Petersen type M sword

Many Viking Age sword are richly decorated, which makes quality reconstruction very expensive. That is why I was asked by my colleagues to provide an overview of undecorated swords that would be more affordable to reconstruct. I chose Petersen’s type M for its simplicity and major representation among Scandinavian sword finds. Because this type is often overlooked these days, it certainly deserves our attention.


The type M (also known as R. 489) describes a sword variant standing between types F and Q. It is characterised by a simple hilt in the shape of the letter I. Sharply cut cross-guard and upper guard are usually straight and of similar height. From the front view, both the upper and cross-guard are of rectangle shape, with the cross-guard slightly bent in rare cases. The upper guard is of simple shape similar to cross-guard, and the tang is held in place by hammering it into a rivet shape; the upper guard is never ended by a pommel. Sides of the guards are usually straight, less often rounded. An important feature of type M swords is undecorated hilt. Blades are usually double-edged (single-edged variants make up to 15% of finds according to Petersen) and simple, although we also know of some Norse and Swedish blades made of patern welded steel (Androščuk 2014: 386–7; Petersen 1919: 118). Petersen notes that none of Norse blades carries an inscription, which according to our information is still actual. That said, there is a variant of ULFBERHT inscription on a blade from Eura, Finland (Kazakevičius 1996: 39). While the swords are of simple design, they are made of quality materials.

Type M sword from area of Framdalir, Iceland.
Source: Androščuk 2014: 68, Fig. 23.

Type M swords are in general up to one meter long, usually between 80 and 90 cm. The longest sword that we know of is 95 cm long. An average width of Scandinavian blades is 5,5-6 cm, sometimes up to 6,5 cm. Measured swords of average length weigh 1100-1200 grams. The shortest piece we are aware of weighs 409 grams and is 47,7 cm long, with blade having 38,5 cm in length and 0,48 cm in thickness (Peirce 2002: 86). This sword, said to had been found in a boy’s grave, seems to be a miniaturised, yet fully functional version. In order to outline anatomy of this interesting type, we chose six relatively well-preserved swords that we will describe in more detail.

C59045_DovreDovre, Norway (C59045). Well-preserved sword found in a grave in 2013. Total length of 89 cm, blade length is 77 cm and 5,9 cm wide. Fuller is visible 12 cm from cross-guard up to 6 cm from blade point. Length of the hilt is 12 cm, with grip being 9,3 cm long and 3,4 cm wide. Cross-guard’s length, height and width are 9,4 × 1,1 × 2,3 cm. Upper guard has the measurements 7 × 1,3 × 2,2-2,3 cm. Total weight 1141,1 g. Photo source: Vegard Vike, Museum of cultural history, Oslo.

C58919_FlesbergÅsland, Norway (C58919). A preserved sword placed in a grave, found in 2013. Total length 87 cm. Length of grip 8,5 cm. Length, height and thickness of cross-guard is 11,6 × 1,2 × 2,6 cm. Length, height and width of upper guard is 8,1 × 1,2 × 2,7 cm. Photo source: Elin Christine Storbekk, Museum of cultural history, Oslo.

C24244_ArgehovdMogen, Norway (C24244). Well-preserved sword found in a grave before 1937. Total length 85 cm, blade width 5,5 cm. Grip length 9,6 cm. Length of cross-guard 12,9 cm, length of upper guard 8,3 cm. Photo source: Peirce 2002: 86, Museum of cultural history, Oslo.

C53462_TelemarkTelemark, Norway (C53462). Partially corroded sword donated to museum in 2004. Total length 71 cm, damaged blade is 59,5 cm long and 5,8 cm wide. Length of grip 9,7 cm. Length and height of cross-guard is 10,5 × 1 cm, length and width of upper guard 6,8 × 0,8 cm. Photo source: Ellen C. Holte, Museum of cultural history, Oslo.

parisUnknown French location, possibly found in a river (Musée de l’Armée, Paris; J3). Very well-preserved sword found before 1890. Total length 90 cm. Blade is 75 cm long and 5,3 cm wide. Length of cross-guard 10 cm. Length of grip 12 cm. Photo source: Peirce 2002: 86, Musée de l’Armée negativ K23710.

T19391-rorosRøros, Norway (T19391). Well-preserved sword found in 1973. Total length 90 cm, blade is 78 cm long and 5,5 cm wide. Length, height and width of cross-guard 12,2 × 1,3 × 2,3 cm. Measurements of upper guard are 8,1 × 1,3 × 2,1 cm. Photo source: Ole Bjørn Pedersen, Museum of cultural history, Oslo.

We should also pay an attention to organic remnants found on type M swords. In general, we could say that many swords show traces of wooden panelling of the grip and wooden scabbard. Let’s examine several specific examples. The sword find from grave 511 in Repton, England was stored in wooden scabbard, that was inlaid with sheep’s fleece and covered in leather (Biddle – Kjølbye-Biddle 1992: 49). The scabbard was held by a hanging system, of which only a single cast buckle survived. The handle was made of softwood, which was then wrapped with a cloth strip. The sword from Öndverðarnes, Iceland (Kt 47) had a wooden grip wrapped in thin, plaited cord, and a wooden scabbard covered in textile (Eldjárn 2000: 326). Traces of leather cover were found at the tip of the scabbard, with remnants of sword belt slider located 3 cm below the cross-guard. In another Icelandic grave from Sílastaðir (Kt 98) – was found a sword with grip of wooden panels that were retracted below the cross-guard and wrapped with a cord at the upper guard (Eldjárn 2000: 326). This sword’s scabbard is wooden, inlaid with textile and covered in linen and leather; there are still several spots with visible profiled wrappings. There was a metal strip placed 12 cm below cross-guard, most likely used for sword belt attachment. The scabbard had a leather chape at the tip.

Organic components are also often present at type M swords from Norway. One of the Kaupang swords had a wooden grip wrapped with a leather cord or strap, and a wooden scabbard covered in leather (Blindheim – Heyerdahl-Larsen 1995: 61). Fragments of wooden grips and scabbards were simultaneously found with swords from Brekke (B10670), Hogstad (C52343), Kolstad (T12963), Støren (Androščuk 2014: 76, Pl. 111) and Åsland (C58919). The sword from Nedre Øksnavad (S12274) had a wooden grip and scabbard covered in textile. The sword from Eikrem (T12199), which is most likely of type M, had a scabbard made of spruce with parts held together by metal clamps and covered in leather and textile. The sword from Soggebakke (T16395) had a wooden scabbard. Swords from Hallem søndre (T13555), Havstein (T15297) and Holtan (T16280) had fragments of wooden grips. This is only a limited inventory that I was able to list during my short research. Yet it is an immensely valuable source that provides us with a decent idea of what the typical type M sword looked like.


Swords from Öndverðarnes, Iceland and Kaupang, Norway.
Source: Blindheim – Heyerdahl-Larsen 1995: Pl. 48; Eldjárn 2000: 326, 161. mynd.


Distribution and dating

When it comes to distribution of the swords, it seems that type M was mainly a Norwegian domain. In 1919, Petersen noted that that there are at least 198 type M swords known in Norway, of which at least 30 were single-edged (Petersen 1919: 117–121). Nonetheless, in the past 100 years, an immeasurable amount of new swords were excavated, and the number increases every year – such as in Vestfold, which is absent in Petersen’s list, we already have 42 finds (Blindheim et al. 1999: 81). Highest concentration of type M swords is in Eastern Norway and Sogn, where we know of at least 375 swords according to Per Hernæs (1985). Mikael Jakobsson (1992: 210) registers 409 swords in Norway. And current number will undoubtedly be even greater. We will most likely not be far from truth while claiming that type M is together with type H/I one of the most widespread Norwegian swords. The number of sword finds in neighbouring areas is disproportionate. From Sweden, we only know of 10 swords (Androščuk 2014: 69), at least 4 from Iceland (Eldjárn 2000: 330), at least 4 from Great Britain (Biddle – Kjølbye-Biddle 1992: 49; Bjørn – Shetelig 1940: 18, 26), 4 from France (Jakobsson 1992: 211), 2 from Denmark (Pedersen 2014: 80), 3 from Finland, 1 from Ireland and 1 from Germany (Jakobsson 1992: 211; Kazakevičius 1996: 39). Vytautas Kazakevičius (1996: 39) registers at least 9 type M swords from Baltic, at least 2 from Poland and 2 from Czech Republic. Jiří Košta, the Czech sword expert, denies there is a single type M sword find from Czech Republic and according to him, claiming so is but a myth often cited in literature (personal discussion with Jiří Košta). Baltic swords are rather specific – they are shorter and with a narrower single-edged blade, features causing them being interpreted as local product. It is safe to say we know of over 440 pieces, though the real count being much higher.

When it comes to dating the finds, Petersen argues that first type M swords appear in Norway around the half of 9th century and prevail until the beginning of 10th century (Petersen 1919: 121). Recent archaeological finds from Eastern Norway, Kaupang especially, show that they were being placed in graves during first half of 10th century (Blindheim et al. 1999: 81). Two Swedish datable pieces come from the 10th century (Androščuk 2014: 69), which is also the case of two swords from Iceland (Eldjárn 2000: 330). Polish finds can be dated to 9th century (Kazakevičius 1996: 39). Type M swords are thus widely present from both geographical and chronological perspective, and one can only argue if the similarity is just a rather randomness caused by simple design.

