Jakobsson’s Hilt Typology

Jan Petersen’s revolutionary thesis De Norske Vikingesverd (1919) became a basis for many authors, who attempted to adjust or complete the work, or replace it with a typology of their own. Such an example is Mikael Jakobsson, who chose a different approach in his thesis Krigarideologi och vikingatida svärdstypologi (Stockholm, 1992), which we analyse in the text below.


The book Krigarideologi och vikingatida svärdstypologi [Warrior ideology and typology of Viking Age swords], which is a published doctoral thesis of the author, is a reputable and very thorough work. Personally, I see its main benefit in advanced analysis using data collected from majority of Europe. His goal is not a revision of Petersen’s hilt typology – with which he basically agrees – but a categorisation of broader hilt groups based on similarities in construction. Jakobsson labels these categories as “design principles”. While Petersen worked with three principles (a group with multi-lobed pommel, a group with simplified pommel, a group of unclassifiable types), Jakobsson expanded the list to six, respectively seven types:

  1. Triangle pommel
  2. Three-lobed pommel
  3. Five or more-lobed pommel
  4. Absenting pommel
  5. Curved guard
  6. Single-pieced pommel
  7. Unclassifiable


Design principle 1 : triangular pommel

Jakobsson’s triangular pommel corresponds to Petersen’s main sword types A, B, C, H and I, plus his special types 3, 6, 8 and 15. The swords using this design principle comprise a substantial part of swords finds portfolio – at least 884 pieces (48%) according to Jakobsson. This equals to 529 swords in Norway (60%), 147 in Sweden (17%), 81 in Finland (9%), 4 in Denmark (0,5%), 94 in Western Europe (11%) and 29 in Eastern Europe (3%). Their origin can be traced to continental swords with pyramid-shaped pommels. This principle emerged in Scandinavia sometime between the half and end of 8th century under the influence of Carolingian swords and remained there until the end of 10th century.

princip1-typyPetersen’s sword types corresponding with Jakobsson‘s design principle 1.

princip1-rozsireniDistribution of design principle 1 pommels, areas of archaeological finds marked with black.

Design principle 2 : three-lobed pommel

The design principle 2 includes variants of type A, types D, E, L, Mannheim, Mannheim/Speyer, R, S, T, U V and Z, older variant of type X and special types 1, 2, 6, 13, 14 and 19. This principle is present at least on 492 swords (26%). This corresponds with 188 swords in Norway (37%), 58 in Sweden (12%), 43 in Finland (9%), 18 in Denmark (4%), 75 in Western Europe (15%) and 110 in Eastern Europe (23%). The origin can be traced to Merovingian swords, with the three-lobed pommel being based on a pommel with animal heads on the sides. This principle appeared in Scandinavia at the end of 8th century under the influence of Early-Carolingian swords, and supported by English influence in 9th century, it remained there until the beginning of 11th century.

princip2-typyPetersen’s sword types corresponding with Jakobsson‘s design principle 2.

Distribution of design principle 2 pommels, areas of archaeological finds marked with black.

Design principle 3 : five and more-lobed pommel

Jakobsson’s design principle 3 includes Petersen’s sword types O, K and the five-lobed variant of type S. This principle is the least numerous with only over 88 swords (5%) and is tighly connected to the design principle 2. In Norway, there are 44 swords (49%), 4 in Sweden (5%), none in Finland, 1 in Denmark (1%), 26 in Western Europe (30%) and 13 in Eastern Europe (15%). Like design principle 2, also the design principle 3 is based on Merovingian pommels with animal heads on pommel sides. It arrived in Scandinavia at the beginning of 9th century and remained until the half of 10th century. The topic five and more-lobed pommels is vaguely analyzed, as there are more than fifty cast bronze pommels that are not included.

princip3-typyPetersen’s sword types corresponding with Jakobsson‘s design principle 3.

Distribution of design principle 3 pommels, areas of archaeological finds marked with black.

Design principle 4 : absenting pommel

With its distinctive upper guard instead of a traditional pommel, design principle 4 includes main types M, P, Q, Y, Æ and special types 5, 17 and 18. We know of at least 712 swords (39%) belonging to this design principle. It is notable that the type M alone is the most numerous of all sword types with more than 432 finds (17%). As for the principle 4, we know of 631 swords in Norway (89%), 23 in Sweden (3%), 14 in Finland (2%), 2 in Denmark (0,3%), 28 in Western Europe (4%) and 14 in Eastern Europe (2%). Design principle 4 was in use from 9th century to sometime during 11th century.

princip4-typyPetersen’s sword types corresponding with Jakobsson‘s design principle 4.

