A Museum Quality & Singularly Rare Viking King’s or Earl’s, in Viking the Jarl, Sword 10th Century.
10th-early 11th century AD
A double-edged cutting sword of Wheeler Type III and Petersen Type S variant with long tapering blade, cutting edges with edge to edge combat marks, shallow tapering fullers and traces of copper inlay to the blade; boat-shaped lower guard and upper guard with silver inlaid decoration, massive three-lobed pommel with similar decoration, the lobes separated by inlaid silver bands on traditional Viking artwork pattern between the distinctive period between the Mammen and the Urnes Style, with gilt traces to blade suggests that it was probably inscribed. Approx 1.5kg, 36” long overall. Fine condition.
The Inlay is a Scandinavian animal style from the late 10th century and the 11th century, which evolved out of the earlier Mammen Style. It has received its name from a group of runestones with animal and plant motifs in the district north of Oslo. The most common motifs are lions, birds, band-shaped animals and spirals. Some elements appear for the first time in Scandinavian art, such as different types of crosses, palmettes and pretzel-shaped nooses that tie together two motifs. Most of the motifs have counterparts in Anglo-Saxon art and Ottonian art. Original Viking swords so rarely appear that we are only fortunate enough to acquire such a beautiful example probably only two or three per decade. It is said that the Viking sword occupied the highest rank of esteem in the forms of weaponry in the Viking age. It was certainly not a common weapon for the regular Viking warrior. Only the Viking earls, clan chiefs and kings normally carried such fine swords, for only Vikings of such status could afford the finest craftsmanship found in the Viking sword. The more usual weapons in the Viking warrior community were axes and spears. Circa 900 ad. Amazingly with a considerable amount of its original silver inlay in the reverse and the obverse sides of the pommel and crossguard. This pommel style was actually of Anglo-Saxon design, but it’s beauty was recognised by the Vikings and thus emulated in their swords. The Viking’s sword was a highly expensive weapon and therefore much effort was put into decorating its handle. The pommel, which acted as a counterweight to the blade, so that the sword balanced, could display inlays of precious metals or intricate patterns. The blade itself often had so called “blood grooves” or fullers, and this sword has a single fuller running along its middle. These fullers saved valuable metal and made the sword lighter. The Vikings placed such status on to their swords they often named them, due to the belief of theIr supposed magical qualities, heritage, and creator of remarkable events. Such evocative names as;
Gramr: Fierce. This was the name of the sword that hero Sigurd used to kill the dragon Fafnir
Gunnlogi: Battle Flame, War Flame
Leggbir: Leg bitter
Swords that had names were a treasure not only for their monetary value but also for the honour for the family and the clan.
This fabulous sword is in amazing condition and considering its great age is remarkably sound indeed, and feels just as a fine top quality sword should, even today. It is 10th century, and likely used up to, and into, the 11th century 'Battle of Hastings' of 1066, known as the the Norman invasion period. This wonderful museum piece is part of a significant collection of fine museum quality swords we are adding to our site for sale this week. This fabulous, historical Viking sword, has the highly iconic, and typical trilobite fashion, pommel of three distinct lobes, inlaid with silver. A double-edged broad sword of Petersen Type S variant with a tapering blade, shallow fullers, possible traces of pattern-welding to the blade, it has superb battle nicks to both cutting edges, the massive Viking pommel with is with three distinct lobes. In fine condition.
Accompanied by an academic report by military specialist Dr. D’Amato.
See Petersen, J., De Norske Vikingsverd, Oslo, 1919; Peirce, I., Swords of the Viking Age, Suffolk, 2002; Hiardar K. and Vike, V., Vikings at war, Oxford-Philadelphia, 2016; the sword has good parallels with similar Viking age specimens published by Peirce (2002, pp.102-105), one in the British Museum and the other at the Universitetets Oldsaksamling, Oslo.
Viking swords of Type S are commonly found in Nordic countries and Eastern Europe, with a number found in Western Europe. Although this sword would be classified as a Type S, the trilobate form of the pommel recalls the swords of type L, having Anglo-Saxon influences. The style of the hilt on the S swords are often very different: so were the swords, that can combine elements of different types. In the gallery we will show an original medieval painting of 11th century King Harald in combat at Stamford Bridge in 1066, and note the knight behind is using the very same type of lobed pommelled Viking broadsword. Illustration by Matthew Paris from "The Life of King Edward the Confessor", 13th century. A most similar sword but in much poorer condition is known as the Roselund Sword. In the Church of Rønninge stands a rune stone bearing the text: “Sóti placed this stone in memory or Eileifr, his brother, Ásgautr Red-shield’s son”. Nearby lies the Rosenlund grave containing weapons and riding equipment, perhaps it was Ásgautr’s grave. We are familiar with Viking swords from various burials, which mainly date to the early Viking period. It was most often people of high status who were buried with swords in the Viking Age. Not all Viking warriors had a sword; they were prestige weapons. Swords were highly valued objects and could be handed down from generation to generation. They were also given as gifts to people of high status in order to stay on good terms with them.
Viking swords were also used in another way. This was the tradition of sacrificing the valuable swords in lakes and bogs. Many swords, spears and lances from the Viking and early medieval periods have also been found near fords crossing rivers and in wetlands. Perhaps the weapons were left at such locations as an offering, or else they were simply dropped and lost during the attempt to cross the water. One picture in the gallery is an early painting of the Anglo Saxon King Offa of Mercia on horseback, he is holding a near identical sword with the same triple lobed pommel as this Viking sword has. Almost every weapon that has survived today from this era is now in a fully russetted condition, as is this one, because only the swords of kings, that have been preserved in national or Royal collections are today still in a good state and condition.
Viking art is usually divided into a sequence of roughly chronological styles, although outside Scandinavia itself local influences are often strong, and the development of styles can be less clear.
See Petersen, J., De Norske Vikingsverd, Oslo, 1919; Oakeshott, R.E., The Archaeology of the weapons, London, 1960; Peirce, I., Swords of the Viking Age, Suffolk, 2002; Marek, L., Early Medieval Swords from Central and Eastern Europe: Dilemmas of an Archaeologist and a Student of Arms, Wrocław, 2005; the sword has good parallels in various similar Viking age specimens, like the sword from Mixnam’s pit, Chertsey, today at the Chertsey Museum (Peirce, 2002, pp.98ff.).
The Type S was often characterised by splendid decoration achieved with silver and copper inlays. It was usually made by using silver wire, which was wound around copper wire and then hammered into place upon base metal, which had been prepared with a scored surface to secure the overlay. The design was then bordered by fine copper wires. Although this sword would be classified as a type S, the slight curvature of the lower guard makes it a variant of the classical form of this typology, possibly even showing Anglo-Saxon influence from type L.