Are you challenged by crossword puzzles? What if you had to complete a puzzle using runes?

Marvin and Sharon Martinson of Alexandria recently presented a framed copy of a crossword puzzle that was completed in runes to the Runestone Museum in Alexandria. It was given to the Martinsons by a friend of the family, Shane Rexford.

Of Scandinavian descent from both sides of his family, Rexford began researching the Scandinavian history when he was about 14, which led him to become fascinated with runes. Rune in Old Norse literally means “letter.”

Runes were used in parts of northern Europe and Scandinavia from about 700 AD until about 1500 AD, according to Jim Bergquist, Runestone Museum manager.

The alphabet is commonly called the “Futhark” because the first several runes in the alphabet translate to the letters or sounds F, U, TH, A, R, K.

The first set of runes that Rexford became familiar with are generally called Younger Futhark Runes, an alphabet that only had 16 letters.

As spoken language changed phonetically and vowel sounds began to change, the need for certain letters also changed. The alphabet eventually evolved into the Elder Futhark Runes, Rexford said.

To help himself remember the runic alphabets, Rexford often writes little love letters to his daughter in runes or does a crossword puzzle in runes.

Rexford completed the crossword puzzle donated to the museum in both Younger and Elder Futhark. The Museum will display the framed puzzle in the near future.