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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Tue 30 Sep, 2014 10:49 am    Post subject: Viking Age swords for review and critique         Reply with quote

Recently I've been posting a lot of Viking swords (or those in the Viking Age style) to our Facebook Page. Many of these swords are from auction houses, arms and armour purveyors, museums, private sales, or are otherwise lesser known examples compared to the more commonly shared ones. Those that I've included that are more recognizable are (hopefully) shown in a different manner than what would typically be seen published in the more common source material that we've all seen a million times.

Shown here, in scale to one another, are just 30 of the ones we've shared. Each one has a high-resolution photo, a description, and measurements included.



Note that the swords were all photographed at different times and in different places so their individual perspectives may differ slightly.

You can see much higher-resolution versions in our Viking Age Swords album should you wish to do so.

The intent of posting these samples was to encourage discussion and critique for them. Some are absolutely assuredly authentic examples. Others are questionable as to them being authentic samples from the Viking Age. Some have tell-tale signs of artificial aging, others have questionable provenance. It's been a taboo subject to discuss openly on the Internet. I'm not entirely sure why, as I think this is what encourages all of us to have an open mind when viewing photos of objects. Almost all of us are not experts (I certainly am not) and so we rely on those more experienced alongside the collective knowledge of the community to create a knowledge base that we can use to assess what we see. Further, we want to encourage those selling such items to stay diligent in their efforts to properly and completely assess and identify these objects.

In the following series of posts, I'll pull some of the images from our Facebook page and share them here in hopes of encouraging some additional dialogue.


I understand that we really don't have many (if any) experts in the field on this site. Most of us are enthusiasts with an interest in the subject. Others may have a lot of hands-on experience with original swords and have gained quite a lot of knowledge from their experiences. Still, others, have even more knowledge gained from their many hours of hands-on experience, countless hours of reading, and discussions with others knowledgeable in the field.

It's the diversity of the community that creates an environment well suited for dialogue and learning. Please don't be afraid to ask questions, point out concerns, or even express appreciation of an item! There shouldn't be fear of being wrong or, worse, a fear of debate. These things are each healthy and necessary things for learning. Any question can be asked or any concern can be raised when couched in the appropriate context. Please take care to provide context.



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Viking-age swords shown to scale [ Download ]

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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Tue 30 Sep, 2014 10:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

#1: Viking Sword, 9th/10th century Denmark

Pommel and cross-guard each retaining traces of silver and gold inlaid Nordic ornaments. The blade with pattern-welded shallow central fuller.

Overall length: 93.5 cm (36.8"); Blade length: 78.3 cm (30.8")

Located at Reichsstadtmuseum Rothenburg, Germany



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Viking Sword, 9th/10th century Denmark

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PostPosted: Tue 30 Sep, 2014 10:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

#2: Viking Sword, Danish, 9th or 10th century

Pommel and cross-guard each retraining traces of gold and silver inlaid Nordic ornaments. Blade with pattern-welded shallow, central fuller with traces of an inscription.

Overall length: 89.2 cm (35.1"); Blade length: 74.9 cm (29.5")

Located at Reichsstadtmuseum Rothenburg, Germany



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Viking Sword, Danish, 9th or 10th century

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PostPosted: Tue 30 Sep, 2014 10:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

#3: Viking Sword, 10th century, probably Scandinavian

From the Metropolitan Museum of Art:
“The richly decorated hilt and pattern-welded blade indicate that this sword was carried by a warrior of high rank, perhaps a Viking chieftain or a Frankish nobleman. The braided copper wires on the pommel may represent an earlier Scandinavian custom of tying a protective talisman to a sword hilt. The pattern-welded blade was forged of intertwined rods of steel and iron, a technique that produced a tough yet resilient blade with a distinctive swirling pattern on its surface. Such blades were treasured for both their practical and decorative qualities.”

Overall length: 95.91 cm (37.75"); Blade length: 80.96 cm (31.875"); Blade width: 5.08 cm (2"); Weight: 1021 g (2.25 pounds)

Provenance: Orleans, France
Located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 55.46.1

http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-colle...arch/24832

Copyright © 2000–2014 The Metropolitan Museum of Art



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Viking Sword, 10th century, probably Scandinavian

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PostPosted: Tue 30 Sep, 2014 10:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

#4: A Northern European Viking Sword, 11th century

Broad double-edged blade with a flat fuller on each side. The upper quarter of the blade with plain straight-armed cross inlaid in bronze on both sides. Short, slightly curved cross-guard, tapered tang with pommel made in two pieces. Hilt entirely covered with silver and decorated with concentric circles.

