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Supplement to Androshchuk’s sword catalog of Viking Age Sweden

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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 seven new swords or fragments of them were found or published. At the same time, we found five 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

Sigtuna

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.

Birka

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/.

Skärlöv, Öland

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.

Trummen

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 Digitalt Museum 2022.

Krutbrånet

In the Småland Museum, there is an overlooked Petersen type O lower guard made of copper alloy (inv. no. M 1965), which was given to the museum by Robert af Klinteberg in 1896. It is said to have been found in the site of Krutbrånet, at the place of the battle of Sävar (1809). The guard is 10.8 cm long and 1.2 cm high. There are three braids on the visible surfaces. The hole for the blade is not placed symmetrically and is about 5.5 cm long.

The guard from Krutbrånet. Taken from Digitalt Museum 2023a.

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.

Norrtuna

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.

Gamla Uppsala

In the summer of 2019, a burial ship was found in Gamla Uppsala equipped with a number of militaria (sword and chape, long knife, spear, axe, shield and arrows) and equestrian equipment (Arkeologerna 2023). The find has not yet been published, but from the documentary Vikingakungarnas krigare, which was broadcast by SVT on 5 February 2023, it is clear that there is another grave with a sword that is almost complete and has a long and low, slightly curved guard close to the Y type. The look at the pommel raises questions, but it is more likely that it is one-piece and articulated in a saddle-like manner, i.e. similar to a Y type pommel. The sword was sheathed in a scabbard, the end of which is tightly wrapped with an organic strap and covered with an Androshchuk type 3b chape. The find can clearly be dated to the 10th century. A personal discussion with research leader Anton Seiler (March 2023) indicated that two swords were found during the research.

The sword from Gamla Uppsala. Source: Vikingakungarnas krigare documentary.

Gamla Uppsala

Archaeological research in the Gamla Uppsala site from 2012-3 revealed an approx. 4.5 cm long fragment of a copper alloy guard (Jörpeland 2017: 175, 179). The guard, widening towards the end, is slightly curved and its surface is decorated with a braided ornament in the style of Urnes. The closest analogy is the guard from the site of Skillingmarks (SHM 17546), which Androshchuk classifies as Z type sword (Androshchuk 2014: 451, Pl. 138b).

The sword fragment from Gamla Uppsala and its analogies.
Source: Jörpeland 2017: 179; Androshchuk 2014: Pl. 138b.

Gamla Uppsala

Archaeological research at the Gamla Uppsala site in 2012-3 revealed a cremation grave dated to the 1st half of the 9th century, which contained an urn with burnt bones, a comb and a broken sword (Jörpeland 2017: 179). The sword has a pyramidal pommel that is close to Petersen’s type A or B, but it is possible that these are special types outside of Petersen’s typology. The total length of the sword is estimated at 900 mm.

The sword fragment from Gamla Uppsala. Source: Jörpeland 2017: 179.

Gamla Ingla

In 2014, i.e. at the time of the publication of Androshchuk’s book, a fantastic sword pommel cap from the Gamla Ingla site was published (Digitalt Museum 2023b). It was found during the repair of the church floor in 1944, where it was apparently brought together with the filling material. It was given to the administrator of the church, who in 1946 handed it over to the Upplandsmuseet in Uppsala, where it remains today under inventory no. UM20271. Length 7.5 cm, height 4.5 cm, weight 102 g. The cap is made of cast copper alloy and is openworked in the shape of spirals and further decorated. The overall tone of the head gives the impression of a Ringerike style. There are several direct parallels, all from England: the detector-discovered pommel from Tilney All Saints (LIN-9468E7), Snibston (LEIC-9158C3), the debatable pommel from Brigg, and the Battersea sword, which has a similarly shaped pommel with a spiral motif (Wilson 1965: Pl. IIA). It seems that the pommel typologically and decoratively fits in the Anglo-Saxon swords of the beginning or the first half of the 11th century. In 2024, the pommel cap saw its first official publication in academic press (Gustafsson 2024).

Pommel cap from the Gamla Ingla site.
Source: Digitalt Museum 2023b; Gustafsson 2024: Fig. 2.

Kungsbäck

During archaeological research in 2011, the remains of a cremation grave from the Viking Age were found in the Kungsbäck locality (Ulfhielm 2012: 11-15). The person buried was a young person aged 15-20 and was buried with the remains of horses, dogs, bears, cats, cattle and chickens. The finds included beads, a comb, a touchstone, arrows, a horsebit and a fragment of a blade with a scabbard chape. The blade is broken into three parts with a width of 4.5 cm and a total length of 18 cm. The chape belongs to Androshchuk’s type 3a-b, which places the grave in the 930s-980s typologically. Radiocarbon analysis with a result of 890–1020 did not refute this dating. Another cremation grave with a similar inventory was found in the same sate in 1954 (Androshchuk 2014: 333).

