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Old 4th January 2021, 07:27 PM   #1
David
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Default Viking Sword

Hey folks. Just saw this extraordinary sword. The only info on it was as follows:
Viking sword, Hedeby, Denmark, 10th century.
I am familiar with the archeological site, which is know officially in modern Germany. But i am amazed at the condition of the sword, especially the silver inlay. While i am very interested in Viking culture, as many are i suppose, i don't know much about there swords. Any further info on this particular sword would be appreciated.
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Last edited by David : 4th January 2021 at 09:17 PM.
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Old 4th January 2021, 11:17 PM   #2
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I have found this information on line about this sword which seems to have come from Peter Finer, who apparently sold this sword at sometime within the last decade.
There do seem to be numerous aspects of this sword that speak to a none Viking source such as the unusual inlay motifs and sword shape. But again, this is beyond my scope of knowledge.

With double-edged blade of gradual taper; inlaid on both sides in gold and silver with decorative patterns, one side bearing a gradually tapering geometric-architectural design in five stages and the other bearing a gradually tapering palmette design. The hilt comprising down-curved cross guard, sturdy tang and five-lobed pommel riveted to the upward-curving upper guard; the cross-guard, upper guard and pommel all inlaid in silver with decorative knotwork and tracery and in gold with dots.

Overall length: 94 cm (37"); Blade length: 80.6 cm (31.75")

This rare Viking sword, the hilt of Petersen Type O, has a cross-guard with decorative devices reminiscent of those on one of the three swords that were found in the rich ship burial of about 900 at Hedeby in Denmark when it was subsequently excavated in the 1950s. More of these ‘rabbit ear’ or ‘knotted rope’ characters may be found on three of the ‘Hiltipreht’ group of swords, namely one in the Wallace Collection, London (Inv. No. A456), the Ballinderry sword in the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin (Inv. No.1928.382) and the example from Malhus in the Trondheim Museum, Norway (Petersen, Abb.89).

The credentials of this prestigious weapon are further enhanced by the decoration upon the blade. On one side there is a palmette design of inlaid silver with traces of gold that is very similar to that on a fragmented blade from the River Bann in Ireland and illustrated in Bøe. This should be compared with the inlay on a sword from the Waal near Nijmegen (Oakeshott, Records of the Medieval Sword, p.47). On the other side, the inlaid precious metals may well represent a schematic plan view of a building, as is believed to have been intended upon another silver inlaid sword illustrated and described by Ewart Oakeshott (Records of the Medieval Sword, pp.28-29).
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Old 5th January 2021, 01:01 PM   #3
mariusgmioc
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Thank you for posting this!

... and HAPPY NEW YEAR!
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Old 5th January 2021, 01:52 PM   #4
Jim McDougall
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I just wanted to join Marius in thanking you for posting this David.
It seems of course most appropriately placed here at 'Viking sword'
While I have always admired these ancient swords, they have always been sort of 'above my pay grade' , but nonetheless reading about them and the fantastic history around them is always exciting.

What is really great on this example is the markings and the dramatic contrast of the silver inlay against the profoundly pitted metal! Always fascinated by markings, these reflect many powerful elements of the culture and beliefs of those who used these swords, so these really fire up my curiosity.
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Old 5th January 2021, 05:15 PM   #5
fernando
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David, you wouldn't mind having this topic moved to the European forum. Hopefully this has a larger number of enthusiasts over there.
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Old 6th January 2021, 05:37 AM   #6
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This sword makes the rounds of the forums and image boards regularly - I very much doubt its authenticity, and I am not the first to say so.

I think the ornamentation gives the game away, and the analysis offered by the auction house is completely off base. Firstly, the ornamentation on the "Hiltepreht" swords mentioned (and several other similar ones) is a Frankish-style floral/vegetal design that does not resemble this sword in any way. All of these are of Petersen's type K and probably of the 9th century. The sword from Hedeby is of the same type; its ornament is different but executed with the same technique: the design is engraved in dark niello (I assume) on a plated silver/bronze/etc surface. This is completely different from the sword in question.

The comparison to the sword from the River Bann is also dubious; its ornament consists of three comparatively simple palmettes, also it has a brazil-nut pommel and is probably of the 11th century. The broken blade from Nijmegen (illustrated by Oakeshott) cannot be precisely dated, but its design shows far greater affinity with the Bann palmettes and certain other inscriptions than the ornamentation of this sword.

The hilt ornamentation we see here is instead a poor imitation of designs that do appear particularly on hilts of Petersen's types O and R, and can be associated with the 10th century Mammen style of Scandinavian artwork. The intricacy and quality of the designs on every genuine weapon decorated in this manner far surpass what can be seen on this sword and others that have appeared at auction in recent years. For comparison, I attach an example excavated in Norway, and the namesake axe from Mammen in Denmark.
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Old 6th January 2021, 08:59 AM   #7
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Wasn't this a timeline auctions piece?
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Old 6th January 2021, 07:05 PM   #8
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Thanks for the responses so far. They support some of my own suspicions about it. The motifs definitely do not seem to fit the purported time and place.
Ian, i am unfamiliar with Timeline Auctions. But as i mentioned in my earlier post i believe this sword was sold some tome ago by Peter Finer. I will not post any links to his website so as not to break forum rules, but he seems to be a rather well established dealer in fine antique arm & amour in London. The description i posted was credited to him. As far as i know he has a rather good reputation, however, such things are often meaningless in these cases.
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Old 6th January 2021, 08:11 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
Thanks for the responses so far. They support some of my own suspicions about it. The motifs definitely do not seem to fit the purported time and place.
Ian, i am unfamiliar with Timeline Auctions. But as i mentioned in my earlier post i believe this sword was sold some tome ago by Peter Finer. I will not post any links to his website so as not to break forum rules, but he seems to be a rather well established dealer in fine antique arm & amour in London. The description i posted was credited to him. As far as i know he has a rather good reputation, however, such things are often meaningless in these cases.


Fair enough, the photography merely seemed familiar. I won't comment further other than the inlay rings many alarm bells already detailed nicely by Reventlov.
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Old 7th January 2021, 03:34 AM   #10
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I am surprised at the intactness of inlay on the background of rather deep rust and cavitation.
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Old 7th January 2021, 10:44 AM   #11
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As a Swede I don’t particularly recognize the decorations as traditional viking style. Look more Celtic to me. Could it be an Irish iron age sword? Also looks like some kind of strange baton depicted in the decoration on one side?

Although not very knowledgeable on viking swords I understand that kind of pommel is more associated with Frankish swords. I was also surprised that the decorative elements survived so much better than the underlying material although silver and gold don’t corrode like iron.
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Old 7th January 2021, 04:21 PM   #12
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It is not so much a matter of corrosion of the silver and gold: it is the matter of rusted steel.

With this (fully expected) condition of the blade, the channels into which the wire is hammered get destroyed and the wire just falls out.

Not a single part of the inlay is lost here despite pronounced rusting. IMHO, this is very suspicious for a relatively recent application of the inlay in carefully chosen sections.

Several Forumites here have already commented on the incompatibility of the sword itself with its decoration. This, IMHO, further strengthens the suspicion of a later ( recent?) applications of the lnlay by a not very informed engraver.

Similar situation is seen very often on Indian blades, only there it is more often koftgari instead of deeper inlay: intact koft on the background of pockmarked steel underneath.

Kirill Rivkin, in his book about “ Eastern sword” mentioned that as the evidence of “prettifying” the blade for charging a higher price.

My antennae are twitching:-)
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