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

Petersen’s Type X Sword from Malé Kozmálovce, Slovakia


¹ Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra, Slovakia
ORCID: 0000-0002-1643-3623

² Blacksmith Master – an expert in the sword production and reconstruction


From the territory of today’s Slovakia, 42 examples of early medieval swords from the 8th-11th century have been identified so far (Jócsik 2024). Petersen’s type X swords (Fig. 1) represents the most numerous group, which is represented in the corpus by 9 specimens (Bíňa, Matúškovo, Horné Saliby, Hurbanovo-Bohatá, Ladice, Malé Kozmálovce, Skalica, Veľký Meder, Závada), while the sword from Nitra-Dolné Krškany remains ambiguous, as the pommel appears to be one-piece, but based on the general characteristics of the sword, it is not possible to rule out the possibility that it is Petersen’s type B. The other two specimens from Sereď and Svätý Peter probably represent transitional variants of Petersen’s type X and Oakeshott’s type A swords.

Fig. 1: Location of Petersen’s type X swords within the territory of today’s Slovakia: 1 – Malé Kozmálovce; 2 – Bíňa; 3 – Matúškovo; 4 – Horné Saliby; 5 – Hurbanovo-Bohatá; 6 – Ladice; 7 – Skalica; 8 – Veľký Meder; 9 – Závada; 10 – Nitra-Dolné Krškany; 11 – Svätý Peter (Dolný Peter); 12 – Sereď.

Finding circumstances

The presented sword (Fig. 2) comes from an unknown location in the cadastre of Malé Kozmálovce (Geibig 1991, Cat. No. 1172), where it was possible to secure objects such as a sword, a spur and a ceramic vessel that came from one grave during the excavation work in 1938 (Točík 1955, 416). The dating of the find is made difficult by the absence of the mentioned spur, which was supposed to be part of the grave inventory, but it was only preserved as a mention in the literature and has not been published so far. The vessel, which comes from the grave, is also not definitely chronologically classified due to its morphology and decoration. M. Hanuliak (2004, 267) dates the grave to level A1, which represents the time period of the 1st to 2nd third of the 9th century. Based on the nature of the grave inventory and the occurrence of the Petersen’s type X sword, we can assume the dating of the grave sometime during the second third of the 9th century, with a possible younger overlap. The sword is stored in the Tekov Museum in Levice under the inventory number 323/93. The sword is in relatively good condition, its total length is 913 mm. In some places, the edge of the blade is corroded or pitted. Smaller perforations caused by corrosion can be observed in the point area.

Fig. 2: General view of the sword from Malé Kozmálovce.

Description of the sword, metrical data and typological classification

From a typological point of view, we can classify the sword into Petersen’s type X, according to Geibig’s combination typology it is type 12-I (12-10-1-11), and according to Ruttkay’s combination typology it is type VII-7. The blade can be classified as Oakeshott’s type Xa and Geibig’s type 3 (?).

The rather massive pommel (Fig. 3) is of one-piece construction. The maximum length of the pommel is 58 mm. The maximum width at its base reaches 24 mm and narrows to 22 mm towards the top. The maximum height of the pommel is 30 mm. The pommel has a semicircular shape from the front view, a slightly oval shape from the bottom view, and a square shape with rounded corners from the side view. The pommel is perforated through with a hole for the tang.

The crossguard (Figs. 3, 4) is relatively short but massive. Its maximum length is 90 mm. The crossguard has a square to slightly oval shape with rounded corners. The maximum width of the crossguard is 20 mm, which narrows slightly towards its ends. The maximum height is 12 mm. The crossguard has a square cross-section with rounded corners. All the edges of the crossguard are rounded (Jócsik 2024, 205). We can observe that the crossguard has one smaller hole on the side facing the pommel, through which the tang passes, and a second larger hole (Fig. 4) into which the blade is inserted in such a manner there is a narrow gap at each side.

The blade (Figs. 2, 3) of the sword is straight, double-edged and symmetrical in its longitudinal axis with a clearly visible central fuller, especially in the area from the first third of the blade length. The overall length of the sword blade is 780 mm with a maximum width of 49.3 mm and a maximum thickness of 4.5 mm at the blade arm. The fuller is relatively shallow and narrow with a maximum measured length of 695 mm, and a maximum width of 18.4 mm approximately 2 cm from the crossguard. The tang has a trapezoidal shape with a rectangular cross-section. Its length is 90 mm. The maximum tang width is 27 mm with a thickness of 3.5 mm which tapers to 15mm at a thickness of 3.2 mm.

