Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors
Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

Early medieval swords from the territory of Romania (9th-11th century)

Michal Viskupič, 2022


Early medieval swords from the territory of Romania belong to a relatively often overlooked topic and significant attention is not paid to it even in the academic literature. For this reason, I decided to write a short article to make this topic more widely known. My ambition is not to write a professional academic work that maps all the finds of swords including their detailed description with dimensions, as I do not have the possibilities for such a step. The primary goal of my article is to provide basic information and compile a list of all swords and sword fragments from the territory of Romania that are still known and available in the literature, dated between the 9th and 11th centuries, falling at the same time into the sword classification according to Jan Petersen or Alfred Geibig.

Currently, there is no more comprehensive monograph that would contain a complete and detailed description of individual specimens. Despite this, there were several works and studies dealing mainly with stray finds and, to a lesser extent, with finds from archaeological excavations or museum collections.

The largest group of swords and sword fragments consists of finds from the historical region of Transylvania (including Banat, Crișana and Maramureș), published in several works (Nagy 1906; Hampel 1907; Bakay 1965, 1967; Vlassa 1965, 1967; Horedt 1967, 1968, 1978; Radosav 1986-1987; Kovács 1994-1995; Pinter 1992-1994, 1996, 1998; Cosma 2001; Oța 2015). The first comprehensive texts on this topic can be found in Radu R. Heitel’s article on archaeological evidence of the penetration of the Old Hungarians into Transylvania, in which numerous pieces of military equipment originating from the Inner Carpathian region and stored in individual museums from Romania are represented, some of which also include early medieval double-edged swords (1994-1995). Karl Z. Pinter’s book Spada şi sabia medievală în Transilvania şi Banat, secolele IX – XIV (1999) is also a good example of a more comprehensive text. Erwin Gáll prepared the currently up-to-date and relatively detailed chapter on swords, with descriptions of individual finds from Transylvania and Banat, in his thesis Az Erdélyi-medence, a Partium és a Bánság 10‒11. századi temetői (2013).

The second group consists of four specimens from Dobruja. The first was the discovery of the sword pommel cap from Păcuiul lui Soare, which was described, typologically and analogically evaluated by Radu Popa in his article (1984). The remaining three swords, including the aforementioned pommel cap, are further presented by Bulgarian authors Valeri Yotov (2003; 2007; 2011; 2016; 2018) and Konstantin Kolev (2015). In Romanian literature, Dobruja swords were published relatively recently and were included in the catalog of Mixobarbarii din Dobrogea în contextul lumii bizantine (secolele VI-XIII), with short descriptions and the erroneous designation of sabie (the term spada is used in Romanian for a sword), by a collective of authors Talmațchi – Stănică – Șova – Custurea (2020).

The last, third group of swords is completed by the so far only known find from the historical region of Moldova, which was only marginally mentioned by Victor Spinei (2009), Erwin Gáll (2015) and Ion Tentiuc (2018-2019). From the historical region of Wallachia, no specimen of a sword from the observed period is known yet, falling in the classification of J. Petersen or A. Geibig.

An attempt at chronological and typological classification

As mentioned above, the finds from Transylvania are among the most numerous in the entire territory of Romania, including their more detailed description in the literature. According to Erwin Gáll, 13 specimens are known that can be classified into the category under consideration: Aiud, Alba Iulia (scabbard chape), Arad – Pădurea Ceala (according to C. Cosma, it is a saber blade, Cosma 2002: 149), Biharea, Brăișoru, Cheglevici, Dej, Deva – Micro 15, Gâmbaș, Ernei, Jimbolia, Sfântu Gheorghe (this is probably a sword that belongs to the Byzantine origin, so I am removing it from the list for this reason) and Vetiș (Gáll 2013: 741). Six other specimens that Gáll does not mention in his work must certainly be added to them: Alba Iulia (sword blade), Cluj-Napoca, Dăbâca, Kovin, Săcalăz and Tomnatec (Pinter 2007: 67-72; Heitel 1994-1995: 438; Gáll 2011: 43; Pinter 2007: 72-74; Kovács 1994-1995: 174; Heitel 1994-1995: 430, note 138). Only in two cases out of all 18 specimens can we talk about grave finds (Deva and Gâmbaș, Gáll 2013: 95, 322; personal communication with E. Gáll). For the remaining 16 artifacts, information on the circumstances of their discovery is absent. A presumed grave find should also be a sword from the Biharea fortress (Gáll 2013: 741). Today, nothing is known about three swords: Jimbolia (Timiș county) – it is supposed to be a Western-type sword from the 10th century, but it could not be identified in any museum (Kovács 1994-1995: 179; Gáll 2013: 556, 741); Săcalăz (Timiș county) – allegedly a double-edged sword with the remains of a scabbard should have been a find from an equestrian grave. The identification as well as the age of the object cannot be determined today, as it has been lost (Kovács 1994-1995: 174); Tomnatec – a sword which is also said to have been lost, no further information is available (Heitel 1994-1995: 430, note 138). According to Radu R. Heitel, there should still be a sword from Cluj-Napoca, a copy of which is said to be in the military museum in Bucharest. Apart from the fact that it is supposed to be a Petersen type Y sword, dated to the end of the 10th to the beginning of the 11th century, nothing more is known about it (Heitel 1994-1995: 438). Another problem is the fragmentary nature of many objects. Only four swords (Deva, Cheglevici, Kovin, Vetiș) have been preserved in their entire condition. In two cases, the pommels are absent and only the blade with a guard has been preserved (Brăișoru, Ernei). Fragments of blades are known in three cases (Aiud, Alba Iulia, Gâmbaș). We know two separate guards (Dej, Dăbâca). In one case, the sword was preserved with a pommel, grip, guard and two blade fragments (Biharea).

