Two variants of runes
The oldest runic alphabet, Proto-Germanic runes, contains 24 characters. The oldest finds are from the late second century CE. This runic alphabet spread throughout the Germanic linguistic area, but it is found particularly in Germany, Denmark, Norway and Sweden.
The younger runes, known as ‘Scandinavian runes’, are the more familiar runes that were used during the Viking Age. They are found in Scandinavia and in areas with Old Norse settlements from the 9th century until the Middle Ages. They consist of a reduced version of the 24-character runic alphabet containing 16 characters. The younger runes occur in two variants – long-branch (normal) runes and short-twig runes.