H.1 Viking Age sword with silver and copper inlaid pommel

Use "hot spot" in orange to zoom to Pommel (50 kb) or go to Overall View (13 kb jpg)

 Find place  Unknown, reputedly Sweden
 Collection  Private
 Length  Overall: 103 cm. Blade: 88 cm.
 Date  900 to 1000 AD
 Condition  Excavated; broken with two modern welds
 Literature  Werner, Gunnel. 'Konservering av tre vikingatida svärd med inläggningar', Fornvännen 76 (1981), pp. 16-23.

Viking age sword with pommel and conjoined upper guard adorned by parallel linear silver and copper inlay, the lower guard is now absent. The blade has been repaired with two modern welds, one in the mid-tang and the other just beyond the mid-point of the blade. The degree of corrosion is different for the two blade fragments. No trace of pattern welding can be seen underneath the patina, however the texture within the fuller focally suggests iron inlaid inscriptions which remain undecipherable without cleaning. The damage suggests that this sword was deliberately mutilated, presumably prior to interment in a grave, as is seen in the illustration to the right and above from Petersen (1919), figure 93, p. 112.

As the sagas are replete with tales of grave robbing for venerated ancient swords, the most practical explanation is that such weapons were mutilated so they and their presumed previous owner would be left at rest. Other possibilities include the ritual killing of an object or a superstitious belief that weapons must be disarmed to protect the living from the dead.


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 Copyright © 1997 by Lee A. Jones