Swords of the Viking Age

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A number of these swords were severely damaged and rendered unusable before deposition in the grave. The blades were beaten, bent or twisted, sometimes folded together in a way that needs preparation, expertise and equipment. The fact that these swords were subjected to special treatment, handled in a different manner than the rest of the grave goods, underscores the distinctive role of swords in Norse society.

In this article I will discuss the deliberate destruction of swords and other weapons from a cultural historical point of view. The irregular treatment of these swords is embedded both in the cultural historical perception of swords and in funerary rituals. A survey of Early Medieval written sources and archaeological material is essential for a more profound understanding of the phenomenon. Click here to read this article from Nordic Open Access.

Click here to read this article from Academia.

Two Citations: Jones, L. Peirce ed. Woodbridge, England: The Boydell Press Miller, C. Geibig and H. Paulsen eds. Neuminster, Germany: Wachholtz Verlag Jacobsson, M. Krigarideologi oc Vikingtida Svardstypologi. Stockholm: Akademitryck AB Records of the Medieval Sword. Lehmann, U. Ruhmann and V. Brieske eds. Stuttgart, Germany: Neidersachsisches Landesmuseum Hanover Chapter Two: The Atlantic Islands. To say that the Scandinavian presence in the North Atlantic was considerable during the Early Middle Ages is an understatement.

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Eventually the raiding became invading and colonizing, depending on the location. This is not to say that swords went to all the island and areas of the Atlantic. No swords have been found on the Faroes, in Greenland, and in Newfoundland.

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Very little evidence of swords—a sword guard discovered by Mark Redknap—has been found in Wales 1. These locations are not included here. The islands and countries that are included were high affected by Scandinavian emigration, and they can count the Viking Period as a significant part of their history. Iceland Beginning in the late 9th Century, Norwegians and others began to emigrate to Iceland.

Viking Warfare

The reasons for this movement have been argued about over the decades, but a few things are clear. They brought their material culture with them. Icelandic archaeology has had to work under the shadow of these sagas. This does not mean the efforts of archaeologists were sub-standard. What is interesting about Viking Period Iceland is the limitations upon it.

Only settled in the late 9th and 10 centuries, the archaeology of Iceland reflects that fact. The situation is such that Kristjan Eldjarn published a summary book entitled, Kuml og Haugfe ur Heithnum sith a Islandi in 2. Frithrikssson updated the publication in and again in m 3.

The book is the main source of information here. Place Scheme Petersen Type Date 1. Kaldarhofthi 3,4,A,b, O Grave 3, Hafarbjarnarstathir 2,A, S Ondvertharnes 2,A, M Hofthi 6,A,? Grave 1, Silastathir 2,6,A, M Grave 4, Silastathir 4,A, Q Bringa 2,3,A, Q Framdalir 2,3,A, M Baldursheimar 2,A,? Brennisathir 6,A, M Grave 4, Grannagil 6,A,? Grave 2, Glaumbaer 6,A,?


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Dalvik 6,A,b,? Hrafnelsdar 3,D V? Grave 2, Hringsdalar? Kuml og Haugfe lists grave-sites. Furthermore, the items from Glaumbaer, Hofthi, Hoskuldsstadthir, and Laufas are doubtful as swords.

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This leaves 16 swords for analysis. Some of the burials are very rich. The boat burials at Kaldarhofthi and Dalvik were the graves of important people since the use of a wooden boat on an Island with little or no wood would be a significant loss. The equestrian graves at Silastathir Grave 4 and Baldursheimar may also be considered of important people. Yet this also leaves the question of the other swords found in the other burials. Were the people buried there important?

What justified the use of useful and important objects in one grave, but not another? Our knowledge of social relations in 10th Century Iceland is incomplete. The study of swords, alone, cannot answer these questions. The archaeological evidence of the Scandinavian presence in Scotland during the Viking Period is such that a book has been written. Vikings in Scotland. An Archaeological Survey by J. Graham- Campbell and C. Batey was published in 4. For swords, however, this book is not the only source. There are others, most especially G. Place Scheme Petersen Type Date. Torbeck Hill 2,3,D L Baknakeil 2,3,A, H Styles, Sanday 2,3,A X Pierowal, Westray, Orkney 6,A.

Sumburgh, Shetland? Eriskay, Western Isles 6,A O Ballinbay, Islay 2,A, H Ballinbay 2,3,A, Q Machrias, Machain, Colonsay 6,A L Colonsay 6,A,b? Lamaness, Sanday 6,A? X Bate, Firth of Clyde 6,A H Dumbarton Rock, Firth of Clyde 6,A? I Strathspey 3,A Y Westness, Rousay 2,A,b, H Westness, Rousay 6,A,b,? Westness, Rousay?


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Sources: Batey, C. Reynolds and L. Webster eds. Boston, Massachusetts: Brill Bryce, T. Graham-Campbell, J. An Archaeological Survey.

Viking Era Swords - Why weren't they more pointed for armour penetration?

Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press , Owen, O. Tuckwell Press Redmond, A.

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Viking Burial in the North of England. BAR British Series Zabinski, G. Krakow, Poland: Summary: Condition: 2. Incomplete : 11 3. Corroded : 7 5. Bent : 1 6. Fragment : 11 1 single-edged sword.