Albion Armorers Next Generation Clontarf Viking Sword
A hands-on review by Bill Grandy
The Viking Age (793 - 1066 AD) was a turbulent time, named after the dreaded raiders from the North. The Vikings were also traders, explorers and settlers, as well as the ancestors of the Normans. Even after converting to Christianity, the Vikings were still known for their fighting prowess, using sword, axe and spear. A good blade was a highly treasured weapon, and this is what Albion Armorers has tried to capture in their Clontarf Viking sword.
The warrior culture of the Vikings placed a great deal of symbolic importance on the sword, and they used a great variety of sword hilt types and styles, although the blades generally followed the Oakeshott Type X classification. This type is defined by a relatively broad blade of average length having a fuller extending nearly its entire length. Hilts were often adorned with engravings and decorations, and a characteristic design of the Viking sword was a pommel made of separate "lobes", often times with twisted wire laying in the grooves.
Albion Armourers has created this sword largely inspired by the Ballinderry sword in the National Museum of Ireland. While intended to be a general representation of a good Viking styled weapon, and not an exact replica of the original, the hilt and its engravings are remarkably close. The blade is an Oakeshott Type X, or could also be classified as a Geibig Type 2. The five lobed pommel and straight guard puts the hilt into the Peterson Type K category.
Measurements and Specifications:
Replica created by Albion Armorers of Wisconsin.
This is a very lightweight sword, but like so many Viking styled swords, it has a wicked blade presence. The combination of these two factors makes a sword with a very powerful blow that isn't hard to control. The grip on this sword is small with a large pommel, which is typical for Viking swords, and if held in the "ham fisted" grip while swinging, the pommel does dig into the wrist. However, holding the grip with the palm against the side alleviates this problem, and is a grip that is normal with Viking blades. As a person who is used to later-period swords, this felt odd to me at first, but once I handled the sword enough, it felt much more natural. The sword felt very natural with a shield in hand.
Fit and Finish
One very interesting detail is the added rivets on the underside of the pommel. Many authentic Viking swords have a two-piece pommel design held together by such rivets. While the rivets on this replica only simulate this construction method, each one is individually added to the hilt by hammering them in. This is a particularly good example of the attention to detail present in the Next Gen line.
This particular sword has a grip of oxblood-colored leather over finely twisted cording. The grip is very tight, and it feels good in the hand with enough texture so that it is not slippery. Even more amazing is that the wrap is almost seamless: It is only if you look very close that you can barely see where the line of the seam blends in.
The Albion Armorers Next Generation line has been showing tremendous potential since the first set of Viking swords appeared. This product line will be setting a new bar in the world of production European swords that previously was not there. The Clontarf was among the first in this line, and it is not a let down in any sense. If all of the Next Generation swords show the same attention to detail and handling as the Clontarf does, the sword world is going to be a very happy place.
About the Author
Bill Grandy is an instructor of Historical European Swordsmanship and sport fencing at the Virginia Academy of Fencing. He has held a strong passion (obsession?) for swords and swordsmanship for as long as he can remember. He admits that this passion comes from a youth spent playing Dungeons and Dragons, but he'll only admit that if there are no girls around.
Photographer: Nathan Robinson