Distribution of design principle 3, areas of archaeological finds marked with black.

Design principle 5 : curved guard

This design principle of swords consists of main type L, Q, T, Y, Z and Æ, variants of types O, K and X, plus special types 7, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19. The number of swords belonging to design principle 5 is somewhere over 482 pieces (26%). In Norway, we know of 312 finds (71%), 32 in Sweden (7%), 23 in Finland (5%), 3 at maximum in Denmark (1%), 45 in Western Europe (10%) and 70 in Eastern Europe (6%). Design principle 5 was in use during the same period as design principle 4 – from the beginning of 9th century till the end of 11th century.

princip5-typyPetersen’s sword types corresponding with Jakobsson‘s design principle 5.

Distribution of design principle 5, areas of archaeological finds marked with black.

Design principle 6 : single-pieced pommel

The distinguishing attribute for design principle 6, containing sword types X and W, is a single-pieced pommel with absenting upper guard. There are over 211 swords (11%) of this kind, with 69 found in Norway (33%), 25 in Sweden (12%), 46 in Finland (22%), 8 in Denmark (4%), 51 in Western Europe (24%) and 12 in Eastern Europe (6%). While Jakobsson suggested design principle 6 coming into use at the end of 9th century or the beginning of 10th century, Jiří Košta proved on a set of type X swords from Moravia area of Mikulčice that this principle could had been in use in Central Europe as early as 9th century. This principle turned out to be dominant and substantial for following medieval weapons.

princip6-typyPetersen’s sword types corresponding with Jakobsson‘s design principle 5.

Distribution of design principle 6, areas of archaeological finds marked with black.


Out of the total of 1900 included swords, as much as 97% can be classified into one or more of the previous six design principles. The remaining 3% (around 60 swords) cannot be categorised as such, because they are either a combination of some of two principles or represent a completely standalone category.

nezaraditelnePetersen’s sword types corresponding with Jakobsson‘s unclassifiable category.

As the research shows, it is possible to see a certain evolution of the individual sword types, with a new type of sword per circa each new generation. On contrary, if we categorise the swords by Jakobsson’s design principles – thus working a wider group of sword types based on clearly defined attributes – the length of usage increases to over 100 years, in some cases even up to 200-250 years, i.e. 6-8 generations. Such a prolonged usage of similar manufacturing process undoubtedly must have a deeper meaning. At least in 10th century, all principles were used simultaneously, so it is not possible to connect different manufacturing processes with different chronology. The same goes with geographical distribution, as all principles were used in the similar area, and with practical features – design principle 1 has no connection between the pommel type and blade type, so we can come across both single- and two-edged swords. Jakobsson therefore suggests the popularity of six different principles being tied to something else entirely – to different strategies for reproducing a symbolical value tied to a physical form.

The symbolical value of swords goes hand to hand with their ownership and usage. The fact that the sword principles emerged in such volatile times filled with war, and that the swords are often found in graves suggests that their owners were perceived as sovereigns and combat capable figures. A sword is therefore a multi-layered expression of independence and legitimate membership of higher society (see The sword biography). This value was undoubtedly reflected by the visage of the sword, with some types or even whole principles being more suitable for such a presentation than others. Individual principles might have held a meaning we are not able to grasp anymore nowadays.

More traditional constructions (most of the principle 1, 2 and 3 swords) consist of heavier, usually decorated multi-pieced pommels and short guards, which are good especially for footed combat. In contrast to this conservative construction with deep roots in previous generations of Germanic weapons, there are lighter, less decorated swords with simple pommels, longer guards and better usage in mounted combat (principle 6, especially the type X). Their owners could had expressed their allegiance to continental aristocracy and fashion which the local elite promoted. This could also be the case of principle 5, which seems to be of Anglo-Saxon origin, with its features being widely replicated at least in Viking-Age Scandinavia. Principle 4 might had been more suitable for a part of population wishing to show their identity of sword owners but could not afford the previously mentioned principles. That is why Petersen‘s type M is the most common sword of the Early Middle-Ages (see Petersens type M swords).