The second group consists of 3 swords and a pommel cap, which were discovered on the territory of the historical region of Dobruja (Dobrogea). The circumstances of their discovery are not known for any of them. Only in two cases is the location known (Albești, Păcuiul lui Soare), in the other two it is only known that they were discovered somewhere in the north of the region. Their presence in this territory is connected with the Kievan Rus military and trade expeditions to Constantinople between the 9th and 10th centuries, or the Varangian guard of the Byzantine emperor or the Pechenegs, who had military or commercial contacts with the Kievan Rus principality (Yotov 2018: 473). The only sword known so far from the historical region of Moldavia (Moldova) is a fragment of a double-edged sword from Pașcani (Spinei 2009; Gáll 2015).

In terms of typological classification, Petersen’s classification is applied to the analyzed swords from Dobruja, Pașcani and a few specimens from Transylvania. With other Transylvanian finds, the situation is somewhat more complicated. Since most of the finds are fragments, Petersen’s classification has been replaced by Geibig’s, due to a more complex way of analysis, since its typological selection and diversity may in the future provide data for more precise dating, which is a problem, however, for most scattered finds (Gáll 2013: 743). As part of the chronological classification, most of the swords and their fragments are assumed to be dated to the second half of the 10th to the beginning of the 11th century, with the exception of a few finds that are dated to the 8th/9th century – 10th century.

The list of swords below contains only those specimens for which it was possible to find data on dimensions, typology, inventory number, or information on the context of the find.


Aiud (Alba county) – Muzeul de Istorie, Aiud. Inv. no.: 4793. According to the inventory book, the sword tip has been part of the museum in the city of Aiud since 1964. Information about the find is not available. Total length: 20.5 cm. Width: 4.0 cm – 2.3 cm. The fuller is 0.9 cm wide and disappears 12 cm before the end of the tip. Based on the size and characteristics, E. Gáll assumes a dating to the end of the 11th century (Gáll 2013: 346).

Aiud. Source: Gáll 2013: 150. tábla. 1.

Alba Iulia (Alba county) – Muzeul Național al Unirii Alba Iulia, inv. no. 226. Double-edged corroded blade, without information about the circumstances of its discovery. Total length: 722 mm. Length of fragment of separate blade: 644 mm. Length of tang fragment: 58 mm. Width of the tang fragment: 32 mm under the blade and 19 mm at the end. Tang thickness: 2.8 mm under the blade and 1.6 mm at the end. The width of the blade goes from 50 mm to 42 mm towards the tip. The fuller bears traces of pattern-welding in the form of a herringbone pattern (««»»), and in its upper part there are forged marks of pattern-welded wire on both sides of the blade – a spiral and a cross with arms ending in the letter T. The width of the fuller goes from 29 mm under the grip to 24 mm in the middle and to 18 mm towards the end of the blade. The blade of the sword was welded to a core carrying pattern-welded wire. From a typological point of view, the object is rather difficult to classify due to the absence of a guard and pommel. An indirect guide to the definition of the time horizon can be pattern-welding, or marks in the fuller. K. Z. Pinter dates the blade to the period of the 8th – 9th century, which would correspond to the fact that in the Merovingian period (up to the 8th century) pattern-welded blades were the most common type of construction, as well as the popularity of decorating the blades with simple marks, which are known from the burial at the territory of the Frankish Empire from the second half of the 8th to the beginning of the 9th century. Despite the fact that finds of blades with cross decoration are rare among archaeological finds, they were relatively common in the given period, which is also confirmed by the Arab philosopher Al-Kindí (803 – 870), who mentions Frankish swords decorated with gold or brass crosses in his work. It cannot therefore be ruled out that the analyzed blade from Alba Iulia could have been made in Frankish workshops (Pinter 2007: 67-72; Hošek, Košta, Mařík 2012: 220; Košta – Hošek 2014: 294).

Alba Iulia. Source: Pinter 2007: planșa 33: b.