Type M sword distribution in Eastern Norway and Sogn.
Source: Blindheim et al. 1999: 81, Fig. 9, according to Hernæs 1985.


Generally speaking, a sword is a clear symbol of elite status and power. It is evident that Old Norse people, like people anywhere else, tended to compare to one another, be it in skills or wealth. This often resulted in quite a heated dialogue, in which men attempted to triumph in greatness of their qualities (so called mannjafnaðr). Swords undoubtedly played a role of wealth and status symbols in such situations. Looking from a broader perspective, one can find the answer in Norway that was multipolar in 9th and 10th century – ruling families were attempting centralisation, which resulted in creation of society with a strong feel for expressing its independence or importance through adopting the elitism model of sword ownership and its placing in graves. This led to Norway providing us with immense amount of sword finds, which is unprecedented. Social tensions affected everyone to a point, but only a few had the wealth to invest large in exclusive weaponry. “Simpler”, yet fully functional type M swords can be perceived as cheaper alternative that provided free men of lesser wealth with ability to improve reputation and identity of their families in times with no clear social stratification. This is supported by their look and amount present in both male and female graves (Kjølen, C22541).

„Simple iron parts without any precious metal decoration make up the hilt of the sword. It is a pragmatic sword, probably worn with pride, but not by the highest strata of society. Such simple and unpretentious swords seem to be the norm in mountain graves, and they were probably made or at least hilted in Norway.“ (Vike 2017)


Type M swords seem to be utility weapons that could had played a representative role to their owners. Two rare Norse swords – a sword from Strande (T1951) and sword from Lesja (C60900) – suggest that they were handed down for at least 50 years and were modified to match the latest fashion. This approach is also the case of other Viking Age swords (Fedrigo et al. 2017: 425). The swords from Strande has type E pommel, which was additionally attached to tang along with typologically younger cross-guard of type M (Petersen 1919: 78, Fig. 66). The sword from Lesja consists of blade with tang, to which a cross-guard of older sword style (type C) was attached together with type M upper guard (Vike 2017). It is also important to add that the sword from Lesja was found on an iceberg, where it most likely served a reindeer hunter 1000 years ago.

Lesja, Norway (C60900). Very well-preserved sword found in 2017 on an iceberg. Type C cross-guard with type M upper guard. Total length 92,8 cm, length and width of blade 79,4 × 6,2 cm. Thickness of blade 0,45 cm. Length of hilt 13,4 cm, grip is 10,1 cm long. Cross-guard measures 7,5 × 1,7 cm. Total weight 1203 g. Photo source: Vegard Vike, Museum of cultural history, Oslo.


Androščuk, Fedir (2014). Viking Swords : Swords and Social aspects of Weaponry in Viking Age Societies, Stockholm.

Biddle, Martin – Kjølbye-Biddle, Birthe (1992). Repton and the Vikings. In: Antiquity, Vol. 66, 38–51.

Bjørn, Anathon – Shetelig, Haakon (1940). Viking Antiquities in Great Britain and Ireland, Part 4 : Viking Antiquities in England, Bergen.

Blindheim, Charlotte – Heyerdahl-Larsen, Birgit (1995). Kaupang-funnene, Bind II. Gravplassene i Bikjholbergene/Lamøya. Undersøkelsene 1950–1957. Del A. Gravskikk, Oslo.

Blindheim, Ch. – Heyerdahl-Larsen, B. – Ingstad, Anne S. (1999). Kaupang-funnene. Bind II. Gravplassene i Bikjholbergene/Lamøya: Undersøkelsene 1950–57. Del B. Oldsaksformer. Del C. Tekstilene, Oslo.

Fedrigo, Anna et al. (2017). Extraction of archaeological information from metallic artefacts—A neutron diffraction study on Viking swords. In: Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 12, 425–436.

Hernæs, Per (1985). De østnorske sverdfunn fra yngre jernalder : en geografisk analyse. Magistergradsavhandling i nordisk arkeologi – Universitetet i Oslo, Oslo.

Jakobsson, Mikael (1992). Krigarideologi och vikingatida svärdstypologi, Stockholm : Stockholms Universitet.

Kazakevičius, Vytautas (1996). IX–XIII a. baltų kalavijai, Vilnius.

Pedersen, Anne (2014). Dead Warriors in Living Memory. A study of weapon and equestrian burials in Viking-age Denmark, AD 800-1000, Publications from the National Museum. Studies in Archaeology & History Vol. 20:1 1. (Text), Copenhagen.

Peirce, I. G. (2002). Catalogue of Examples. In: Oakeshott E. – Peirce, I. G. (eds). Swords of the Viking Age, Woodbridge, 25–144.

Petersen, Jan (1919). De Norske Vikingesverd: En Typologisk-Kronologisk Studie Over Vikingetidens Vaaben. Kristiania.

Vike, Vegard (2017). A Viking sword from Lesja. UiO Museum of Cultural History, Oslo.

Meče Petersenova typu W

V dalším článku o mečích bychom rádi představili doposud nepříliš známý Petersenův typ W. Nakolik víme, tento typ meče byl v České republice doposud rekonstruován pouze dvakrát. V následujícím článku tento zajímavý typ popíšeme, zmapujeme a odhalíme i jeho rekonstrukce.


Typ W označuje meč, jehož jílec má komponenty – tedy jednodílnou hlavici a záštitu – odlité z bronzu. Záštita je z čelního pohledu rovná, s mírně zaoblenými kratšími stranami. Jednodílná hlavice, na jejíž horní straně je roznýtován řap, má jednoduchý, půlkruhový tvar se zaoblenými hranami. Při pohledu shora je tvar obou komponentů čočkovitý, tj. ke krajům se zužující. Oba bronzové komponenty byly zhotovovány duté (viz rentgen), a to do té míry, že bronz tvoří tenkou, uvnitř dutou skořápku. Všechny známé kusy mají charakteristickou dekoraci bronzových komponentů; hlavice je sériemi linek členěna do čtyř polí, které jsou vyplněné cikcakovým vzorem. Tento vzor je dobře patrný i na záštitách; ve dvou případech je záštita zdobena soustřednými kroužky (Nedošivina 1991: 166). Dekorace se zdá být odlitá, ačkoli dělící a ohraničující linie mohly být dodatečně zvýrazněny. Některé typy se projevují blyštivě zlatavou povrchovou úpravou. Členění hlavice navazuje na typy E a Y a souvisí s typy U, V a některých exemplářích typu X. Datace spadá do 10. století. Norské kusy lze datovat do 1. poloviny 10. století (Petersen 1919: 157). Do tohoto období se datuje také Petersenův typ O, který má rovněž bronzové komponenty a může být ovlivněn stejným trendem. Ve východní Evropě lze typ W objevit v hrobech datovaných do 2. poloviny 10. století (Nedošivina 1991: 166).

typ_WDetail bronzových komponentů meče typu W. Nález objevený roku 1816 na neznámé norské lokalitě (B998). Autor: Svein Skare, Unimus.

Jílec typu W je vždy součástí dvoubřitého meče. Meče tohoto typu mají poměrně uniformní rozměry. Kompletní meče jsou dlouhé 878–930 mm, přičemž délka čepele se vždy pohybuje kolem 745-760 mm. Čepele jsou široké 50–60 mm a jsou zanořené do připravených drážek na spodních stranách záštit. Čepele jsou obvykle bez nápisů, ačkoli meč z Timereva (hrob 100) má na čepeli jasně čitelné latinské písmeno C (Nedošivina 1991: 166). Záštity dosahují délky 80–100 mm, výšky 12–18 mm a tloušťky 17–22 mm. Dochované hlavice mají délku 58–67 mm, výšku 34–37 mm a tloušťku 19–21 mm (Androščuk 2014: 79–80 a vlastní pozorování). Rukojeti jsou dlouhé 85–105 mm, což odpovídá průměrným šířkám dlaní a svědčí o výrobě na míru. Byli jsme schopni nalézt pouze čtyři kusy se zachovanými rukojetěmi; ve třech případech je řap tvořící rukojeť obložen dřevěným základem, který je v případě meče z norského Breivoldu (T3107) dodatečně potažený plátnem a spirálovitě obtočený železným drátem. Čtvrtý případ, a sice meč z Kleppu (S2453), má rukojeť parohovou. Co se týče pochev, lze předpokládat, že nabývaly standardních podob. Meč z Kleppu má zachovanou dřevěnou pochvu s koženým potahem, zatímco meč z Timereva (hrob 100) je na kresebné rekonstrukci pokryt fragmenty dřevěné pochvy (Nedošivina 1991: Рис. I.I). Na konci meče ze Šestovice se zachovalo bronzové nákončí.

typ_W5Detail zachovalého jílce meče z Breivoldu (T3107).
Autor: Ole Bjørn Pedersen, Unimus.