Last but not least, it is important to mention that the weapon distribution throughout Scandinavia was not uniform, and that there were notable differences between rich centres and less important peripheries. In closed communities, such as Iceland and some Scandinavian regions, the weapons were widespread among the population, but swords were held by only the richest and in small numbers. In major centres such as Uppland, Central Sweden (also known as society dividing model), the weapons were mainly owned by warrior nobility, circa in ratio 14 Petersen’s types per 100 swords. In this societal model, the presence and absence of weapons among the wider population is crucial. In contrast to this model stand the peripheries settled by seldom stratified population attempting to demonstrate its power. Such a demonstration usually takes form of cumulation of vast number of weapons (also known as society uniting model), which is based on quantity and quality. This can be seen both in number of swords found in Norway, counting over several thousands, and relatively high diversity of sword types, being 10-13 Petersen‘s types per 100 swords in some areas. The vacuum created by absence of a central ruler is filled by number of lesser chieftains who represent their sovereignty by possession of exclusive equipment. Such a type of society, which uses more swords, preserves this trend and puts even more swords into circulation. Other reasons for the creation of Norwegian model could be interpreted by well-equipped militia, but also in other ways. According to Jakobsson, all the models are as a matter of fact a reflection of the same reality.

Jakobsson‘s work is a semiotic approach to material culture. He attempts to outline a complex relation between a symbol and a context and does not resort only to a single explanation. His approach to the subject is by both analysing the sword categories from broader historical perspective and by considering each of the specific weapons by the local and minor relevance. Despite its useful analyses and extensive appendixes, the book does not receive enough attention after more than 25 years. Nevetherless, Jakobsson‘s research should be revised in order to confirm or disprove its up-to-dateness.

Tomáš Vlasatý
Slaný, Bohemia, 2nd May 2019

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Kuronský meč ze soukromé sbírky

Na začátku září tohoto roku jsme Vám přinesli článek o soukromém meči s dřevěným jílcem, který patří do sbírky pana Dr. Lee Jonese (http://vikingsword.com). Na základě této spolupráce jsme se rozhodli zveřejnit další exemplář z jeho sbírky. Tentokráte jde o meč, který pan Jones zakoupil zhruba před dvaceti lety v anglickém starožitnictví. Při koupi si byl jist tím, že se jednalo o původní nález, nevěděl však, z jaké doby. Jaký cenný artefakt má ve své sbírce, se majitel dozvěděl až mnohem později. Nyní si meč důkladně popišme.

kuronsky1kuronsky1_2kuronsky2 kuronsky3couronian_upper-hilt_2couronian_upper-hilt_1couronian_guard_2couronian_guard_1


Celková délka meče je 829 mm a jeho kompletní váha činí 833 g. Jílec je dlouhý 143 mm. Hlavice je jednodílný odlitek ze slitiny mědi o délce 62,6 mm, výšce a 40,1 mm a tloušťce 13,1–19,9 mm. Na vrchní straně můžeme spatřit roznýtovaný řap, který prochází celou hlavicí. Výzdobu tvoří dekorace ze tří soustředných kruhů – na hlavici jsou kruhy rozloženy symetricky v počtu 7 kusů na integrální podstavě a nejméně dva nalezneme na výrazném středovém laloku koruny. Jak bylo této dekorace dosahováno, zda puncem nebo rytím, nemůžeme nyní stanovit. Prostor rukojeti, kterou tvoří pouze obnažený řap bez organických zbytků, je dlouhý 94,5 mm. Řap je v těchto místech široký 12,2–16,8 mm a tlustý 5,1–7,6 mm. Mírně prohnutá záštita, která je rovněž ze slitiny mědi, je dlouhá 82,2 mm. Ve středové části je záštita vysoká 8,2 mm a tlustá 16,3 mm, ke koncům se zužuje na výšku 6,8 mm a tloušťku 3,6 mm. Zdá se také, že záštita byla postříbrena. Dvoubřitá čepel, jež byla zahloubena do předem připravené zdířky vytvořené v přední části záštity, je dlouhá 686 mm a po celém povrchu pokryta korozí. Nejsou u ní patrné žádné znaky ani svářkový damašek. U záštity je čepel široká 47,7 mm a zužuje se až na 30,6 mm (47,7; 43,6; 41,3; 38,0; 36,6; 35,2 a 30,6 mm při deseticentimetrových odstupech). Čepel se zdá být mírně vypouklá, průřez se zdá být čočkovitý. Tloušťka u záštity je 6,65 mm včetně koroze a zužuje se na necelých 6 mm u hrotu (6,65; 60,6; 5,76; 6,71; 5,72; 5,82 a 5,98 mm při deseticentimetrových odstupech).

