The Length of Early Medieval Belts

There are some “truths” in reenactment that are not questioned even though they should be. These are called “reenactorism” and engaged by both newbies and veterans. In this article we will show one of these, the myth of a long belt in Early medieval Europe, following the work done by German reenactor Christopher Kunz.

It is fully evident from the preserved material that there was a number of approaches to belt wearing in the Early Middle ages. These approaches originated alongside cultural environment and local development, social ranking, gender and usage method. The assumption of using a uniform belt type with the same width and length is wrong. On the initiative of beginning reenactors who often raise questions about belt length, in this article we will try to map the legth of men’s leather belts according to iconography and finds in burial complexes.

Fig. 1: Grave no. 59 from the Haithabu-Flachgräberfeld burial site
Arents – Eisenschmidt 2010b: 308, Taf. 10.

Simple belt with a short end (up to approx. 20 cm)

This form best resembles present belts, which are manufactured approximately 15 cm longer than the waistline. In seven graves from Birka, Sweden (488, 750, 761, 918, 949, 1030, 1076) the buckles are no more than 10 cm far from each other (Arbman 1943) and similar positions could be found throughout Europe – we can mention Great Moravian (i.e. Kalousek 1973: 33, Fig. 13) or Danish graves (Arents – Eisenschmidt 2010b: 301, Taf. 3). There are no belts with hanging strap-ends in Early medieval iconography, which is rather schematic than detailed. Belts are scarcely visible in painted iconography as they usually seem to be overlapped by pleated upper tunics, which can be interpreted as an element of fashion. As a result the belt looks like a narrow horizontal line.

There is a certain contradiction between some burial positions and strap-end decor, where some of Early medieval belts had strap-ends that hung down when threaded through the buckle. The most graphic evidence comes from depictions of people and animals which can be seen on the strap-ends and placed lengthwise. In some cases, there are figures of naked men depicted on the strap-ends, which could imply that the hanging end could reach down to the genitals and symbolically represent or emphasize them (Thomas 2000: Fig. 3.16, 3.27). In the listing below we will attempt to suggest several manners of tying these belts.

Fig. 2: A selection of painted iconography of 9-11th century depicting a belt hidden in tunic pleats.
From the left: British Lib. MS Arundel 60, 4r, 11th century; BNF Lat. 1, 423r, 9th century; British Lib. MS Stowe 944, 6r, 11th century; XIV.A.13, 29v, 11th century

Fig. 3: Strap-ends depicting a naked man.
Thomas 2000: Fig. 3.16, 3.27.

Fig. 4: A rare depiction of hanging strap-end in Western Europe iconography. Manuscript: Latin 1141, Fol. 14, 9th century.

  • Loose end
    The simplest form is represented by a belt worn in its nearly maximal length. The end is then short enough not to obstruct manual labour and because it copies the belt, it can be hidden in a pleated tunic. Depictions of loose belt ends can be quite typically observed in 13th and 14th century. Moreover, we know a belt from Early medieval Latvia which had a metal ring at its end, used to grapple on a buckle tongue. The very same method was is also known from Čingul mound, Ukraine, from 13th century (Отрощенко – Рассамакин 1983: 78).

Fig. 5: Reconstruction of belts from 400-700 AD in Zollernalb region, Germany.
Schmitt 2005: Abb. 15.

Fig. 6: Reconstruction of Haithabu type belts.
Arents – Eisenschmidt 2010b: 140, Abb. 61.

  • Tucked behind the belt
    Another simple way of wearing a belt is tucking its end behind the already fastened part of the belt. We have at least one piece of evidence of this wearing from Anglo-Saxon England, where a belt passed through the buckle, flipped back and end tucked behind itself was documented (Watson 2006: 6-8). This forms a perpendicular line on the belt and keeps the face side of strap-end exposed. In case of pleated tunic covering the belt it can be easily adjusted to form a line.

Fig. 7: Strap-end being flipped back after going through the buckle and tucked behind the already fastened belt. Shrublands Quarry, Watson 2006: Fig. 6.

  • Tucked in a slider
    Metal belt sliders are very scarce in terms of archeological material. One of this kind was found within Gokstad Barrow (C10439) and adjusted to fit a strap-end from the same grave (Nicolaysen 1882: 49, Pl: X:11). Another slider was presumably found in Birka grave no. 478 (Abrman 1943: 138) and three more made of sheet bronze were apparently found in Kopparvik, Gotland (Toplak 2016: 126). According to sliders usually appearing in relation to spurs or garters where they are 2-3 centimeters wide (i.e. Andersen 1993: 48, 69; Thomas 2000: 268; Skre 2011: 72-74), we can assume that if the sliders were used with belts more, we would be able to detect them more easily. It is possible that they corroded over time, that organic sliders were used too or that they will be found during a more detailed research. Generally we can assume that the sliders were used in cases where the buckles did not include holding plates – in opposite cases the holding plates would not be visible after using the slider.

Fig. 8: Reconstruction of the belt from grave no. 478 at Birka.
Abrman 1943: 138, Abb. 83.

Fig. 9: Attempt for a reconstruction of the belt from Birka grave no. 949 applying a leather slider.
Author: Sippe Guntursson.

  • Puncturing two holes
    A relatively elegant reenactor’s solution is to puncture two consecutive holes and tuck the belt behind its buckle. All the belt’s components therefore remain visible. This solution was documented in case of at least two archeological finds from Britain and Belgium, 6th-7th century. (De Smaele et al. in pressWatson 2002: 3). The same system is known from Early medieval Latvia. In case of pleated tunic covering the belt it can be easily adjusted to form a line.

Fig. 10: Puncturing two holes that enables threading the strap-end behind a buckle.
Author: Erik Panknin.

  • Attaching by a thong
    Another aesthetical, yet undocumented manner of attaching a belt is adding a thong which holds the buckle’s tongue while the strap-end continues further behind the buckle. We have no evidence for this manner.

Fig. 11: Fixing the buckle with a thong attached to the belt. An unfounded hypothesis.
Author: L’Atelier de Micky.

  • Tucking into a buckle slot
    Buckles having a rectangular slot aside from the typical loop are very common in Eastern-European regions. After fastening the belt using the loop’s tongue, the strap-end could be tucked into this slot and hanged downwards. In case of pleated tunic covering the belt it can be easily adjusted to form a line.

Fig. 12: Reconstruction of the belt from Berezovec barrow.
Степанова 2009: 250, рис. 18.

  • Knot on a belt
    The most frequent solution among reenactors is undoubtedly a knot performed like this: after going through the buckle, the strap-end is tucked behind the belt from below and then passed through the resulting loop. This means achieving a perpendicular line on the belt and keeping the strap-end’s face side visible. This knot-tying, although with much shorter belt than standardly used in today’s reenactment, could be found in France during the Merovingian age (France-Lanlord 1961). With a high probability, the same solution was found in a grave from St Michael’s Church graveyard in Workington, England. Knots were often worn in 13th and 14th century.

Fig. 13: Reconstruction of a Merovingian belt from St. Quentin.
France-Lanlord 1961.

Composite belt with a long end

Some of the Eastern-European Early medieval decorated belts are manufactured in a more complex way, having one or more longer ends. In case of a belt constructed to have more ends, one of these ends – usually the shorter one – is designed to be fixed by the buckle, while the others are either tagged on or formed by the outer layer of two-layered belt. Long ends of these costly belts are designed for double wrapping, tucking into a slider or behind the belt. The length of the ends is not standardized, however we are unable to find any belt that would reach below its owner’s crotch when completely tied. While looking for parallels, we can notice that a belt compounded this way has many similarities to tassels on horse harnesses. Apparently, the belts were worn by riders or emerged from such a tradition, then maintained the position of wealthy status even after being adopted by neighbouring non-nomadic cultures. At last we can state that longer belts were designed mainly to hold more decoration and to allow the owner to handle the length more flexibly, whether for practical or aesthetical reasons.

Fig. 14: Composite belts with long ends.
A, b – belts from Gnezdovo (Мурашева 2000: рис. 109, 113), c – belts from Nové Zámky (Čilinská 1966: Abb. 19), d – belt from Hemse (Thunmark-Nylén 2006: Abb. III:9:3), e – reconstruction of belt tying from Káros, Hungary (Petkes – Sudár 2014).


The topic of belt lenght in reenactment is definitely a controversional one as it touches every male reenactor. Belts are sometimes costly and even a hint, originally meant as constructive critic, can easily cause negative emotions. There is no need for them though, as there is probably no reenactor who has never worn a long belt. We suppose that this reenactorism, used in practice for more than 30 years over the whole world, is caused by these factors:

  • unwillingness to perform one’s own research leading to imitation of a generally accepted model
  • bad access to sources or their misintepretation
  • easily obtainable and cheap, yet historically inaccurate belts sold on the internet in standard length of about 160 cm
  • unwillingness to talk about the problem by both organizers and attendants

In this article, we demonstrated that historical belts often did not have any hanging ends and that the maximum length where the end would reach was the crotch, which could have a symbolic meaning. Any of the aforementioned manners of attaching should not be incompatible with the sources we have at our disposal, however as we already mentioned, both the length and style of wearing followed local traditions. Western Europe therefore preferred delicately hidden belts while in Eastern Europe, the richly decorated belts were worn on public display.


Andersen, A. W. (1993). Lejre-skibssættinger, vikingegrave, Gridehøj. Aarbøger for Nordisk Oldkyndighed og Historie 1993: 7–142.

Arbman, Holger (1943). Birka I. Die Gräber. Text, Stockholm.

Arents, Ute – Eisenschmidt, Silke (2010a). Die Gräber von Haithabu, Band 1: Text, Literatur, Die Ausgrabungen in Haithabu 15, Neumünster.

Arents, Ute – Eisenschmidt, Silke (2010b). Die Gräber von Haithabu, Band 2: Katalog, Listen, Tafeln, Beilagen, Die Ausgrabungen in Haithabu 15, Neumünster.

Čilinská, Zlata (1966). Slawisch-awarisches Gräberfeld in Nové Zámky. Archaeologia slovacca, Fontes, t. 7, Bratislava.

De Smaele, B. – Delaruelle, S. – Hertogs, S. – Scheltjens, S. – Thijs, C. – Van Doninck, J. – Verdegem, S. (in print). Merovingische begraving en middeleeuwse bewoning bij een bronstijd grafveld aan de Krommenhof in Beerse, AdAK rapport 17, Turnhout.

France-Lanlord, Albert (1961). Die Gürtelgarnitur von Saint-Quentin. In: Germania 39, 412-420;

Kalousek, František (1971). Břeclav-Pohansko. 1, Velkomoravské pohřebiště u kostela : archeologické prameny z pohřebiště, Brno.

Мурашева, В.В. (2000). Древнерусские ременные наборные украшения (Х-XIII вв.), М.: Эдиториал УРСС.

Nicolaysen, Nicolay (1882). Langskibet fra Gokstad ved Sandefjord = The Viking-ship discovered at Gokstad in Norway, Kristiania.

Отрощенко, B. – Рассамакин, Ю. (1983). История Чингульского кургана // «Наука и жизнь», 1983/07, 78-83.