Fig. 3: Hilt detail of the sword from Malé Kozmálovce.

Fig. 4: A view of the larger hole in the crossguard for mounting the blade arms.

On the blade there is a small isosceles cross (Fig. 5) with a size of approximately 5.5 × 5 mm and on the other side of the blade a groove that resembles the Latin cross with a size of approximately 10 × 14 mm. The smaller cross was interpreted by A. Ruttkay (1975, 157) as a copper wire inlay (most recently as a cross made of non-ferrous metal Košta/Hošek/Žákovský 2021, 147). After reviewing the sword, we can say that the material in the groove is not a copper alloy wire, but a preservative (wax/varnish?) that got caught in the groove. These deposits of the unknown matter can also be observed on other parts of the sword, especially in the depressions. We can assume that this is a result of the application of a conservation procedure (Fig. 6: 2), so-called Kirpičnikov’s method of revealing inscriptions (Kirpičnikov 1966, 21; Marek 2005, 13; Moilanen 2015, 46). This lied in the removal of the primary corrosion or conservation layer and then fuller was ground with a rotating rubber disc. The surface was subsequently etched with a 10% solution of CuCl2 NH4Cl and dried with alcohol (Ruttkay 1971, 163). We cannot rule out the possibility there originally was an inlay that fell off the grooves, but based on the current state of research, we cannot confirm this possibility in any way. The inlay in the form of a cross can be recognized from two finds from the Great Moravian milieu from the site of Mikulčice (Hošek/Košta/Žákovský 2021, Fig. 57). In one case it is an isosceles cross whose arms are terminated by a vertical line “☩”, and in the other case it is an isosceles cross in a circle “⨁”. We also recognize these forms from the territory of today’s Germany, i.e. from the area of the former Frankish Empire (Geibig 1991, 256).

Fig. 5: a-b – detail and location of the mark in the form of an isosceles cross; c-d – detail and location of another possible mark in the form of the Latin cross, or the location of a weld defect.

Fig. 6: Swords with traces of the so-called Kirpičnikov’s method of revealing inscriptions: 1 – Detva; 2 – malé Kozmálovce; 3 – Svätý Peter. Taken from Ruttkay 1978, Fig. 8. Not to scale.

Technological and manufacturing features

Among the technological features, traces of blacksmith’s welds are visible to the naked eye on the blade, which can be interpreted as weld seams between the core and the edges. They are visible almost along the entire length of the blade, but most prominently on the side marked with the cross in the area of approximately 200-400 mm from the point (Fig. 7). Moreover, on the other side of the sword, about 150 mm from the crossguard, there is a formation that can be interpreted as a weld defect (Fig. 5: c-d). It is also possible to observe the layered structure of the welded material in several places on the blade (Figs. 8, 9). Based on these features, it is possible to assume that the sword blade structurally belongs to some variant with welded edges, which is clearly dominant among sword blades in the given period (Košta/Hošek/Žákovský 2021). Other details of the construction of the blade and its heat treatment are unidentifiable without further X-ray, CT, or metallographic examination. That is why these analyzes are our priorities for further research.

The construction of the one-piece pommel can clearly be classified as construction type IIIa (Hošek/Košta/Žákovský 2021, Fig. 94).

Fig. 7: Visible weld seams where the edge is welded to the core.

Fig. 8: The layered structure of the welded material in the area of the blade point.

Fig. 9: The layered structure of the welded material visible near the blade point.

The geometry of the sword

In the case of type X sword pommels from the territory of today’s Slovakia, we encounter a slight pommel twist in several examined cases. Currently, a hypothesis is being formed (Warzecha 2020, 35 ff.) that the pommel twist is intentional and is adapted to better ergonomics when holding the sword correctly during fencing. Although the material for this hypothesis is growing, we currently have no method that can distinguish between intentional twist and twist created by post-depositional processes. The tang represents the narrowest and often the thinnest part of the sword that can be susceptible to physical changes during archaeologization. On the other hand, it is also impossible to rule out the possibility that the misalignment of the hole in the pommel could have occurred during the hot punching, which represents an extremely demanding operation, during which minor deviations may occur.