Jílec náleží do skupiny, kterou Šturms (1936: 109–112) na základě studia litevských mečů pojmenoval „kuronským typem“. Kirpičnikov (1966: 53) tento typ ve svém schématu vrcholně středověkých mečů nazval jako typ I, ale tato klasifikace se z dlouhodobého hlediska příliš neujala. Přelom znamenaly až práce V. Kazakevičia, který vytvořil typologii baltských mečů (Kazakevičius 1996: 53–59; Kazakevičius 1997). Kazakevičius tento typ pojmenoval jako T1, popsal jej a zmapoval jeho exempláře. Na jeho práci navázal A. Tomsons (Tomsons 2008; Tomsons 2012), který zrevidoval typ T1 a definoval jeho 4 varianty.

Varianty typu T1 podle Tomsona (2012: Fig. 1)

Typ T1 vznikl z Petersenova typu T a byl používán od 11. do 13. století na území východní Evropy (Litva, Lotyšsko, Estonsko, Rusko, Bělorusko, Ukrajina a Polsko). V současné chvíli je známo kolem 150 mečů a mečových komponentů patřících k tomuto typu  a tento počet stále narůstá (Tomsons 2012: 148). Lze je tudíž považovat za místní výrobky, které si mezi místní elitou udržely důležité postavení po dvě století. Jílce mečů typu T1 mají komponenty odlité ze slitiny mědi, které jsou zdobené různými způsoby dekorace. Konstrukce hlavice se zdá být jednodílná i dvojdílná, avšak i u dvojdílných hlavic řap prochází skrz obě duté části. Koruna hlavice je troj, pěti nebo sedmilaločná. Záštity jsou zpravidla mírně prohnuté. Čepele jsou vždy dvoubřité, široké od 4–5,7 cm, žlábky jsou obvykle užší; některé čepele jsou opatřeny nápisem nebo značkou (Kazakevičius 1996: 53–56). Celková délka mečů je 85–100 cm (Tomsons 2012: 148).

t1-distribuceDistribuce mečů typu T1 podle Kazakevičia (Tomsons 2008: Fig.1)

Meč, který vlastní pan Jones, dobře zapadá do typu T1 (konkrétně jej lze ztotožnit se třetí variantou podle Tomsona), byť v některých detailech vyčnívá. Celková délka meče je zhruba 2 cm menší, než je u mečů tohoto typu obvyklé. Čepel svou délkou a šířkou zhruba odpovídá analogickým kusům, avšak nikoli svým profilem, který se zdá být atypický. Jednodílná hlavice odpovídá některým nálezům. Kruhová dekorace se nachází na hlavicích mečů typu T1 z Estonska, Lotyšska, Běloruska, Ukrajiny a Ruska (Pivovarov – Kaliničenko 2014: Rys. 1, 2; Tomsons 2008: 3. att., 6. att.), ale nakolik vím, jedná se o první kompletní meč, který využívá takto zdobený komponent. Kruhová dekorace našla využití také na soudobých záštitách z Estonska a Lotyšska (Tomsons 2008: 6. att.) a na nákončí pochev z Lotyšska (Tomsons 2012: Fig. 6). Záštita tvarově odpovídá analogiím, ale postříbření je nestandardní a nemá obdoby. Bližší datování ani geografické zařazení není možné. Nutno však podotknout, že zmíněné východoevropské země mají dlouhodobý problém s detektoráři, a není vyloučeno, že meč může pocházet z nelegálního výkopu například v Lotyšsku nebo Litvě.

dekoraceDekorace mečů typu T1 z 11.–13. století. Větší rozlišení zde.

Hlavice: Kogula, Mežotnes senpilsēta, Talsu Vilkumuiža, Vúscie, Čornivské hradiště, Ušakovo (Tomsons 2008: 3. att., 6. att.; Pivovarov – Kaliničenko 2014: Rys. 1, 2). Záštity: Kogula, Matkules kapi, Paalkšni (Tomsons 2008: 6. att.). Nákončí: Lībagu Sāraji (Tomsons 2012: Fig. 6).