Petkes, Zsolt – Sudár, Balázs (2014). A honfoglalók viselete – Magyar Őstörténet 1, Budapest.

Schmitt, Georg (2005). Die Alamannen im Zollernalbkreis, Materialhefte zur Archäologie in Baden-Württemberg Band 80, Pirna. Available:

Skre, Dagfinn (2011). Things from the Town. Artefacts and Inhabitants in Viking-age Kaupang, Aarhus & Oslo.

Степанова, Ю.В. (2009). Древнерусский погребальный костюм Верхневолжья, Тверь, Тверской государственный университет.

Thomas, Gabor (2000). A Survey of Late Anglo-Saxon and Viking-Age Strap-Ends from Britain, University of London.

Thunmark-Nylén, Lena(2006). Die Wikingerzeit Gotlands III: 1–2 : Text, Stockholm.

Toplak, Matthias (2016). Das wikingerzeitliche Gräberfeld von Kopparsvik auf Gotland : Studien zu neuen Konzepten sozialer Identitäten am Übergang zum christlichen Mittelalter, Tübingen : Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen.

Watson, Jacqui (2002). Mineral Preserved Organic Material from St Stephen’s Lane and Buttermarket, Ipswich, Portsmouth : English Heritage, Centre for Archaeology.

Watson, Jacqui (2006). The Identification of Organic Material Associated with Metalwork from the Anglo-Saxon Cemetery at Smythes Corner (Shrublands Quarry), Coddenham, Suffolk, Portsmouth : English Heritage, Centre for Archaeology.

The forms of Norwegian sword grips

While self-learning about swords from Early Medieval Norway, I noticed quite a number of specimens having well-preserved organic remnants of hilts and sheaths. Because normally these components do not remain, I considered useful to gather these materials into coherent articles to enrich sword enthusiasts. In this article we will follow up on Norwegian sword hilts from the Viking age, however we think that the Norwegian material can be used for pointing out all the sword hilt types used in Early Medieval Europe.

We start by quick recapitulation of how we define the hilt and handle of these swords. The sword is composed of a blade and hilt components which are mounted on the blade’s tang. The hilt components are the lower guard (fremra hjaltit) and a pommel, which can be one-pieced or two-pieced. In case of the one-pieced pommel, the tang goes through and is riveted at its top. However, in case of the multi-pieced pommel, the tang is usually riveted to the upper guard (efra hjaltit) and then the cap of the pommel is riveted to the upper guard by two rivets. Uncovered part of the tang between the lower guard and the pommel provides the space for a handle (meðalkafli). Now we will explore the ways of covering the tang to enable comfortable and smart use of the sword.

Viking Age sword terminology. Created by Jan Zbránek and Tomáš Vlasatý.

During a fairly thorough exploration of the Unimus catalogue I was able to find four main hilt forms. We can notice that most of the hilts are anatomically shaped, widening towards the lower guard.

Wooden handle
A tang covered with a wooden handle of an oval cross-section – that seems to be the most common variant used in the Viking Age, which also has great variability. The handle could be made of two identical scales, a cylinder with a burnt-in gap or a cylinder with a cutting that would be covered with a narrow piece of wood when mounted on the tang. The material seems to be the wood of broad-leaved trees (i.e. T16054 and T20736, and the pre-Viking B4590 seems to have a birch handle as well). In contrary to Pre-viking periods, the profiling of the handles in terms of finger copying bumps is not documented. Some swords seem to have only an unwrapped wooden handle, in other cases the wooden handles are wrapped in leather, fabric, metal or a combination of these.

  • Leather wrapping
    We have evidence that the wooden base was wrapped with a leather cord (C57001) or a strip of leather (T14613). The shape cannot always be reconstructed exactly, at least in one case the wrapping leather does not have a specified shape (C23127, Ts2954). Identical leather wrapping can be found on Swedish and Icelandic swords.

  • Cloth wrapping
    We can sometimes detect thread (S3821), textile strap (B5161) or cloth plus iron wire wrapping (T3107). Some of the finds are wrapped in unspecified textile (S11782, T12962, T21998). Identical methods of cloth wrapping can be found on Swedish swords as well.

  • Wire wrapping
    Silver, gold or copper alloy wire was a quite popular and very spectacular option for wrapping (C5402, C22138, C23486, C58882, T19225) as manifested on S and Æ types. This variant is also mentioned in written sources (vaf), specifically in the context of elites around the ruler and rich farmers (Falk 1914: 23). As we can see, the wrapping was typically executed with orderly separation of thin wires and two pairs of coiled wires opposite to each other, thus creating the fishbone effect. The wires are often entwined into curls of thicker wire at the ends of the handle. Wooden handles were quite minute under the wire, making the resulting handle rather subtle. This can arise some questions regarding possible special designation of such swords, for example combat swords fit for stabbing (personal debate with Roland Warzecha).

  • Metal ferrules on the handle
    Usage of bronze pre-cast or plated ferrules at the ends of wooden handles was equally popular (B1481, B11477, C1194, C1977, C5464, C8095, C9981, C11301, C16107, C18494, S5371, T8257, T16054, T20913). Pre-cast ferrules are crown-shaped and their tongue-like protrusions often depict animal or humanoid heads. These ferrules are probably mentioned even in written sources under the name véttrim (Androshchuk 2014: 31). Some hilts have simple ferrules spread on the inner surface of the handle (B878, B11477).

rukojetiDiverse variants of Norwegian sword handles.
B8118, C57001, T3107, C58882, T16054.

Swedish analogies. Taken from Androshchuk 2014: 104-105.


Antler handle
As far as I know, there was only one sword in the Viking age (S2453) with its grip made of antler scales. Handles made of this material are very rare in neighbouring Sweden too, where only two specimens (Androshchuk 2014: Jä 12; Holm 2015) were found. The antler scales of Swedish swords were riveted on the side with tiny iron rivets.

Antler handles from Norway and Sweden.
S2453 (left), SHM 12426 (right).

Straw / bast wrapping
According to the Unimus catalogue, a single-bladed sword was found at Tussøy (Ts3639) whose handle was wrapped in straw or bast. This modification seems to be completely unique and I know of no parallels to it. Due to insufficient description, we can provide no detailed information. In addition, Sveinulf Hegstad, the photo archivist University of Tromsø, provided me with a current photo of the object and there is no organic trace left.

Metal handle
Pre-cast or forged handles are found on some of Peterson’s type D swords in Norway (i.e. B5774, C4072. C8095, C24887, T14309). These swords, being among the heaviest of all Viking swords, can be dated to 800-950 AD. They are composed of triple-lobed, two-pieced pommel, guard and typically also a metal handle. These handles are massive products of metal casting or smithing and their surface is covered with geometric or animal decor. The lower layers of the profiled decoration are decorated with copper alloy, the upper layers with silver. These handles are also sometimes decorated with ferrules on the handle tops (véttrim). According to Petersen, there were 11 swords of this type in Norway in 1919 (Petersen 1919: 70-75), while Hernæs filed up to 16 specimens by 1985 (Hernæs 1985).

rukojeti-kovoveD type swords with metal handles.
B5774, C4072. C8095, C24887.

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

Falk, Hjalmar (1914). Altnordische Waffenkunde. NVAOS. No.6., Kristiania.

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

Holm, Olof (2015). A Viking Period sword from Skäckerfjällen with a decorated antler grip. In: Fornvännen 110:4, 289-290.

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

Bronze Anglo-Saxon Sword Pommels

In the last months, I have been in touch with Dr. Lee Jones, the early medieval sword enthusiast and collector ( Our cooperation led to two articles published on these websites (see Private Sword with a Wooden Hilt and A Curonian Sword from a Private Collection). This time, Mr. Jones shared another interesting piece from his collection. This article will describe it, as well as the closest analogies, since it seems that the type is rather vaguely defined.

bronze-sword bronze-sword2 bronze-sword3 bronze-sword4bronze-5-lobe-hilt-dbronze-5-lobe-hilt-cbronze-5-lobe-hilt-bbronze-5-lobe-hilt-abronze-5-lobe-blade-dbronze-5-lobe-blade-bThe sword owned by Mr. Jones.

The sword owned by Mr. Jones

The sword, that can be seen above, belongs to Mr. Lee Jones “for several decades” and was probably bought in an auction or at Ebay as other swords in his collection. As far as we can judge, it seems to be a genuine piece that shows the application of original technology.

In the current state, the sword is 676 mm long and weighs 531 grams. The iron blade, which is in poor condition with severe losses, is 540 mm long, 36.8-25.0 mm wide (36.8, 33.3, 29.9, 27.9, 26.8, 25.0 mm taken at roughly 100 mm intervals) and 5.2-3.5 mm thick (5.2, 6.4, 3.8, 4.7, 4.1, 3.5 mm taken at 100 mm intervals). The blade seems to be somewhat lenticular in cross section; towards the hilt the remain is thickest at the midline, proceeding towards the tip the faces of the blade become fairly flat. If the corrosion is hiding a fuller, then it must be quite shallow. There is no evidence of pattern welding or inlays.

The hilt is 136 mm long in the mid-line. The upper part of the hilt is formed by the five-lobed pommel and adjacent upper guard that are each cast in copper alloy. As they are loose, we can see they are semi-hollow castings. The intended display surfaces are smooth and in very good condition. The pommel is 65.6 mm long, 28.9 mm high (central lobe; 19.4 and 18.6 mm for intermediate lobes, 10.8 and 10.5 mm for outer lobes) and 18.9 mm thick (central lobe; 16.4 and 16.0 mm for intermediate lobes, 13.0 and 12.2 mm for outer lobes). The thickness of the wall of the pommel varies from 2.8 to 5.0 mm at edge. The upper guard of concavo-convex shape copies the curvature of the pommel. There is a raised ridge line on the surfaces of the guard. The length of the upper guard is 74.0 mm, while it’s height is 8.7 mm and the thickness 20.5 mm (central; 14.6 mm peripheral). The grip area tang shows no traces of organic material. The tang in that area is 88 mm long, 17.0-10.0 mm wide (17.0 mm at cross-guard, 12.9 mm mid, 10.0 mm at pommel) and 5.1-4.2 mm thick (5.1 mm at cross-guard, 4.9 mm mid, 4.2 mm at pommel). The curved, convexo-concave cross-guard is of iron showing moderate corrosion; the scale and cross section are consistent with the upper guard and in one place there is a suggestion of a ridge line. The cross-guard is 106.6 mm long. The height of the cross-guard is 24.1 mm (greatest extent including the arc), or 8.9-11.2 mm (8.9 and 9.3 mm peripheral, 11.2 mm central), if the arc is not taken in account. The thickness of the central part of the cross-guard is 17.3 mm and it continuosly tapers to 12.9 / 14.5 mm in the middle and 9.8 / 10.4 mm at the ends.

Broader perspective

The sword of Mr. Jones is quite rare and the searching for close analogies is not possible without dificulties. Especially the cast 5-lobed pommel seems to be almost absent in the literature. Before anything else, let us describe the sword from the perspective of current sword typologies.