Alba Iulia (Alba county) – Muzeul Național de Istorie a Transilvaniei, Cluj-Napoca. Inv. no.: 4151. The chape is cast of bronze. The upper part is damaged, lined with two rows of pearl decoration, between which an interwoven braid-like pattern is incorporated. The oblong, semi-oval object tapers towards the end and is terminated by a cylindrical projection, with a rounded end, which bears signs of wear. In the lower part, the surface is decorated with a palmette pattern on both sides. Height in the middle: 9.8 cm. Height of the sides: 9.1 cm. Opening width: 4.9 cm (Ciugudean – Dragotă 2002: 47; Gáll 2013: 199). Based on analogies from other territories, it can be concluded that the center of the upper part of the finial was decorated with stylized heads of birds. Typologically, the chape belongs into the so-called group “Baltisch-ostpreussische Gruppe” according to Paulsen’s classification or to group III, subgroup III b according to Kazakevičius. The closest analogues of the specimen from Alba Iulia are from Hungary (Beszterce and Székesfehérvár – Demkóhegy), Russia (Bulgar) and Belarus (Staraya Belitsa). According to S. Y. Kainov, the dating of this chape points to the second half of the 10th to the first half of the 11th century (Paulsen 1953: 84-87; Kazakevičius 1992: 97-101; Kainov – Makušnikov 2022: 166).

Alba Iulia. Source: Ciugudean, Dragotă 2002: 47, № 103; Gáll 2013: 85. tábla. 1. a-c.

Albești (Constanța county) – Muzeul de Istorie Națională şi Archeologie, Constanța. Inv. No.: 20794. The best-preserved sword of all three specimens from Dobruja. It is a random stray find. Double-edged sword with a guard, grip and two-part pommel. The guard and pommel base bear traces of decoration. The blade of the sword probably bears the inscription +ULFBERHT on one side and a geometric mark on the other, which could be schematically stated approximately as follows III IXXXI III. According to Petersen’s classification, it corresponds to type V. This type of swords dates back to the 10th century. In the case of the Balkans, the dating shifts from the second half of the 10th to the beginning of the 11th century. Length: 97.5 cm. Guard width: 9.9 cm (Talmațchi – Stănică 2020: 163; Androshchuk 2014: 79; Yotov 2011: 39).

Albești. Source: Yotov 2011: Fig. 5: a-b.

Biharea (Bihor county) – Muzeul Țării Crișurilor, Oradea. Inv. No.: 2833. Double-edged sword consisting of two parts (blade fragment with a guard, grip and pommel; blade fragment). Supposedly a grave find (Horedt 1968: 422). Total length: 31 cm. Length of hilt with pommel: 13.3 cm. Pommel height: 3.6 cm. Pommel width: 7 cm. Thickness of the pommel at the bottom: 2.4 cm. Pommel thickness on top: 0.5 cm. Length of guard: 12 cm. Guard height: 2 cm. Guard thickness: 1.8 cm. Blade length: 16 cm. Blade width: 4.6 – 4.7 cm. Fuller not recognized. Dating: late 10th to early 11th century. Typological classification: Petersen X, possibly Geibig’s combined type 12, variant I (Gáll 2013: 60; Horedt 1968: 422).

Biharea. Source: Gáll 2013: 17. tábla. 1.

Brăișoru (Cluj county) – Muzeul Național de Istorie a României, București. Inv. No.: 54484. Double-edged sword consisting of a blade, an elliptical guard and an incomplete grip. Without the pommel. In the past, there were disputes about whether the sword was found at the site of Brăișoru (Malomszeg, Cluj county) or Morești (Malomfalva, Mureș county; Horedt 1967: 509; Vlassa 1967: 511). A more likely option is Brăișoru (Vlassa 1967: 511; Gáll 2013: 317). The circumstances of the find are not known. Total length: 68.3 cm. Blade length: 58.4 cm. Length of grip fragment: 9.8 cm. Blade width: 5.8 cm. Fuller width: 2.2 – 2.3 cm. Length of guard: 9.5 cm. Height of guard: 3 cm. Weight: 763.76 g. The upper part of the fuller bears pattern-welded wire marks on both sides: on one side, 7 cm from the grip, there is the inscription II S S I in pattern-welded wire and on the other side there are 12 rings created by the inlay technique. In the lower part of the blade there are clear traces of parts of the scabbard. Dating and typological classification: second half of the 10th – first half of the 11th century, Geibig’s combined type 11 is given as part of the typology (Gáll 2013: 317).

Brăișoru. Source: Horedt 1968: Fig. 2.; Gáll 2013: 157. tábla.