Při sepisování tohoto článku se pan Jones pokusil kontaktovat předchozího majitele, aby získal více informací. Tento se však neozývá, což není kvůli dvacetiletému odstupu překvapivé. Spolupráce s panem Jonesem se opět ukázala být velmi plodná, a já se nemohu dočkat, jaké další skvosty ze své sbírky nám ještě odhalí!

With all my respect and appreciation, I would like to thank to Dr. Lee Jones for his time and permission to publish his documentation.

Pevně věřím, že jste si čtení tohoto článku užili. Pokud máte poznámku nebo dotaz, neváhejte mi napsat nebo se ozvat níže v komentářích. Pokud se Vám líbí obsah těchto stránek a chtěli byste podpořit jejich další fungování, podpořte, prosím, náš projekt na Patreonu nebo Paypalu.


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

Kazakevičius, Vytautas (1997). On One Type of Baltic Sword of the Viking Period. In: Archaeologica Baltica 2, Vilnius, s. 117–132.

Kirpičnikov 1966 = Кирпичников, A.Н. (1966). Древнерусское оружие. Выпуск 1. Мечи и сабли IX–XIII вв. Археология СССР. Свод археологических источников, Е1–36, Москва–Ленинград.

Pivovarov – Kaliničenko 2014 = Пивоваров, Сергій – Калініченко, Виталій (2014). Наверщя руків’я меча з Чорнігівського городища // Питання стародавньої та середньовічної історії, археології й етнології: Збірник наукових праць, Том 1 (37), c. 39–55.

Šturms, Eduards (1936). Kuršu zobeni. In: Senatne un Māksla, 4, s. 106–116.

Tomsons, Artūrs (2008). Kuršu (T1 tipa) zobeny rokturu ornaments 11.–13. gs. In: Latvijas Nacionālā Vēstures muzeja raksti, 14, s. 85–104.

Tomsons, Artūrs (2012). Symbolism of Medieval Swords from the Territory of Latvia During the 11th – 13th Centuries. In: Folia Archaeologica, 29, s. 145–160.

Petersen Type O sword replica

Bringing a thousand years old sword to life

In this article, I would like to present the work of my friend and colleague, craftsman Jan Zbránek from Marobud group. With my cooperation, he made an excellent blunt version of the Petersen type O sword from Dukstad (B 1103).



The start

The whole project started in spring 2016, when Jan ordered a blunt blade from swordsmith Ondřej Borský, aka Ernest’s Workshop. The idea was to create a more quality and unique sword than the average standard in the Viking reenactment. Another criterium was the fact the sword should be suitable for the impression of the 10th century Norway. Jan had no experiences with swordmaking, but he has bronze casting skill, since he makes jewelry for his store Skallagrim – Viking Jewelry. That’s why Jan asked me whether there are any Norwegian swords with bronze cast hilts.


The initial research

Bronze cast sword hilts occur in every corner of the Viking world. Basically, bronze cast hilts are typical for Petersen types O and W swords, as well as for some type H, L-variant and Z type swords, Late Vendel period swords and for rare types beyond the Petersen typology. Even though both types O and W date to the first half of the 10th century, Jan decided for the type O, because it has more examples in Norway and it is more decorated. Examples of the type O were found in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, France, Germany, Great Britain and Ireland, while sword of the type W were found in Norway, Sweden, Germany, Great Britain and Eastern Europe (Androshchuk 2014: 71–72, 79–80; pers. comm. with Lars Grundvad).

Petersen type O is described as the sword with the hilt that consist of the lower guard, the upper guard and the five-tongue-lobed pommel. The type is considered to evolve from the Carolingian type K (Żabiński 2007: 63). Even though Petersen divided the type O into three subtypes (Petersen 1919: 126–134), his typology was recently upgraded by Androshchuk (Androshchuk 2014: 71–72). As a result, type O is now divided into two main subtypes. The subtype O1 is characteristic by the pommel and guards that are cast in bronze (/made of iron core covered with bronze), often decorated with various knots. There are at least 12 examples of this subtype in Norway (Androshchuk 2014: 71). The subtype O2 is remarkable for the pommel and guards that are made of iron and decorated with silver plaques with engraved interlacing or animal motifs. There are at least 8 examples of this subtype in Norway (Androshchuk 2014: 72). While the subtype O1 is more or less evenly distributed in Norway, the subtype O2 has more coastal concentration, suggesting the higher probability of being imported objects (Żabiński 2007: 63). All swords of the type O are two-bladed, and there is a sword with an ULFBERHT inscription on the blade (C 16380) and two other swords with pattern-welded blades within the Norwegian material (Androshchuk 2014: 71).

