Runes are the mystical alphabet used by ancient European tribes 2000 years ago to name places and things, attract luck and fortune, provide protection, and magically divine the course of future events. Runes were carved onto stone or wood. The tools of the time such as the ax, knife, or chisel could not easily be used to form curved lines, so Runic letters were formed with straight lines only. Virtually all of Europe used them at one time, but today they are best remembered for their use by the ancient Norse: the Vikings.
The oldest known form and arrangement of Runic letters, the Elder Futhark runes, are estimated by the British Museum to have been in use by the Vikings around 200 A.D. Some believe it to be much earlier. In Norse, the Elder Futhark is read from right to left. "F U T H A R K" is the first 6 symbols of the Runic alphabet (note "th" is one letter).
Our Futhark Rune Guide can be found here.