Pieces of an ornamental Viking sword reunited

Pieces of an ornamental Viking sword have been reunited after 1,200 years apart.

In 2021, a small piece of the sword was discovered by metal detectorists at Stavanger on Norway’s west coast.

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In a recent survey at the site, detectorists unearthed the remainder of the word that has intricate carvings of gold and silver details and a cross-guard shaped like an animal.

Although the blade is yet to be discovered, archaeologists have determined that the sword was a Peterson Type D-sword, one of the richest ornamented and heaviest sword types from the Viking age.

Copies of this sword type have been found in both Eastern and Western Europe, with only 20 examples having previously been discovered in Norway. It is suggested that the Stavanger sword would have belonged to someone who wanted to demonstrate their high social status.

Zanette Glørstad from the Arkeologisk Museum said: “The sword includes artistic elements of an animal style from the Late Iron Age, as well as geometric figures of silver with so-called niello technique (a metal mixture added as black stripes in the silver). The lower helmet is decorated in the same way as the grip, and at each end the helmet is shaped like an animal head. The decoration may indicate that the sword was originally made in the Frankish Empire or England, the closest parallel we know is a sword from the Isle of Eigg in Scotland which was found in a tomb from the 9th century AD.”

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Glørstad added: “The complicated decoration and the special hilt design makes this a completely unique discovery, which will be of great interest to specialists from other parts of Europe. We are now very much looking forward to seeing the sword completely preserved and will then contact researchers abroad to bring more clarity to the sword’s origins and parallels.”

The sword is currently being preserved by curator Cora Oschmann, and will then be exhibited at the Arkeologisk Museum.

Arkeologisk Museum

Header Image Credit : Arkeologisk Museum

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Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.

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