Jan made up his mind to recreate the a relatively unknown find B 1103 from Dukstad mound, which belongs to the subtype O1. Together with the sword, an axehead and two spearheads were found. The Unimus catalogue has only vague information about the sword and quotes a book which is about 150 years old. Unfortunately, we have not contacted the museum of Bergen, so we had to improvise. Still, I dare to say that our improvisation is based on scientific knowledge.

Photos of the original sword from Dukstad (B 1103), Universitetsmuseet i Bergen.


Geibig’s typology of blades. Taken from Geibig 1991: 84, Abb. 22.

For example, the catalogue contains the information that sword is “30 inches [76 cm] long and intentionally bent“, but the attached picture of the sword clearly shows the blade belongs to the Geibig’s type 2, which is dated to period between 750 and 950 AD and is characterised by a gently tapering blade with long fuller of near uniform width, blade length between 74 and 83 cm, blade width between 4.8 and 6.2 cm and fuller width generally between 1.7 and 2.7 cm (Geibig 1991: 85, 154; Jones 2002: 22–23).

The size given by the catalogue is not impossible – there is a Petersen type O sword in British Museum collection (1891,0905.3.a), which has the same lenght – but this sword is described to have an “extremely short blade” (Pierce 2002: 90). The fact that the blade is bent complicated our chances for closer estimation and we rather used average, typical parametres of original Geibig’s type 2 blades; 77 cm long and 5.5 cm wide blade. This fact makes the complete sword 92 centimetres long, which is not so far from several type O swords (Kaldárhöfði: 91 cm; Berg: 95.8 cm; Eriskay: 97.5 cm).

While the original handle is “3 1/2 inches [9 cm] long“, Jan made his handle 1 cm longer for comfortable usage, which is a necessary compromise. Androshchuk lists 140 swords with the the lengths of handles ranging from 6 to 10.8 cm: “Most swords have grips 8.5-9.5 cm long, which could be estimated as the average width of a human palm. However, there are also other lengths of grips, which evidently means that sword hilts were assembled with taking into account the physical data of the customers.” (Androshchuk 2014: 105). The rest of the sizes on the sword recreation were proportionally estimated. The decoration, which is not well preserved in the case of B 1103, was carefully redrawn and compared to other known decoration of type O swords. It has to be stressed we had no chance to examine the sword personally, so we could miss some details that are invisible on the photos, like the side decoration of both guards.


Some examples of the decoration of subtypes O1 and O2.

The recreation

The result of the research was put to the graphic visualisation. Jan’s brother Jakub made a 3D layout under our detailed supervision. When both visualisations were made, Jan could better imagine the finished sword. After unsuccessful tries to make models of wood, Jan decided to order plastic models from a Czech company called MakersLab. What a fascinating experience to hold in hands the object which was on the paper seconds ago.


Models were brushed, polished and prepared for casting. Jan used the simpliest method, the casting into two-piece sand mould. During the first casting, two of three components were successfuly cast. The last component, the upper guard, was cast during the second try. It was a good experience for Jan, because until that time, he cast only small pieces of jewelry. Subsequently, metal fittings were shaped to the desired form; the sand mould casting is not perfect and a cast object requires a lot of additional work.



Examples of the applied wire on the pommel, B 4385, B 1780 and C 13458.

Afterwards, the chiselling of the ornament followed. When the work was done, it was necessary to put the fittings onto the tang. To reduce the risk, Jan used a modern drilling-machine and a file. After the work was successful and aesthetic, Jan fixed the twisted silver wires around the pommel and in-between lobes of the pommel. In case of original sword, the wire was missing, but five holes for the wire are still visible. Various methods of the applied bronze or silver wire can be seen on some type O swords (for example, the sword from Eriskay; or B 1780 and B 4385 within the Norwegian material).


