"I mistranslated ehwaz ...It means partnership, not defence; I mixed it up with eihwaz."
-- Hermione after her Ancient Runes O.W.L. (OP31)
Ancient runes are a form of writing which witches and wizards used hundreds of years ago. It is also a subject at Hogwarts. Classwork and homework involves plenty of practice translating runes, and the O.W.L. involves translating something written in runes into English . Hermione used Spellman’s Syllabary to translate her homework (OP26) The class is taught by Professor Bathsheda Babbling (JKR). The full name of the class is Study of Ancient Runes (Pm).
- One of Neville's relatives wrote to him suggesting Ancient Runes as a subject before Third Year, but it's unlikely he took such a hard subject (CS14).
- Hermione began to study by reading a book called Ancient Runes Made Easy while still in Second Year (CS14). In Third Year, she took Ancient Runes at the same time as Charms through the use of the Time Turner (PA16).
- There were ancient Saxon runes carved into the edge of Dumbledore's Pensieve (GF30, OP24, Pm). These are true runes, while others seen in the canon are more like pictograms.
- Dumbledore first read the Tales of Beedle the Bard as originally written in Ancient Runes (TBB/WHH).
A set of runes appeared on Rowling's original website, signifying the ordinal numbers. They were very different from actual runes -- more like pictograms. Rowling included a supposed copy of Beedle the Bard in runes as the header of her Twitter feed for awhile. Those runes also were more like pictograms and not at all like true ancient runes.