Overall length: 92.5 cm (36.42")

Copyright © Hermann Historica Auction House



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A Northern European Viking Sword, 11th century

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PostPosted: Tue 30 Sep, 2014 11:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

#5: A Rare Viking Sword Of Petersen Type C and Wheeler Type II, 9th/early 10th century, probably Norwegian

In excavated condition, with broad fullered single-edged blade, hilt comprising thick ovoidal cross-piece, flat tapering tang, and pommel of tea-cosy form

Overall length: 83.8 cm (33"); Blade length: 68 cm (26.8")

Provenance:
Acquired from the Paus Collection in 1944

Literature:
Hoffmeyer, cat. no. 32, pp. 35, 68 and 71, figs. 7 and 14

For similar examples including one found at Kilmainham, Dublin, and now in the National Museum of Ireland, see Ian Peirce, "Swords of the Viking Age", 2002, pp. 39, 40 and 41, illustrated

See also Jan Petersen, "Die Norske Vikingesverd", 1919, p. 79, fig. 75

http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/19796/lot/55/

Copyright © Bonhams 2001-2014



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A Rare Viking Sword Of Petersen Type C and Wheeler Type II, 9th/early 10th century, probably Norwegian

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PostPosted: Tue 30 Sep, 2014 11:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

#6: A Viking Sword of Petersen Type, 9th/10th century, probably Norwegian

In excavated condition, with tapering double-edged blade (lower third missing) with shallow central fuller over its entire length on both sides, hilt comprising thick ovoidal cross-piece decorated with numerous small holes against a vertically hatched ground and retaining faint traces of original silver inlay, flat tapering tang, and two-piece pommel of trilobate form decorated en suite with the cross-piece.

Overall length: 68.3 cm (26.9"); Blade length: 52.4 cm (20.6")

Provenance:
Acquired from the Paus Collection in 1944

Literature:
Hoffmeyer, cat. no. 30, pp. 35, 68 and 71, figs. 7 and 14

For an almost identical example considered by Petersen to be associated with the Trondheim region of Norway see Ian Peirce, "Swords of the Viking Age", 2002, p. 46, illustrated

http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/19796/lot/56/

Copyright © Bonhams 2001-2014



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A Viking Sword of Petersen Type, 9th/10th century, probably Norwegian

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PostPosted: Tue 30 Sep, 2014 11:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

#7: Viking sword, Northern Europe, 9th / 10th century

Wide double-edged sword, both sides with a shallow fuller. One side of the blade has n inscription, “+ VLFBEHRT *”. Short, slightly curved cross-guard and two-part pommel of fine ornamental silver inlay. Strong, slightly tapered tang. An exceptional, magnificent weapon of a high-ranking warrior.

Overall length: 95 cm (37.4")

Provenance: German private collection, 1990s

Copyright © Hermann Historica Auction House



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Viking sword, Northern Europe, 9th / 10th century

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PostPosted: Tue 30 Sep, 2014 11:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

#8: Sword, Scandinavia, 9th century or 10th century

Wallace Collection A.456

Length: 76.5 cm (30.12")
Width: 5.4 cm (2.13")
Weight: 1.14 kg (2.5 pounds)

Incised mark: “HLI”

History:
Possibly E. Juste; comte de Nieuwerkerke; Sir Richard Wallace, August 1871.

Literature:
Capwell, Tobias, 'Masterpieces of European Arms and Armour in the Wallace Collection', London: The Wallace Collection, 2011, p. 26
Mann, Sir J. G., Wallace Collection Catalogues: European Arms and Armour Volume II, London: The Trustees of the Wallace Collection, 1962
Norman, A. V. B., Wallace Collection Catalogues: European Arms and Armour Supplement, London: The Trustees of the Wallace Collection, 1986

http://wallacelive.wallacecollection.org/eMus...detailView

Copyright © Trustees of the Wallace Collection



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Sword, Scandinavia, 9th century or 10th century

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PostPosted: Tue 30 Sep, 2014 11:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

#9: A Rare Viking Sword, probably circa 800-950

Straight 75.2 cm (30") double-edged blade with central fuller. Thick lozenge-form cross-guard, the outer edges inlaid with gold-colored metal wire in a striped design. Two-piece pommel, the triangular upper section retaining a single small area retaining the striped wire decoration.

