fossil_digger Report This Comment
Date: June 05, 2007 01:13AM
This magnificent "pattern welded" sword has a long, slightly tapering
blade with narrow, deep and long central fuller (or depression). The slender,
symmetrical blade is thick and beveled at the edges for most of its length, the
final few inches relatively flat, without fuller and eventually terminating in a
gentle point. The blade is integral with the tang, which inserts into the thick
triangular pommel proximally. The pommel is mushroom shaped, consistent with
Petersen's type A classification. The crossbar is thick and broad, beveled
longitudinally and rounded at the ends.
The blade itself was made by its ancient swordsmith using the complex technique
of pattern welding. This involved the twisting together and re-hammering of
iron rods of different compositions, so as to give the final blade the ideal
properties of strength and flexibility. Pattern welded swords are discernable
by the whorls and other 'patterns' that are visible on the blade, under close
inspection. On the present example, the areas of pattern welding can be best
observed on the tip of the blade, where thin streaks can be seen running
(mostly) longitudinally along the blade. Pattern welded swords rarely survive
from antiquity and this is a splendid example. Found in the lower Volga,
corresponding to modern day Western Russia, this spectacular weapon dates to one
of the most fascinating periods in history. It is an early Viking blade, no
doubt carried by Norsemen on one of their many incursions into Eastern Europe.
The type is transitional between the late Frankish and early Viking sword types,
so dating to around 750-850 AD. The Vikings were seafaring peoples originating
from Scandinavia who wrought havoc on much of Northern Europe during the
8th-10th Centuries AD. They often raided coastal areas, particularly in the
British Isles where monks (the literate minority) inhabiting coastal monasteries
were frequently victims. This accounts in large part for their portrayal to the
modern eye as savage barbarians with horned helmets (a satanic reference),
neither of which are actually true. Viking culture was based on conquest, with
the sword at its centre. It was the prized possession of a Viking warrior and
would be passed down for many generations. Insights into the importance placed
on these awesome weapons can be gained from the surviving poetry of the time.
Roland, an 8th century knight, who lies defeated on a battlefield, is quoted in
the Song of Roland as follows: "Eh, good Durendal, you were set for sorrow;
so long have you been wielded by a good vassal. Now I am lost and can care for
you no longer. I have fought so many battles on the field with you, kept down
so many countries which charles holds ... Let no man have you who would run
before another! Ah, good Durendal! How beautiful you are, how bright and white!
How you gleam and flash in the sunlight!" When a warrior was dead or enemy
defeated it was thought proper to throw his sword into a river or bog, in a
tradition dating back to the Bronze Age. Thus many swords, such as this example
are found in modern times on riverbeds. This tradition is known to us in the
tale of King Arthur, where the great sword Excalibur is given to Arthur by the
lady of the lake and thrown back there upon his death. A unique and fascinating
weapon. Genuine Viking swords are extremely rare on the art market and this
example is superb and well provenanced, thus constituting a fantastic
investment. Length: 38 1/2 inches. Width of crossbar: 3 7/8 inches. Length of
blade alone: 32 3/4 inches. Dimensions of custom mount: 42 x 8 1/2 inches.
Condition: Exceptional water find. No restorations. Provenance: Found in the
Lower Volga many years ago. Ex. Hungarian Collection. Ex. German Auction
house. Previously Inspected by the Hungarian Technical University, Budapest
(the full 15 page report will be sent to the successful buyer). Reference: For a
very similar sword see Oakeshott, 'records of the medieval sword', p. 24 illus.
3. For the definitive book on Viking swords please see Ian Peirce, 'swords of
the viking age'.
Nigel_Knowital Report This Comment
Date: June 05, 2007 09:24AM
Are you selling off your weapons collection Fossil?
fossil_digger Report This Comment
Date: June 05, 2007 09:54AM
no way! these are not mine. i won't try to sell anything of mine on 613, and i
don't want people to get the idea that this is a place for them to sell the
stuff either. i like to put retail prices on things to raise awareness of what a
piece of this quality would be worth should you happen to stumble upon them.
my own little antiques road show.