For years, researchers puzzled over codes they saw carved into 13th-century Viking inscriptions. It's not that researchers don't know how to read Norse runes—they do. But about 80 existing fragments of runes seem to be encrypted. Are they secret messages, carved into bits of wood and rock? Are they magic spells??
Researchers had deciphered a couple of the codes before. Now, one doctoral student in runology says he's cracked several more. It turns out cryptology was kind of a game for the Norse. Young Vikings played with codes while they were learning to write, University of Oslo student K. Jonas Nordby thinks. The Vikings also put codes to other good uses. Nordby decrypted one wooden stick to find it said, "Kiss me."