Clarendon. 1985.

ISBN 0-19-823250-0.


Hastrup gives in-depth information on the months, days, their names, how they

related to actual changes in climate and festivals etc.  Her work is based

on the manuscripts in icelandic such as Rimtol and Misseristal which are devoted to calendaric reckoning.


Below I list some other references you may want to investigate.  I have not

personally examined any of these, so I do not know how useful they may or

may not be.  The best source for obtaining most of these would be through

Inter Library Loan.  Check with your local librarian and ask how you can get

started using the ILL system.


Harland, John.  "On Clog Almanacs, or Runestocks."  The Reliquary.  London,



Jones, Prudence.  Sundial and Compass Rose:  Eight-fold Time Division in

Northern Europe.  Bar Hill, 1982.





Gunnora Hallakarva



<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org