Abychom názorně ilustrovali anatomii tohoto typu meče, ukážeme si čtyři dobře zachované příklady:

typ_W1Bikavėnai, Litva. Celková délka 930 mm, šířka čepele 50 mm, délka rukojeti 105 mm, délka záštity 85 mm, výška záštity 18 mm. Dřevěné kusy rukojeti. Foto a popis: Kazakevičius 1996: 64–67.

typ_W2Östveda, Švédsko (SHM 25370). Celková délka 878 mm, délka čepele 743 mm, šířka čepele 50–31 mm, délka záštity 100 mm, výška záštity 14 mm, tloušťka záštity 22 mm, délka hlavice 60 mm, výška hlavice 37 mm, tloušťka hlavice 20 mm, délka rukojeti 86 mm, šířka rukojeti 20–26 mm, celková váha 892 g. Foto a popis: Androščuk 2014: 79, 337–338, Fig. 35.

typ_W3Šestovica, hrob 42, Ukrajina. Celková délka 890 mm, celková délka jílce 145 mm, šířka čepele 60 mm, délka záštity 85 mm, výška záštity 17 mm, délka hlavice 60 mm, výška hlavice 35 mm. Hrot meče opatřen nákončím. Foto a popis: Androščuk – Zocenko 2012: 212, Fig. 151; Jana Korkodim, Wojtek Szanek.

kleppKlepp (S2453), Norsko. Celková délka 899 mm, celková délka jílce 139 mm, délka čepele 760 mm, šířka čepele 58 mm, délka záštity 100 mm, výška záštity 12 mm, tloušťka záštity 21 mm, délka hlavice 59 mm, výška hlavice 36 mm, tloušťka hlavice 21 mm, délka rukojeti 91 mm. Autor: Unimus.


Obecně vzato typ W nemá mezi evropskými meči příliš velké zastoupení – v současné době evidujeme 19 kusů. Distribuce je však zajímavá a zaslouží si pozornost. Není překvapivé, že nejvyšší počet známe z Norska. Zatímco Petersen znal 8 norských mečů typu W (Petersen 1919: 156), Hernæs jich zná již devět a tento počet se zdá být stále aktuální (Hernæs 1985). Pouze čtyři z nich mají částečně zachované čepele, zbytek tvoří jílcové komponenty. Ve Švédsku známe jeden meč a dva jílcové komponenty (Androščuk 2014: 79). Dva komponenty – jednu hlavici a jednu záštitu – známe z německého Šlesvicka (Geibig 1991: Tab. 164:4–5). Dva zástupce známe z Timereva v Rusku (hroby 100 a 287), kde nalezneme jeden kompletní meč a jeden fragment hlavice (Nedošivina 1991: 166–167, Рис. I.I). Jeden kompletní meč známe z litevské lokality Bikavėnai (Kazakevičius 1996: 64–67) a jeden meč z ukrajinské Šestovice (Androščuk – Zocenko 2012: 212). Poslední exemplář – typicky dekorovaný fragment hybridní varianty typu W s dvoudílnou hlavicí odlitou z bronzu – byl nalezen roku 2015 při sídlištním výkopu v moravském Pohansku a zůstává prozatím nepublikován (osobní diskuze s Jiřím Koštou). Přestože někteří autoři uvádějí také nálezy z Velké Británie (Jakobsson 1992: 213; Żabiński 2007: 65), je potřeba poukázat, že všechny tyto meče mají železné komponenty, takže nesplňují základní kritérium typu W.

Z celkového počtu 19 kusů tvoří 8 meče či jejich fragmenty, zatímco zbývajících 11 představuje tvoří oddělené bronzové komponenty. Meče typu W byly nalezeny v 7 zemích, jsou tedy poměrně rozptýleny v porovnání s celkovými počty. Hlavní nálezovou oblastí je severní a východní Evropa, kde se meče nacházejí na významných lokalitách.

typ_W4Distribuce typu W podle Jakobssona (1992: 228).


V této kapitole bychom chtěli představit čtyři zdařilé rekonstrukce Petersenova typu W, které zhotovili různí evropští mečíři.

Šířka čepele 68–40 mm. Váha 1540 gramů, vyváženo 170 mm od záštity.
Výrobce: Tomáš Zela, 2017.

Rekonstrukce meče ze Šestovice 42. Váha 1200 gramů.
Výrobce: Dmitrij Chramcov, 2015.

Rekonstrukce meče ze Šestovice 42 v porovnání s originálem.
Výrobce: Wojtek Szanek, 2016.

bobrVýrobce: Petr Floriánek, Radek Lukůvka, 2018.

Poděkování a věnování

Tato práce vznikla díky podnětu Tomáše Břenka ze skupiny Goryničové, který vlastní rekonstrukci vyrobenou Tomášem Zelou. Jelikož tento typ nebyl na českých bojištích dosud k vidění, vznikla potřeba poukázat na nálezy a jejich rozšíření. Poděkování si zaslouží každý vytrvalý zájemce, který se nenechal odradit vyčkáváním. Své zásluhy na článku má také Sergej Kainov, který poukázal na dva ruské nálezy, a Ferenc Tavasz, který mi vypomohl svými radami. Článek bych chtěl konečně věnovat svému příteli, mečíři Janu Motyčkovi a jeho potomkovi, který právě přichází na tento svět.


Androščuk, Fedir (2014). Viking Swords : Swords and Social aspects of Weaponry in Viking Age Societies, Stockholm.

Androščuk, Fedir – Zocenko, Vladimir = Андрощук Ф. O. – Зоценко В. (2012). Скандинавские древности Южной Руси: каталог, Paris.

Geibig, Alfred (1991). Beiträge zur morphologischen Entwicklung des Schwertes im Mittelalter : eine Analyse des Fundmaterials vom ausgehenden 8. bis zum 12. Jahrhundert aus Sammlungen der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Neumünster.

Hernæs, Per (1985). De østnorske sverdfunn fra yngre jernalder : en geografisk analyse. Magistergradsavhandling i nordisk arkeologi – Universitetet i Oslo, Oslo.

Jakobsson, Mikael (1992). Krigarideologi och vikingatida svärdstypologi, Stockholm : Stockholms Universitet.

Kazakevičius, Vytautas (1996). IX–XIII a. baltų kalavijai, Vilnius.

Petersen, Jan (1919). De Norske Vikingesverd: En Typologisk-Kronologisk Studie Over Vikingetidens Vaaben. Kristiania.

Nedošivina N. G. = Недошивина Н. Г. (1991). Предметы вооружения, снаряжение всадника и верхового коня тимеревского могильника // Материалы по средневековой археологии Северо-Восточной Руси, Москва: 165–181.

Żabiński, Grzegorz (2007). Viking Age Swords from Scotland. In: Studia i Materiały – Studies and Materials, Acta Militaria Mediaevalia III., Kraków – Sanok: 29–84.

Meče Petersenova typu M

Jelikož řada vikinských mečů se vyznačuje dekorací, která kvalitní rekonstrukce značně prodražuje, byl jsem svými kolegy osloven, zda bych nemohl zveřejnit některé nezdobené kusy, které by bylo možné snadněji rekonstruovat. Moje volba padla na Petersenův typ M. Vzhledem k jednoduchosti má tento typ mezi skandinávskými meči četné zastoupení, a protože jde dnes o často přehlížený typ, rozhodně si zaslouží naši pozornost.


Typ M (též jako R. 489) označuje variantu meče, která tvoří stupeň mezi typem F a typem Q. Tento typ se vyznačuje jednoduchým jílcem, který připomíná tvar písmene I. Ostře řezaná záštita a hlavice jsou zpravidla rovné a stejně vysoké, ve výjimečných případech je záštita mírně zakřivená. Hlavice je tvořena prostou, záštitě podobnou příčkou (tzv. „horní záštita“), na které je roznýtován řap a která nikdy není rozšířena o korunu. Z čelní pohledové strany jsou záštita i hlavice obdélníkového tvaru. Boční strany jsou obvykle ploché, méně často zaoblené. Důležitým rysem typu M je nedekorovaný jílec. Čepele jsou obvykle dvoubřité (jednobřité varianty tvoří podle Petersena zhruba 15%) a prosté, ačkoli známe i několik málo norských a švédských čepelí, které byly vyrobeny metodou svářkového damašku (Androščuk 2014: 386–7; Petersen 1919: 118). Petersen poznamenává, že žádná norská čepel nenese nápis, což je podle našich informací stále aktuální. Na čepeli z finské Eury můžeme nalézt variantu nápisu ULFBERHT (Kazakevičius 1996: 39). Ač se jedná o meče s jednoduchým designem, jsou vyrobeny z kvalitních materiálů.

Meč z islandské lokality Framdalir. Androščuk 2014: 68, Fig. 23.

Meče typu M jsou obecně dlouhé do jednoho metru, obvykle kolem 80–90 cm. Nejdelší meč, který jsme byli schopni dohledat, měří 95 cm. Průměrná šířka skandinávských čepelí je kolem 5,5–6 cm, někdy dosahuje až k 6,5 cm. Celková váha u zjištěných, průměrně dlouhých kusů činí 1100–1200 gramů. Nejkratší kus, který se nám podařilo zjistit, váží 409 gramů a je dlouhý 47,7 cm, přičemž čepel je 38,5 cm dlouhá a 0,48 cm tlustá (Peirce 2002: 86). Tento meč, který měl být údajně nalezen v chlapeckém hrobu, se zdá být zmenšenou, avšak jinak plnohodnotnou verzí. Abychom nastínili anatomii tohoto zajímavé typu, vybrali jsme šest relativně dobře zachovalých exemplářů, které detailněji popíšeme.

