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Craig Johnson
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PostPosted: Fri 22 Nov, 2013 11:37 am    Post subject: Cool info         Reply with quote

Peter Johnsson wrote:

Ulf is not a word that means spark in any language that I know of. It means *Wolf* in ancient Germanic languages.
"Berht" is an ancient word for "Bright".

For the language geeks among us, Peter is entirely correct here and if it was Scandinavian in origin it almost certainly would have carried an r such as "Ulfr" or "Olfr" especially if associated with a name of someone. A "Berht" equivalent does not seem to appear in Scandinavian languages. The origin is almost certainly Anglo-Saxon/Frankish.

Peter Johnsson wrote:

During the preparatory work of "The Secret of the Viking Sword" I had many lengthy sessions over Skype with the producers of the film. During one of these talks I brought forward an idea that I had been told by Achim Wirtz, the german steel guru and blade smith:

-"Vlfberht" is a germanic kenning that combines the ideas of "Bright" and "Wolf". Vlf =wolf, Berht= bright.

Excellent, did he ever mention how he came to that realization? We where talking the other day about how we can't be the first folks to come up with this.

Peter Johnsson wrote:

We sill call the bloom a Lup, or Lupp. There are also sayings about the wolf in the smithy, but now in the meaning of something going wrong or getting dangerous. I think this is an ancient connection.

I did not know this. That is a very nice tie in and I can not think why it would not be related to this.

Peter Johnsson wrote:

There is undoubtedly something very unique and rare going on with these swords, with the extremely high carbon content and almost or completely slag free composition. A R Williams is convinced this is only possible to achieve with crucible steel.
I have heard other views on the matter from people who are experienced in traditional steel making methods: -a very skilled steel maker may have been able to produce high carbon steel of a very clean quality with other methods.

-Personally I cannot say if the crucible method is the only viable way. Since I have heard it equally strongly both propagated and refuted by people whose experience and understanding in these matters is greater than mine, I must keep an open mind in regards of that question.

I agree on the need for more info to nail this down in a clearer way. I do think we do not understand the iron/steel production of the early Europe very well and especially when we get back before 11-1200 or so. I have seen the small furnace idea and think it has some possabilities. It would help a bunch if some archeologist would find a couple :-)

But this may be needs a new thread to start tracking this down.

Thank for teaching me something new today Peter :-)

Craig
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Len Parker





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PostPosted: Fri 22 Nov, 2013 1:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This http://www.vikingrune.com/2009/01/viking-swords-ulfberht-fakes/ has the steel coming from Afganistan and Iran.
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Robin Smith




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Nov, 2013 3:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Len Parker wrote:
This http://www.vikingrune.com/2009/01/viking-swords-ulfberht-fakes/ has the steel coming from Afganistan and Iran.
Popular website and media have mostly run with the crucible steel hypothesis in the wake of the Dr. Williams media blitz back a few years ago. By and large, the counter-theories and holes in Dr. Alans hypothesis have not enjoyed the same exposure as has Dr. Williams hypothesis.

I'm not saying its definitely wrong, just don't accept it as proven fact

A furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine
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R. Kolick





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PostPosted: Fri 22 Nov, 2013 9:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

on the Aristotle furnace idea where have these been found and from what time period do they date
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Robin Smith




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PostPosted: Sat 23 Nov, 2013 10:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

R. Kolick wrote:
on the Aristotle furnace idea where have these been found and from what time period do they date
They haven't found any. But by the same token, we dont have any solid evidence of trade in crucible ingots in Western Europe either.

What we have is writings of Aristotle that describe the process. We also have writings from 18th c Norway describing the process.

The process is not hard to do if you are already making bloomery iron. All one has to do is open the top of the bloomery stack and feed the iron back through again from the top

Again I don't think either theory is proven as right at the moment. I think it is important people understand the issue is currently unsettled and don't accept either as established fact.

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Martin Christensen





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PostPosted: Mon 21 Apr, 2014 5:47 am    Post subject: Vikings         Reply with quote

Sure the Roman letters would not be typical to Vikings, however I don't think it can be dismissed that the Vikings played a significant role in the origin of these swords. The Ulfberht is primarily found in Scandinavia which suggest that the Vikings either forged them or bought them.
Though I don't find it unlikely that the Vikings didn't forge the blades themselves I find it extremely unlikely that the Vikings should somehow have stolen a large percentage of these swords from the Catholics, manufactured over a large time period. It seems like quite a stretch in my opinion. Also it is not like high quality steel is a common thing in the hands of Catholics at the time. The Ulfberht is a unique sword in Europe and it's only found in small quantities, other swords of this quality is simply not found.

The vikings were some of the most vigorous traders of the time and have a large record of objects from Central Asia, so that Vikings could have bought steel of high quality to Europe and perhaps have it forged by Frankish blacksmiths are quite possible I think.