The sword from Malé Kozmálovce follows the basic geometric structure I in its proportions (Fig. 10; Johnsson 2015, 22), i.e. the crossguard is located in the center of the first of six interconnected circles. The total ratio of the hilt length and the blade lenght is therefore 1:6. The crossguard length is derived from the base circle by means of the geometric cut Ad quadratum, i.e. by a series of squares inscribed in the circle, while it is defined by the size of the third inscribed square. Mathematically, the ratio of the crossguard length and the hilt length can be expressed as 1:√2. The shape of the pommel and (probably) the blade width also fit into the geometric scheme. They are defined by a smaller circle whose radius is equal to 1:9 of the diameter of the base circle, so geometrically there are 8 connected smaller circles in the base circle. In the case of the pommel, the circumference of the smaller circle defines its upper arc. If we take in account the width of the hole in the crossguard and the original blade width, we can claim the blade width could also be to a certain degree of probability defined by the smaller circle diameter. The balance point of the sword is located at a distance of 180 mm from the crossguard. The aforementioned sign in the shape of an isosceles cross is also located approximately in this area.

Fig. 10: Geometric analysis of the sword from Malé Kozmálovce.


Due to its preservation, geometry and method of execution, the sword from Malé Kozmálovce belongs to the interesting finds of Petersen’s type X swords from the territory of today’s Slovakia (Figs. 11-13). Our goal in the future is to subject the specimen to X-ray/CT and metallographic analysis, from which we expect interesting results that will help us better understand the choice of material and production procedures.

At this point, we would like to thank the staff of the Tekov Museum for making the find available for documentation and publication purposes, and Mgr. Jakub Kurák, PhD. for cooperation in documentation. The article was created as a reworked part of the diploma thesis Včasnostredoveké meče z územia dnešného Slovenska v kontexte európskej archeológie (“Early medieval swords from the territory of today’s Slovakia in the context of European archaeology”), defended at the Department of Archeology of the University of Constantine the Philosopher in Nitra. You can view the images in the original resolution here:

Figś. 11-13: Idealized reconstruction presented by R. Môc.


Geibig 1991 – A. Geibig: 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 1991.

Hanuliak 2004 – M. Hanuliak: Veľkomoravské pohrebiská, Nitra 2004.

Johnsson 2015 – P. Johnsson: Die Geometrie und das mittelalterliche Schwert. In: B. Grotkamp-Schepers/I. Immel/P. Johnsson/S. Wetzler (eds.): Das Schwert: Gestalt und Gedanke, Boydell 2015, 16-26

Jócsik 2024 – K. Jócsik: Včasnostredoveké meče z územia dnešného Slovenska v kontexte európskej archeológie. Nepublikovaná diplomová práca, Nitra 2024.

Kirpičnikov 1966 – А. Н. Кирпичников: Древнерусское оружие: Вып. 1. Мечи и сабли IX–XIII вв., АН СССР, Москва 1966.

Košta/Hošek/Žákovský 2021 – J. Košta/J. Hošek/P. Žákovský: Ninth to mid-sixteenth century swords from the Czech Republic in their European context. Part II: Swords of medieval and early renaissance Europe as a technological and archaeological source, Praha – Brno 2021.

Marek 2005 – L. Marek: Early medieval swords from Central and Eastern Europe: Dilemas of an archeologist and a student of arms, Wrocław 2004.

Moilanen 2015 – M. Moilanen: Marks of Fire, Value and Faith: Swords with Ferrous Inlays in Finland During the Late Iron Age (ca. 700-1200 AD), Turku 2015.

Ruttkay 1971 – A. Ruttkay: Dva stredoveké meče s nápismi zo Slovenska. In: Archeologické rozhledy 23, 163–168, 253–256

Ruttkay 1975 – A. Ruttkay: Waffen und Reiterausrüstung des 9. bis zur ersten Hälfte des 14. Jahrhunderts in der Slowakei. In: Slovenská archeológia 23/1, 1976, 119-216.

Ruttkay 1978 – A. Ruttkay: Umenie kované v zbraniach, Bratislava 1978.

Točík 1955 – A. Točík: Význam posledných archeologických výskumov na Slovensku pre dejiny najstarších Slovanov a Veľkomoravskej ríše. In: Historický Časopis 3/1955, 410-421.

Warzecha 2020 – R. Warzecha: Grief zu! Zu Handhabung und ergonomischer Formgebung von Schwertern des Frühmittelalters und zur Relevanz von Feinmotorik im historischen Schwertkampf. In: N. Fleck/A. Müller/H. Grieb (eds.). Hieb- und Stichfest: Waffenkunde und Living History: Festschrift für Alfred Geibig, Petersberg 2020, 27-46.

Leave a Reply

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