Dovre, Norsko (C59045). Skvěle zachovalý meč uložený v hrobu, nalezený roku 2013. Celková délka 89 cm. Délka čepele 77 cm. Šířka čepele 5,9 cm. Žlábek patrný od 12 cm od záštity po 6 cm od hrotu. Délka jílce 12 cm. Délka rukojeti 9,3 cm. Šířka rukojeti 3,4 cm. Délka, výška a tloušťka záštity 9,4 cm × 1,1 cm × 2,3 cm. Délka, výška a tloušťka hlavice 7 cm × 1,3 × 2,2–2,3 cm. Váha 1141,1 g. Foto: Vegard Vike, Kulturně historické muzeum v Oslu.

C58919_FlesbergÅsland, Norsko (C58919). Zachovalý meč uložený v hrobu, nalezený roku 2013. Celková délka 87 cm. Délka rukojeti 8,5 cm. Délka, výška a tloušťka záštity 11,6 cm × 1,2 cm × 2,6 cm. Délka, výška a tloušťka hlavice 8,1 cm × 1,2 cm × 2,7 cm. Foto: Elin Christine Storbekk, Kulturně historické muzeum v Oslu.

C24244_ArgehovdMogen, Norsko (C24244). Skvěle zachovalý meč uložený v hrobu, nalezený před rokem 1937. Celková délka 85 cm. Šířka čepele: 5,5 cm. Délka rukojeti 9,6 cm. Délka záštity 12,9 cm. Délka hlavice 8,3 cm. Foto: Peirce 2002: 86, Kulturně historické muzeum v Oslu.

C53462_TelemarkTelemark, Norsko (C53462). Částečně zkorodovaný meč, darovaný muzeu roku 2004. Celková délka 71 cm. Délka poškozené čepele 59,5 cm. Šířka čepele 5,8 cm. Délka rukojeti 9,7 cm. Délka a výška záštity 10,5 cm × 1 cm. Délka a výška hlavice 6,8 cm × 0,8 cm. Foto: Ellen C. Holte, Kulturně historické muzeum v Oslu.

parisNeznámá francouzská lokalita, zřejmě říční nález (Musée de l’Armée, Paris; J3). Skvěle zachovalý meč, nalezený před rokem 1890. Celková délka 90 cm. Délka čepele 75 cm. Šířka čepele 5,3 cm. Délka záštity: 10 cm. Délka rukojeti 12 cm. Foto: Peirce 2002: 86, Musée de l’Armée negativ K23710.

T19391-rorosRøros, Norsko (T19391). Dobře zachovalý meč, nalezený roku 1973. Celková délka 90 cm. Délka čepele 78 cm. Šířka čepele 5,5 cm. Délka, výška a tloušťka záštity 12,2 cm × 1,3 cm × 2,3 cm. Délka, výška a tloušťka hlavice 8,1 cm × 1,3 cm × 2,1 cm. Foto: Ole Bjørn Pedersen, Kulturně historické muzeum v Oslu.

Pozornost můžeme věnovat také organickým pozůstatkům nalezeným na mečích typu M. Obecně vzato lze říci, že řada mečů vykazuje jasné stopy dřevěného obložení rukojeti a dřevěné pochvy. Uveďme si několik konkrétních příkladů. Meč z hrobu č. 511 v anglickém Reptonu byl uložen v dřevěné pochvě, která byla vystlána ovčím rounem a potažena kůží (Biddle – Kjølbye-Biddle 1992: 49). Pochva byla opatřena závěsným systémem, ze kterého se zachovala pouze odlévaná přezka. Rukojeť byla vyrobena z měkkého dřeva, které bylo ovinuto pruhem textilu. Meč z islandského Öndverðarnesu (Kt 47) měl dřevěnou rukojeť omotanou tenkým, splétaným provázkem, a dřevěnou pochvu potaženou textilií (Eldjárn 2000: 326). U hrotu byly nalezeny pozůstatky koženého potahu pochvy, zatímco 3 cm pod záštitou se nacházely pozůstatky po průvleku mečového pásu. V dalším islandském hrobu, tentokrát z lokality Sílastaðir (Kt 98), byl uložen meč s jílcem obloženým dřevěnými střenkami, které byly zasunuté pod záštitu a které byly u hlavice omotané provázkem (Eldjárn 2000: 326). Pochva tohoto meče je dřevěná, zevnitř vystlaná textilem, navrchu lnem a kůží. Na několika místech jsou stále patrné profilované omoty okolo pochvy. 12 cm pod záštitou se nacházel kovový pásek, který nejspíše sloužil k uchycení mečového pásu. Pochva byla u hrotu opatřena koženým nákončím.

Organické komponenty se poměrně četně objevují rovněž u norských mečů typu M. Jeden z mečů z Kaupangu měl dřevěnou rukojeť obtočenou provázkem či řemínkem a dřevěnou pochvu potaženou kůží (Blindheim – Heyerdahl-Larsen 1995: 61). Fragmenty dřevěných rukojetí a pochev současně byly nalezeny u mečů z Brekke (B10670), Hogstadu (C52343), Kolstadu (T12963), Størenu (Androščuk 2014: 76, Pl. 111) a Åslandu (C58919). U meče z Nedre Øksnavadu (S12274) byla nalezena dřevěná rukojeť a pochva potažená textilem. Meč z Eikrem (T12199), který zřejmě přináleží k typu M, měl smrkovou pochvu s díly přichycenými svorkami, která byla potažená kůží a textilem. Meč ze Soggebakke (T16395) byl opatřen dřevěnou pochvou. Na mečích z Hallem søndre (T13555), Havsteinu (T15297) a Holtanu (T16280) byly nalezeny fragmenty dřevěných rukojetí. Toto je pouze omezený výčet, který bylo možné nalézt během krátkého pátrání, přesto jde o nesmírně cenný materiál, díky kterému si můžeme udělat dobrou představu, jak vypadal typický meč typu M.


Meče z islandského Öndverðarnesu a norského Kaupangu.
Blindheim – Heyerdahl-Larsen 1995: Pl. 48; Eldjárn 2000: 326, 161. mynd.

Distribuce a datace

Pokud jde o rozšíření, zdá se, meče typu M jsou z velké části norskou doménou. Roku 1919 Petersen uvedl, že v celém Norsku známe nejméně 198 mečů typu M, z nichž nejméně 30 mělo jednobřitou čepel (Petersen 1919: 117–121). Za posledních 100 let však bylo objeveno nepřeberné množství nových nálezů, které každým rokem přibývají – kupříkladu ve Vestfoldu, který Petersen vůbec neuvádí, nyní již evidujeme 42 nálezů (Blindheim et al. 1999: 81). Nejvyšší koncentraci mečů typu M nalezneme ve východním Norsku a Sognsku, kde podle Pera Hernæse (1985) známe nejméně 375 mečů. Mikael Jakobsson (1992: 210) v Norsku eviduje 409 mečů. Současný počet bude zcela jistě ještě vyšší. Zřejmě nebudeme daleko od pravdy, pokud řekneme, že typ M je spolu s typem H/I jedním z nejrozšířenějších typů norských mečů. V okolních zemích známé mečů nepoměrně méně. Ve Švédsku je v současné době známo 10 exemplářů (Androščuk 2014: 69), na Islandu nejméně 4 (Eldjárn 2000: 330), ve Velké Británii známe nejméně 4 kusy (Biddle – Kjølbye-Biddle 1992: 49; Bjørn – Shetelig 1940: 18, 26), 4 ve Francii (Jakobsson 1992: 211), 2 v Dánsku (Pedersen 2014: 80), 3 ve Finsku, 1 v Irsku a 1 v Německu (Jakobsson 1992: 211; Kazakevičius 1996: 39). Vytautas Kazakevičius (1996: 39) udává nejméně 9 mečů typu M z baltských zemí, nejméně dva meče z Polska a dva z České republiky. Podle Jiřího Košty z České republiky neznáme jediný nález meče typu M a jedná se o běžný mýtus hojně citovaný v literatuře (osobní diskuze s Jiřím Koštou). Baltské meče jsou specifické – jsou kratší a mají jednobřitou užší čepel, a proto jsou interpretovány jako místní produkty. Lze tedy říci, že evidujeme něco přes 440 kusů, i když reálně již bude mnohem více.

Co se datování týče, Petersen soudí, že se první meče tohoto typu v Norsku objevují někdy v polovině 9. století a přetrvávají do začátku 10. století (Petersen 1919: 121). Nové nálezy z východního Norska, zejména z Kaupangu, ukázaly, že do hrobů byly ukládány v 1. polovině 10. století (Blindheim et al. 1999: 81). Dva švédské kusy, které lze datovat, pocházejí z 10. století (Androščuk 2014: 69), což platí i pro islandské meče (Eldjárn 2000: 330). Polské kusy lze datovat do 9. století (Kazakevičius 1996: 39). Meče typu M se tak objevují v širokém geografickém i chronologickém horizontu, a můžeme spekulovat o tom, zda podobnost není spíše náhodně způsobena jednoduchým designem.

Rozšíření typu M ve východním Norsku a Sognsku.
Podle Hernæse 1985; převzato z Blindheim et al. 1999: 81, Fig. 9.