Another thing to note is that crosses on Viking objects are not that uncommon and also Roman letters on Viking objects are not unique. However because of the date of the first Ulfberht swords, it would have been rare for sure.
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Niels Just Rasmussen




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PostPosted: Fri 20 Feb, 2015 1:08 pm    Post subject: Re: Vikings         Reply with quote

Martin Christensen wrote:
Sure the Roman letters would not be typical to Vikings, however I don't think it can be dismissed that the Vikings played a significant role in the origin of these swords. The Ulfberht is primarily found in Scandinavia which suggest that the Vikings either forged them or bought them.
Though I don't find it unlikely that the Vikings didn't forge the blades themselves I find it extremely unlikely that the Vikings should somehow have stolen a large percentage of these swords from the Catholics, manufactured over a large time period. It seems like quite a stretch in my opinion. Also it is not like high quality steel is a common thing in the hands of Catholics at the time. The Ulfberht is a unique sword in Europe and it's only found in small quantities, other swords of this quality is simply not found.

The vikings were some of the most vigorous traders of the time and have a large record of objects from Central Asia, so that Vikings could have bought steel of high quality to Europe and perhaps have it forged by Frankish blacksmiths are quite possible I think.

Another thing to note is that crosses on Viking objects are not that uncommon and also Roman letters on Viking objects are not unique. However because of the date of the first Ulfberht swords, it would have been rare for sure.


Totally in agreement here. The wide spread of Ulfberth's from the Eastern Baltic to Western Europe points directly to Viking Trade routes from Central Asia (Tashkent and Samarkand, origin of many arabic silver coins found in Scandinavia), through the rivers of Russia to the Baltic and on to Western Europe.

The Ulf-berht name is a composite name between Scandinavian and West-Germanic Anglo-Frisian subgroup. Southern Jutland was populated by Frisian, Saxon and Danes and earlier by Angles as well). Danish-Anglish composite names are very common in the Dane Law as well.

So it gives us two likely major centers where a master smith with this name could provide elite warriors with swords that was traveling along this viking vast viking trade network. Hedeby (or the earlier Sliestorp 804-~850 AD) and Jorvik (York) would be the two most likely places.
Quentovic and Dorestad in Frisia and Birka in Sweden, Visby on Gotland, Novgorod & Staraya Ladoga in Russia to name a few other less likely possibilities as smith and merchants travelled a lot.
You were probably bound to some extent to a certain lord to produce swords as prestige gods, so it could in theory be every major center along this trade route.

The composite name is a composite of languages [sorry if it gets highly technical].
Ulf- pronounced /ulv/ is Scandinavian for wolf.
The Nordic sound change happening around ~700 AD eliminated W before rounded vowels. So English Worm is Danish Orm and Wulf became Ulf.
When NOT before rounded vowels it normally became V. So English Wrath, Danish Vrede. English Welsh. Danish Vælsk. [English turn older -sk into -sh]

-berht seems fairly certain to be Anglo(Saxon)-Frisian. The root form is in Old Norse -bjart = “bright, shining, illustrious“.

Note to what I saw in a post earlier: The Old Norse -r (from Proto-Germanic -az to Proto-Nordic -aR) is the nominative singular masculine ending like Latin -us or Greek -os.
The -r will not be used after the first element Ulf-. It's Philo-stratos in Greek and NOT Philos-stratos.
Remember it's the nominative masculine ENDING, so it only follows the full name. From archaeology: On the Gallehus horns from ~500 AD you have the name Hlewa-gastiR, it's not HlewaR-gastiR [Means Fame-Guest by the way] .
So Ulf- is the perfectly correct Viking Age Scandinavian form of the first part of the name. Ulf- is a noun of the strong declination in Germanic languages.
-berth (bright) is an adjective and so follows the noun! So the nominative masculine singular ending following the adjective in AngloSaxon would be - (nothing).

The pure Old Norse composite name would be Ulfbjartr [Ulf-bjart-r = Wolf-bright].
The pure Anglo-Saxon composite name would be Wulfberth.
The pure Old High German composite name would be Wolfbart. [Frankish -bert, like Dagobert = Day-bright].

But remember that spelling and dialects were all over the place at this period before “correct“ spelling was invented.

So Ulf-berth is actually a pretty good example of a Danish-AngloSaxon composite name and Slesvig-Holsten or the Dane Law are the two places where lots of intermarriages would take place as we can see from other types of names.

In modern Continental Scandinavian (Danish, Norwegian, Swedish) the -r ending has become - (nothing) as in Anglo-Saxon and it is possible that happened already in the Dane Law period and spread home to Denmark and then on to Norway and Sweden (also Anglo-Saxon churchmen going that way). It is retained in Icelandic and Faroese as -ur.
Remember that “Old Norse“ is West Nordic and that Danish is East Nordic. Old Norse is NOT the ancestor of the Scandinavian languages. Danish is already a distinct dialect from 800 AD (but all Nordic Languages are easily understood until around 1200, when West Nordic and East Nordic speaking people start to have trouble understanding each other).

