Thorn, Sun, and Wynn–
Ancient Runes of the Anglo Saxons

The script in the logo for this site is an ancient type of writing known as runes used by Germanic tribes including the Anglo Saxons, or early English. The letters are thorn, sun, and wynn. Thorn is special in that it is one symbol that stands for our two letters–“th.” Sun is used for the sound of “s,” and wynn (which meant joy) for the sound of “w.” These particular three runes are being used here as initials for The Shorter Word. You can pick them out in the table here. (Read more about runes below)
A chart showing the runes of the Anglo Saxons


The culture of the early Germanic tribes was primitive, and paper was not available to them in those days, so there have been only a few findings of runes in manuscripts. Instead runes were most often carved into wood or ivory, or were engraved on metal and are therefore found on artifacts such as jewelry, weapons, or stone markers. Because they were carved designs, they usually took straight-line shapes as you can tell. Runes were used for decorative purposes and also for magical spells. The word rune comes from a word meaning “secret” or “mystery,” and like Egyptian hieroglyphs to the ancient Egyptians, the symbols were believed to have special properties and powers which could bless, curse, protect, etc. Gradually, as Christianity spread, the Roman Catholic Church spread the use of its alphabet along with the gospel. Thus, Runes gave way to the new Roman symbols, the Roman/Latin alphabet, the same symbols we use to write English today. However, runes were still used out in the country for centuries and many superstitions still clung to these Old English symbols. Even today runes are used for decorative and traditional purposes. There were several Germanic runic alphabets, all very similar. This one here is the Anglo-Saxon (Old English) runic alphabet. You can see that the runes were influenced by contact with the Romans as many of the symbols are similar.  
There is a lot of information on runes online, but here’s a particularly fun spot– The Tolkien Society. JRR Tolkien, author of Lord of the Rings, was an expert on runes and a professor of medieval history at Oxford University in England. Here’s a PDF from that site on runes and also on how Tolkien used runes in Lord of the Rings.