Obecně vzato je meč jasně čitelným symbolem elitního postavení a moci. Je evidentní, že se staří Seveřané, stejně jako jiní lidé kdekoli na světě, porovnávali navzájem, např. dovednostmi a majetkem. Nezřídka se porovnávání zvrhlo v poměrně ostré dialogy, ve kterých se muži předháněli ve svých kvalitách (tzv. mannjafnaðr). Meče při tomto jistě napomáhaly jako prostředky demonstrace bohatství a přináležitosti k „vyšší společnosti“. Při dobrém pohledu nám klíčovou odpověď může dát Norsko, které bylo v 9. a 10. století multipolární a snahy rodů o centralizaci daly vzniknout společnosti, jež cítila silnou potřebu vyjádřit svou nezávislost či důležitost skrze kopírování elitního modelu – tedy vlastnictví mečů a jejich následné uložení do hrobů. Toto vedlo k tomu, že v Norsku nacházíme neskutečně obrovské množství mečů, které nemá obdoby. Společenské pnutí do určité míry zasáhlo všechny, ale jen někteří si mohli dovolit investovat nemalé jmění do exkluzivní zbraně. „Jednodušší“, avšak plnohodnotné meče typu M můžeme vnímat jako levnější alternativy, které svobodným, lépe situovaným sedlákůma jejich rodinám dávaly možnost vyzvednout svou identitu v době, kdy neexistovala jasně vymezená společenská hierarchie. To vysvětluje jejich vzhled i četnost, a to jak v mužských, tak i v ženských hrobech (Kjølen, C22541).

„Jílec meče tvoří jednoduché železné komponenty. Je to pragmatický meč, zřejmě nošený s pýchou, ale nikoli nejvyšší vrstvou společnosti. Tyto jednoduché a skromné meče se zdají být normou v hrobech z horských oblastí. Pravděpodobně byly vyrobeny nebo přinejmenším opatřeny jílcem v Norsku.“

Vegard Vike (2017)

Meče typu M se jeví jako užitkové zbraně, které však vlastníkům mohly sloužit k reprezentaci. Dva raritní norské meče – meč ze Strande (T1951) a meč z Lesji (C60900) – naznačují, že byly předávány nejméně 50 let a průběhu času byly aktualizovány, aby splňovaly nároky na módu, což lze vysledovat i u dalších vikinských mečů (Fedrigo et al. 2017: 425). Meč ze Strande má hlavici typu E, která byla dodatečně doplněna na řap s typologicky mladší záštitou typu M (Petersen 1919: 78, Fig. 66). Meč z Lesji tvoří čepel s řapem, na který byla namontována záštita z typologicky staršího meče typu C a hlavice typu M (Vike 2017). Nutno také dodat, že meč z Lesji byl objeven na ledovci, kde před více než 1000 lety nejspíše sloužil lovci sobů.

Lesja, Norsko (C60900). Skvěle zachovalý meč nalezený roku 2017 v ledovci. Záštita typu C, hlavice typu M. Celková délka 92,8 cm. Délka čepele 79,4 cm. Šířka čepele 6,2 cm. Tloušťka čepele 0,45 cm. Délka jílce 13,4 cm. Délka rukojeti 10,1 cm. Délka a výška záštity 7,5 cm × 1,7 cm. Váha 1203 g. Foto: Vegard Vike, Kulturně historické muzeum v Oslu.


Androščuk, Fedir (2014). Viking Swords : Swords and Social aspects of Weaponry in Viking Age Societies, Stockholm.

Biddle, Martin – Kjølbye-Biddle, Birthe (1992). Repton and the Vikings. In: Antiquity, Vol. 66, s. 38–51.

Bjørn, Anathon – Shetelig, Haakon (1940). Viking Antiquities in Great Britain and Ireland, Part 4 : Viking Antiquities in England, Bergen.

Blindheim, Charlotte – Heyerdahl-Larsen, Birgit (1995). Kaupang-funnene, Bind II. Gravplassene i Bikjholbergene/Lamøya. Undersøkelsene 1950–1957. Del A. Gravskikk, Oslo.

Blindheim, Ch. – Heyerdahl-Larsen, B. – Ingstad, Anne S. (1999). Kaupang-funnene. Bind II. Gravplassene i Bikjholbergene/Lamøya: Undersøkelsene 1950–57. Del B. Oldsaksformer. Del C. Tekstilene, Oslo.

Fedrigo, Anna et al. (2017). Extraction of archaeological information from metallic artefacts—A neutron diffraction study on Viking swords. In: Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 12, s. 425–436.

Hernæs, Per (1985). De østnorske sverdfunn fra yngre jernalder : en geografisk analyse. Magistergradsavhandling i nordisk arkeologi – Universitetet i Oslo, Oslo.

Jakobsson, Mikael (1992). Krigarideologi och vikingatida svärdstypologi, Stockholm : Stockholms Universitet.

Kazakevičius, Vytautas (1996). IX–XIII a. baltų kalavijai, Vilnius.

Pedersen, Anne (2014). Dead Warriors in Living Memory. A study of weapon and equestrian burials in Viking-age Denmark, AD 800-1000, Publications from the National Museum. Studies in Archaeology & History Vol. 20:1 1. (Text), Copenhagen.

Peirce, I. G. (2002). Catalogue of Examples. In: Oakeshott E. – Peirce, I. G. (eds). Swords of the Viking Age, Woodbridge: 25–144.

Petersen, Jan (1919). De Norske Vikingesverd: En Typologisk-Kronologisk Studie Over Vikingetidens Vaaben. Kristiania.

Vike, Vegard (2017). A Viking sword from Lesja. UiO Museum of Cultural History, Oslo.

Gokstad belt recreations


Then and now : the mound after the opening and the current state.

Dear reader, welcome back on this site that is dedicated to research and reenactment!

This time, we will examine belt components from Gokstad mound, Southern Norway. Being covered with 50×43 meters big mound and consisting of a richly furnished ship, the grave is one of the most well-known Scandinavian burials (more here and here). The buried person was probably a man of high rank that was connected to ruling family. Thanks to dendrochronological analysis, it was found that the timber for the burial chamber was cut in the first decade of the 10th century, and therefore the whole grave can be dated to this period (Bonde – Christensen 1993).

Even though the grave was robbed and all weapons and valuables were presumably taken, the presence of organic remnants – like skeletons, leather and wooden objects – as well as some cast products, makes the grave significant. However, the only scientific overview of the find was published by Nicolay Nicolaysen in 1882. It might seem some objects are not even treated in the book, while others are not depicted or described, but we have to realize that the mound was re-opened several times, namely in 1925 and 1928/9. From around 1950 onwards, Gokstad grave has been given academic attention several times, that covered bone, wood and metal analysis, detailed scanning of wooden objects and non-destructive documentation of the mound and near landscape. This delicate work has brought some light into how colourful the grave was originally (for example Bill 2013).


The grave of Gokstad recreated. Made by Ragnar L. Børsheim,

Among the finds, there were also many belts components. Before the experimental part of this article, it has to be said that it is not able to determine the sets, nor which components could be waist-worn and which were used as parts of horse bridles. That makes reconstruction extremely difficult, virtually impossible. To sum up, there are at least six belt buckles, at least nine strap-ends, at least seventy-four mounts of eleven different kinds and at least three belt slides. The complete list can be seen or downloaded here. Given the fact the burial consisted of twelve horses, eight dogs, several birds etc., it is very probably the most of belts belonged to animals. In the text below, you can read two different approaches of experienced reenactors and owners of custom-made Gokstad belt recreations. They both try to portray Norwegian high rank men from the 9th/10th century.


Reconstruction of the bridle from Borre. Taken from


Reconstruction of the bridle from Gokstad.



Selection of belt components from Gokstad. Taken from Nicolaysen 1882.

joschJosch Weinbacher

Mannschaft der Ormrinn Brands, Austria

Belts are a crucial parts of reenactor kits. I consider them to belong to the basics, that everyone should get for a start, next to a tunic, trousers, shoes and a simple everyday-use knife. For a lower class character basically everything that can bind the tunic at the waist can serve as a belt. There is, hovever, a tendency towards richly decorated belts, and reenactors often purchase beautifully looking belts with rich fittings, even before doing proper research. I was no different in the beginning, I have to admit. When I started, I bought the first „viking-style“ belt, labelled so because of an overall nordic style, but absolutely not fitting to the region and time I wanted to depict (Norway in the 9th century). It was, in fact, not nordic, nor even early medieval at all, as I found out later.

I could have avoided that by doing my research, but also by taking smaller steps first. A simple D-shaped buckle would have served me perfectly, as I now recognize, and in my opinion even a simple leather strap, a piece of hemp rope or a pleated band would have been sufficient.

After a while, when my ambitions grew and my methods of research got better, I recognized that the issue with belts was a big one, because of a simple fact: tunics, trousers, shoes and knifes are somewhat generic in their overall look, it is hard to specify a reenactors region and timeframe by them alone. The fittings of a belt, however, can identify a person, if they are shaped according to a specific find. That is not only true for belts, but for jewellery in general. That’s way you can easily spot for example a brooch from Gotland on Norwegian woman’s apron, and it can be supposed she did not do her research properly. For belts it is much the same, regions and timeframes get mixed and mingled with others or are chosen wrongly, horsegear appears on people, and even unintended crossdressing can happen. Therefore, I decided that I had to purchase something that would fit the region and timeframe our group depicted better. The Gokstad ship-burial seemed obvious in that regard, because I am the leader of our group and was supposed to show some wealth in my kit.

This was actually of a great difficulty for me. Showing wealth in your kit is, to some extent, forcing you to be wealthy in reality too. Of course a modern recreation of a period piece does not match the worth of the original, but they can be quite expensive anyways. Needless to tell any reenactor that this hobby is an expensive one, I am sure.