Petersen’s typology
The sword type with curved guards and peened 5-lobed cast pommel is not present in Jan Petersen’s typology (Petersen 1919). However, there are some types that stand very close to the sword owned by Mr. Jones. 15 types or variants of Petersen’s typology (main types L, O, K, Q, T, X, Y, Z, Æ; special types 7, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19) apply the curved cross-guards, from which at least 12 types or variants (main types L, O, P, Q, Y, Z, Æ; special types 7, 14, 15, 16, 19) use curved cross-guard and curved upper guard/pommel at the same time. At least 5 types or variants (main types L, O, Z; special types 14, 19) use curved cross-guards, curved upper guards and lobed pommels at the same time.

There are at least two Petersen hilt types that use components cast in copper alloy: type O and type W. At least four Petersen’s types or variants (K, O, R, S) apply 5-lobed pommels connected to upper guards by two rivets or a semicircular rivet. Specifically, a 5-lobed variant of types R and S have a very similarly looking pommel. However, none of these four types or variants uses the construction with the peened tang. From a construction point of view, the closest types are L and Z, as they use curved cross-guards, curved upper guards and lobed pommels that are sometimes peened. Moreover, the general shape of the pommels of these types is quite close to the pommel of the sword owned by Mr. Jones. Even there is no identical example in Scandinavia, this approach of searching for analogies tells us there was a tendency to use mentioned features in Europe of 10th and 11th century.

petersen-typologyPetersen’s typology, vizualized by Jones 2002: 18-19.

Jakobsson’s design principles
Swedish archaeologist Mikael Jakobsson (1992) arranged Petersen’s types into 6 so-called design principles, the larger groups of hilts that use the same features, and enriched Norwegian-centric Petersen with many useful distribution maps. In this context, we will mention the principle 2, 3 and 5.

Design principle 2 represents 3-lobed pommels, including also types L and Z. According to Jakobsson, this principle can be dated between late 8th and early 11th century and it contains no less than 26% of European swords. The principle is widespread across the Europe; 37% of examples come from Norway, 12% from Sweden, 9% from Finland, 4% from Denmark, 15% from Western Europe and 23% from Eastern Europe.

The principle 3 is described as a group of swords that use 5-lobed pommel. According to Jakobsson, this principe is the least frequent, counting just 5% of European early medieval swords. 49% of examples were found in Norway, 5% come from Sweden, 30% from Western Europe and 15% from Eastern Europe. Jakobsson undestands principle 3 as a development of the principle 2 and the usage can be dated to period between early 9th and mid 10th century in Scandinavia.

Design principle 5 comprises swords with curved cross-guards. Swords with this feature represent 26% of early medieval European swords. In Scandinavia, they can be dated to the period from early 9th to late 11th century. 71% of examples come from Norway, 7% from Sweden, 5% from Finland, 1% from Denmark, 10% from Western Europe and 6% from Eastern Europe.

The sword of Mr. Jones can be described as a sword that belongs to design principles 3 and 5. More or less close analogies can be found in all three named categories. The advantage of Jakobsson’s work lies in the fact that he maps the bigger groups of swords within Europe.

jakobssonJakobsson’s design principles, taken from Jakobsson 1992: 27, Fig. 1.

Wheeler’s typology
In his book, Sir Mortimer Wheeler described 7 Scandinavian hilt forms that occur in Britain (1927: 31-37, Fig. 13). Even though it rather reduces the actual reality, it is still being used by British academia. The sword of Mr. Jones stands close to Wheeler’s type V and VI, which visually corresponds to Petersen’s types L and Z. Type V is said to have very curved guards and a peened pommel with a big central lobe, while type VI has slightly curved guards and 3-lobed pommel that is riveted to the upper guard. Type V is therefore a closer choice. The final remark of this section is that swords of the British origin are imprecisely categorized, leading to the constant need of classifying uncommon swords as variants.

WheelerWheeler’s typology, taken from Wheeler 1927: 32, Fig. 13.

Geibig’s combination typology
German scholar Alfred Geibig presented his study on early medieval blades and hilts in 1991 (Geibig 1991). His typology of hilts, which comprises of combination of differently shaped hilt components, is based upon detailed study of several hundred swords from what is now Germany. The book made Continental corpus accessible and the careful and precise work led to conclusion that it is considered to be one of the most solid studies in the field. Geibig classified 19 combination types, dated to the period between 9th and 12th century.

The combination type 7 describes the form of the hilt that is visually identical with the sword of Mr. Jones. According to Geibig, the 5-lobed pommel rests at the pommel guard and both these components are attached by the exposed peened tang. According to Geibig, this combination type is equal to Petersen’s type L, even though there is a little different shape of the cross-guard: type L cross-guards are more pointed from the top view, while combination type 7 cross-guards are rounded.
Geibig’s combination type 7, taken from Geibig 1991: 47, Abb. 8.

Cast pommel : the identification problem

The sword might seem to a closed case with the result it belongs to type L. The problem occurs when we realize that cast pommels do not belong to Petersen’s type L swords. In the most recent article about Petersen’s type L swords (Aksdal 2017), there is no mention about copper alloy pommels. I have contacted the Mr. Jostein Aksdal, the author of the article, asking him for definition of the sword. His response was that the curvature of the pommel and attachment correspond to Petersen’s type L, but the presence of cast components and 5-lobed pommel prevent the sword to be labelled as Petersen’s type L sword. Mr. Askdal suggested the sword could be what he calls “British version of type S”. His final conclusion is worth of quoting:

My experience is that Viking Age sword chronology needs more detailed studies, identifying sub-types and local-regional types of swords from the Viking Age.

Therefore, we should follow this advise and have a look what the British archeological material has to offer.

An analysis

To our surprise, the material is quite impressive and offers good analogies, but it is poorly described as a whole. We will try to mention the swords that have curved guards and 5-lobed pommels. A closer attention will be given to cast elements.

Swords already labeled as Petersen’s type L
To contradict the Mr. Aksdal’s argumentation, we have to state there already are swords with cast components and 5-lobed pommels in his own article, classified as Petersen’s type L swords. In the museum of Norwich, a decorated 5-lobed sword pommel cast in bronze is stored (Bjørn – Shetelig 1940: 61; Davidson 1962: 55-56). The pommel is classified as a part of a Petersen’s type L sword (Aksdal 2017: 87, Catalogue B:26). The second example is the sword from Surrey (1996.0604.1; British museum 2018), which has 5-lobed pommel and guards cast in bronze. Again, the sword is categorized as Petersen’s type L by Mr. Askdal (2017: 87, Catalogue B:34). To be fair, these pommels are rather asymetrical and their lobes are more pointed, compared to the sword of Mr. Jones. To sum up, the sword from Surrey still represents one of the closest analogies.

The pommel from Norwich (left) and the sword from Surrey (right).
Taken from Davidson 1962: Fig. 41a and British museum 2018.

type L
The distribution of type L swords in Great Britain.
Aksdal 2017: Fig. 8.

Loose cast pommels
Searching for loose cast pommels, we have found 94 examples dated to 9th-12th century Britain. We can divide them between several types according to their construction and general shape:

  1. pommel attached to the upper guard, without exposed peened tang
    1. Petersen’s type O (Petersen 1919: 126-134) / Geibig’s combination type 9 (Geibig 1991: 50-52, Abb. 10)
    2. Petersen’s type R (Petersen 1919: 140-142) / Wheeler III (Wheeler 1927: 34, Abb. 13:3)
  2. pommel attached to the upper guard, with exposed peened tang
    1. lobed
      1. with curvature
      2. without curvature
    2. not lobed
      1. with curvature
      2. without curvature
  3. one-pieced pommel with exposed peened tang
    1. Petersen’s type K (Petersen 1919: 105-110) / Wheeler IV (Wheeler 1927: 34, Abb. 13:4) / Geibig’s combination type 6 (Geibig 1991: 44-47, Abb. 7)
    2. Petersen’s type L or Z (Petersen 1919: 112-121, 175-177) /  Wheeler V or VI (Wheeler 1927: 35, Abb. 13:5-6) / Geibig’s combination type 7 (Geibig 1991: 47-48, Abb. 8)
    3. Petersen’s type X (Petersen 1919: 158-167) / Geibig’s combination type 12 (Geibig 1991: 56-60, Abb. 13)
    4. Geibig’s combination type 14 and 15 (Geibig 1991: 63-70, Abb. 15-16)

Distribution of loose cast pommel from 9th-12th century in Britain.
Click the map for an interactive Google Map.

As we can see, cast pommels were used for various typologically and chronologically different hilts, and therefore we can speak of a kind of tradition. The tradition is more obvious when we realize that cast pommels occur in the period from the earliest phase of Anglo-Saxon period to at least High Medieval. 93 pieces are made of copper alloy, 1 piece is cast in lead. The pommels depicted on our map are loose, found separated from the sword or just with a fragment of tang, which is also striking. According to Anglo-Saxon living history expert Paul Mortimer, such a big number is not coincidence and the pommels could be violently torn off during a ritual destruction, for example.

We can also notice that lobed curved pommels attached to upper guards with exposed peened tang represent a majority of the loose pommel. On the map, there are 60 finds that are mostly concentrated in East and West Midlands, East of England, Yorkshire and the Humber and South East England regions. This distribution corresponds to the distribution of Petersen’s type L swords quite well. There are at least two more pommels of this form in the private collection of Mr. Justin Mercier. This kind of popularity can mirror the fact that hollow upper guards and pommels peened to the tang could be done more easily than other types of constructions. It is surprising there are such an huge amount of sword pommels that are not described in the literature. On the website of Portable Antiquities Scheme, the pommels of this type are described as croissant-shaped pommels, Petersen’s type L pommels or Wheeler’s type VI by contributing editors.

The regular lengths of type 2.1.1. pommels are 44.8-65 mm, while the maximum height reaches from 20.6 to 32.2 mm. The pommels have thicknesses of 14-23.7 mm; the thickness of the casing is 2-5 mm. The weight is around 27.4-77.55 g (some heavier pieces include fragments of tangs). The pommel of the Mr. Jones’s sword is slightly longer, but other dimensions do match precisely.

sword-pommelsLoose cast pommels of the type 2.1.1. The source of the pictures: PAS.
See the full resolution here.

Loose cast guards
In addition, we can shortly discuss the cast guards. In the following list, we have collected 6 cross-guards and 14 upper guards cast in copper alloy in 9th-12th century Britain. The following division was made:

  1. Cross-guard (6 pieces)
  2. Upper guard
    1. Guard with curved upper part (11 pieces)
    2. Guard with straight upper part (3 pieces)

Distribution of loose cast guards from 9th-12th century in Britain.
Click the map for an interactive Google Map.

Again, copper alloy components are distributed across the same regions. Regarding the cross-guards, every piece is unique. The number of cross-guards is lower that the number of upper guards, which may suggests that the cast cross-guards could have been used less often. That could correspond with the fact that the sword of Mr. Jones combines an iron guard and a cast upper guard and pommel.