Cheglevici (Timiș county) – Expoziția Memorială Béla Bártok, Sânnicolau Mare. Inv. no.: ? The circumstances of the find of this sword are also unknown. It has been preserved in its entirety, there are clear traces of the wooden construction of the scabbard all around the blade. The grip is flat, widening towards the guard. The pommel is probably three-lobed, formed by a base and a cap. Total length: 97.5 cm. Pommel width: 7.2 cm. Pommel height: 5.25 cm. Grip length: 8.25 cm. Grip width: 1.5 – 4.5 cm. Length of guard: 12.0 cm. Width of guard: 1.8 cm. Blade length: 82.5 cm. Blade width: 6.0 cm. Dating: late 10th to early 11th century. In terms of typology, according to Erwin Gáll, this sword can be assigned to Geibig’s combined type 10 / Petersen S (Gáll 2013: 241), however, the guard of the sword as well as the base of the pommel appear to be straight in the drawing available in Gáll’s work, not showing the characteristic features of S type swords, where the guard ends widen on both sides. The condition of the sword is currently unknown, E. Gáll himself states that it has not been restored (Gáll 2013: 241).

Cheglevici. Source: Gáll 2013: 111. tábla. 1.

Dej (Cluj county) – Muzeul Național de Istorie a Transilvaniei, Cluj-Napoca. Inv. no.: ? A contextless find of a sword guard, allegedly found in 1904. The guard is straight, oval-shaped and widens towards the end on both sides. When viewed from the front, it creates the impression of a boat shape. Length: 10.7 cm. Width: 2.8 cm. Height: 1.5 cm. Weight: 188.5 g. The surface of the guard is covered with silver, on one and the other side there are clear traces of decoration with silver wire placed vertically and horizontally, but a significant part of the wires has fallen out. Therefore, it is practically impossible to reconstruct the pattern that decorated the guard. Within the framework of the typological classification, the guard from Dej is assumed to belong to Petersen’s type S, although it shows elements identical to type R (Gáll 2013: 98; personal consultation with Tomáš Vlasatý). Usually, the oldest type S swords are dated to the first half of the 10th century, the youngest to the beginning of the 11th century (Hergessel – Snítilý 2020: 38-40), for types R, the dating can be shifted to the first half of the 10th century (Androshchuk 2014: 75) . In the case of the partition from Dej, the dating is estimated at the second half of the 10th to the beginning of the 11th century (Gáll 2013: 98).

Dej. Source: Hampel 1907: 222, a-d.

Deva (Hunedoara county) – Muzeul Civilizației Dacice și Romane, Deva. Inv. no.: 27.1011. In 1975, in the Micro 15 neighborhood of the town of Deva (Hunedoara county), during the installation of a gas pipeline near school no. 6, an Old Hungarian burial site was discovered between Aleea Streiului and Bejan streets (Gáll 2013: 94). Grave No. 3 contained skeletal remains, probably of a man, together with a sword with a badly corroded blade, located in the upper part next to the skeleton (Gáll 2013: 95). In addition to the skeleton and the sword, there were also other objects in the grave: stirrups, a fire striker and a stone, a whetstone, a bronze bracelet with pointed ends, an earring, and arrowheads. The grave was marked as equestrian (Pinter 1992-1994: 235, 239). A double-edged sword consists of a blade, a straight guard, a grip and a nut-shaped pommel. Typologically, it can be classified as combined type 16, variant I according to Geibig (Gáll 2013: 95). Based on the grave inventory, the dating of the sword is estimated at the second half of the 10th to the beginning of the 11th century (Gáll 2013: 96). Total length: 892 mm. Blade length: 762 mm. Blade width: 45 mm (in the past it could have been around 50 mm). The fuller is only faintly visible on both sides due to corrosion, but it stretches from the guard to the tip. Grip length: 100 mm. The width of the grip goes from 24 mm to 5 mm to the pommel. Length of guard: 162 mm. Thickness of guard: 11mm. Maximum pommel width: 85 mm. Pommel height: 36 mm. Pommel thickness: 29 mm (Pinter 2007: 79-82).

Deva. Source: Pinter 2007: 200, planșa 34: b.

Dobruja no. 1 (unknown location in the north) – Muzeul de Istorie Națională și Archeologie, Constanța. Inv. No.: 6618. Double-edged sword with short guard, with grip and blade. Both the tip and the pommel are absent. The fuller is rather faintly visible, but it seems to be quite wide. Even in this case, it is a random stray finding. It is assigned to the Petersen E or W types (Yotov 2011: 40). Due to the absence of a pommel, its typological classification is complicated, but type W can be ruled out with certainty, since the pommel and guards of this type of sword were cast from bronze (Vlasatý 2018). It dates back to the end of the 9th to the beginning of the 10th century. An atypical element of this sword is two holes in the grip, so it is not excluded that the time horizon may be older (8th – 9th century, personal consultation with Tomáš Vlasatý). Length: 70.5 cm. Guard width: 6.3 cm (Talmațchi – Stănică 2020: 163; Yotov 2011: 39).

Dobruja. Source: Yotov 2011: Fig. 7.