When I decided to get myself Gokstad belt, I checked out some artisans who cast belt-fittings, located in Germany. The prices were stunning, and in the end I went along with a kind of poor recreation from an e-shop, that only featured the buckle and strap-end I desired, but no further ornaments, and it was smaller in size than the original. I went along with that for some years, but I was never fully satisfied. It was by mere chance that I later discovered a maker in Poland, who had quite reasonable prices and sold belts with Gokstad fittings. The assambling of the belt was not perfect, because the fittings were placed in a way, that they would be visible if one used the famous belt-knot that is widely accepted in reenactment, but for which there is not real evidence I have knowledge of. So I ordered the fittings only, and intended to assemble the belt myself.

Meanwhile I asked one of our group members, who had allready gained some experience in dying leather with period ingredients, if he could dye a strap for my belt in a bright red, making the finished piece more imposing. He came up with a recipe he found in the Mappae Clavicula, speaking of red wine and kermes. Cochineal was used as a replacement for kermes, again a matter of finances. The result was great. The belt did not become bright red, as intended, but took on dark, almost purple red, much like the colour of wine. For me, it is mostly that colour that makes the belt so great. When the ormaments arrived in the end, I only had to assamble the whole thing. Now I’m finally satisfied with my attire, even if the belt is not yet finished, since I’m still lacking one specific fitting, that I will add when I manage to find it. So my journey to a beautiful belt was a long one, and I have not yet fully completed it, but I am happy that my kit is again a bit improved. And that is, by all means, a process, that can never really end.


tomasTomáš Vlasatý

Marobud, Czech Republic

During my reenactment “career”, I have had about five or six belts. Some of them were done with pure fantasy, others were based on particular finds. In the beginning of 2016, I started to feel the need for a new belt, that would fit to my 10th century Norwegian impression. To be honest, it is not so easy to find a well-preserved belt, consisting of a buckle and a strap-end, in the region. Therefore, I decided for Gokstad.

My incredibly skilled friend Jan Bana from Storrvara took the task and made the set to order. During the process, he kept me updated by photos, so I could make some correction online. After several months, the bronze set was done, for a really reasonable price. The set consists of a buckle (C10437), a strap-end (C24239c) and twelve mounts (6×C10445 and 6×C10446). My friend and fellow Jakub Zbránek mounted the components to an impregnated belt for me.

It is true that my choice was quite hasty and motivated by the urge of recreation of unique objects. Indeed, some components are, to my best knowledge, the first imitations after 1100 years. Due to my decision, we were forced to make the buckle a bit smaller than the original, with a bronze tongue and without a folded sheet; the find from Hedrum (T1620) can be an analogy, when it comes to reconstruction. Another mistake is that no component is gilded. The biggest fault, however, is the usage of mounts, that were, with high probability, parts of horse bridles. If I spent more time doing the research, I would save money, and more importantly, my kit would be more accurate. On the other hand, my mistakes encouraged me to write this article. The fact that I was wrong is very important for me and my future progress. I am sure that I am going to order a new one in some time, a belt that would be more accurate and that could be called “a replica”.


Before the very end, let me express my thanks to Josch Weinbacher. In case you found this article inspiring, feel free to share it in your community or let us know. For any questions or notes, please, use the comment board below. Love the past, enjoy the present and look forward to the future!

  • Bill, Jan (2013). Revisiting Gokstad. Interdisciplinary investigations of a find complex investigated in the 19th century: In: Sebastian Brather – Dirk Krausse (ed.), Fundmassen. Innovative Strategien zur Auswertung frühmittelalterlicher Quellenbestände, Darmstadt: Konrad Theiss Verlag, s. 75–86.
  • Bonde, Niels – Christensen, Arne Emil (1993). Dendrochronological dating of the Viking Age ship burials at Oseberg, Gokstad and Tune, Norway. In: Antiquity. A quarterly review of archaeology vol. 67, 256, p. 575–583.
  • Nicolaysen, Nicolay (1882). Langskibet fra Gokstad ved Sandefjord = The Viking-ship discovered at Gokstad in Norway, Kristiania.

The helmet from Tjele

The fragment of the helmet from Tjele. Author: Arnold Mikkelsen, Nationalmuseet. Taken from the catalogue of National Museum of Denmark.

In 1850, an extraordinary find was discovered by a young farmer in the forest called Lindum Storskov, near Tjele, Denmark. The find consisted of a set of blacksmith equipment – two anvils, five hammers, three tongs, sheet metal shears, two files, a wedge, two nail headers, casting bowls (with traces of tin and lead), a small touchstone, a set of scales, nine weights, five sickles, a key, three iron nails, an axe, two jingles, a spearhead/arrowhead, bronze wires, a lid of a box for scales, bone and bronze fragments of a casket, a mount of a drinking horn, iron fragments and pieces of a helmet (Leth-Larsen 1984; Lund 2006: 325). Thanks to local authorities, the set was sent to Copenhagen, where it was analyzed. The find was published three times – in 1858 (Boye 1858), then in 1939 (Ohlhaver 1939) and finally in 1984 (Munksgaard 1984; Leth-Larsen 1984).


Some other objects from the find from Tjele. Taken from Boye 1858: Pl. II–IV.

The helmet fragment is a very interesting object, that was originally interpreted as a saddle mount. It was Elisabeth Munksgaard, who expressed the theory about the helmet. Still, it is rather an overlooked artefact that was never studied in detail nor scientifically reconstructed. That’s the reason why this article was written.

Munksgaard sums up several important details:

This winged-shaped object is not a saddle mounting, but the eyebrows and nose-gueard of a helmet, made of iron and bronze. […] We are, unfortunately, not able to judge what the Tjele helmet looked like. There is not a trace of chain mail rest of the helmet, nor any iron plates fit for making up the rest of the helmet. But there are eight fragments of thin iron strips, about 1 cm broad and of varying length which might have been used for joining the plates together.” (Munksgaard 1984: 87)

More than detailed description, her article includes the comparison with the helmet from Gjermundbu. Since she considers the helmet from Gjermundbu to be the closest analogy, it is obvious she interprets the fragment as a part of a spectacle low-domed helmet. This type of helmets was used until 1000 AD (Munksgaard 1984: 88). The dating of the find from Tjele was corrected by Lund (2006: 325, 339), who claims the set belongs to the period between 950–970 AD. Tweedle (1992: 1126) assumed that the mask was multi-pieced; two ocular pieces were riveted to the nasal. The hole in the broader piece of the nasal could support this theory. Moreover, the mask from Kyiv shows the same feature.

The size of the mask is not convincingly given, but both Munksgaard and Tweedle suggest it is 12 × 7 cm (Munksgaard 1984: 87, fig. 4; Tweedle 1992: 1128, fig. 561). Just in the middle of eyebrows, at the base of the nasal, a hole for a rivet is placed. At least one decorated bronze strip was mounted on the eyebrows. It seems that entire eyebrows were symmetrically covered by bronze strips like this one. As a result, the mask was a distictive feature of the helmet, as can be observed in cases of other helmets too (Gjermundbu, Lokrume, Kyiv or St. Wenceslas helmet).

Regarding the construction, we can not say much. Munksgaard gives the information about eight fragments of narrow bands, which makes it possible to imagine that the helmet could have the similar construction as the helmet from Gjermundbu. The dome of the helmet of Gjermundbu is formed by four triangular-shaped plates. Under the gap between each two plates, there is a narrow flat band, which is riveted to a somewhat curved band located above the gap between each two plates. In the nape-forehead direction, the flat band is formed by a single piece, that is extended in the middle (on the top of the helmet) and forms the base for the spike. There are two flat bands in the lateral direction. Triangular-shaped plates are riveted to each corner of the extended part of the nape-forehead band. A broad band, with visible profiled line, is riveted to the rim of the dome. Two rings were connected to the very rim of the broad band, probably remnants of the aventail. In the front, the decorated mask is riveted onto the broad band.

The scheme of the helmet. Made by Tomáš Vlasatý and Tomáš Cajthaml.

The scheme of the helmet of Gjermundbu. Made by Tomáš Vlasatý and Tomáš Cajthaml.

Even though the mask from Tjele is just a fragment, we can not underestimate the meaning of this find. It broadens our vision about Viking Age protective gear, its decoration and the makers. Recently, two of my friends have tried to replicate the helmet fragment from Tjele. The reconstruction of the complete helmet is impossible, but I personally think that these both versions are decent and plausible tries that should be accepted by reenactment community.

First, let’s have a look on the work of Dmitry Hramtsov. The dome of this version is based on Vendel Period helmets. Since multi-pieced masks are typical for pre-Viking helmets, such a dome seems to be understandable. Metal bands are, however, much wider than those found in Tjele. The eyebrows are decorated with 14 bronze strips.


The second try is the helmet made by Konstantin Shiryaev and Maxim Teryoshin. In this case, the dome is based on the helmet from Gjermundbu. Konstantin used 16 bronze strips.


Boye, V. (1858). To fund af smedeværktøi fra den sidste hedenske tid i Danmark (Thiele-Fundet og Snoldelev-Fundet). In: Annaler for Nordisk Oldkyndighed og Historie, København: 191–200.

Leth-Larsen, B. (1984). Selected objects from the stock of the Tjele smith. In: Offa 41, Neumünster: 91–96.

