The runic alphabet, in various forms, was in use across parts of the Germanic world for around 7 centuries, and in the form of the Y (really a  Þ - thorn - runic TH) in 'Ye Olde Tea Shoppe' one rune is just about with us still. They are found in extraordinary contexts, such as the Ruthwell Cross in the cross in Ruthwell, Dumfriesshire, the wooden coffin reliquary of St Cuthbert in Durham Cathedral Treasury, and on the Franks Casket in the British Museum.

The Anglo-Saxon runic alphabet will be familiar to anyone who has pored over the insciptions on the map in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. (And yes, I am excited about the film!)