Dobruja no. 2 (unknown location in the north) – Muzeul de Istorie Națională și Archeologie, Constanța. Inv. No.: 38359. Double-edged sword with part of the blade. The guard is straight, the grip is relatively long and ends with a pommel in the form of the letter D. The fuller is faintly visible. The sword is dated from the second half of the 10th century to the beginning of the 11th century. According to Petersen’s classification, it could correspond to type X (Petersen 1919: 158-167). Length: 48.2 cm. Width of guard: 9 cm. Pommel width: 4 cm (Talmațchi – Stănică 2020: 163; Yotov 2011: 39-40).

Dobruja. Source: Yotov 2011: Fig. 6.

Dăbâca (Hungarian: Doboka, Cluj county) – During archaeological excavations in the 1960s, a guard of a double-edged sword was discovered on the site of a former fortress above the village of Dăbâca. The discovery took place in area no. IV, on the northwest side, at the place where the above-ground building stood. Along with the guard, two pairs of gilded spurs, a fragment of green glazed pottery, a fragment of a cross and a pocket knife were also found. The guard was analogously compared with finds of swords from the territory of Croatia and Great Moravia, dating to the 9th century and typologically classified as Petersen’s type X (Pascu, Rusu… 1968: 178, note 60). Based on the analysis of archaeological and numismatic material, Erwin Gáll is of the opinion that the fortress was not built earlier than the first half of the 11th century, and thus shifts the dating of the guard to this period. It is also not excluded that the upper area of the fortress with the designation no. IV could have a connection with military elites due to the presence of military finds (Gáll 2011: 342; 2013: 187).

Dăbâca. Source: Gáll 2013: 232, plate 6.

Gâmbaș (Alba county) – Muzeul de Istorie, Aiud. Inv. No.: 3478. A fragment of a double-edged blade with an incomplete tang, without a guard and pommel. The fuller is evident along the entire length of the blade. Total length: 65.3 cm. The width of the blade goes from 4.9 to 4.5 cm to 4.0 cm and the width of the fuller from 1.7 to 1.3 cm. Length of grip fragment: 8.5 cm. Width of grip fragment: 2.5 – 1.0 cm. Weight: 560 g. No dating. The object was supposed to be found in a grave, during archaeological excavations in 1905 (Gáll 2013: 322).

Gâmbaș. Source: Gáll 2013: 159. tábla. 1.

Ernei (Mureș county) – Muzeul Național de Istorie a Transilvaniei, Cluj-Napoca. Inv. no.: IV 1919 (old inventory number). A fragment of a double-edged blade with a guard that has the shape of an elongated rhombus, in the center of which there is a hole for the tang. According to Erwin Gáll, the exact dating of the sword is problematic due to its fragmentary nature. He himself places it around the end of the 11th century. Length: 53.0 cm. Grip length: 13.0 cm. Blade width: 4.3 – 4.0 cm. Grip width: 2.0 – 0.7 cm. Grip thickness: 0.4 – 0.5 cm. Length of guard: 8.3 cm. Width of guard: 2.2 cm. Thickness of guard: 1.0 cm (Gáll 2013, 347).

Ernei. Source: Gáll 2013: 179. tábla: 1.

Kovin (Serbia) – Muzeul Național al Banatului, Timișoara. Inv. No.: 3203. The sword was originally found in the site of Temesch – Cubin, Pancsova district, Torontál county, today in Serbia. No further information regarding the find is available. The only thing that is certain is that, based on the territorial administrative division, the object must have been found before 1918. Based on analogies from Ukraine and England, it is likely to be typologically assigned close to type Z, according to Petersen (Vinski 1983: 10, 25), thus dating from second half of the 10th to 11th century (Androshchuk 2014: 86; personal communication with Tomáš Vlasatý). The sword consists of a blade, guiard, grip and pommel. Total length: 822 mm. Blade length: 691 mm, the original length could have been about 10-15 mm longer due to a small part of the missing tip. Blade width: 45-47 mm and becomes 23 mm closer to the preserved part of the tip. The thickness of the blade decreases from 3.4 mm from the guard to 1.3 mm to the tip. The fuller is distinct, runs down the center of the entire length of the blade, with a width of 21 mm (from the guard) to 14 mm (to the tip) and probably bears traces of pattern-welding (Vinski 1983: 10). Grip length: 91 mm. Grip width: varies from 31 mm under the guard to 18 mm at the pommel. Grip thickness: 3.1 mm. Length of guard: 136 mm. The thickness of the guard in the middle, on the upper side is 18 mm at the pommel side and on the lower side and it reaches a thickness of 11.3 mm at the blade side. The pommel is flat, consisting of a base and a cap, separated by a groove. The pommel cap has a slightly three-lobed shape. Maximum pommel thickness: 16 mm. Pommel height: 34 mm. Pommel width: 69 mm (Pinter 2007: 72-74).