In the Danelaw you developed “Danglish“ (in fact really Anglo-Danish) which people there start to called English (and not Saxonish or something like that).
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Lolke Stelwagen




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PostPosted: Fri 08 Feb, 2019 2:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In the poem 'Judith' which is in the same manuscript as where the Beowulf is written, there is the description of the beauty of Judith: ‘Iudiþ ides ælf-scínu’. Now this is Old English where BERHT is Old Saxon. scínu and berht are both having the meaning of beauty / beautyfull. ælf and vlf are almost identical. Unfortunatelly elf in Old Saxon is Elevan. And there is no text at all that combines elevan and berht. So it most likely it is still a combination of the Old Norse word ulf for wulf and the Old Saxon name for beauty. So the sword is of Wulfbeauty. Not impossible to think.

intermarriages of words as Niels Just Rasmussen is describing is in this case explainable even further by referring to Haakon the Good. Who was foster to the Saxon-desending King Athelstan and grew up at that court before becoming the king of Norway. Haakon could have had the means to set up the enormes trade with the Samanid dynasty. This is explained by Hanley en Feuerbach. It is estimated that the trade brought about 125.000.000 dirhams into Scandinavia agains only 125 Frankish coins during that particular era. And in the area of the Samanid dynasty it is known that they produced crucible steel in enormous numbers. Exactly the steel used to produce VLFBERHT swords. When Samanid dynasty collapsed, there are no new dirhams arriving in Scandinavia and the numbers of Frankish coins is growing. Thus showing that the trade routes change.

All of this is important to understand that Haakon the Good could have played a role in the intermariage of the word VLFBERHT. Since approx 10% of Norwegian swords were VLFBERHT swords, it seems that they were meant for the Norse elite. Most of the VLFBERHT swords found in Central Europe were found in Rivers but in smaller numbers then in Norwegian. Where almost all Norse swords are found in burials. So depositing in rivers must have been a different kind of ritual as burying. It could even be that the Norsemen themselves made the deposits as they have been known for moving far along a lot of the Central Europe rivers, just as they did over the Wolga to sail to the Arabic world. So it could very well have been a ritual to honor a lost warrior in battle. Since practically no other VLFBERHT swords were found in a different context in Central Europe then in rivers, it can be concluded that there was hardly any trade of these swords into the Frankish realm.

And why +VLFBERH+T? Instead of +VLFBERHT+? Nobody knows, but it could be to mystify the word even more and combing two words VLFBERHT and VLFBERH. Wulfbeauty and Wulfmountain. Perhaps the name of the (first) smithy?
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Niels Just Rasmussen




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PostPosted: Fri 08 Feb, 2019 11:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lolke Stelwagen wrote:
In the poem 'Judith' which is in the same manuscript as where the Beowulf is written, there is the description of the beauty of Judith: ‘Iudiþ ides ælf-scínu’. Now this is Old English where BERHT is Old Saxon. scínu and berht are both having the meaning of beauty / beautyfull. ælf and vlf are almost identical. Unfortunatelly elf in Old Saxon is Elevan. And there is no text at all that combines elevan and berht. So it most likely it is still a combination of the Old Norse word ulf for wulf and the Old Saxon name for beauty. So the sword is of Wulfbeauty. Not impossible to think.

intermarriages of words as Niels Just Rasmussen is describing is in this case explainable even further by referring to Haakon the Good. Who was foster to the Saxon-desending King Athelstan and grew up at that court before becoming the king of Norway. Haakon could have had the means to set up the enormes trade with the Samanid dynasty. This is explained by Hanley en Feuerbach. It is estimated that the trade brought about 125.000.000 dirhams into Scandinavia agains only 125 Frankish coins during that particular era. And in the area of the Samanid dynasty it is known that they produced crucible steel in enormous numbers. Exactly the steel used to produce VLFBERHT swords. When Samanid dynasty collapsed, there are no new dirhams arriving in Scandinavia and the numbers of Frankish coins is growing. Thus showing that the trade routes change.

All of this is important to understand that Haakon the Good could have played a role in the intermariage of the word VLFBERHT. Since approx 10% of Norwegian swords were VLFBERHT swords, it seems that they were meant for the Norse elite. Most of the VLFBERHT swords found in Central Europe were found in Rivers but in smaller numbers then in Norwegian. Where almost all Norse swords are found in burials. So depositing in rivers must have been a different kind of ritual as burying. It could even be that the Norsemen themselves made the deposits as they have been known for moving far along a lot of the Central Europe rivers, just as they did over the Wolga to sail to the Arabic world. So it could very well have been a ritual to honor a lost warrior in battle. Since practically no other VLFBERHT swords were found in a different context in Central Europe then in rivers, it can be concluded that there was hardly any trade of these swords into the Frankish realm.

And why +VLFBERH+T? Instead of +VLFBERHT+? Nobody knows, but it could be to mystify the word even more and combing two words VLFBERHT and VLFBERH. Wulfbeauty and Wulfmountain. Perhaps the name of the (first) smithy?