Lund, J. (2006). Vikingetidens værktøjskister i landskab og mytologi (Viking Period tool chests in the landscape and in mythology). In: Fornvännen 101, Stockholm: 323–341.

Munksgaard, E. (1984). A Viking Age smith, his tools and his stock-in-trade. In: Offa 41, Neumünster: 85–89.

Ohlhaver, H. (1939). Der germanische Schmied und sein Werkzeug. Hamburger Schriften zur Vorgeschichte und Germanischen Frühgeschichte, Band 2, Leipzig.

Tweddle, D. (1992). The Anglian Helmet from 16-22 Coppergate, The Archaeology of York. The Small Finds AY 17/8, York.

“The man from Voll”


Drawn reconstruction of a man from between 850–950 AD. Based on graves from central Norway, including the grave from Voll. Taken from Hjardar, Kim – Vike, Vegard (2011). Vikinger i krig, Oslo, p. 47.

After a month of hard work, I would like to present my article named “The man from Voll : An example of a well-preserved Norwegian male grave“. In this short article, I provided a summary of the rich and well-preserved content of the 10th century inhumation mound from Voll, Overhalla municipality, Nord-Trøndelag county, Norway. The work is supplemented with an abundant catalogue and short reports about the making of spear sheath replicas (Are Pedersen) and a cross-shaped dress pin recreation Roman Král). The article summarizes organic objects in Viking Age graves and suggests how these objects could have been used in the everyday life.

The article can be downloaded by the following button. I hope you will enjoy reading this article. If you have any question or remark, please contact me or leave a comment below. If you want to learn more and support my work, please, fund me via Patreon or Paypal ( Thank you!

The helmet from Gjermundbu

On March 30 1943, Universitetets Oldsaksamling in Oslo gained the information that a farmer named Lars Gjermundbo found and dug into a huge mound on his land near the farm of Gjermundbu, Buskerud county, southern Norway. The place was examined by archaeologists (Marstrander and Blindheim) the next month and the result was really fascinating.


The plan of the mound. Taken from Grieg 1947: Pl. I.

The mound was 25 meters long, 8 meters broad in the widest place and 1.8 meters high in the middle part. The most of the mound was formed by stony soil; however, the interior of the middle part was paved with large stones. Some stones were found even on the surface of the mound. In the middle part, about one meter below the surface and under the stone layer, the first grave was discovered, so called Grav I. 8 meters from Grav I, in the western part of the mound, the second grave was found, Grav II. Both graves represent cremation burials from the 2nd half of the 10th century and are catalogized under the mark C27317. Both graves were documented by Sigurd Grieg in Gjermundbufunnet : en høvdingegrav fra 900-årene fra Ringerike in 1947.

Grav I consists of dozens of objects connected to personal ownership and various activities, including fighting, archery, horse riding, playing games and cooking. Among others, the most interesting are unique objects, like the chain-mail and the helmet, which became very famous and are mentioned or depicted in every relevant publication.

Předpokládaná rekonstrukce bojovníka uloženého v Gjermundbu, 10. století. Podle

Possible reconstruction of the gear that was found in Grav I, Gjermundbu. Taken from Hjardar – Vike 2011: 155. The shape of the aventail is the weak point of the reconstruction.

© 2016 Kulturhistorisk museum, UiO

The helmet is often described as the only complete helmet known from the Viking Age. Unfortunately, it is not true, for at least two reasons. Firstly, the helmet is not by any means complete – it shows heavy damage and consists of only 17 fragments in the current state, which means one-fourth or one-third of the helmet. To be honest, fragments of the helmet are glued onto a plaster matrix (some of them in the wrong position) that has the rough form of the original helmet. Careless members of academia present this version as a reconstruction in the museum and in books, and this trend is then copied by reenactors and the general public. I have to agree with Elisabeth Munksgaard (Munksgaard 1984: 87), who wrote: “The Gjermundbu helmet is neither well preserved nor restored.

The current state of the helmet. Picture taken by Vegard Vike.

Secondly, there are at least 5 other published fragments of helmets spread across Scandinavia and areas with strong Scandinavian influence (see the article Scandinavian helmets of the 10th century). I am aware of several unpublished depictions and finds, whose reliability can not be proven. Especially, helmet fragments found in Tjele, Denmark, are very close to Gjermundbu helmet, since they consist of a mask and eight narrow metal bands 1 cm wide (see the article The helmet from Tjele). Based on the Gjermundbu helmet, Tjele helmet fragments and Kyiv mask (the shape of the original form of Lokrume fragment is unknown), we can clearly say that spectacle helmet type with decorated mask evolved from Vendel Period helmets and was the most dominant type of Scandinavian helmet until 1000 AD, when conical helmets with nasals became popular.


An old reconstruction of the helmet, made by Erling Færgestad. Taken from Grieg 1947: Pl. VI.

To be fair, the helmet from Gjermundbu is the only spectacle type helmet of the Viking Age, whose construction is completely known. Let’s have a look at it!


The scheme of the helmet. Made by Tomáš Vlasatý and Tomáš Cajthaml.

My mate Tomáš Cajthaml made a very nice scheme of the helmet, according to my instructions. The scheme is based on Grieg´s illustration, photos saved in the Unimus catalogue and observations made by researcher Vegard Vike.

The dome of the helmet is formed by four triangular-shaped plates (dark blue). Under the gap between each two plates, there is a narrow flat band, which is riveted to a somewhat curved band located above the gap between each two plates (yellow). In the nape-forehead direction, the flat band is formed by a single piece, that is extended in the middle (on the top of the helmet) and forms the base for the spike (light bluethe method of attaching the spike is not known to me). There are two flat bands in the lateral direction (green). Triangular-shaped plates are riveted to each corner of the extended part of the nape-forehead band. A broad band, with visible profiled line, is riveted to the rim of the dome (red; it is not known how the ends of this piece of metal connected to each other). Two rings were connected to the very rim of the broad band, probably remnants of the aventail. In the front, the decorated mask is riveted onto the broad band.

© 2016 Kulturhistorisk museum, UiO

Since all known dimensions are shown in the scheme, let me add some supplementary facts. Firstly, four somewhat curved bands are shown a bit differently in the scheme – they are more curved in the middle part and tapering near ends. Secondly, the spike is a very important feature and rather a matter of aesthetic than practical usage. Regarding the aventail, rings have the spacing of at least 2 cm. On contrary to chain-mail, rings from the helmet are very thick and probably butted, since no trace of rivets were found. It can not be said whether they represent the aventail, and if so, what it looked like and whether the aventail was hanging on rings or on a wire that was drawn through the rings (see my article about hanging devices of early medieval aventails). Talking about the mask, X-ray showed at least 40 lines, which form eyelashes, similarly to Lokrume helmet mask (see the article The helmet from Lokrume). In spite of modern tendencies, neither traces of metal inlay nor droplets of melted metal were found. The mask shows a two-part construction, overlaped and forge-welded at each temple and in the nose area (according to the X-ray picture taken by Vegard Vike). There is a significant difference between the thickness of plates and bands and the mask; even the mask shows uneven thickness. Initially, the surface of the helmet could be polished, according to Vegard Vike.

I believe these notes will help to the new generation of more accurate reenactors. Not counting rings, the helmet could be formed from 14 pieces and at least 33 rivets. Such a construction is a bit surprising and seems not so solid. In my opinion, this fact will lead to the discussion of reenactors whether the helmet represents a war helmet or rather a ceremonial / symbolical helmet. I personally think there is no need to see those two functions as separated.

I am very indebted to my friends Vegard Vike, who answered all my annoying question, young artist and reenactor Tomáš Cajthaml and Samuel Collin-Latour. I hope you liked reading this article. If you have any question or remark, please contact me or leave a comment below. If you want to learn more and support my work, please, fund my project on Patreon.


GRIEG, Sigurd (1947). Gjermundbufunnet : en høvdingegrav fra 900-årene fra Ringerike, Oslo.

HJARDAR, Kim – VIKE, Vegard (2011). Vikinger i krig, Oslo.

MUNKSGAARD, Elisabeth (1984). A Viking Age smith, his tools and his stock-in-trade. In: Offa 41, Neumünster, 85–89.

Scandinavian helmets of the 10th century

In this article, we will have a short look at evidences of helmets used in Scandinavia during the 10th century. Pictures of modern replicas are added as well.

Spectacle helmets:

Nasal helmets:

Unknown types:

Russian helmets in Scandinavia:



Spectacle helmets


Object, context A head on the sacrificial (or weaving?) knife from Gnëzdovo, Russia, mound number 74. 2nd half of the 10th century.
Description The head is rather schematic. Fechner writes, that the head is covered with a helmet that has typical hemisphere shape with spectacle mask. No visible spike on the top, no visible decoration. Sizov´s picture shows rather a head with beard.
Literature Fechner 1965; Sizov 1902: 91, Fig. 59, 60.



Object, context The only complete Viking Age helmet found in Gjermundbu mound 1, Norway. 2nd half of the 10th century.
Description The dome is made from 4 pieces connected with 4 quadrant ribs of semicircular section. There is a spike on the top and a plate connected to the rim of the dome. The mask is from one piece, is decorated with silvar inlay and is riveted to the plate. There are some traces of the rings on the plate, indicating that a kind of neck guard was used.
Literature Grieg 1947; Tweddle 1992: 1125-1128; Vlasatý 2016




Object, context A mask fragment found among the forging equipment in Tjele, Denmark 2nd half of the 10th century.
Description Iron mask decorated with bronze plates. The nasal is broken. It is possible there were some rivets on the nasal, indicating the mask was made from several pieces.
Literature Kirpichnikov 1973Tweddle 1992. 1126, 1128; Vlasatý 2015b.



