fossil_digger Report This Comment
Date: December 01, 2007 11:59AM
ancient Viking iron double-edged sword, dating to approximately 800 AD and
dredged from the bottom of the Volga River.
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
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.
Length: 38 1/2 inches.
Width of crossbar: 3 7/8 inches.
Length of blade alone: 32 3/4 inches.
Mint Report This Comment
Date: December 01, 2007 12:34PM
wow. Thats pretty long for a 1h sword