About Behrt = Bright in the meaning of beautiful.
In old norse being white was a sign of beauty as high-status women didn't have to work outside. For men it could go both ways. Being white was also upperclass, but being to pale of skin also meant you could possibly be a coward as you never ventured outside [also called a "coal-biter"].

Rigsthula 29:
.......
brún bjartari, [brow brighter]
brjóst ljósara, [breast lighter]
hals hvítari [neck whiter]
hreinni mjöllu.

Rigsthula 34:
.........
Jarl létu heita;
bleikt var hár [Jarl's hair was pale]
-------

This shows four synonymous words for whiteness connected to upper class.
Without being an anglo-saxon expert it would be quite interesting WHEN the shift of berth from "bright" to also actually meaning "beauty" occurred.
Is "Wolf-bright" more correct translation of the name or can we assume a "Wolf-beauty" as the meaning of that composite name?

For intermarriages we can go very far back in time as Danes and Saxons probably bordered each other for centuries after the Angles all had left for England - leaving most of Holstein as a border-forest area. Hence the name Den-mark where mark was the Frankish word for a border area. In Germanic culture the larger the uninhabited border area, the greater the martial prowess it signalled.
In the viking age Holstein is fought over with Danes moving in from the North, Frisians to the west [their geographical living areas disappeared beneath the waves in the early 1300's], incoming slavs [Wends] to the east and Franks moving north after the Saxons were crushed. Saxons nobles are known to have fled up in Denmark and already a lot of possible intermarriage could have happened then. Furthermore we have the Dane-law as another possible intermarriage zone, as well as the Norwegian settled areas. Again under Canute the Great we must expect intermarriages.

Håkon the Good would not have been powerful enough to establish that trade, but he could have extended a trading network already in existence by Viking Rus, Gotland, Swedes and Danes from Russian rivers and the Baltic sea.
When it comes to the muslim silver coins imported into Scandinavia from Samarkand and Tashkent, by far the greatest amount is found on Gotland. Goods like crucible steel also had to be traded along that network.

Thats why a Frankish origin of the ulfberth swords seems quite unlikely to me.
More likely he would have worked in some emporium along that network. Whether it was Ladoga, Gotland, Birka, Hedeby, Kaupang or York is hard to know.
We sadly can't use number of swords to really indicate it further. Norway had a viking age tradition of burying swords, whereas in Denmark generally only the chamber burials of the Jelling dynasty has any kind of weaponry preserved.
So by far more Norwegian viking age swords are preserved than Danish ones...[Denmark does have Ulfberth swords as well].

Chamber burial associated with the Jelling Dynasty i wrote about here:
http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=31554&highlight=

Water deposits are definitely a thing. Around Søborg Castle in North Sjælland in Denmark you have swords from the Roman iron Age into the Middle ages in the same lake area.
The middle age Esrum sword was lake-deposited and the middle age Ordrup Sword was in a boggy lake, so it does have a very long tradition in Scandinavia.
Whether swords are deposited in burials do vary a lot from time period to time period and place to place. So just because Norway have a lot of Ulfberth's preserved doesn't mean they produced these themselves, but only that the were recipients [and the trading and alliance networks were huge].

My thread on Søborg Lake Sword [including the Esrum sword further down].
See: http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=30843&highlight=

My thread on the Ordrup Sword.
See: http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=32096&highlight=


Last edited by Niels Just Rasmussen on Sat 09 Feb, 2019 10:01 am; edited 3 times in total
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Niels Just Rasmussen




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PostPosted: Fri 08 Feb, 2019 11:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lolke Stelwagen wrote:

And why +VLFBERH+T? Instead of +VLFBERHT+? Nobody knows, but it could be to mystify the word even more and combing two words VLFBERHT and VLFBERH. Wulfbeauty and Wulfmountain. Perhaps the name of the (first) smithy?


It could be to distinguish between two smiths with the same name (and likely same family).
Whether it's father-son, uncle-nephew, grandfather-grandson we might likely never know.

It's only one of the + that moves in position, but it is significant enough to make me question if it is one smith is trying to copy another name [that small consistant difference could make people know it's the same family, but not the same person].

NB: In Danish "Bjerg" does not originally mean mountain, but "hill".
The word for mountain is Fjell, Fjäll, Fjeld in the three mainland Scandinavian languages.
In modern Danish Bjerg has come to mean mountain, whereas in Swedish fjäll is used when you are high enough [in Scandinavia] that trees no longer can grow. In Norwegian fjell is still used for all mountains.

Is there an anglo-saxon, old Saxon or Frisian word "Berh" cognate with german/scandinavian "berg" ?
If so, then one should also wonder whether is means "hill" or "mountain"...
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Mark Lewis





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PostPosted: Mon 11 Feb, 2019 10:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lolke Stelwagen wrote:
Haakon could have had the means to set up the enormes trade with the Samanid dynasty. This is explained by Hanley en Feuerbach.