The upper guards are divided to two categories. The category 2.1. is the most interesting for us, as the upper guard of the examined sword falls into this group. The most of guards in this category were dated to Late Middle Ages by the PAS website, but we believe this is incorrect. Not only two finds are dated to Early Medieval period, but they closely resembles the type L upper guards in shapes, proportions and sizes (see for example Aksdal 2017: Tab. 1-2). In this group, we can find curved and mostly hollow guards with a small rectangular hole for the tang. They are 56.78-87.7 mm long, 6.54-21.05 mm high and 12.77-22 mm thick. The guard of Mr. Jones’s sword fits in these categories. However, there are also some difference: the ends of guards are not flattened and there is no evidence of the central raised ridge line.

The upper guard of Mr. Jones’s sword is 74 mm long, while the pommel is 65.6 mm long, so the difference in lengths is 8.4 mm. We have already told that the length of loose pommels varies between 44.8-65 mm. In proportion to loose upper guards, the difference is 11.98-16.54 mm. The thicknesses of loose components are comparable (14-23.7 mm : 12.77-22 mm). The future examination can reveal whether the loose pommels and loose upper guards do fit or not.

guardLoose cast upper guards. The source of the pictures: PAS.
See the full resolution here.

For the next part of the analysis, we have to ask whether there is any complete sword that applies curved guards and peened cast 5-lobed pommel.

Wallingford Bridge type
In 1967, Vera Evison published an interesting study about an unmapped type of Anglo-Saxon swords that stand close to Petersen’s type L and Z (Evison 1967). The main feature that differentiates this type from Petersen’s is a differently shaped guard. Mrs. Evison called the examined group Wallingford Bridge sword type and suggested they were made in souther England in 10th-11th century. Even though there are only 9 examples in England (7 of which were found in the River Thames) and they rather resemble Petersen’s type Z / Wheeler’s type VI when it comes to the construction, we believe the study is an important step forward to show the complexity of local and transitional variants. If the concept is correct, then the sword of Mr. Jones and the pommels of the type 2.1.1. stand between Petersen’s types L, S and Z, not only by the form, but also by the chronology, just as Wallingford Bridge type does. Generally speaking, type L is the closest and it should be legit to call Mr. Jones’s sword type L variant until a more precise typology is invented.

wallingfordWallingford Bridge type swords (Evison 1967: 162, Fig. 1).

In the Evison’s article, we can find a reference to the sword from Mileham, which seems to be a second close analogy to our sword (Evison 1967: 185, Fig. 3b, 6a). This sword has copper alloy hilt components, including a richly decorated guard and an one-pieced pommel of our type 3.2. To our knowledge, there are no closer published paralels of Mr. Jones’s sword than swords from Surrey and Mileham. Therefore, the sword of Mr. Jones can be called unique in that regard.

The sword from Mileham (Evison 1967: Fig. 3b, 6a).

In 2012, a discussion about loose cast 5-lobed pommel arised on Shane Allee, a member of the forum, posted a picture of the sword, that was sold on Ebay more than 15 years ago. The sword seems to belong to the same type as Mr. Jones’s sword. However, we do not have any particularised information about the sword.

The sword sold on Ebay.


In the first part of this article, we tried to describe an unusual sword from a private collection. The uniqueness of such a sword led us to a type that stood aside completely unnoticed. The closest analogies were found in 10th-11th century Britain, a country where the mixture of styles created a variety of transitional swords that apply different contructions, shapes and materials altogether. Nevetherless, it will require a brilliant mind and a huge time reserve to arrange the swords in a realistic way.

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.

Stone carving from Eberston, Britain. Taken from Grove 1938: 256, Fig. 5.


Aksdal 2017 = Aksdal, Jostein (2017). Dei anglosaksiske sverda : L-typesverd i England og Skandinavia. In: VIKING – Norsk Arkeologisk Årbok, Vol: LXXX, 59–88.

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

British museum 2018 = Sword from Surrey, Shepperton, Museum number 1996,0604.1. Electronic source, http:// 887&partId=1&searchText=1996,0604.1&page=1, visited 31th October 2018.

Evison 1967 = Evison, Vera I. (1967). A Sword From the Thames at Wallingford Bridge. In: The Archaeological Journal 124(1): 160–189.

Davidson 1962 = Davidson, Hilda R. Ellis (1962). The Sword in Anglo-Saxon England. Its Archaeology and Literature, Oxford.

Geibig 1991 = 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.

Grove 1938 = Grove, L. R. A. (1938). Five Viking-Period Swords. In: The Antiquaries Journal, 18(03): 251–257.

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

Jones 2002 = Jones, Lee A. (2002). Overview of Hilt & Blade Classifications. In: Oakeshott E. – Peirce, I. G. (eds). Swords of the Viking Age, Woodbridge: 15–24.

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

Wheeler 1927 = Wheeler, R.E.M. (1927) London and the Vikings. London Museum Catalogues: No 1, London.

Přilba z Kyjeva

Čtenářům těchto stránek bych chtěl představit článek o prozatím posledním nezmapovaném nálezu přilby doby vikinské, a sice fragmentu z Kyjeva. Tento předmět, který je uložen v Národním muzeu historie Ukrajiny pod inventárním označením DRA 1065, dlouho unikal pozornosti badatelů, a proto je spíše málo znám. Obestírá jej několik otazníků, které si níže popíšeme. Článek si klade za cíl představit syntézu všech dosud vydaných zdrojů a detailnější popis umožňující rekonstrukci.

Umístění fragmentu v rámci stálé expozice. Národním muzeu historie Ukrajiny.
Autor: Ihor Dyrda.


Nakolik je mi známo, fragment přilby se v literatuře poprvé objevuje na začátku 20. století, a to v monumentální sérii Podněperské starožitnosti (Древности Приднепровья), kterou vytvořili sběratel Bogdan I. Chanenko se svou ženou Barbarou. Přilba se zde uvádí tímto způsobem (Ханенко 1907: 43):

Č. 1133. Část železné přilby, kryjící oči a nos, pokrytá stříbrnými ploškami. Nalezeno v Kyjevu, pozemek Desetinného chrámu.

Kromě letmého popisu a místa nálezu katalog nabízí poměrně detailní fotografii (Ханенко 1907: Tab. XXXVI), která ukazuje dobře zachovalou dekoraci, což je pro nás důležité. Všechny mladší verze nejsou zdaleka tak kompletní.

kyjev_chanenkoFragment z Kyjeva podle Chanenka. Ханенко 1907: Tab. XXXVI.

Dalším autorem, který přilbu zmínil, byl Michail K. Karger. V jeho knize Starodávný Kyjev (Древний Киев) z roku 1958 můžeme nalézt následující (Каргер 1958: 200):

„Kromě přileb, nalezených ve výše zmíněných hrobech, je třeba uvést některé náhodné nálezy z území Kyjeva, pravděpodobně pocházející ze zničených hrobů. Mezi ně patří i maska přilby se stříbrnou a zlatou tausií, která byla nalezena na pozemku Desetinného chrámu (…).

kyjev_kargerFragment z Kyjeva podle Kargera. Каргер 1958: Tab. XXVI.

Fragment přilby z Kyjeva do své práce zahrnul i Anatolij N. Kirpičnikov, legendární ruský odborník na raně středověké militárie. Kirpičnikov fragment spojil se severskými přilbami typu Gjermundbu, přičemž jej explicitně označil za kus z 10. století. Doslova ve své práci píše (Кирпичников 1971: 24):

Je zřejmé, že k tomuto typu patří fragmenty dvou přilbových masek, a sice fragment z Lokrume na Gotlandu (2. polovina 10. století) s pleteným ornamentem (…) a fragment z pozemku Desetinného chrámu v Kyjevě se stříbrnou inkrustací geometrického vzoru.

kyjev-kirpicnikovBrýlové masky 10. století podle Kirpičnikova. Кирпичников 1971: Рис. 24.

Po pádu komunismu se o předmětu dozvěděli i na Západě, kam jej uvedl Dominic Tweedle. Tento britský badatel o fragmentu napsal, že je 14 cm dlouhý, nepublikovaný a uložený v Národním muzeu historie Ukrajiny v Kyjevu (Tweedle 1992: 1083). Na jiném místě Tweedle zmiňuje, že maska je zdobena tausií a že je velmi podobná fragmentu přilby z Tjele v tom ohledu, že se skládá z obočí a nánosku, na jehož konci se nachází ploška, která svědčí o přinýtování samostatných očnic (Tweedle 1992: 1125-6). I v tomto případě autor fragment přiřazuje ke skandinávským brýlovým přilbám. Jako zajímavost můžeme dodat, že podle Tweedleho byla maska objevena v hrobě společně s opaskem a skandinávskou sponou (Tweedle 1992: 1129), což se spíše jeví jako mylná informace.

kyjev-tweedleFragment z Kyjeva podle Tweedleho. Tweedle 1992: 1129, Fig. 526.

Nejaktuálnější a také nejdetailnější informace poskytuje katalog Skandinávské starožitnosti jižní Rusi (Скандинавские древности Южной Руси), vydaný Fedirem Androščukem a Vladimirem Zocenkem roku 2012. Jde o první zdroj, který se blíže vyjadřuje k rozměrům a váze. Autoři pokládají doposud uváděnou pozici za nepřesnou a dle jejich názoru fragment představuje spodní část masky, čemuž odpovídá popis. Ocitujme si nyní tento zdroj v úplnosti (Андрощук – Зоценко 2012: 73):

Obličejová část kompozitní přilby (bezkontextový nález, Desetinný chrám, Kyjev)

Obličejová část kompozitní přilby (maska chránící obličej), sestávající ze samostatně zhotovených částí [typ Gjermundbu]. Nánosník 112 × 10 mm, boční plošky 10–26 × 116 mm, pozůstatek okraje přilby 14 × 35 mm. Váha 24,0 g, ryzost [stříbra] 800. Masku tvoří úzký nánosek, ladně usazený ve středové části, ke kterému doléhá zploštělá spodní a konvexní horní část. Spodní část sestává ze dvou symetricky umístěných srpovitých plošek. Povrch nánosku a ochranných bočních plošek je pokryt stříbrnou fólií a dvěma okrajovými linkami, které jsou vyplněné šikmou intarzní páskou. Ve středu plošek ve spodní části masky jsou umístěny ornamentální figury, kopírující srpovitý tvar. Vrchní část představuje část přilby, na jejíž pravé straně se zachoval nýtek. Náhodný nález, který byl uchováván ve sbírce B. N. a B. I. Chanenkových. Informace  o okolnostech a přesném místě nálezu byly ztraceny.

Datace: 10. stol.
Místo uložení: Národní muzeum historie Ukrajiny (DRA 1065).
Literatura: Ханенко 1907: 43, Tab. XXXVI; Каргер 1958: 200, Tab. XXVI; Кирпичников 1971: 24, Рис. 24a.

kyjev-androscukFragment z Kyjeva podle Androščuka a Zocenka.
Андрощук – Зоценко 2012: Рис. 40.