Condition: Relic condition overall. Cross-guard retains much of the wire inlay.

Note: A typical example of Petersen's Type H sword, dated by him to 800-950. See "The Norwegian Viking Sword" by Jan Petersen.

http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/13103/lot/2410/

Copyright © Bonhams 2001-2014



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A Rare Viking Sword, probably circa 800-950

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PostPosted: Tue 30 Sep, 2014 11:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

#10: A Rare Sword of Viking Type With Sinigelrinis Inscription, mid-10th to mid-11th century

In excavated condition, with broad tapering double-edged blade with wide shallow central fuller over most of its length on both sides, the forte on one side cut with the inscription “+ SINIGELRINIS +”, hilt comprising straight quillons of square section, flat tapering tang with remains of wooden grip-scales, and large Brazil-nut pommel

Blade length: 89.5 cm (35.24")

Provenance:
Frank Unrath Collection

Oakeshott’s Type X. For a related sword with an Ulfberht inscription see Ian Peirce, “Swords of the Viking Age”, 2002, pp. 124-125

The inscription is thought to be a rare variation on the well-known Ingelvii group. For what appears to be the only other recorded example see Alfred Geibig, “Beiträge zur Morphologischen Entwicklung des Schwertes I'm Mittelalter: Eine Analyse des Fundmaterials von ausgehenden 8. bis sum 12. Jahrhundert aus Sammlungen der Bundesrepublik Deutschland”, 1991, p. 124

For a synopsis of Geibig’s work and a further analytical study of the subject see Micheal R. Gorman, “Ulfbrecht: Innovation and Imitation in Early Medieval Swords”, The Sixteenth Park Lane Arms Fair Guide, February 1999, pp. 7-12

http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/20801/lot/188/

Copyright © Bonhams 2001-2014



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A Rare Sword of Viking Type With Sinigelrinis Inscription, mid-10th to mid-11th century

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PostPosted: Tue 30 Sep, 2014 11:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

#11: A German Knightly Sword, 10th-11th century

Double-edged blade with a slightly rounded point and shallow fuller on each side. Straight-armed cross inlaid on one side, made either of brass or bronze. Straight, extended quillons of square cross-section. Sturdy, slightly tapered tang with a flattened, semi-circular pommel.

Overall length 97 cm (38.19")

Rare early sword dating from the Ottonian period, Oakeshott Type Xa

Copyright © Hermann Historica Auction House



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A German Knightly Sword, 10th-11th century

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PostPosted: Tue 30 Sep, 2014 11:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

#12: A Rare Viking Sword of Wheeler Type VII with Single-Edged Blade, 10th century

See R.E. Mortimer Wheeler, "London And The Vikings", London Museum Catalogues: No.1, 1927, pp. 31-32, fig. 13, VII; Ian Peirce, "Swords of the Viking Age", 2002, pp. 110-113 and pp. 50-51 for an example with a single-edged blade

http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/10395/lot/107/

Copyright © Bonhams 2001-2014



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A Rare Viking Sword of Wheeler Type VII with Single-Edged Blade, 10th century

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PostPosted: Tue 30 Sep, 2014 11:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

#13: A Fine and Probably Unique Silver-hilted Viking Sword, Second Half of the Tenth Century

With broad slightly tapering blade formed on each face with a single pattern-welded fuller, hilt of solid silver comprising trilobate pommel and short straight guards each formed with a raised transverse band incised around a series of equi-spaced dots with concentric circles separated by trios of vertical lines, and straight-sided of dark horn flaring to its ends and formed with four raised transverse bands in imitation of bindings.