All of this is important to understand that Haakon the Good could have played a role in the intermariage of the word VLFBERHT. Since approx 10% of Norwegian swords were VLFBERHT swords, it seems that they were meant for the Norse elite. Most of the VLFBERHT swords found in Central Europe were found in Rivers but in smaller numbers then in Norwegian.

Niels Just Rasmussen wrote:
Håkon the Good would not have been powerful enough to establish that trade, but he could have extended a trading network already in existence by Viking Rus, Gotland, Swedes and Danes from Russian rivers and the Baltic sea.
When it comes to the muslim silver coins imported into Scandinavia from Samarkand and Tashkent, by far the greatest amount is found on Gotland. Goods like crucible steel also had to be traded along that network.

We sadly can't use number of swords to really indicate it further. Norway had a viking age tradition of burying swords...

Whether swords are deposited in burials do vary a lot from time period to time period and place to place. So just because Norway have a lot of Ulfberth's preserved doesn't mean they produced these themselves, but only that the were recipients [and the trading and alliance networks were huge].

Niels has addressed this already, but I also have some similar comments here, directly responding to Hanley and Feuerbach's article: https://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?p=325878#325878

Regarding comparison of numbers of swords found in Norway and elsewhere, it is worth emphasizing how extreme the disparity is... The number of surviving Viking Age swords from Norway is in the multiple thousands, for most other European nations we are comparing with the low hundreds, or even dozens. Probably well over 50% of surviving early medieval swords are found in Norway, and the same applies even for most specific sub-types we might want to compare. Basing any hypothesis on the number of artifacts is thus questionable; better is comparing on a percentage basis, but then we run into the problem that for many other nations the sample size is relatively low...

Niels Just Rasmussen wrote:
Thats why a Frankish origin of the ulfberth swords seems quite unlikely to me.
More likely he would have worked in some emporium along that network. Whether it was Ladoga, Gotland, Birka, Hedeby, Kaupang or York is hard to know.

Call me conventional, but on this I disagree... I think a Frankish origin is still the most probable explanation (which is not to say that copies couldn't later be made elsewhere). The use of Latin letters already suggests this, and Stalsberg has found probably equivalent names like Uolfberht, Uolfbernt, Uolfbernus, etc. in 9th-11th century records from the important monastery of St. Gall. The other best known "trademark names" like Ingelrii, Gicelin, and Benno also seem most similar to Frankish names, so absent compelling evidence it seems reasonable to assume for now that they originated from the Frankish kingdom.

Another distributional data point which I think is more significant is the number of Ulfberht swords found in high-status burials in Croatia. Many of these are on swords with type-K hilts, already suggested by some to be a Frankish type... some of these are further decorated with Frankish/Carolingian style vegetal/floral motifs, quite different from Scandinavian styles. These swords are most easily explained as gifts from the Franks to friendly Croatian elites.
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Niels Just Rasmussen




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PostPosted: Mon 11 Feb, 2019 12:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark Lewis wrote:
Lolke Stelwagen wrote:
Haakon could have had the means to set up the enormes trade with the Samanid dynasty. This is explained by Hanley en Feuerbach.

All of this is important to understand that Haakon the Good could have played a role in the intermariage of the word VLFBERHT. Since approx 10% of Norwegian swords were VLFBERHT swords, it seems that they were meant for the Norse elite. Most of the VLFBERHT swords found in Central Europe were found in Rivers but in smaller numbers then in Norwegian.

Niels Just Rasmussen wrote:
Håkon the Good would not have been powerful enough to establish that trade, but he could have extended a trading network already in existence by Viking Rus, Gotland, Swedes and Danes from Russian rivers and the Baltic sea.
When it comes to the muslim silver coins imported into Scandinavia from Samarkand and Tashkent, by far the greatest amount is found on Gotland. Goods like crucible steel also had to be traded along that network.

We sadly can't use number of swords to really indicate it further. Norway had a viking age tradition of burying swords...

Whether swords are deposited in burials do vary a lot from time period to time period and place to place. So just because Norway have a lot of Ulfberth's preserved doesn't mean they produced these themselves, but only that the were recipients [and the trading and alliance networks were huge].

Niels has addressed this already, but I also have some similar comments here, directly responding to Hanley and Feuerbach's article: https://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?p=325878#325878

Regarding comparison of numbers of swords found in Norway and elsewhere, it is worth emphasizing how extreme the disparity is... The number of surviving Viking Age swords from Norway is in the multiple thousands, for most other European nations we are comparing with the low hundreds, or even dozens. Probably well over 50% of surviving early medieval swords are found in Norway, and the same applies even for most specific sub-types we might want to compare. Basing any hypothesis on the number of artifacts is thus questionable; better is comparing on a percentage basis, but then we run into the problem that for many other nations the sample size is relatively low...

Niels Just Rasmussen wrote:
Thats why a Frankish origin of the ulfberth swords seems quite unlikely to me.
More likely he would have worked in some emporium along that network. Whether it was Ladoga, Gotland, Birka, Hedeby, Kaupang or York is hard to know.