Pokud bychom měli shrnout, co jsme schopni se dozvědět z literatury, pak můžeme říci, že fragment masky byl nalezen na pozemku Desetinného chrámu snad někdy na začátku 20. století. Dost možná pochází ze zničeného hrobu. Desetinný chrám (též Chrám Zesnutí Přesvaté Bohorodice) byl první kamenný kostel Kyjevské Rusi, který vznikl na popud knížete Vladimíra v letech 986996, což by korespondovalo s datací předmětu, který mohl být vyroben v 10. století (analogie jsou datovány do 2. poloviny tohoto století). Podle autorů maska přináleží ke skandinávskému typu přileb. Železný základ o rozměrech 126 × 116 mm je zdoben „tausovaným“ či „inkrustovaným“ stříbrem a zlatem. Obvodové linky tvoří kroucený drát. Celková dnešní hmotnost je 24 gramů. Názory na správné umístění masky nejsou jednoznačné, čemuž odpovídá i rozdílné vystavování v rámci výstav. Fragment byl dlouhou dobu součástí Chanenkovy sbírky, dnes je přilba vystavena v Národním muzeu historie Ukrajiny pod inventárním označením DRA 1065.



Jak vyplývá z předchozí kapitoly, existují dvě protichůdné teorie na to, jakým způsobem byla maska na přilbě upevněna. Maska mohla být umístěna tak, že oblouky tvořily obočí, anebo obráceně, takže oblouky tvořily očnice. Obě teorie mají svoje příznivce, obě varianty jsou možné a nikdy nezazní konečný verdikt. Pojďme si nyní shrnout obě možnosti.

Rekonstrukce #4Varianta 1 (vlevo) a varianta 2 (vpravo). Autor: Tomáš Cajthaml, Makar Babenko.

Varianta 1 : fragment tvoří vrchní část masky
Jak jsme si mohli povšimnout, tato teorie je zavedenější a byla podporována řadou badatelů po více než sto let. Ještě roku 2006, kdy kyjevský fragment zkoumal slavný australský reenactor Peter Beatson, byla maska v Národním muzeu historie Ukrajiny vystavena tímto způsobem. Třebaže je maska v této poloze použitelná a poskytuje dostatečnou ochranu, má v reenactmentu menší zastoupení. Je to způsobeno tím, že roku 2008 běloruský reenactor Makar Babenko vytvořil nákres varianty 2, která v současné době ve východní Evropě dominuje. Tento trend mohl ovlivnit i autory Androščuka a Zocenka, a tudíž i podobu vystavení v muzeu. Budeme-li zkoumat anatomii, tak můžeme říci, že tato varianta vyžaduje dodatečně nanýtované očnice. Maska by tedy byla musela být vícedílná, stejně jako u masky přilby z Tjele, což by sice znamenalo jednodušší výrobní proces železného základu, ale také nutnost dobře a esteticky snýtovat všechny části dohromady. Profil masky odpovídá oběma variantám. Vyklenutý tvar obočí má výraznou podobnost s přilbovou maskou z Lokrume. Také tloušťka 2-2,5 mm, kterých podle Petera Beatsona plech na obočí dosahuje, se podobá této gotlandské přilbě. Plech okolo zachovaného nýtu má tloušťku menší, okolo 2 mm, tedy méně pravděpodobněji umístěnou na obočí. Pod zlatými oblouky můžeme najít stupňovitý přechod s odsazením, což je konstrukční rys, který bychom pravděpodobněji čekaly právě u této varianty. Třebaže nevíme, jakým způsobem byl zdoben zbytek přilby, dochovaná dekorace kopírující a zvýrazňující obočí je pravděpodobnější u této varianty. Obočí přechází do násosku v oblouku, takže v celkovém důsledku je tato varianta podobnější maskám přileb z Gjermundbu, Lokrume a Tjele a nechává průzory menší, což může být praktické.

Varianta 2 : fragment tvoří spodní část masky
Tento způsob nazírání na masku je poměrně nový a lze jej datovat, jak jsme si řekli, zhruba k roku 2008, kdy se Makarovy ilustrace objevily na diskuzních fórech. Roku 2012 pak Androščuk a Zocenko vydávají svůj katalog, kde používají tuto variantu, což zřejmě ovlivnilo prezentaci v muzeu. Maska využívající tuto variantu je jednodílná a využívá čtyř nýtů, pomocí kterých je maska jednoduše připevněna na okraj přilby. Způsob upevnění na podklad je tedy u této varianty méně komplikovaný. Profil masky, jak bylo naznačeno, odpovídá i této variantě. Tvar masky je při této variantě symetrický, nemá však žádnou analogii mezi soudobými přilbami. Obočí přechází do násosku ve víceméně pravém úhlu, což není známo z žádné zachované přilby. Průzory jsou větší než u předchozí varianty. Odsazení i dekorace umístěné na spodní části masky jsou, při porovnání s výše uvedenými maskami, méně pravděpodobnější. Dekoraci na případném obočí nemůžeme vzhledem k rosetovému motivu uprostřed čela vyvrátit.

Vrchní část Spodní část
Archeologové a muzea Tuto ideu zastávali Chanenko, Karger, Kirpičnikov a Tweedle. Ještě před deseti lety byla maska v Národním muzeu historie Ukrajiny vystavena tímto způsobem. Tuto myšlenku zastává Androščuk a Zocenko. V současné chvíli je maska vystavena tímto způsobem.
Reenactment Maska je v této poloze použitelná a poskytuje dostatečnou ochranu. Tato poloha má v reenactmentu menší zastoupení. Maska je v této poloze použitelná. Tato poloha je v reenactmentu hojněji zastoupená.
Komplexnost Vzhledem k potřebě samostatných očnic by maska musela být vícedílná, což má analogii v přílbě z Tjele. Jednodušší výroba železného základu, komplikovanější kompletace. Průzory jsou menší. Jednodílná maska. Komplikovanější výroba železného základu, jednodušší aplikace. Průzory jsou větší.
Profil Profil odpovídá oběma variantám. Tvar a tloušťka obočí mají výraznou podobnost s přilbou z Lokrume. Profil odpovídá oběma variantám.
Odsazení (přechod do nánosku) Pravděpodobný konstrukční rys. Nepravděpodobný konstrukční rys.
Dekorace Nasvědčuje pozici na obočí. Méně pravděpodobná u této pozice, ačkoli nevíme, jakým způsobem byl zdoben zbytek přilby.
Celkový tvar Větší podobnost s maskami z Gjermundbu, Tjele a Lokrume. Absence komparativního materiálu

Pokud se máme přiklonit k jedné z variant, je to varianta 1, která lépe zapadá do dochovaného korpusu skandinávských helem. Takto zkonstruovaná maska splňuje anatomické i estetické nároky. Varianta 2 může být výsledkem reenactorské tendence vytvářet jednodílné masky, co nejvíce odpovídající přilbě z Gjermundbu (sám si vybavuji, že jsem před více než pěti lety nabádal své kolegy, aby nevytvářely vícedílné masky). Teprve až detailní průzkum ukázal, že původní masky mohly být i kompozitní. Varianta 2 současně může být odrazem nedůvěry v kompozitní masky, které z nováčkova úhlu pohledu nemusí obstát bitevní vřavu tak dobře, jako solidní jednokusová maska.


Postup výroby a dekorace

Vyzbrojeni těmito vědomostmi, radami reenactorů a detailními fotografiemi, se můžeme pokusit vyslovit několik závěrů a myšlenek k současné podobě a pravděpodobnému původnímu vzhledu.

Jak jsme již řekli, základ tvoří železná konstrukce. Nejmasivnější část tvoří nánosek, který je zhruba 5 mm tlustý. Z nánosku v obou směrech vybíhají plošky. Odpovídala-li maska variantě 1, byla spodní ploška jednoduchým, mírně prohnutým obdélníkem rozklepaným zhruba na tloušťku 2 mm. Srpovité obočí je tvořeno plechem nepatrně masivnějším. Celé obočí se zdá být profilované tak, že zadní (vnitřní) prostor je dutý. Tím bylo možné dosáhnout nízké váhy. Navíc si můžeme povšimnout, že linie nánosku, táhnoucí se celou maskou, tvoří exponovaný hřeben či zesilující profil. Obočí se zdá být mírně ohnuté tak, aby profil vynikal a aby bylo možné obočí dobře napasovat na okraj zakulacené přilby. Na obočí chybí jakékoli náznaky nýtů – je možné, že by byly zřetelné při pohledu na zadní stranu, zatímco na přední straně byly překryty dekorací. K podobě očnic se nelze vyjádřit, dá se však předpokládat, že byly uchyceny na spodní, rozšířené plošce a následně byly přichyceny k přilbě stejným nýtem, jako okraj obočí. Současný stav přilby naznačuje záměrné poničení a násilné vytržení z helmy, což je možný důvod prohnutí nánosku, absence očnic a nýtů na okrajích obočí.

lokrume15Příklad metody overlay při rekonstrukci masky z Lokrume.
Autor: Dmitrij Chramcov.

Zatímco výše zmínění autoři hovoří o „tausii“ či „inkrustaci“, je evidentní, že předmět je zdoben kombinací metod inlayoverlay. Na povrchu celého předmětu jsou pod úhlem vysekány drážky na způsob mřížky. Následně byla vyryta hlubší obvodová drážka, do které byl naklepán kroucený stříbrný drát, který má hustotu kroucení zhruba 10-12/cm. Do vzniklé mřížky byl vtepán tenký zlatý drát tak, aby tvořil motiv srpků a trojúhelníku. Zbývající prostor byl vyplněn tenkým stříbrným drátem. Důvodně se lze domnívat, že takto zdobené bylo celé obočí i nánosek s ploškou, kde však dekorace chybí a je nahrazena rosetou. Důkazem této metody je občasná prosvítající mřížka a zploštělé drátky, které odstávají od podkladu. Nutno podotknout, že tento způsob dekorace byl populární technikou užívanou při zdobení mečů, kopí, seker, třmenů a helem v 10. a 11. století.

V první fázi výzkumu nás zarazil křížovitý motiv, který můžeme nalézt uprostřed obočí a který se táhne dolů na nánosek. Původně se nám zdálo, že se jedná o záměrnou dekoraci provedenou v jiném kovu, ale poté jsme zkontrolovali současný stav se stavem v roce 1907, kde není nic podobného patrné – ba naopak, stříbrná plocha podivuhodně září. Kříž, který se tak zdánlivě vytváří, je spíše náhodný jev. Okolní stříbro je ztmavlé. Může jít o důsledek špatného zacházení či částečné konzervace. Můžeme si rovněž povšimnout, že přesně v tomto místě některé stříbro opadalo, což nám dává možnost sledovat, jak postupoval výrobce – nabíjel drátky tak, aby kopírovaly dlouhé rovné plochy, v tomto případě kroucený drát.

Na konci nánosku, uprostřed obdélníkové plošky, nacházíme čtyři málo zřetelné jamky, které jsou umístěny vůči sobě. Zde bych si rád vypůjčil myšlenku Makara Babenka, který předpokládá existenci ještě páté jamky, čímž by vznikla roseta. Předpokládanou rekonstrukci lze spatřit na předchozí grafice s variantami 1 a 2.

Třebaže část reenactorů považuje masku z Kyjeva za bizarně dlouhou, uvedená velikost svědčí spíše o tom, že dokonale kopírovala obličej majitele. Lze dobře předpokládat, že maska byla vyrobena na míru. Jelikož jde o nejnákladněji zdobenou přilbu skandinávského původu, majitel musel přináležet ke společenským špičkám. Maska vykazuje mistrovskou úroveň řemeslného zpracování, která se projevuje jak v anatomii, tak dekoraci. Díky ní je možné obdivovat ladnost i po více než tisíci letech.

