Visual copy of the Elder Futhark runes on the inscription.
The Bergakker inscription is an Elder Futhark inscription discovered on the scabbard of a 5th-century sword. It was found in 1996 in the Dutch town of Bergakker, in the Betuwe, a region once inhabited by the Batavi. There is consensus that the find dates from the period 425-475 and that the inscription is either the singular direct attestation of Frankish (Franconian) or the earliest attestation of Old Dutch (Old Low Franconian).
where V is a non-standard rune, apparently a vowel (variously read as e or u, or as "any vowel").
Several readings have been presented in literature. There seems to be a consensus that the ann means "give/bestow/grant". Several authors read the first word as a personal name in the genitive (indicating property), and the last word as meaning "flame, brand", a kenning for swords. The third word is read either as kusjam, meaning "chooser" or "chosen", or as ke(i)sjam meaning "cut" or "cutter", also referring to swords or sword wielders.
Quak (2000): Ha(þu)þ[e]was ann k(u)sjam log(u)ns, interpreting it as "[property] of Haþuþewaz. I bestow upon the choosers of the swords".
Vennemann (1999): Haþ(ur)s ann k(u)sjam l?g(u)ns "[property] of Haþur. I grant lodging to the swordblades".
Seebold (1999): h(?)þ(u)was ann k(u)sjam log(u)ns. "I grant combat to the choosers of the sword".
Odenstedt (1999): h?(le) þ(e)was ann k(eis)am lo(ka)ns: "hale servants [warriors] I [the sword] like. I place cuts".
Looijenga (1999): H?(le)þ(e)was ann k(e)sjam log(e)ns. "[property] of H?leþewaz: He grants the swords to the swordfighters" (possibly a maker's inscription).
Bammesberger (1999): Haþ(u)þ(u)ras ann k(u)s(j)am l?g(u)n[r]... "I grant to Haþuþura? and his chosen [bride] the wedding-rune".
Mees (2002): Ha(þu)þ[?]was ann k(u)sjam l?guns. "[property] of Haþuþ?wa?. He grants a flame [=brand, sword] to the chosen".
Grünzweig (2004): Ha(þu)þ(ewa)s ann k(u)sjam log(?)ns "[property] of Haþuþyewa? - he grants the choosers [enemies?] the flame [sword?]".
There is a possibility that the text refers to the Dutch-Flemish folk tale which survives in folk ballad 'Van Here Halewijn' (in English: The Song of Lord Halewijn). In that case the reading would be: H?(le)þ(uin)s ann k(u)sjam log(u)ns "I grant Halewijn's [sword] to the chooser of the sword(s)", the chooser of the sword (vs. the noose) being the maiden/princess about to be killed by Lord Halewijn.
^Looijenga, Tineke (2003). Texts & contexts of the oldest Runic inscriptions. Leiden Boston: Brill. p. 72. ISBN9004123962.
^ ab"Runeninscriptie met het oudste Nederlands(?)" [Runic inscription with the oldest Dutch(?)]. Museum piece information (in Dutch). Valkhof Museum. Retrieved 2017. All experts agree on the meaning of the second word: "I (he) grant(s)", and many consider the first word to be the name of the owner of the sword that the scabbard belonged to. Opinions vary on how this name should be read, just as the latter two words have been interpreted very differently. Keeping in mind the function of the piece, some academics read the last word as "sword(s)".
Bammesberger, Alfred. 'Die Runeninschrift von Bergakker: Versuch einer Deutung' in: Pforzen und Bergakker. Neue Untersuchungen zu Runeninschriften, ed. Bammesberger, Göttingen 1999 (=Historische Sprachforschung, Ergänzungsheft, 41), 180-185.
Grünzweig, Friedrich E. Runeninschriften auf Waffen. Inschriften vom 2. Jahrhundert n. Chr. bis ins Hochmittelalter. Wien 2004 (=Wiener Studien zur Skandinavistik, 11).
Looijenga, Tineke. The Bergakker Find and its Context in: Pforzen und Bergakker. Neue Untersuchungen zu Runeninschriften, ed, Bammesberger, Göttingen 1999 (=Historische Sprachforschung, Ergänzungsheft, 41), 141-151.