Vikings were known for their strength and their raids. They travelled far across the sea and raided parts of Europe in the 790’s until the Norman conquest of England in 1066; which is commonly known as the Viking Age of Scandinavian history. Vikings used the Norwegian Sea and Baltic Sea for sea routes to the south. The name ‘Viking’ comes from a language called ‘Old Norse’ and means ‘a pirate raid’. Men and women who raided lands used swords to fight their enemies and conquer lands. Their swords were considered to be a status symbol and sacred objects, which after an honorable death helped them reach Valhalla. Although the stories and the treasures were lost through history, one lucky man came across a Viking sword in between rocks.
The well-preserved 1,100-year-old Viking sword has been discovered up a mountain in Norway.
Einar Åmbakk, a local reindeer hunter, from a remote mountain in southern Norway came across something unusual during a hunting trip. As Åmbakk was walking through a scree-covered area, he spotted something sticking out in between some broken stones. Åmbakk took a closer look at the spot which had traces of permafrost movement, situated at 1640 m above sea level and discovered a sword that was lying with the hilt down between the stones and half of the blade sticking out.
Åmbakk managed to pull the sword out and found it to be just over 30cm or 12 inches in length, made entirely from yew and it featured carved human faces typical of the Ringerike style of Viking art, dating back to the late 11th century.
Although the discovery was made last year, it was only officially announced following an informal visit to the Cork Public Museum by the Norwegian Ambassador to Ireland, Else Berit Eikeland.
Dr. Maurice Hurley, a consultant archaeologist and leader of the dig at the site, described the sword as one of a handful of artifacts of “exceptional significance”. After consulting with the Museum of Cultural History and the National Park authorities, several scientists searched the area to check whether it was an isolated find, or if there could be more artefacts in the same location.
However, experts from Oppland’s Glacier Archaeology Program did not find any other artefacts.
Einar Åmbakk, the local reindeer hunted who came across the incredible find did not have a GPS locator with him, so experts had to rely on Åmbakk’s memory of the location. The team searched the area both visually and using a metal detector but failed to find any other artefacts. The sword was thus an isolated find.
Scientists who analyzed the sword are amazed at how well it was preserved.
The sword survived on the surface for more than one thousand years in a scree-covered area with traces of permafrost movement, situated at 1640 m above sea level. It is highly unlikely that the sword has reappeared on the surface due to permafrost movement of stones, as it is well preserved without any kind of scratches and bending. Experts suggest that the preservation is probably due to a combination of the quality of the iron, the high altitude and the mostly cold conditions.
Experts are scratching their heads to understand how the sword initially got there.
The sword was found partly slid into the scree with the blade sticking out. Since there was no other artefacts or burial spots nearby, experts suggest that the sword was simply lost there or left behind, never to be recovered again. Although, Viking men and women would never abandon their sword.
Since the spot where the sword was discovered was scree-covered, it is not a place where one would walk if traveling through the area. This suggests that the Viking whose sword was discovered could have been lost or stuck in a snow blizzard, which ultimately claimed his/her life. A few years back, the body of Viking was discovered in a nearby mountain and scientists are now trying to figure out if they are connected. However, until any further evidence can be discovered, the sword remains a mystery to us.