Blade and chape from the Kungsbäck site. Source: Ulfhielm 2012


Mislabeled swords

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. Androshchuk omits the crossguard is 12 cm long (Mårtensson 1976: 388).

The crossguard from Lund. Source: Mårtensson 1976: 388, Fig. 341, Pl. XV.

Birka, graves Bj 524 a 581

Androshchuk revised both swords and challenged the earlier arrangement by saying that the swords in the SHM museum are, in his opinion, mislabeled: the better-preserved E type sword, according to him, comes from grave 524 and the fragmentary V type sword from grave 581 (Androshchuk 2014: 385-6). However, during the years 2015-2020, due to the evidence of a female skeleton, grave 581 received unprecedented attention and the material was thoroughly researched and compiled. We can therefore assume that the set from grave 581 is correctly revised. The museum favors the pre-Androschuk version, namely that the poorly preserved sword comes from grave 524 and the more complete sword from grave 581. However, there is some effort to compromise, so SHM designates the more complete sword as type V and the less complete as type E , which is incorrect. It currently appears correct that the fragmentary V type sword comes from grave 524 and the more complete E type sword from grave 581. This fits better with Stolpe’s drawings, which attribute to the grave 524 sword a perfectly semicircular and low pommel (Arbman 1943: 160) and the sword from grave 581 a slightly taller pommel with a slight articulation (Arbman 1943: 189).

Peter Johnsson has recently studied the E type sword and, in addition to the pitted decoration on the lower guard observed by Androshchuk, discovered pits on the upper guard and a probable division of the pommel cap (Wåhlander 2023: 120-1). The pits are deep and allow a view into the guard, indicating that the sword belonged to a special group of E and T swords with hollow components filled with fillings covered with decorated wires that were visible through the pits (see Arendt 1936).

Study of E type sword from Bj 581. Source: Wåhlander 2023: 121.

Lilla Djurbo

In Androschchuk’s work, a grave from the Lilla Djurbo site and its inventory are described, while the sword is listed as an unknown type (Androshchuk 2014: 458). It is likely that Androschuk did not personally examine this sword or did not see a photograph of it. We asked the Västmanland County Museum (Västmanlands läns museum) for a photo and the museum willingly helped us. It is clear from the photo that the sword belongs to Petersen’s type Y, a variant with a one-piece pommel. The dimensions given by Androshchuk are correct, the only exception being the length of the hilt (14.5 cm), which is confused with the length of the grip (approx. 10 cm). The sword is stored in the collections of the Västmanland County Museum under inventory number VLM 1179:1.

Sword from the Lilla Djurbo site. Photo kindly sent by Ida Andersson, Västmanland County Museum.


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Bibliography

Andersson, G. – Näversköld, K. O. – Vedin, E. (2015). Arkeologisk efterundersökning av grav Bj 750 och intilliggande ytor, RAÄ 118, Adelsö sn, Uppland, Stockholm.

Androščuk 2013 = Андрощук, Федор (2013). Мечи викингов, Киев.

Androščuk 2021 = Андрощук, Федір (2021). Десятинна церква : відома і невідома, Київ.

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

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

Arendt, W. W. (1936). Ett svärdsfäste från vikingatiden. In: Fornvännen 31, 313-315.

Arkeologerna 2023 = Nya rön om båtgravarna i Gamla Uppsala. In: Arkeologerna.com [online]. [2023-02-27]. Available here.

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.

Digitalt Museum 2023a = Parerstång. In: digitaltmuseum.se. [2023-02-27]. Available from: https://digitaltmuseum.se/021028724988/parerstang.

Digitalt Museum 2023b = Svärdsknapp. In: digitaltmuseum.se. [2023-09-13]. Available from: https://digitaltmuseum.se/011023870605/svardsknapp.

Gustafsson, Ny Björn (2024). A spectacular sword pommel from Gamla Ingla, Uppland. In: Fornvännen 119, 64-67.

Hed Jakobsson, Anna (2017). I Sigtunas utkant : slutundersökningsrapport över gravar och bebyggelse vid Götes Mack, Uppsala.

Jörpeland, L. B. (2017). Föremålskatalog Utbyggnad av Ostkustbanan genom Gamla Uppsala Rapport 2017:1_10 Arkeologisk undersökning, Linköping – Lund – Mölndal – Stockholm – 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.

Ulfhielm, Bo (2012). Järnålder i Kungsbäck. Arkeologisk för- och slutundersökning. RAÄ 175 och 466 Gävle stad Gävle kommun Gästrikland 2011, Gävle.

Wåhlander, Linda (2023). Buried at Birka. Three centuries, four Viking lives, Stockholm.

Wilson, D. M. (1965). Some Neglected Late Anglo-Saxon Swords. In: Medieval Archaeology 9:1, 32-54.

Zozulja – Kainov 2022 = Зозуля, С. С. – Каинов, С. Ю. (2022). Мечи типа «W» на территории Древней Руси // Археологические вести 36, Санкт-Петербург, 107-129.

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