In this paper, I address two important issues regarding the description and decipherment of runes on metal objects. The first point concerns a comprehensive epigraphic analysis of runic writing prior to identifying runic graphs. Exemplified with autopsy-based results from the Continental runic corpus, I will present a systematic way of analysing and documenting epigraphic features, such as the quality of strokes and the visual presentation of the inscription. This method not only provides data for comparative studies on writing techniques, the level of technical writing proficiency and layout practices, but also serves as a basis for a runo-graphic analysis. Second, I discuss both theory and practice of the identification of runic graphs and graph-types as well as the role of the epigraphic analysis in identifying and describing variation on the level of the writing system.

Based on this, I will demonstrate how material, technical and linguistic aspects interact in the analysis of epigraphic writing. The fact that the boundaries between these aspects may be blurred due to reasons such as material damage, technical uncertainties, fragmentary writing knowledge or even functional aspects both prompts further theoretical and methodological considerations and opens a discussion on the interpretation of writing practices and the possible functions of epigraphic writing in the Continental runic corpus.