Northern Europe, late Viking to Medieval period, ca. 11th to 12th century CE. A beautiful forged-iron Viking sword that was likely repurposed and modified during the Medieval era. The sword has a long, straight blade with sharpened edges, a shallow fuller running the length of both sides, and an abruptly tapered point. The slender rectangular guard is a separate piece that can move freely along the tang, though it would have been stabilized by the bone, wood, or leather that formed the handle. Though Viking in origin, this sword was likely used in later Medieval times based on the discoid pommel. Typical Viking swords would boast a half-moon-shaped pommel with rounded corners which were usually somewhat flush with the end of the tang. This pommel appears to have been added on later based on the recessed cavity as well as how the tang tip protrudes through the end of the pommel. Swords of this form have been found throughout the Viking world, making this repurposed example one of extreme rarity! Size: 36.75" L x 2.875" W (93.3 cm x 7.3 cm).
A Viking's sword was a hugely valuable object, passed down through families as an heirloom, and was probably the most expensive item that a Viking could own. For example, from the hundreds of items found in Viking burials in Iceland, only sixteen are swords; they are more common in other parts of the Viking world, especially in Norway, but were still a high-status item. A sword given by King Haakon the Good (king of Norway from 934 to 961 CE) to the Icelander Hoskuldur in the Laxdaela Saga was worth a half mark of gold, or the value of sixteen dairy cows, which was a tremendous sum of money for the time.
Provenance: ex-private Green collection, York, United Kingdom
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Surface wear and abrasions commensurate with age, surface oxidation as expected, slight bending to overall form of blade and tang, with small chips to blade, guard, tang, and pommel, and some pitting marks. Light earthen deposits within recessed areas. Nice movement to guard.