Helmet from KyivNákres a rekonstrukce fragmentu z Kyjeva. Autor: Tomáš Cajthaml.


V prvé řadě bych chtěl poděkovat svému kolegovi a příteli Petru Kavanovi, že ve mne opětovně probudil zájem o tento předmět. Článek by nevznikl nebýt kromobyčejně šikovného Tomáše Cajthamla, který jej obohatil svými skvělými grafikami. Výrazně mi pomohly práce Makara Babenka, Petera Beatsona a Fedira Androščuka, na kterých jsem mohl stavět a za které jsem ohromně vděčný. Současně děkuji Ihoru Dyrdovi, který nezištně zašel do muzea a masku pro tento blog detailně nafotil. Mé poděkování v konečné řadě putuje Romanu Královi a Ždanu Zabaštovi, kteří se ochotně nabídli ke konzultaci.

kyjev_fedorovStaroruský bojovník. Autor: Oleg Fedorov.

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.


Андрощук, Ф. O. – Зоценко, В. (2012). Скандинавские древности Южной Руси: каталог, Paris.

Кирпичников, А. Н. (1971). Древнерусское оружие. Вып. 3. Доспех, комплекс боевых средств IX—XIII вв, Москва.

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

Ханенко, В. И. (1907). Древности Приднепровья. Вып. VI, Киев.

Каргер, М. К. (1958). Древний Киев. Очерки по истории материальной культуры древнерусского города. Том 1, Москва – Ленинград.

Typologie amuletů Þórových kladiv

V tomto přehledovém článku představíme typologii amuletů Þórových kladiv, jak byla prezentována Jörnem Staeckerem roku 1999. Jak bylo řečeno v článcích „Přátelství s bohem“ a „Ryji runy léčby“, v době vikinské měla už jen zmínka nebo vyobrazení Þóra a jeho zástupných symbolů apotropaickou funkci: obrázek kladiva vyrytého na runovém kameni má stejnou funkci jako runové fráze „Þór posvěť tento památník“ (Þórr vígi þessi kuml) nebo „Þór posvěť tyto runy“ (Þórr vígi þessar rúnar). Co činilo Þóra funkčním bohem, je fakt, že každé jeho zmínění posvěcuje (vígja) a ochraňuje (gæta). Fráze „Þór tě posvěť, þursů vládče“, kterou známe z dobových písemných pramenů, ukazuje, že posvěcení kladivem může fungovat proti obrům, což dokládá také Norská runová báseň, kde je obr označen jako původce ženských nemocí. Amulety kladiv, hromové kameny a některé další amulety, jakož rytiny kladiva a jméno Þór je třeba chápat jako zdroj univerzálního posvěcení, které mělo ochraňovat, přinášet štěstí, léčit, zajistit plodnost v loži a prosperující potomstvo (Boudová 2012: 34–37; Elgqvist 1934). S tím by mohl korespondovat fakt, počet amuletů kladiv v hrobech čítá 28% : 72% ve prospěch ženských hrobů (Jensen 2010: 107).

Amulety kladiv se obvykle rozdělují do dvou základních kategorií – samostatná kladiva (loose hammers) a kladiva na železných náhrdelnících (Thor’s hammer-rings). V této práci se budeme věnovat samostatnými kladivy. Jensen (2010) ve svém katalogu shromáždil celkem 237 nálezů. Přes 100 z nich bylo nalezeno v sídlištním kontextu, přes 60 pochází z hrobů, zhruba 40 bylo uloženo v depotech a zhruba 35 z nich bylo nalezeno náhodně. Staecker rozdělil samostatná kladiva na základě prostých kritérií do tří hlavních typů:

1. Prostá kladiva

Jednoduchá, nezdobená kladiva vyrobená ze železa, jantaru, bronzu, olova či stříbra.

  • 1.1 Železná kladiva
    Jak dokládá četnost těchto kladiv (Jensen eviduje okolo 130 kusů), jednalo se o velmi populární model, který lze datovat do 9. a 10. století. Některé kusy jsou opatřeny kruhem na zavěšení.

kladiva-typ1.1Rozšíření kladiv typu 1.1. Staecker 1999: Karte 41.

Kladiva z Aggersborgu (vlevo) a Hästy (vpravo).
Staecker 1999: Abb. 111; katalog SHM ve Stockholmu.

  • 1.2 Jantarová kladiva
    Tento typ kladiv, který se zdá být rozšířený kolem Baltského moře, se nachází zhruba v patnácti exemplářích. Lze jej zařadit do 10. století.

kladiva-typ1.2Rozšíření kladiv typu 1.2. Staecker 1999: Karte 42.

Kladiva z Wolinu (vlevo) a Nordby (vpravo).
Stanisławski 2013: Rys. 43f; Staecker 1999: Abb. 112.

  • 1.3 Kladiva odlitá z bronzu
    Bronzové exempláře jsou rozprostřené ve velkém geografickém i časovém rozptylu. Celkem zhruba 15 zástupců pochází z období 8.-10. století. Jsou známé také odlévací formy.

kladiva-typ1.3Rozšíření kladiv typu 1.3. Staecker 1999: Karte 43.

kladivo-birka kladivo-haithabu
Kladiva z Birky (vlevo) a Haithabu (vpravo).
Arbman 1940: Taf. 104:6; Staecker 1999: Abb. 113.

  • 1.4 Kladiva odlitá z olova
    Nakolik je nám známo, existuje zhruba deset kusů, které zapadají do tohoto podtypu. Nepocházejí z doby mladší než 11. století.

kladiva-typ1.4Rozšíření kladiv typu 1.4. Staecker 1999: Karte 44.

  • 1.5 Kladiva odlitá ze stříbra
    Stříbrné odlitky byly, jak ještě uvidíme, velmi populární. Jörn Staecker eviduje 18 nálezů, zatímco Bo Jensen ve svém katalogu zmiňuje zhruba 30 kusů. Největší zastoupení mají nezdobená kladiva v depotech, ojediněle se vyskytují také v hrobech. Datována jsou do 9.-11. století.

kladiva-typ1.5Rozšíření kladiv typu 1.5. Staecker 1999: Karte 45.

Kladiva z Låby (vlevo) a Stens prestgård (vpravo).
Montelius 1874: kat č. 624; Staecker 1999: Abb. 114.


2. Zdobená kladiva

Zpravidla stříbrná kladiva, odlitá či zhotovená z plechu, která jsou ozdobená. Zdobení je dosaženo odlitím, ražením, granulací či filigránem.

  • 2.1 Stříbrná kladiva s ražbou
    • 2.1.1 Kladiva s ražbou
      Raznicemi ozdobené amulety se zdají být další populární kategorií. Staecker shromáždil 15 nálezů, zatímco Jensenův katalog čítá 19 položek. O dalším, novějším nálezu, jsme referovali ve článku „Amulet kladiva z Flekstadu“. Téměř všechny kladiva pocházejí z depotů nebo náhodných nálezů. Zdá se, že datace směřuje k 10. a 11. století.

kladiva-typ2.1.1Rozšíření kladiv typu 2.1.1. Staecker 1999: Karte 46.

Kladiva z Slottsmöllanu (vlevo) a Tågemosenu (vpravo).
Montelius 1874: kat č. 626; Staecker 1999: Abb. 115.

    • 2.1.2 Kladiva s ražbou ve tvaru kříže
      U prozatím šesti kladiv je klasická ražba doplněna o motiv kříže, v jednom případě i tří křížů. Nakolik je nám známo, všechny pocházejí z depotů, které jsou datované do konce 10. století a 11. století. 

kladiva-typ2.1.2Rozšíření kladiv typu 2.1.2. Staecker 1999: Karte 47.

Kladivo z Haithabu. Staecker 1999: Abb. 116.

  • 2.2 Kladiva s rostlinnými motivy
    Speciální kategorií jsou kladiva s florálními ornamenty, kterých evidujeme 5 kusů. Dekorace je, zdá se, dosaženo odlitím. Čtyři kusy známe z depotů, zatímco jen jeden pochází z hrobu. Datace směřuje k 10. a 11. století.

kladiva-typ2.2Rozšíření kladiv typu 2.2. Staecker 1999: Karte 48.

Kladiva z Pålstorpu (vlevo) a Mickelsu (vpravo).
Montelius 1874: kat č. 627; Staecker 1999: Abb. 117.

  • 2.3 Kladiva zhotovená z tenkého plechu
    Stříbrná kladiva, která jsou zhotovena z tenkého plechu, patří k těm nejzdobenějším a tudíž dnes nejpopulárnějším a nejčastěji napodobovaným. Čtyři kusy, které jsou nám známé, jsou pozlacené či zdobené filigránem a granulací. Některé kusy mají nápadné podobnosti s přívěsky typu Hiddensee. Datace směřuje k 10. století.

kladiva-typ2.3Rozšíření kladiv typu 2.3. Staecker 1999: Karte 49.

Kladivo ze Skåne. Katalog SHM ve Stockholmu.

Kladivo z Bredsätry. Staecker 1999: Abb. 118.


3. Větší počet kladiv zavěšených na jednom kruhu

Do tohoto typu náleží všechna kladiva, která jsou na kruh zavěšena ve více než jednom kusu. Staecker eviduje 9 kusů, zatímco Jensen shromáždil kolem patnácti exemplářů. Jsou známé především z hrobů, kde musely plnit speciální funkci, podobně jako kladiva na železných náhrdelnících. Datace směřuje k 10. století.

kladiva-typ3Rozšíření kladiv typu 3. Staecker 1999: Karte 50.

Amulet z Hildy (vlevo). Katalog Unimus.


Kladiva z Thumby-Bienebek. Staecker 1999: Abb. 119.



Boudová, Eliška (2012). Tórovo kladivo: Význam Tórova kladiva v mýtu a kultu. Masarykova univerzita [bakalářská práce]. Dostupné na adrese:

Elgqvist, Eric (1934). Brudhammare och hammarsäng. In: Folkminnen och Folktankar, XXI: 1–19.

Jensen, Bo (2010). Viking Age Amulets in Scandinavia and Western Europe, Oxford.

Montelius, Oskar (1874). Sveriges forntid. Försök till framställning af den svenska fornforskningens resultat, Text: 1. Stenäldern. 2. Jernäldern, Stockholm.

Staecker, Jörn (1999). Rex regum et dominus dominorum. Die wikingerzeitlichen Kreuz- und Kruzifixanhänger als Ausdruck der Mission in Altdänemark und Schweden, Stockholm.

Stanisławski, Błażej M. (2013). Jómswikingowie z Wolina-Jómsborga. Studium archeologiczne przenikania kultury skandynawskiej na ziemie polskie, Wrocław.

Interní soutěž skupiny Herjan

Slovenská skupina Herjan, jejíž jsem čestným členem, v minulých dnech přišla se zajímavou soutěží – a sice každý přihlášený obdrží pět stránek katalogu švédského Historického muzea (, ze kterých si může vybrat pět nálezů a ty okomentovat.