The final phase consisted of woodworking and leatherworking – the handle and the scabbard. Regarding the handle, the original sword had no traces of the handle; however, several swords of the subtype O1 have relatively well preserved oval handles of wood, including swords from Kaldárhöfði, Eriskay or Rossebø. The wooden handle was then covered with leather for a better grip; the application of the leather corresponds to the Androshchuk type I: “grips with oval-shaped cross-section, made of wood; in some cases there are traces of leather and linen wrapped around the grip” (Androshchuk 2014: 104). When the handle was done, the sword was finished. It weighs 1280 grams; the balance point of the sword is placed 15 cm from the lower guard.


The core of the scabbard was made of two sheets of spruce wood covered with cow leather decorated with raised lines and mouth. Each wooden sheet is less than 5 mm thick, which seems to be a thickness of some preserved pieces (Androshchuk 2014: 43). The leather was sewn on the inner side and was stained in the end. The baldric can be suspended thanks to the ash wood bridge-like slide with animal head terminals, which is attached to the scabbard by twisted yarn. Such a method is highly dubious, but possible, if the extent of our knowledge about Viking Age suspension methods is taken in account. Basically, two main methods are known:

  • slider method. This method seems to be typical for Pre-Viking and Viking Age Scandinavia and England. The scabbard has only one fixed point; the baldic goes through the slider that is placed on the front side of the scabbard, longitudinally positioned a bit below the mouth. The slider can be integral part of the scabbard (for example Broomfield, Wickhambreux), or it can be separate and fitted to the scabbard. Fitted sliders could be made of metal, horn, antler or wood, and could be placed under the leather cover (York, Gloucester) or onto it (Valsgärde). No preserved slider from the Viking Age is known; however, short longitudinal slits in the leather for letting a baldric pass through were observed during the examination of English scabbards (Androshchuk 2014: 105; Mould et al. 2003: 3355-3366).


    The diagram of visible slits on scabbards from York. Taken from Mould et al. 2003: 3363, Fig. 1688.

  • Carolingian method and Ballateare-Cronk Moar type. This method is about two fixed points on the scabbard. Fixed points could be achieved by many ways, but I prefer to point out that they were perpendicularly positioned. The usage of two fixed points was the reason why this method needs a strap-divider. Generally speaking, this method involve the usage of metal parts, and that’s why we can trace this method much better than the previous one, even though it was used in a limited way in Viking Age Scandinavia (see Ungerman 2011).


    Carolingian type of suspension. Taken from Androshchuk 2014: Figs. 61, 67.


The sword and the scabbard were finished after a half of year in October 2016 and presented during the private event of Marobud group, Sons of the North.



The project involved many people who deserve our thanks. Firstly, we would like to thank to Ondřej Borský (Ernest’s Workshop) and his skill, because the blade is very well done. Secondly, our praise goes to Jakub Zbránek and his grafic skills. We have to mention also guys from MakersLab, who did a good job, and Unimus catalogue. We would like to also express our gratitude to Martin Zbránek and Valentina Doupovcová for documentation. The project would have not existed without the support and patience of our families.

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 or Paypal.



Androshchuk 2014 = Androshchuk, F. (2014). Viking swords : swords and social aspects of weaponry in Viking Age societies. Stockholm.

Geibig 1991 = Geibig, A. (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.

Jones 2002 = Jones, L. A. (2002). Overview of Hilt and Blade Classifications. In. Oakeshott E. – Peirce, I. G. Swords of the Viking Age, pp. 15–24.

Mould et al. 2003 = Mould, Q., Carlisle, I, Cameron, E. (2003). Craft Industry and Everyday Life: Leather and Leatherworking in Anglo-Scandinavian and Medieval York. The small finds 17/16, York.

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

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

Ungerman 2011 = Ungerman, Š. (2011). Schwertgurte des 9. bis 10. Jahrhunderts in West- und Mitteleuropa. In: Macháček, J. – Ungerman, Š. (ed.), Frühgeschichtliche Zentralorte in Mitteleuropa. Studien zur Archäologie Europas 14, Bonn, pp. 575–608.

Żabiński 2007Żabiński, Grzegorz (2007). Viking Age Swords from Scotland. In. Acta Militaria Mediaevalia III, Kraków – Sanok, pp. 29–84.