Runes are a very ancient Oracle of the Vikings and peoples of Northern Europe. The word means 'a secret thing or a mystery'. They are far older than the New Testament. They were originally a form of writing scratched on rocks or trees, which is why they look angular. They were firstly, a form of guidance to travellers from those who had gone that way before, rather like tramps leave for each other, or the traffic signs that we use today. They were able to be read by the leaders often also shamans and were thought by the rest of the population who were not educated, to be powerful talismans. They became a language with corresponding connections to trees, plants, animals, times of the day and year, and various other archetypal symbols, being focii for those universal energies. So they became guidance and tools for more esoteric travellers.
They were both alphabetical and symbolic. They were used in communication, divination and in magic. All of Creation was thought to be alive and embodied Sacred Powers, so runes scratched upon stones, shells or pieces of wood were as well. The Runes were brought to England by the Anglo Saxons and their alphabet was called Futhark. There were various 'dialects' of Runes according to tribal 'hand-writing'.
All the tribes of Northern Europe, being from the same original people, had similar ideas which were shared at tribal gatherings.
Runes can be used in a script like a phrase and used for healing or protection etc, or used as a divination tool. A person who uses them is called a Rune Master and s/he throws them down and reads the appropriate ones or picks a certain number of them out of a bag and then interprets their message using inspiration and experience. All magical tools should be made by their owner, or rather guardian, and not bought in a shop. They should be personal reflections and extensions of yourself.