SHM 5208:1999

SHM 5208:1999. Jantarová miniatura sekerky, nalezená v “Černé zemi” v Birce.

Soutěž je jednoduchý mechanismus s přidanou hodnotou, který přiměje jednotlivé členy ke studiu nálezů. Jednotlivci se při této činnosti mohou přiučit kritickému myšlení a psaní, mohou se mezi sebou porovnávat, a všechny soutěžní příspěvky nadto obohatí celý kolektiv. Nálezy vybrané do této soutěže pocházejí výhradně ze sídlištního kontextu Birky, a jsou tedy jen málo – pokud vůbec – publikované tiskem. Krátký komentář může pomoci zařadit předměty do kontextu jak daného města, tak celé Skandinávie, což mohou – v případě publikování internetovým médiem – ocenit i další zájemci mimo skupinu. Z tohoto důvodu jsem se rozhodl zveřejnit svůj příspěvek, kterýžto tímto předkládám k posouzení komunity.

Vikings were not racists, but …

In last few weeks, I had the chance to read several articles that connect Viking Age with racist and anti-racist movements of different countries. For a person living in the Czech Republic, whose re-enactment scene is not contaminated by racists and is more focused in authenticity, this is an incomprehensible problem. However, I feel the need to intervene, when it comes to misinterpretation of history.

In fact, no real history enthusiast would ever combined “medieval/Viking” and “racism” in one sentence. There are at least two reasons. Firstly, we cannot simplify the main problems to yes or no questions, because actual reality is too complex for being comprehended by the answer. That means, a misleading question gives you a misleading answer. As my favourite speaker professor Stanislav Komarek says:

Europe is used to think in a cold way – in yes or no questions. This could lead to the invention of computers, for example, but not to mind harmony or to realistic perception of the world. In medias, we can hear a lot of pseudo-questions, like “Is human nature peaceful or aggressive?”, “Is capitalism good or bad?”, “Is human purpose to work or to have fun?”. These questions are totally goofy. […] It is important to stress that a person from a different culture cannot understand this kind of questions.

Secondly, it is not possible to judge the past, based on our modern experience and value system. The fact we have the word “racism” in our dictionaries for around 100 years and we understand the meaning (“Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior“) does not determine the same kind of knowledge in previous cultures and societies. This phenomenon is called cultural relativism.


A meeting of Norse people and Indians in Newfoundland, 1003–1007. Drawn by Anders Kvåle Rue.

More correct questions would be “What was the relationship of Old Norse people (including Vikings) to other European and non-European societies?” or “Are there any sources that show Old Norse people acting as what we call racists?”. To find out, we have to describe the main signs of the period. We are talking about millions of people, living in several centuries, different circumstances, weather climate and with various customs. It will always be difficult to summarize such a huge, inhomogeneous mass of people. The Early medieval world was cosmopolitan in the transport of both people and objects, but – at the same time – relatively closed with regard to traditions and habits. Old Norse culture was fixed to customs of fathers, very similar to what we can see in “primitive” societies of the modern world. Changes were accepted in the span of decades and centuries, not months and years as is normal today. The life in that period was much more focused on continuation, on the long-term aspects and the connection to a family, land and traditions.

In the world where – due to the lack of the centralized mechanism – every person can easily kill her/his non-related opponent, one will develop a very good sense for suspiciousness, self- and kin-defence, fame and shame. From our point of view, Viking Age Scandinavia would be a very hostile place to be, with a fragile peace sticking the community together; a typical feature of an uncentralized society that is infested by continual struggle for domination. Speaking of supremacy, it is natural that people feel mutually superior to others, mainly to foreigners, strangers and poorer people. Judging by Sagas of Icelanders that are full of local micro-conflicts, there is no doubt that oppressions took place not only on the geographic level, but also on the hierarchic level. A kin from one side of a fjord felt superior to a kin from the other side, people of Firðafylki felt superior to the people of Sygnafylki, Norwegians felt superior to Icelanders, elites were mocking at lower classes and so on. In contrast to our modern society, there was also functional slave system that used a lot of prejudices and stereotypes (see the table below). It is way easier to became a suprematist in the world where people have different life values given by the law. Using modern terminology, these states could be called “hierarchical supremacy”, “ethnocentrism”, “kinship-centrism” or “proto-racism”, but definitely not “racism” as we know it.

Stereotypes of the Viking Age, gathered from Rígsþula (“The Lay of Ríg”).

Class Description
Slaves (þrælar) Slaves are ugly but strong, with twisted backs and crooked limbs. Their skin is sunburnt, black and wrinkled. Their palms are rough, fingers thick. Slaves have no valuable property. They live in a cottage that has door open (everybody can go in and check them). There is a fireplace, a simple table, a bowl and a rough bed inside their house. Speaking of clothing, they have old, not fitted clothes. Probably no shoes at work. They eat tough, whole grain bread and broth. Their best meal is boiled calf meat. Slaves work for their masters. Their labour is hard, dirty and inferior, including the daily and intensive work with animals. They have much more children than others.
Free men (karlar / bændr) Free men are beautiful and generous to their friends. Their hair and beards are trimmed. They have good senses. They own a house and lands. The house can be locked. Inside the house, there is not only a fireplace and a soft bed, but also some furniture (a chest) and tools (a weaving loom, a distaff). Free men have fitted, practical and fashionable clothing with some pieces of jewellery. They are their own masters. They are independent multicrafters, devoted to farming and precise crafts, like woodworking and weaving.
Elites (jarlar, konungar) Elite people represent the top level of the society. They are young, bright-haired, pale-skinned, beautiful and kind. Men are robust warriors, generous with weapons, horses and jewellery. They have advanced knowledge of runes. Elite people own several halls, each of them has doors with a knocker. The floor of the hall is covered with straw. There is a linen patterned cloth on the table, together with beakers and silver plates. People sleep in velvety beds. Elite people wear coloured, fashionable clothing made of top materials. They also wear golden jewellery. Elites eat wheat bread, roasted birds and bacon. Their drink is wine. Generaly speaking, they do not work at all. In their free time, they are having discussion, men are training, competing, hunting, ruling and fighting, women are taking care of their appearance and of the guests.

It is true that the most of Early medieval Scandinavian population had what we call white skin, as is probable that bright-coloured hair was more prestigious than dark one. For a non-travelling person, the chance to meet a person with a different skin colour was rather low in the period. However, do sources attest any bad behaviour towards a person of a different skin colour? To avoid any misleading and concluding answer, let’s say that approaches surely varied and were not uniform. As the table shows, the lower status and worse physical appearance, the worse behaviour. If Rígsþula is not taken in account, there are two more examples. In the Eddic poem Hamðismál (“The Lay of Hamðir”), heroic brothers Hamðir and Sǫrli are mocking of their half-brother Erpr, who is said to be jarpskammr (“brown little one”). After a short conversation full of misunderstandings, Erpr is killed. The crucial fact behind the relevant word is probably that brothers consider their half-brother to be illegitimate and of half-Hun origin. The second source, Eiríks saga rauða (“The Saga of Erik the Red”), mentions the first meeting of a Norse group with a group of so-called Skrælingar (Indians/proto-Inuits) in what is now Newfoundland. The group of aboriginals are described in these words: “They were black men, ill-looking, with bad hair on their heads. They were large-eyed, and had broad cheeks.” In the source, the negative look plays the role of the first presage of later misunderstandings and fights. Eventually, two native boys are captured and taught the Norse language. A very similar behaviour can be seen in case of slaves that were captured in Ireland and taken to Iceland, where they were assimilated.

Landnámabók (“The Book of Settlement”) mentions three upper class or elite men with the infamous byname heljarskinn (“skin blue as hell”); two of them were probably sons of a Bjarmian concubine and there are some theories their bynames could be related to a possible Finnic / Mongolian origin. Despite the fact that Saami people are described as despicable seiðr-practitioners, shapeshifters and miraculous archers in some sources, these mentions seem to be a common literary formula, contradicting to a more realistic description (for example Ohthere). What is more, aggresive slave characters named as blámenn (“blue men”, men from the Northern Africa) sometimes occur at king’s courts in some sagas, but these could be a copy of the literary invention of High and Late medieval romances, where heroes use to slay dozens of angry Saracens, berserkir and blámenn.

The battle between Norse people and Indians. Drawn by Angus McBride.

Non-Scandinavian sources, the most promising group of evidence, seem to lack any relevant mention. Persian and Arabic sources mention rather positive relations with Norse people. Ahmad ibn Rustah noted that Rus had “the most friendly attitude towards foreigners and strangers who seek refuge.” Ahmad ibn Fadlan even recorded his good-humoured conversation about burial practises:

One of the Rūsiyyah stood beside me and I heard him speaking to my interpreter. I quizzed him about what he had said, and he replied, “He said, ‘You Arabs are a foolish lot!’” So I said, “Why is that?” and he replied, “Because you purposely take those who are dearest to you and whom you hold in highest esteem and throw them under the earth, where they are eaten by the earth, by vermin and by worms, whereas we burn them in the fire there and then, so that they enter Paradise immediately.” Then he laughed loud and long.

By this positive quote, we should end this short article. To sum up, it is impossible to use the word “racism” in the context of the Viking Age. The period people would probably not understand the concept of exclusively racial supremacy. However, the distinction was based on the status, property and appearance, and the final discriminating result could be similar. Before the very end, let me remind several notes. Do not forget that by asking yes and no questions, you are supporting the idea the world is black and white. Learn more about history and various cultures, do not expect people of the past to have the same manners as you. Remember one of the most important Old Norse principles – the foreign world is a place of strangenesses and dangers, but – simultaneously – it is a place of great potential and gain.

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.

Реконструкция пояса из Гокстада


Тогда и сейчас: курган после вскрытия и его нынешнее состояние.

Дорогой читатель, добро пожаловать на сайт, посвящённый исследованиям и реконструкции!

В этот раз мы рассмотрим фрагменты ремня из могильника Гокстад, находящегося в южной Норвегии. Будучи скрытым под курганом 50х43 метра, он содержал богато украшенный корабль, что сделало его одним из наиболее известных скандинавских захоронений эпохи викингов (больше здесь и здесь). Погребённый был, вероятно, высокопоставленным, приближённым к правящей верхушке, мужчиной. Благодаря дендрохронологическому анализу, удалось установить возраст древесины, из которой была сделана погребальная камера — Х век — что позволяет отнести всё захоронение к этому периоду (Bonde – Christensen 1993).

Несмотря на то, что погребение было разграблено и практически все оружие и ценности пропали, наличие органического материала — костей, кожи и дерева — а также литья делает это захоронение довольно значительным. Однако единственное научное исследование находки было опубликовано Николаем Николайсеном в 1882 году. Может показаться, что некоторые объекты не были упомянуты, но нельзя забывать, что курган в 1925 и 1928/9 г., вскрывали. Начиная с 1950 года академики несколько раз исследовали захоронение, а именно, занимались анализом костей, дерева и металлов, детальным рассмотрением деревянных элементов, а также документированием кургана и его окрестностей. Эта кропотливая работа пролила свет на то, каким пышным госктадское погребение было изначально (например Bill 2013).


Реконструкция Гокстадского захоронения. Ragnar L. Børsheim.