Call me conventional, but on this I disagree... I think a Frankish origin is still the most probable explanation (which is not to say that copies couldn't later be made elsewhere). The use of Latin letters already suggests this, and Stalsberg has found probably equivalent names like Uolfberht, Uolfbernt, Uolfbernus, etc. in 9th-11th century records from the important monastery of St. Gall. The other best known "trademark names" like Ingelrii, Gicelin, and Benno also seem most similar to Frankish names, so absent compelling evidence it seems reasonable to assume for now that they originated from the Frankish kingdom.

Another distributional data point which I think is more significant is the number of Ulfberht swords found in high-status burials in Croatia. Many of these are on swords with type-K hilts, already suggested by some to be a Frankish type... some of these are further decorated with Frankish/Carolingian style vegetal/floral motifs, quite different from Scandinavian styles. These swords are most easily explained as gifts from the Franks to friendly Croatian elites.


Good points Mark.
I can totally accept that it is safest, based on the current lack of evidence, to tentatively assign a Frankish origin; but to many places I see it almost described as a "fact". That is my primary objection.....
It's just that if the Ulfberth swords does make use of crucible steel, then one should expect a import network connection like the one I described above. [not all Ulfberht's are of crucible steel though as far as I remember].
The example Uolfberth, Uolfbernt, Uolfbernus are all with Uo- where U here clearly stands for a /V/ or /W/.
Ulfberht deviates from that with Ul- in which we don't see an initial V- usage.
In North Germanic W- disappears before a back-vowel like u, so that is why a composite Scandinavian-Saxon name is still "leading" in my book.
Uolfberht [ /Volfberht/ ] is clearly all West Germanic.

PS: I didn't emphasize clearly the extreme disparity as you did here - so that is why one should be very careful to assign one typology to a specific nation.

Anne Pedersen counts 93 swords from the chamber graves 800-1000 which besides Denmark includes Slesvig-Holsten and Scania. The count for modern Denmark is around 50.
Many of the swords are quite corroded, but ulfberth inscription seems possible for 5 Danish swords - that gives the almost same 10% as for Norwegian blades [which often has better preservation]
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 11 Feb, 2019 2:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Institute for Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Hannover recently examined an Ulfberht-marked blade found in the Weser River in 2012. They analysed the metal and came to several conclusions.

The high level of manganese in the iron points to a European source and not a Middle Eastern or Indian one.

The level of arsenic is consistent with ores found in Germany.

The handle was made from a lead-tin alloy. The lead isotope in that alloy only exists in what was known as the Taunus region, an area between the Rhine, Hahn, and the Wetterau.

During this time, most of the Frankish craftsmen and artisans were based in monasteries. There were two monasteries in the Taunus region that had a long association with weaponsmithing - one at Lorsch and one at Fulda.

IMO this closes the matter until contrary evidence is produced. Based on this new study and the arguments in this thread, Ulfberht was a Frankish smith probably working out of either the Lorsch or Fulda monastery. Confirmation would require a few more Ulfberht swords being given the same analysis or a document stating that someone called Ulfberht lived in one of those monasteries during the time in question.

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Last edited by Dan Howard on Tue 12 Feb, 2019 4:10 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Niels Just Rasmussen




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PostPosted: Tue 12 Feb, 2019 4:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
The Institute for Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Hannover recently examined an Ulfberht-marked blade found in the Weser River in 2012. They analysed the metal and came to several conclusions.

The high level of manganese in the iron points to a European source and not a Middle Eastern one.

The level of arsenic is consistent with ores found in Germany.

The handle was made from a lead-tin alloy. The lead isotope in that alloy only exists in what was known as the Taunus region, an area between the Rhine, Hahn, and the Wetterau.

During this time, most of the Frankish craftsmen and artisans were based in monasteries. There were two monasteries in the Taunus region that had a long association with weaponsmithing - one at Lorsch and one at Fulda.

IMO this closes the matter until contrary evidence is produced. Based on this new study and the arguments in this thread, Ulfberht was a Frankish smith probably working out of either the Lorsch or Fulda monastery. Confirmation would require a few more Ulfberht swords being given the same analysis or a document stating that someone called Ulfberht lived in one of those monasteries during the time in question.


Dan - many thanks for this very important information.
These metallurgic informations are very strong arguments!
So it was NOT crucible steel imported from India, but local production in the Taunus region -> would be interesting to see a follow up on Scandinavian found Ulfberht's if they show the same level of arsenic and manganese (handles could always have been made or refitted locally).
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Lolke Stelwagen




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PostPosted: Tue 12 Feb, 2019 5:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Weser sword proofs nothing about the entire lot recovered VLFBERHT swords. It is a one off. Unfortunately, the owners of VLFBERHT swords are not very helpful in analyzing their swords.

