Almost a decade has passed since the publication of Androshchuk’s excellent sword catalog of Viking Age Sweden, which was first published in Russian (2013) and later reworked into English (2014). During this period, at least four new swords or fragments of them were found or published. At the same time, we found three pieces in the older literature that were not included in the catalog, and therefore we decided to map these newly detected swords in the form of a short article, which can be expanded at any time. This inventory is supplemented by a list of swords that are incorrectly labeled in Androshchuk’s work.
Newly detected swords
In 2014, the site of Götes Mack in Sigtuna was archaeologically examined. During the excavations, among other things, a half of the crossguard (inv. no. F 181:248:11) with an approximate length of 5 cm and a weight of 24 grams was found (Hed Jakobsson 2017: 59, 388, Fig. 67; Androshchuk 2021: 35). The guard was cast of a copper alloy, and traces of silver and possible gilding were found in the alloy. The casting failed and the manufacturer dicarted the guard after the failure. Hed Jakobsson evaluates the ornament, which is located on the area of the guard, as Mammen or Ringerike style, but the closest analogy is Kirpichnikov’s type A-local. The dating of the piece points to the 11th century, probably its first half.
The guard fragment from Sigtuna. Taken from Hed Jakobsson 2017: Fig. 67.
A new excavation of the surroundings of the grave Bj 750 found a younger grave, which covered the grave Bj 750 and which contained three weapons – a sword (inv. no. 1880), an axe and a spear. The sword is intentionally broken and its blade is bent. The blade was found in 2013, the hilt a year later. The hilt belongs to a hybrid type – it is probably based on the K or N type, the pommel cap is hollow and the tang is peened on top of the pommel cap. Crossguard length 10.2 cm, upper guard length 6.9 cm, handle length 6.5 cm, pommel cap height 2.5 cm, blade width 5 cm, blade length at least 50 cm (Andersson – Näversköld – Vedin 2015: 19, 109) . Due to the context of the find, the whole set can be dated to 2nd-3rd quarter of the 10th century, or the 2nd third of the 10th century.
Sword from Birka. Taken from https://vikingar.historiska.se/.
Apparently a context-free find, found in the 19th century, consists of a hollow pommel cap, which was attached to the upper guard with two rivets and at the same time the tang was peened on top of the pommel cap (Salin 1935: 102, 104, Fig. 260). The cap was cast of a copper alloy. According to Salin, the object was kept in a museum in Gothenburg. From the site of Skärlöv, 5 blades are also known, found in 1863, which are stored in the State Historical Museum in Stockholm (SHM 3104) and which Androshchuk included in his catalog. The pommel cap belongs to an unusual group of swords, which is close to the S, V and W types and which can be dated to the turn of the 10th and 11th centuries. To date, we have been able to find only four parallels that come from today’s Estonia, Latvia and Norway and one of which is complete (Tomsons 2019: 69-70; Zozulja – Kainov 2022: Fig. 3).
Pommel cap from Skärlöv and comparison with the sword from Siguldas.
Salin 1935: Fig. 260; Atgāzis 2019: 10. att. tab.
The sword, which was found in Trummen Lake in September 1970 and is part of the collection of the Småland Museum in Växjö (inv. no. M 21698), is one of the best-preserved Swedish swords of the Viking Age. Typologically, it belongs to the type X specimens, dating to 10th-11th century. Total length of the sword 92 cm, length of slightly bent blade 78 cm, width of the blade 6 cm, length of the guard 12 cm. The handle is covered with a perfectly preserved wooden handle with a decent carving. On the blade, we find partially preserved remains of an oaken sheath.
Sword from Lake Trummen. Taken from Digitaltmuseum 2022.
Tuna Alsike XII
The double-edged blade from the grave of Tuna Alsike XII was not included in Androshchuk’s catalog (Arne 1934: 44, Taf. XIX.1). It has a maximum width of 4.65 cm and is preserved in two fragments with lengths of 26.6 and 14 cm. Due to the attached stirrup and long knife, the dating points to the middle of the 10th century, or to the 3rd quarter of the 10th century.
The blade from Tuna Alsike. Taken from Arne 1934: Taf. XIX.1.
When examining the mounds at the Norrtuna site in 2022, two swords were found in one grave. One of the swords has high hilt components and a separate pyramid pommel cap, suggesting that it originally belonged to Petersen’s H/I type. The second sword consists of an unhilted blade. Both swords were purposly thrust into the ground. In terms of dating, the older horizon of the Viking Age, from the 8th to the 10th century, is the most likely.
The hilted sword from Norrtuna. Source: Arkeologerna, Statens historiska museer.
The blade from Norrtuna. Source: Arkeologerna, Statens historiska museer.
Lund, KM 66166:1903
The sword guard, which was discovered in the settlement layer of the PK banken site in Lund in 1974-5, does not belong to the Z type, as Androshchuk believed (Androshchuk 2014: 362). In terms of size, shape and decoration, it corresponds to the type S guard. The polemic about the affiliation of this crossguard is particularly interesting because the house in which the object was found can be dendrochronologically dated to 1010-1016 ±5 years and was destroyed in the 1030s.
The crossguard from Lund. Source: Mårtensson 1976: 388, Fig. 341, Pl. XV.
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.
Andersson, G. – Näversköld, K. O. – Vedin, E. (2015). Arkeologisk efterundersökning av grav Bj 750 och intilliggande ytor, RAÄ 118, Adelsö sn, Uppland, Stockholm.
Androshchuk 2013 = Андрощук, Федор (2013). Мечи викингов, Киев.
Androshchuk, Fedir (2014). Viking Swords : Swords and Social aspects of Weaponry in Viking Age Societies, Stockholm.
Androshchuk 2021 = Андрощук, Федір (2021). Десятинна церква : відома і невідома, Київ.
Arne, T. J. (1934). Das Bootgräberfeld Von Tuna in Alsike, Uppland, Stockholm.
Atgāzis, Māris (2019). Tuvcīņas ieroči Latvijā 10.- 13.gadsimtā, Rīga.
Digitalt Museum 2022 = Svärd. In: digitaltmuseum.se. [2022-03-26]. Available from: https://digitaltmuseum.se/021028789200/svard.
Hed Jakobsson, Anna (2017). I Sigtunas utkant : slutundersökningsrapport över gravar och bebyggelse vid Götes Mack, Uppsala.
Mårtensson, A. W. (1976). Uppgrävt förflutet för PKbanken i Lund. Archaeologica Lundensia, VII, Lund.
Salin, Bernhard (1935). Die altgermanische Thierornamentik : typologische Studie über germanische Metallgegenstände aus dem IV. bis IX. Jahrhundert, Stockholm.
Tomsons, Artūrs (2019). Zobeni Latvijas teritorijā no 7. līdz 16. gadsimtam, Rīga.
Zozulja – Kainov 2022 = Зозуля, С. С. – Каинов, С. Ю. (2022). Мечи типа «W» на территории Древней Руси // Археологические вести 36, Санкт-Петербург, 107-129.