Помимо всего прочего, в Гокстаде было найдено довольно много компонентов ремней. Однако прежде, чем мы перейдём к практической части статьи, необходимо заметить, что нельзя определить, к какому набору относятся детали, так же, как нельзя понять, были ли они частями пояса или конской амуниции. Это значительно усложняет реконструкцию, делает её практически невозможной. Всего было найдено как минимум шесть пряжек, девять хвостовиков, семьдесят четыре накладки одиннадцати разных видов и три шлёвки. Полный список можно посмотреть и/или скачать здесь. Принимая во внимание тот факт, что в захоронении были останки двенадцати лошадей, восьми собак, нескольких птиц и т.д., можно предположить, что большинство ремешков принадлежало животным. Ниже вы можете прочитать о разных подходах двух опытных реконструкторов, целью которых была попытка воссоздать образ высокопоставленного норвежского мужчины родом из IX-X века.


Реконструкция узды из Борре.


Реконструкция узды из Гокстада.



Подборка компонентов поясов из Гокстада. Источник: Nicolaysen 1882.

joschДжош Вайнбахер

Mannschaft der Ormrinn Brands, Австрия

Пояс — это ключевая деталь в костюмах. Я считаю, что он относится к одной из базовых вещей; им реконструктор должен обзавестись сразу после того, как приобретет рубаху, штаны, обувь и простой нож. Для представителя «низшего класса», поясом может служить всё, чем можно подвязать рубаху. Существует, однако, тенденция к использованию богато украшенных поясов, и реконструкторы часто покупают красивые ремни, строение которых не имеет под собой никакой исследовательской основы. В начале я и сам был таким. Купил пояс, выполненный, якобы, в «стиле викингов», но абсолютно не подходящий ни к региону, ни ко времени, которые я хотел воссоздать (Норвегия IX века). Позже выяснилось, что он, на самом деле, не относился ни к Скандинавии, ни даже раннему Средневековью.

Всего этого можно было бы избежать, если бы я провёл вначале некоторые исследования, и не старался охватить сразу всё. Простой D-образной пряжки и полоски кожи, куска конопляной верёвки или плетёной тесьмы было бы достаточно.

Спустя некоторое время, когда мои амбиции, а вместе с ними и навыки выросли, я выявил для себя одну большую проблему: рубахи, штаны и обувь выглядят примерно одинаково, поэтому только по ним сложно определить регион и временные рамки. Для этого лучше всего служат особенности пояса, а точнее, украшений в общем. То есть, увидев, например, у женщины фибулы с Готланда на норвежском хангероке, можно с уверенностью сказать, что она просто не провела соответствующую исследовательскую работу. То

же самое и с ремнями: смешиваются регионы и временные рамки, люди носят лошадиную амуницию, а также украшения, предназначенные для противоположного пола. Поэтому я решил приобрести что-то, что лучше отражает интересующий меня регион и временные рамки. Захоронение из Гокстада показалось мне наиболее подходящим, потому что я лидер клуба и мой комплект должен показывать определенные статус и финансовое состояние.

Честно говоря, это было сложно. Образ богатого человека заставляет тебя быть богатым и в реальной жизни. Конечно, стоимость современной реконструкции несравнима с оригиналом, но, всё равно, это достаточно дорого.

Когда я решил, что мой ремень должен быть основан на находках из Гокстада, я сначала обратился к нескольким мастерам из Германии. Цены оказались ошеломительными, поэтому, в итоге, заказал не самый лучший вариант из интернет-магазина. У того пояса были только нужные пряжка и хвостовик, да и они по размеру оказались меньше, чем оригинал. С ним я проходил несколько лет. Потом, совершенно случайно, узнал о мастере из Польши, который изготавливал нужные мне элементы, да ещё и за вполне приемлемую цену. Сборка ремня не была идеальной, потому что все металлические компоненты были видны только если пояс был завязан распространенным в реконструкции, но не имеющим никаких исторических оснований для использования, узлом. Поэтому я заказал только детали и решил собрать пояс сам.

В то же время, я спросил у одного коллеги по клубу, который уже имел опыт в аутентичной покраске кожи, не мог бы он покрасить ремень в ярко-красный цвет, чтобы законченное изделие выглядело более впечатляющим. Он решил остановиться на рецепте из книги «Mappae Clavicula», в нем использовались красное вино и кермес. Вместо последнего мы решили взять кошениль, опять-таки, из соображений экономии. Результат превзошёл все ожидания. Пояс не стал ярко-красным, как задумывалось, а наоборот, более тёмным, почти пурпурным. Я понял, что это именно тот цвет, который мне нужен. Так что теперь я удовлетворён результатом.

Даже не смотря на то, что пояс ещё не полностью готов, потому что я всё ещё в поисках одной особенной детали.

Подводя итог — моё «путешествие» к идеальному поясу было долгим, и оно всё ещё не закончено, но я рад, что мой комплект снова стал немного лучше. А путь к идеалу действительно бесконечен.


tomasТомаш Власаты

Marobud, Чехия

За всю мою «карьеру», у меня было пять или шесть поясов. Некоторые были просто импровизацией, некоторые всё же основаны на определённых находках. В начале 2016 года я понял, что мне нужен ещё один, который подходил бы моему комплекту (Норвегия Х века). И, к сожалению, в этом регионе непросто найти хорошо сохранившийся пояс с пряжкой и хвостовиком. Поэтому я решился использовать материал из Гокстада. Мой друг Ян Бана из мастерской Storvarra, взялся за изготовление этого заказа. Он также присылал мне фотографии процесса, поэтому я мог вносить какие-либо корректировки практически онлайн. Спустя несколько месяцев я получил бронзовый набор по вполне приемлемой цене. В него входили: пряжка (C10437), хвостовик (C24239c) и двенадцать накладок (6×C10445 и 6×C10446). Мой друг и коллега Якуб Збранек согласился собрать все детали воедино не обработанной коже.

Правда, мой выбор оказался довольно поспешным и был мотивирован, в основном, стремлением к обладанию уникальной вещью. В самом деле, некоторые фрагменты и были воспроизведены, по моим подсчётам, впервые за 1100 лет. также, согласно моему решению, мы сделали пряжку немного меньше оригинала, с бронзовым язычком и без бляшки (в качестве аналога можно привести находку из Хедрума (T1620)). Другая ошибка заключалась в том, что ни одна деталь не была позолочена. Но самый большой провал состоял в использовании накладок, которые, по всей вероятности, были частью лошадиной амуниции. Так, если бы я провёл чуть больше

времени за изучением информации, я бы сохранил свои деньги, а мой комплект был бы более точным. С другой стороны, именно эта ошибка и вдохновила меня на написание статьи. Я уверен, что скоро закажу ещё один пояс, и его уже можно будет назвать репликой.

И перед тем, как я закончу, хочу выразить благодарность Джошу Вайнбахеру. Также, если вы найдёте эту статью интересной или вам будет, что добавить, то делитесь и оставляйте комментарии. Любите прошлое, наслаждайтесь настоящим и стремитесь в будущее!


И перед тем, как я закончу, хочу выразить благодарность Джошу Вайнбахеру. Огромное спасибо Виктории Заблоцкой, которая сделала перевод. Также, если вы найдёте эту статью интересной или вам будет, что добавить, то делитесь и оставляйте комментарии. Любите прошлое, наслаждайтесь настоящим и стремитесь в будущее!

  • 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.

Interview with Ragnar L. Børsheim

Making reconstructions is a way to how to understand the past.

ragnarRagnar L. Børsheim is Norwegian archaeologist and artist. After doing his thesis in 1995, he participated several excavations and started to make illustrated reconstructions as a hobby. In those days, he was also learning himself digital and 3D illustrations. After 12 years, in 2007, Ragnar launched his company Arkikon that makes archaeological reconstructions in the form of illustrations and animations, mainly set in Prehistory, Viking Age and Middle Ages. His reconstructions became quite famous among Scandinavian academia and reenactors, mostly because plenty of them are online.


Welcome, Ragnar, and thank you for your time. Let me ask you how many reconstructions have you done? Where can people see your works?

I do not know how many reconstructions I have done, it’s been quite a few. Usually, the illustrations are either for use in books, information signs at heritage sites or for exhibitions at museums. Most of our customers are museums, or other heritage departments, institutions and publishers. On the other hand, many of the illustrations can be seen at Arkikon, at my Vimeo channel or on Youtube. For instance, a short movie we made about the medieval town hall in Bergen, Norway, and the chieftain manor from Tissø, Denmark. In 2009, we made the documentary of the Viking burial in Myklebust.

Reconstruction needs a deep knowledge. What are your sources and to what extent you can use your own fantasy?

Our reconstruction is always based on archaeological finds. Archaological traces are frequently fragmented and sparse, and then we have to rely on general knowledge of the period, analogies, style and technical levels of the period. A reconstruction usually is an interpretation that hopefully is as close to the original as possible, but we can never be sure. However, the main goal is to be true to the archaology and time period.

One example is the design Arkikon did for the great hall at Borre (designs are available here). There were georadar oulines of the hall which gave us the ground dimensions. The design of the building is a combination of traditional trestle built longhouse and elements from the oldest stave churches. The designs should be belieavalbe and in accordance with known Viking/Early Medieval buildings techniques and materials, and also show the grandour and wealth of the chieftain/local king who built it.

The great hall at Borre. Made by Arkikon.

From your point of view, what are the most interesting aspects of past periods, including the Viking Age?

All periods have their thing. As an archaologist that is focused on Iron Age, I find this period (including the Viking period) maybe the most fascinating, because of the richness of the material culture. I am fascinated by the impressive craftmanship, their worldview, and that the prehistory is in many ways a completely different world to ours. Most people lived hard short lives, death was always around the corner, but they found time to make beautiful art, develop top skill metalwork, and trade over huge distances. At the same time, they were also societies with slaves, high death-rate, much violence and warfare. Trying to uncover the past is fascinating, thats why I became an archaologist in the first place.

The mound of Oseberg, Norway. Made by Arkikon.

What a reconstruction means to you?

Making reconstructions is a way how to understand the people of the past. Especially in archaeology, visual reconstructions are an excellent way of how to make interpretations understandable, since the actual remains found in excavations often are fragmented and poorly preserved and the actual iconography from prehistoric times in Northern Europe is poor. By good visual reconstruction, you can easily deliver the meaning across both age and language barriers. With increased knowledge, the reconstructions of tomorrow will probably be somewhat different from those of today.

Every period has their own understanding and reconstructions of the past. Our knowledge is changing after new finds are unearthed, and new interpretations arise as new tools are developed. For example, our understanding of the Iron Age farm structure and its houses has changes drastically in last 20-30 years in Scandinavia, after the introduction of a new excavation method (topsoil stripping) in 1980’s. Today, the advancing geo-radar technology gives archaeology new knowledge that was unavailable earlier.

Thank you very much for your answers, Ragnar. The Forlǫg Project wishes you good luck and fruitful moments in the future.

Reconstruction of the burial chamber from Myklebust, Norway. Made by Arkikon.

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! If you want to learn more and support my work, please, fund my project on Patreon or Paypal.

  • 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.