So the question is now, how would Central Germany in the early middleages be able to make the quality steel as good as Central Asia's, India's and Shri Lanka's crucible steel? It is recovered that in these area's were 100.000s bars produced. This is in no way found in Central Germany. So it is very unlikely that Central Germany produced the numbers of steel needed for all those swords found all around Europe. If there would have been the knowledge to produce the steel in Central Germany, no doubt more excellent-steel-products would have been made. The fact that not all found swords in Europe have crucible-steel-quality demonstrates that the steel was produced elsewhere and considered a product for the elite.

VLF seems Old Norse
BERHT seems Old Saxon
As Niels explained, this can make perfectly sense in a world that had much contacts with Danelaw-England.
There is nothing Frankish about the word VLFBERHT.

There is also no trade-route known from Frankish area to Central Asia on a large scale known to obtain the steel. The number of Dirhams found in Frankisch area is just too small. Also there was hardly a trade-route visible from North Europe to Frankish area before 950 AD. Till 950 AD only 125 Frankish coins can be found in North Europe against 1.000.000's of Dirhams.
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Mark Lewis





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PostPosted: Tue 12 Feb, 2019 1:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lolke Stelwagen wrote:
So the question is now, how would Central Germany in the early middleages be able to make the quality steel as good as Central Asia's, India's and Shri Lanka's crucible steel? It is recovered that in these area's were 100.000s bars produced. This is in no way found in Central Germany. So it is very unlikely that Central Germany produced the numbers of steel needed for all those swords found all around Europe.

I will quote a few excerpts from a recent paper by Pawel Kucypera and Jiri Hosek:
Quote:
...there are also other swords, contemporary with those from the group I [Williams' hyper-eutectoid Ulfberhts], provided with cutting edges of hyper-eutectoid steel, and without the Ulfberht signature, or simply without any evidenced inscriptions. One such a sword is a weapon from a 9th century cemetery related to the early medieval stronghold of Stará Kouřim, Czech Republic...

Somewhat earlier swords are those from the Lombard necropolis of Benevento in Italy. Only two blades have been examined, but both of them proved to had been made using hypereutectoid steels.

It was possible to produce hypereutectoid steel in Early Medieval Europe. This is suggested by numerous smelting experiments as well as archaeological finds.

Not all swords, where high-carbon steel was found, were actually made of crucible steel. A large part of hyper-eutectoid steel swords bears characteristics, which do not allow their straightforward connecting with this technology... So, to state that all swords with hypereutectoid steel were made of crucible steels does seem dubious.

I am in no way an expert on metallurgy, but it does not seem to me as if the issue is nearly as clear-cut as you suggest! Until more positive evidence in support of the "crucible steel argument" is put forward, my opinion remains with Dan Howard. (And thanks Dan for bringing up the Weser sword!)

Lolke Stelwagen wrote:
VLF seems Old Norse
BERHT seems Old Saxon
As Niels explained, this can make perfectly sense in a world that had much contacts with Danelaw-England.

The Danelaw comes into existence following the Viking invasion of England in 865... some Ulfberht swords are considered to date from the first half of the century.

Lolke Stelwagen wrote:
The Weser sword proofs nothing about the entire lot recovered VLFBERHT swords. It is a one off. Unfortunately, the owners of VLFBERHT swords are not very helpful in analyzing their swords.

It's evidence... why should we disregard it?

For fun, let's consider another one off: the famous Ulfberht sword from Ballindery Crannog in Ireland. It's one of about ten or so with a type-K hilt with Carolingian-style scrollwork decoration, several of which also have names in Latin characters inscribed on their hilts, in this case 'Hiltipreht". This group includes two other early Ulfberht swords, both found in Norway; there are a couple other early Ulfberhts from Croatia, also type-K but less elaborate. How did this sword come to be in Ireland? We can only speculate of course, but it does not seem to me that the simplest explanation is that before the colonization of the Danelaw there was somewhere an Anglo-Scandinavian who forged the blade, which was then lost in Frankish territory, where it was rehilted in Frankish style, only to be retaken by a Viking and eventually end up in Ireland.


From left to right are the swords from: Ballinderry, Ireland (Ulfberht); Liepe, Germany; Kilmainham, Ireland; Gravrak, Norway (Ulfberht); Zadvarje, Croatia

Lolke Stelwagen wrote:
There is nothing Frankish about the word VLFBERHT.

Except that it is found in records from a Frankish monastery? Incidentally, these same records from St. Gall also include the name Hiltipreht found on the Ballinderry sword... chalk it up to coincidence, I guess.

Bilogrivic (2009): "Type K Carolingian Swords."
Bilogrivic (2013): "Carolingian swords from Croatia - new thoughts on an old topic."
Kucypera, Hosek (2014): "Hypereutectoid steel in early medieval sword production in Europe."
Pentz (2010): "To vikingesværd med karolingisk planteornamentik i Nationalmuseets Samlinger."
Stalsberg (2009): "The Vlfberht sword blades reevaluated."
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Niels Just Rasmussen




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PostPosted: Tue 12 Feb, 2019 2:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark Lewis wrote:

Lolke Stelwagen wrote:
VLF seems Old Norse
BERHT seems Old Saxon
As Niels explained, this can make perfectly sense in a world that had much contacts with Danelaw-England.