Overall length: 91.4 cm (36"); Blade length: 76.8 cm (30.25")

Provenance:
On the Dutch art market in the 1980s
Private collection, Germany

Literature
Alfred Geibig, Beitrage zur Morphologischen Entwicklung des Schwertes im Mittelalter, Coburg, 1991, pp. 6, 153, figs 22 and 40
James Graham-Campbell and Dafydd Kidd, The Vikings, London, 1980, pp. 11-15 and 113-14
Ian Pierce, Swords of the Viking Age, Woodbridge and Rochester, 2002, pp. 18-19, 22, 42-3, 108 and 145-51, pl. VIII
Heribert Seitz, Blankwaffen, Vol. I, Brunswick, 1965, pp. 108-10, figs 59 and 64

Copyright © Peter Finer



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A Fine and Probably Unique Silver-hilted Viking Sword, Second Half of the Tenth Century

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PostPosted: Tue 30 Sep, 2014 11:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

#14: A German Medieval Sword, early 11th century

With a saddle-shaped (Brazil-nut) pommel, the fullers of the blade inlaid with a wheel and an arrow symbol of silver wire

Overall length: 100.3 cm (39.5"); Blade length: 86.4 cm (34")

Located at Reichsstadtmuseum Rothenburg, Germany



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A German Medieval Sword, early 11th century

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PostPosted: Tue 30 Sep, 2014 11:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

#15: A Fine Viking Sword with Gold and Silver Inlaid Blade and Hilt, 11th century

The double-edged blade with broad, well-preserved cutting edges and wide fullers, one side of the blade being inlaid for almost its entire width with a Celtic cross, the arms of the cross formed of twisted gold wire and the decorative strap-work and circle formed of silver wire. The hilt comprising a straight, stout cross-guard, a broad, sturdy tang and a three-lobed pommel, the central lobe very pronounced, that is riveted to the upper guard. The lateral faces of the hilt inlaid with a series of isosceles triangles in silver; those on the guards in counterchanged strips and all edged with lines of twisted gold wire.

Overall length: 94 cm (37"); Blade length: 78.75 cm (31")

Jan Petersen did not designate a type to this style of hilt in his masterly and comprehensive study of hilt-forms, but there is no doubt this weapon belongs to the group of magnificent swords that have been mainly found in the eastern Baltic region. To date, a total of seventeen weapons of this type are known, all from Finland. They all have silver decorated hilts, with most exhibiting silver ornament on the grips, the example from Leikkimäki, Kokemäki (Suomen kansallismuse, Helsinki, NM 1174:1) having Urnes-style animals with spirals and palmettes and gold inlay on both sides of the blade. Another member of this select group is in the Musée de l'Armée in Paris (Inv. No. JPO 2258).

The outstanding decoration on the cross-guard, pommel and upper guard is virtually complete. Given that this weapon is almost certainly a grave-find, it is very uncommon to encounter this degree of survival of decoration. It is also extremely rare to see triangles decorating a sword hilt, although another example is known in a Russian collection. Inlaid diamond shapes are far more common as hilt decoration, a fine example being the 10th century sword from the River Witham, found opposite Monk’s Abbey and now in the British Museum (Inv. No. 1848, 10-21 1).

The use of the Celtic cross on the blade of a sword is a further extremely rare feature of our weapon and it serves to emphasize the importance of this remarkable and lovely sword. The quality, quantity and richness of the decoration upon this sword inevitably leads one to the conclusion that its owner was a chieftain or person of noble birth. The blade is not pattern-welded but, instead, made up of a homogeneous billet of steel forged into shape, ground and polished: it may well have been imported from the region of the Rhineland.

The forging of a blade was a skillful and complex procedure and most blades of the Viking Age were constructed using a process called pattern-welding. To achieve this process, bundles of iron rods with different properties and differing concentrations of trace elements were twisted together to form a rope-like bar, a procedure noted by the 9th century Arab scholar al-Kindi when he studied the construction of European blades. The bar was then heated and hammer-welded into one piece. Gradually, the blade would be fabricated to form the central fullers and both cutting edges. Rough grinding, shaping and final polishing would reveal the magical patterns, which would generally be of the ‘Blood-eddy’ form (Blodida, meaning interlinked swirls) or the ‘Ann’ configuration (Old Norse for the swathes of mown corn). Frequently, there would be a combination of both. Recent scientific research has shown that, often, three millimeters of hard steel was hammer-welded on to each cutting edge after forging in order to provide an excellent and robust cutting edge.