Kovin. Source:

Pașcani (Iași county) – Finding circumstances, parameters or condition of the sword are not available. There is only a redrawing of it, available in the work of Victor Spinei (Spinei 2009: fig. 9/13), on the basis of which this artefact could be visually described as follows: The sword consists of a blade with a straight and short guard, a grip, at the end of which is probably two-part pommel with beveled ends of its base and three-lobed cap. The pommel base and cap probably bear traces of decoration. Erwin Gáll classifies the sword with Petersen’s type S or Geibig’s combined type 11 and dates it to the end of the 10th to the beginning of the 11th century (Gáll 2015: 319). Victor Tentiuc attributes it to the Petersen U type, at the same time, by analogy, on the basis of the recently discovered scabbard chape in the village of Mîrzoaia (Iurceni village, Nisporeni district, Republic of Moldova) he dates it to the second half of the 10th century (Tentiuc – Munteanu 2022: 37). It is not excluded that it could also be a Petersen V type, or some kind of hybrid of this type (personal consultation with Tomáš Vlasatý). Due to the lack of information, a more precise dating as well as a typological classification of this object is problematic.

Pașcani. Source: Spinei 2009: Fig. 9. 13.

Păcuiul lui Soare (Constanța county) – Muzeul Dunării de Jos, Călărași. Inv. no.: ? Copper alloy three-lobed sword pommel cap. The surface bears traces of gilding and silvering with decoration in the form of a braid. The shape of the cap has a zoomorphic character. The maximum height of the cap reaches 36 mm, its length is 73 mm and the thickness at the base is 2 mm. The weight of the crown is 0.148 kg. Based on Petersen’s classification, it can be an R/S type dating to the end of the 10th to the beginning of the 11th century (Popa 1984: 425-427; Yotov 2018: 472). I dedicated a separate article to this object available here: The sword pommel from Păcuiul lui Soare.

Păcuiul lui Soare. Source: Popa 1984: 429, abb. 3.

Vetiș (Satu Mare county) – Muzeul județean Satu Mare. Inv. no.: 1199/A. The double-edged sword, originally dated to the 14th century, was an random stray find in the territory of the village of Vetiș. The archaeological context is unknown (Pinter 2007: 77). The sword, which consists of a blade, a rectangular guard, a grip and a semi-circular pommel, is in relatively poor condition. Especially the thin parts of the blade and part of the guard, in the area of fixation to the blade and grip, are significantly damaged. Total length: 90.8 cm. Grip length: 8.5 cm. Grip width: 2.6 – 1.6 cm. Pommel height: 2.5 cm. Pommel width: 4.7 cm. Pommel thickness: 2.0. Length of guard: 12.9 cm. Width of guard: 1.2 – 1.3 cm. Blade length: 79.1 cm. Blade width: up to 3/4 reaches 5.0 cm, the last 2.5 cm towards the tip narrows to 1.9 cm. Fuller width: 1.3 cm. Weight: 600 g. The date is assumed to be the 11th century. Typological classification: Geibig’s combined type 12, variant II. (Gáll 2013: 542-543).

Vetiș. Source: Gáll 2013: 292. tábla.

In addition to the Transylvanian swords from the observed period, there are 3 more specimens that probably no longer belong to this database: Arad-Pădurea Ceala (Arad county) – Complexul Muzeal Arad. Inv. no.: 14384. Fragment of a sword blade. The total length of the object is 62 cm, the width reaches 4.6 cm. No fuller. More information on this subject is not available (Gáll 2013: 41). According to C. Cosma, it is a single-edged blade originating from a saber dated to the 10th century (Cosma 2002: 149, 164, 340 – pl. 3-4); Orșova (Mehedinți county) – a sword allegedly digged from the waters of the Danube, dated to the 10th century (Bálint 1988: 254; Madgearu 2019: 102), or to the 11th century (Oța 2015: 153). Typologically, however, it already falls into Oakeshott’s classification; Sasca Montană (Caraș-Severin county) – another sword, dated to the 11th century, is a fragment of a double-edged blade with a grip without a pommel, a short guard and a relatively narrow fuller. Without information about the find (Oța 2015: 153), L. Kovács dates it to the Migration period. There are two holes for rivets in the tang. The total length reaches 85.6 cm. The length of the guard is 8.5 cm. The blade is 73 cm long, 6 cm wide (Kovács 1994-1995: 174); Curtuiușeni-Dealul Cărămidăriei (Bihor county) – a blade fragment with a length of 55 cm and a width of 3.8 cm, the context of the find is unknown. It is believed that it could have been a grave find. It is dated to the 10th century, based on the stirrups with which the blade was found (Cosma 2001: 242, 2002: 149). Unfortunately, further data are not available (Heitel 1994-1995: 430, note 1380). In Jiří Košta’s database, provided by Tomáš Vlasatý, there is a note that this blade may come from a scramaseax.

Geographical distribution of individual sword finds and their fragments.