Object, context A mask from a helmet found in Desjatinna Church in Kyiv, Ukraine. 2nd half of the 10th century.
Description Iron mask decorated with silver and gold coating and silver inlay. The nasal is broken. It is sure there were some rivets on the nasal, indicating the mask was made from several pieces. Some people suggest reversed position of the mask.
Literature Kirpichnikov 1973Tweddle 1992. 1126, 1129; Vlasaty 2018a.


Nasal helmets


Object, context A Scandinavian (Anglo-Scandinavian?) warrior depicted on the Middleton Cross B, England. 10th century.
Description The head is rather schematic. The helmet has conical shape with integral nasal. No visible decoration.
Literature Graham-Campbell 1980: cat. no. 537.



Object, context The so-called helmet of Saint Wenceslaus. The nasal and the rim are probably of Gotlandic origin, 2nd half of the 10th century, the dome is later addition (but the original dome might be similar).
Description Both nasal and rim are decorated with silver inlay and coating. The decoration of the rim resembles the piece from Lokrume. The figure on the nasal is important example of mixing pagan religion with Christianity.
Literature Hejdová 1964; Vlasaty 2018b.


Unknown types


Object, context A mask fragment from a helmet found in Lokrume, Gotland. 2nd half of the 10th century.
Description Iron fragment richly decorated with silver and copper inlay/overlay. The nasal is broken. It is impossible to claim whether the fragment belonged to spectacle or nasal helmets.
Literature Lindqvist 1925; Vlasatý 2015c.



Object, context A fragment of what could be an aventail holder. Found in the hall in Birka, 950 – 970 AD.
Description Gilded iron plate with teeth on one side. A hole for the rivet is visible. This fragment could be used as an aventail holder that can be seen on some early medieval helmets.
Literature Vlasatý 2015a.


Russian helmets in Scandinavia


Object, context Fragments of what could be a Russian helmet. Found in the hall of Birka. 950-970 AD.
Description Two gilded fragments decorated with birds and a flower and one tinned bronze conus. Rests of silvers and iron rivets are still present. It is impossible to claim whether these fragments belonged to one or two helmets.
Literature Holmquist Olausson – Petrovski 2007; Vlasatý 2014.



The number of the evidence is sufficient to claim there were 3 types of helmets in Scandinavia during the 10th century. Spectacle helmet was the most dominant and traditional type, nasal helmets probably represent a new Continental fashion and Russian helmets (like spectacle helmets in Gnëzdovo and Kyiv) form the evidence of close relations between Eastern Europe and Eastern Scandinavia. Spectacle helmets were used until 1000 AD, conical helmets with nasals became widespread in the 11th century (Munksgaard 1984: 88).

It has to be stressed that all examples are richly decorated – we can not find any proof of undecorated examples. Undecorated helmets used in 10th century reenactment are rather a reeenactism. Even the nasal of the Saint Wenceslaus helmet is decorated, even though there is no other proof of decorated conical helmet with a nasal. The tradition of helmet decoration has to be seen as important; it is obvious that decorated masks had been used to terrify oponents and to show exceptional status.

We can not see any cheek guards or chainmail aventails on masks – these devices were used on finds from different centuries and were not used in the 10th century.

Old Norse literature, mainly skaldic poetry, can bring some interesting facts as well. For example, Norwegian king Hákon the Good († 961 AD) was buried with his “gilded” helmet and another pieces of gear and his skald Eyvindr praises his arrival to Valhǫll, where he refuses to hand off his equipment.

Many authors claimed there is almost no evidence because of the weight of helmets. However, the true reason of this is that helmets were very expensive and were worn only by nobles and their retinues.

In case of deeper interest, I reccomend my further work, Grafnir hjálmar : A Comment on the Viking Age Helmets, Their Developement and Usage (in Czech).


FECHNER, Maria V. (1965). О ≪скрамасаксе≫ из Гнёздова // Новое в советской археологии, Москва, 260–262.

GRAHAM-CAMPBELL, James (1980). Viking Artefacts: A Select Catalogue, London.

GRIEG, Sigurd (1947). Gjermundbufunnet : en høvdingegrav fra 900-årene fra Ringerike, Oslo.

HEJDOVÁ, Dagmar (1964). Přilba zvaná „svatováclavská“. Sborník Národního muzea v Praze, A 18, č. 1–2, Praha.

HOLMQUIST OLAUSSON, Lena – PETROVSKI, Slavica (2007). Curious birds – two helmet (?) mounts with a christian motif from Birka’s Garrison. In: FRANSSON, Ulf (ed). Cultural interaction between east and west, Stockholm, 231–238.

KALMRING, Sven (2014). A conical bronze boss and Hedeby´s Eastern connection. In: Fornvännen 109, 1–11, Stockholm. Available at:

KIRPIČNIKOV, Anatolij N. (1971). Древнерусское оружие: Вып. 3. Доспех, комплекс боевых средств, IX–XIII вв.// АН СССР, Москва.

LINDQVIST, Sune (1925). Vendelhjälmarnas ursprung. In: Fornvännen 20, Stockholm, 181–207. Available at:

MUNKSGAARD, Elisabeth (1984). A Viking Age smith, his tools and his stock-in-trade. In: Offa 41, Neumünster, 85–89.

SIZOV, Vladimír I. (1902). Курганы Смоленской губернии I. Гнездовский могильник близ Смоленска. Материалы по археологии России 28, Санкт-Петербург.

TWEDDLE, Dominic (1992). The Anglian Helmet from 16-22 Coppergate, The Archaeology of York. The Small Finds AY 17/8, York.

VLASATÝ, Tomáš (2014). Fragmenty přilby z Birky. In: Projekt Forlǫg: Reenactment a věda [online]. [cit. 2016-01-03]. Available at:

VLASATÝ, Tomáš (2015a). Další fragment přilby z Birky. In: Projekt Forlǫg: Reenactment a věda [online]. [cit. 2016-01-03]. Available at:

VLASATÝ, Tomáš (2015b). The helmet from Tjele. In: Projekt Forlǫg: Reenactment a věda [online]. [cit. 2016-01-03]. Available at:

VLASATÝ, Tomáš (2015c). The helmet from Lokrume. In: Projekt Forlǫg: Reenactment a věda [online]. [quoted 2016-11-21]. Available at:

VLASATÝ, Tomáš (2016). The helmet from Gjermundbu. In: Projekt Forlǫg: Reenactment a věda [online]. [quoted 2016-11-21]. Available at:

VLASATÝ, Tomáš (2018a). Přilba z Kyjeva. In: Projekt Forlǫg: Reenactment a věda [online]. [quoted 2018-11-24]. Available at:

VLASATÝ, Tomáš (2018b). K původu „svatováclavské přilby“. In: Projekt Forlǫg: Reenactment a věda [online]. [quoted 2018-11-24]. Available at:

Inspiromat #7, žena z Novgorodu

Po krátké odmlce pokračujeme s inspiromatem. Tentokrát se podíváme na mladou ruskou reenactorku Jevgenii Andrejevnu ze skupiny Bílý Rys (Белая Рысь).

Jevgenija se snaží reprezentovat slovanskou ženu z Novgorodu v období od poloviny 10. po začátek 11. století. Vzhledem k absenci textilu jde o složitou rekonstrukci, která se z větší míry zakládá na nalezených špercích. Reenactorka dodává, že má dva kostýmy – jednodušší (na práci) a honosnější. Jednoduché šaty na práci a spodní šaty jsou vyrobeny ze lnu a jsou přepásané vlněným opaskem s křížovým motivem. Na opasku je zavěšený nůž a další nástroje. Nohy jsou chráněny nízkými vyšívanými botami podle nálezu z Novgorodu (viz Изюмова С.А. К истории кожевенного и сапожного ремесел Новгорода Великого // Материалы и исследования по археологии СССР, Вып. 65. Труды Новгородской археологической экспедиции, т.II, М., 1959).

Honosnější kostým obsahuje navíc vlněný kabát s hedvábným lemováním, (vypůjčený) plášť s potiskem, který byl již zmíněn v Inspiromatu 4, nebo plášť lemovaný kožešinou a modré hedvábné šaty s potiskem. Důležitou složkou kostýmu jsou pokrývky hlavy – hedvábné červené či růžové šátky fixované čelenkou z kůže a hedvábí, na níž jsou připevněné sladkovodní perly. Na čelence jsou připevněné repliky charakteristických mosazných kroužků a závěsků (Jevgenija dodává, že se chystá kupovat stříbrné varianty, které jsou vhodnější). Ty se spolu s náhrdelníky (korálky s lunetou) a ostatními šperky zakládají na nálezech z Novgorodu (viz Седова М.В. Ювелирные изделия древнего Новгорода X-XV вв., М., 1981).


Za poskytnutí fotek a za detailní popis svého kostýmu děkuji Jevgenii Andrejevně.

I would like to thank Evgenia Andreevna for granting me permission to use her photographs and for detailed description of her costume.