It was the work of the warriors to ensure that the forge fires burnt brightly:
“We will venture ahead Roughly in conflict To redden our sword Where swords must be reddened.”
--The Saga of the Icelanders, Ch. 136.

The Old Norse sources contain very little information regarding the forging of sword blades and the stories are more fabulous than factual. However, combining that evidence with archaeological evidence tells us something of the craft-mystery of the weapon-smith. The sagas speak of the secrets of the smith being jealously guarded and the secrecy of his art associating him closely with supernatural powers. The sagas do, however, have many detailed references to sword testing, such as striking a blow at an anvil, to ensure the blade would not shatter or break.

Literature:
Petersen, J., De Norske Vikingesverd (Oslo, 1919)
Peirce, I.G., Swords of the Viking Age (Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2002), pp. 77-79 and p. 138
Leppäaho, J. Späteisenzeitliche Waffen Aus Finland (Helsinki, 1964), pp.106-107, 110-111, 112-113
McGrew, J., Sturlunga Saga, Vol. 1. (New York, 1970)

Copyright © Peter Finer



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A Fine Viking Sword with Gold and Silver Inlaid Blade and Hilt, 11th century

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PostPosted: Tue 30 Sep, 2014 11:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

#16: A South European knightly sword, 11th century

Wide, double-edged blade with a fuller on each side, shortened at the point, with inscription “O S O” on one side. Straight cross-guard widening at the ends and slightly reinforced languet. The conical tang with flattened pagoda-shaped pommel. In cleaned and conserved condition.

Overall length: 66 cm (25.59")

Copyright © Hermann Historica Auction House



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A South European knightly sword, 11th century

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PostPosted: Tue 30 Sep, 2014 11:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

#17: A Medieval Sword of Viking Type, Peterson's Type X, 10th century

In excavated condition, with broad double-edged blade distinctly pattern-welded and with a shallow central fuller over much of its length on each side, hilt comprising thick ovoidal cross-piece, flat tapering tang, and pommel of "tea-cosy" form.

Overall length: 88 cm (34.6"); Blade length: 74.2 cm (29.2")

For a very similar sword in the Musée de l'Armée, Paris (inv. no. JPO 2253) see Ian Peirce, "Swords of the Viking Age", 2002, pp. 118-119; and another sold at Christie's London, Antique Arms and Armour, 16 December 2002, lot 46 (£14,300 including premium)

http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/20802/lot/496/

Copyright © Bonhams 2001-2014



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A Medieval Sword of Viking Type, Peterson's Type X, 10th century

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PostPosted: Tue 30 Sep, 2014 11:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

#18: A Medieval Sword of Viking Type, Peterson Type X, 10th/11th Century

In excavated condition, with broad tapering pattern-welded double-edged blade with shallow central fuller over nearly its entire length, the fuller inlaid on one side at the forte with a swept silver cross, hilt comprising flat ovoidal quillons, flat tapering tang retaining its wooden grips, and rounded pommel of “tea-cosy” form

Blade length: 77.8 cm (30.63")

See Ian Peirce, “Swords of the Viking Age”, 2002, pp. 18-19 and 114-121

http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/19793/lot/83/

Copyright © Bonhams 2001-2014



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A Medieval Sword of Viking Type, Peterson Type X, 10th/11th Century

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PostPosted: Tue 30 Sep, 2014 11:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

#19: A Rare Viking Sword of Peterson Type I and Wheeler Type III, 9th/10th century

In excavated condition, with broad tapering double-edged pattern-welded blade with central fuller over its entire length on both sides, hilt comprising short ovoidal guard inlaid along each side with punched copper-alloy crosses between vertical copper-alloy lines punched with small dotted circles, flat tapering tang, and two-piece pommel of trilobate form retaining its medial strand of twisted silver wire, the lower part inlaid in silver en suite with the guard, the upper part inlaid overall with silver lines, strapwork and ropework

Blade length: 80.7 cm (31.8")

See J.G. Peirce, "Swords of the Viking Age", 2002, p. 18, 102-107

http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/18814/lot/123/

Copyright © Bonhams 2001-2014



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A Rare Viking Sword of Peterson Type I and Wheeler Type III, 9th/10th century

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