By clicking on the button below you can download the table summarizing the catalog data.


From the total number of 27 swords and sword fragments, traced in the literature, the observed period and typological criteria, only 14 specimens correspond to the classification according to Jan Petersen and/or Alfred Geibig (Alba Iulia – scabbard chape, Albești, Biharea, Brăișoru, Cheglevici, Cluj-Napoca, Dej, Deva – Micro 15, Dobruja no. 2, Dăbâca, Kovin, Pașcani, Păcuiul lui Soare and Vetiș). These objects can be approximately determined to the defined time horizon of the 9th to 11th centuries, as well as to the mentioned typological classification. However, the situation is complicated by the fact that most of the finds lack information on the circumstances of the find, so future research should focus not only on analogies from other areas, but also on metallographic research. Another eight specimens are included in the monitored period – Aiud, sword blade from Alba Iulia, Dobruja no. 1, Gâmbaș, Ernei, Jimbolia, Săcalăz and Tomnatec. In the case of these finds, typological classification is practically impossible, which is caused by their fragmentary state, or the loss of some of them. Regarding the blade from Arad, there are two different pieces of information in the literature regarding the classification of the object, so it is not clear whether the blade was part of a sword or a sabre. The remaining four objects – Curtuiușeni, Orșova, Sasca Montană and Sfântu Gheorghe – probably no longer meet the typological and temporal classification, for this reason I excluded them from the list.

The above list is compiled from the literature available on the Internet and the provided personal database, so it is possible that some information may not be complete or accurate. The list can be edited at any time, or supplemented with new, unknown finds.


Finally, I would like to thank Tomáš Vlasatý for the help, consultation and literature provided, as well as for the opportunity to publish the article on these pages. At the same time, I would also like to express my thanks to Erwin Gáll from the Archaeological Institute in Bucharest, for his help in finding and consulting some examples of swords, as well as for the literature provided.

We hope you liked reading this article. If you have any question or remark, please contact us or leave a comment below. If you want to learn more and support our work, please, fund our project on PatreonBuymeacoffee or Paypal.


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

Bálint, Csanád. Sudungarn im 10. Jahrhundert, in: Studia Archaeologica, 11, Budapest, 1991.

Bakay, Kornél. Régészeti tanulmányok a magyar államalapítás kérdéséhez, in: Dunántúli dolgozatok – 1, Pécs, 1965.

Bakay, Kornél. Archäologische Studien zur Frage der ungarischen Staatsgründung. Angaben zur Organisierung des Fürstlichen Heeres, in: Acta Archaeologica 19, 1967.

Ciugudean, Horia Ion – Dragotă, Aurel. Catalogul expoziţiei „Civilizaţia medievală timpurie din Transilvania: rit şi ritual funerar (sec. IX-XI), Alba Iulia, 2002

Cosma, Călin. Necropole, morminte izolate și descoperiri funerare cu caracter incert din secolele al IX-lea și al X-lea din vestul și nord-vestul României, in: Ephemeris Napocensis, XI 2001.

Gáll, Erwin. The Churchyard Cemetery In Dăbâca (hung.: Doboka), Castle Area 4. Archeological Data On The Development Of A North Transylvanian County Centre In The 11-13th Centuries, in: Arheologia Mileniului I P. Chr. II, Bucureşti, 2011.

Gáll, Erwin. Dăbâca: Necropola din jurul bisericii din grădina lui A. Tămaș. Câteva idei privind evoluția habitatului medieval de la Dăbâca, in: Analele Banatului, S.N., Arheologie – Istorie, XXI, 2013.

Gáll, Erwin. From the fortress of Stephen I (997–1038) to the centre of ‘lord Gelou’. Dăbâca (germ.: Dobeschdorf; hung.: Doboka) in the nationalist myths in the 20th Century, in: Ziridava Studia Archaeologica 27/2013

Gáll, Erwin. Az Erdélyi-medence, a Partium és a Bánság 10-11. századi temetői I-II, Szeged 2013.

Gáll, Erwin. The archaeological research state of the 9/10–11th centuries in Moldova (Romania). Some thoughts on funerary places and stray finds (axes), in: Ziridava Studia Archaeologica, 29/2015.

Hampel, József. Ujabb tanulmányok a honfoglalási kor emlékeiről, Budapest, 1907.

Heitel, Radu Robert. Die Archäologie der ersten und zweiten Phase des Eindringens der Ungarn in das innerkarpatische Transilvanien, in: Dacia NS, XXXVIII – XXXIX, 1994-1995.

Hergessel, Jan – Snítilý, Pavel. Příběh meče – Výjimečný archeologický nález z Lázní Toušeně, Městské muzeum v Čelákovicích, 2020.

Horedt, Kurt. Cu privire la locul de descoperire a sabiei de la Morești, in: Acta Mvsei Napocensis IV, 1967.