The Danelaw comes into existence following the Viking invasion of England in 865... some Ulfberht swords are considered to date from the first half of the century.


It is possible to have a Scandinavian-Saxon hybrid name earlier than the Danelaw.
When Charlemagne massacred the Saxon nobility at Verden in 782 many of the survivors fled to Denmark. Ribe is an emporium from 704 AD and Hedeby from ~ 750 AD, so already active before Verden. So a mix origin smith could have worked at these locations or other places in the baltic...

So you can technically have a person with this name in the beginning of 800's, when we also see the first Ulfberht swords.
The real test is whether any ulfberht swords actually do show metallurgy that points towards an eastern trade route. If a eastern trade route can be established by metallurgic finds, it weakens a Frankish origin; but now the burden of evidence lies to find that.

True that one sword does not settle the issue, but until we get more ulfberht sword tested I can accept the working hypothesis of Frankish origin.
Hopefully some of the Scandinavian ulfberht swords will also be tested. Maybe there is a difference between +ulfberh+t and +ulfberht+ swords in origin?

Was the sword tested and +ulfberh+t or +ulfberht+ ??
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Tue 12 Feb, 2019 3:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lolke Stelwagen wrote:
The Weser sword proofs nothing about the entire lot recovered VLFBERHT swords. It is a one off. Unfortunately, the owners of VLFBERHT swords are not very helpful in analyzing their swords.

You can't blithely dismiss the only decent metallurgical analysis we have because it doesn't fit your preconceived idea.

Quote:
So the question is now, how would Central Germany in the early middleages be able to make the quality steel as good as Central Asia's, India's and Shri Lanka's crucible steel?

How do you know that the Ulfberht swords are all crucible steel? You have already said that we don't have any decent metallurgical analyses. In case you didn't know, hypereutectoid steel is not crucible steel. We know that it can be produced in regular smelters.

Quote:
It is recovered that in these area's were 100.000s bars produced. This is in no way found in Central Germany. So it is very unlikely that Central Germany produced the numbers of steel needed for all those swords found all around Europe.

Germany had the most advanced metal producing sites in Europe.

Quote:
The fact that not all found swords in Europe have crucible-steel-quality demonstrates that the steel was produced elsewhere and considered a product for the elite.

Nonsense. All it tells us is that metal producing sites outside of Germany were not as advanced.

Quote:
There is also no trade-route known from Frankish area to Central Asia on a large scale known to obtain the steel. The number of Dirhams found in Frankisch area is just too small. Also there was hardly a trade-route visible from North Europe to Frankish area before 950 AD. Till 950 AD only 125 Frankish coins can be found in North Europe against 1.000.000's of Dirhams.

You don't need a trade route. Look up the Avars and the extent of their influence in Europe. In any case it is irrelevant because the steel was produced locally in Germany.

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Last edited by Dan Howard on Tue 12 Feb, 2019 3:29 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Lolke Stelwagen




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PostPosted: Tue 12 Feb, 2019 3:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is what I said: "The Weser sword proofs nothing about the entire lot".

So yes. It is evidence. But only for this one sword found in the Weser.

By the way, thanks for pointing to Pawel Kucypera and Jiri Hosek. More to read and perhaps to come back on "my beliefs".

How the Ballinderry sword come to be in Ireland? Well, what do you think yourself considering that it was found along with other Viking objects: a longbow, two spearheads, an axe head and a gaming board? Plus the sword being very wide, which is typical for Viking swords. That the sword was found in a bog points also to the rituals from Northern Europe.

At least you could say that It shows that Vikings used swords with Latin letter words on them.

It is presented here that "....HILTIPREHT, .. seems to connect to to a Norwegian craftsman of that name." But I am not so sure about that actually. Because, to make things more complicated as they already are with the combi Old Norse+Old Saxon for VLFBERHT; HILTIPREHT hides PREHT which is not a typo for BERHT, it is nothing less than genuine Old High German. Pointing to Central Germany. The Dutch borrowed this word and I can say in my own language "wat een prachtig zwaard": What a beautiful sword. And HILTI is also Old High German with the meaning of "to fight". This points in the direction of the Taunus mountains where it is believed where the Weser sword was made.

So...... The question is now: How did a Viking become the owner of a viking-type sword with a Old High German word on the hilt plus a Old Norse/Old Saxon word on the blade.

I must admit that all the facts considered it does not yet lead to the right place off manufacturing. It could even be that more than one smith was asked to make a sword as good as an VLFBERHT sword and knew what to do: get hold of either crucible steel from the east or produce it himself in a fashion that is hardly understood.

Any other views on this?
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Tue 12 Feb, 2019 3:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is no evidence that any of the Ulfberht swords came from anywhere outside of Europe. Hyper-eutectoid steel is NOT crucible steel. We know it can be produced in a regular smelter.
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