Horedt, Kurt. Săbiile şi spadele din secolul X în bazinul carpatic, in: Acta Mvsei Napocensis V, 1968.

Horedt, Kurt. Backteller und Tonkessel In Morești, in: Slovenská Archeológia XXVI – 1, Bratislava, 1978.

Hošek, J. – Košta, J. – Mařík, J. Nálezy raně středověkých mečů v aglomeraci raně středověkého hradiště v Libici nad Cidlinou, in: Sborník Národního Muzea v Praze, řada A – Historie, 66 · 2012 · 1–2.

Kainov – Makušnikov 2022 = Каинов, С. Ю. – Макушников, О. А. Наконечник ножен меча из Старой Белицы (Гомельская обл., Беларусь). Военная археология – Статьи, 7, 2022.

Kazakevičius, Vytautas. Sword chapes from Lithuania. in: Acta Universtitatis Stockholmiensis – Studia Baltica Stockholmiensia 9, 1992.

Kolev, Konstantin Jr. Visual-Material Evidence Of Viking Presence In The Balkans, in: Hiperboreea. Journal of History, vol. 2, N°1, 2015.

Košta, J. – Hošek, J. Early Medieval Swords from Mikulčice, Brno : Institute of Archaeology of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, 2014.

Kovács, László. A Kárpát – Medence Kétélű Kardjai A 10. Század 2. Feléből, in: Communicationes Archaeologicae Hungariae, Budapest, 1994-1995.

Madgearu, Alexandru. Expansiunea Maghiară în Transilvania, Târgoviște, 2019.

Nagy, Géza. Karolingkori kard, in: Arch. Ért. 26, 1906

Oța, Silviu. The mortuary archaeology of the medieval Banat (10th–14th centuries), (East Central and Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 450 – 1450, Book 26), 2015.

Paulsen, Peter. Schwertortbänder der Wikingerzeit: ein Beitrag zur Frühgeschichte Osteuropas, Stuttgart, 1953.

Pascu Şt., Rusu M., Iambor P., Edroiu N., Gyulai P., Wollmann V., Matei Şt. Cetatea Dăbîca, in: Acta Mvsei Napocensis V, 1968.

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

Pinter, Karl Zeno. Spada medievală din mormântul de călăreț de la Deva, considerații tipologice și cronologice, in: Sargetia XXV, 1992-1994.

Pinter, Karl Zeno. Spada și sabia medievală în Transilvania și Banat (secolele IX – XIV), Sibiu, 2007.

Popa, Radu. Knaufkrone eines wikingerzeitlichen Prachtschwertes von Pacuiul lui Soare, in: Germania, 62, 1984.

Radosav, Doru – Lazin, Gheorghe. Spada – Feudal Timpurie De La Vetiș (Județul Satu Mare), in: Studii Și Comunicări Satu Mare, vol. 7-8, 1986-1987.

Spinei, Victor. The Romanians and the Turkic Nomads, Leiden – Boston 2009.

Talmațchi, Cristina Paraschiv – Stănică, Aurel Daniel – Șova, Constantin – Custurea, Gabriel. Mixobarbaroi from Dobruja in the context of the Byzantine World (6th–13th Century) /Mixobarbarii din Dobrogea în contextul Lumii Bizantine (Secolele VI–XIII), Cluj – Napoca, 2020

Tentiuc, Ion. On the Viking enclaves and their relations with the inhabitants of the Carpathian – Dniester region between the 9th and the 11th centuries, in: Dacia, LXII-LXIII, 2018 – 2019.

Tentiuc, Ion – Munteanu, Octavian. Conexiunile spaţiului est-carpatic cu lumea vikingă: o nouă buterolă din epoca medievală timpurie descoperită în Moldova, in: Tyragetia – Arheologie, istorie antică. Serie Nouă, vol. XVI [XXXI], nr. 1, 2022.

Vlasatý, Tomáš. Petersen type W sword. In: Projekt Forlǫg : Reenactment and science [online]. [2020-04-02]. Available here:

Vlassa, Nicolae. Sabia feudală timpurie de la Ernei, Acta Mvsei Napocensis, II, 1965.

Vlassa, Nicolae. Tot despre locul de descoperire a sabiei „de la Morești“, in: Acta Mvsei Napocensis IV, 1967

Vinski, Zdenko. Razmatranja o poslijekarolinškim mačevima 10. i 11. stolječa u Jugoslaviji, in: Starohrvatska prosvjeta, Vol. III No. 13, 1983.

Yotov, Valeri. Byzantine Time Swords (10th–11th Centuries) in Romania, in: Studia Universitatis Cibiniensis Series Historica VIII Supplementum No.1, 2011.

Yotov, Valeri. Data about Northmen’s presence in the Lower Danube area, in: Studia Romana et Mediævalia Europænsia: miscellanea in honorem annos LXXXV peragentis Professoris emeriti Dan Gh. Teodor oblata, 2018.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *