Viking Sword Made With Technology From the Future

Mysterious Viking Sword Made With Technology From the Future?

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By Tara MacIsaac , Epoch Times

The Viking sword Ulfberht was made of metal so pure it baffled archaeologists. It was thought the technology to forge such metal was not invented for another 800 or more years, during the Industrial Revolution.

About 170 Ulfberhts have been found, dating from 800 to 1,000 A.D. A NOVA, National Geographic documentary titled “Secrets of the Viking Sword”, first aired in 2012, took a look at the enigmatic sword’s metallurgic composition.

In the process of forging iron, the ore must be heated to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit to liquify, allowing the blacksmith to remove the impurities (called “slag”). Carbon is also mixed in to make the brittle iron stronger. Medieval technology did not allow iron to be heated to such a high temperature, thus the slag was removed by pounding it out, a far less effective method.

The Ulfberht, however, has almost no slag, and it has a carbon content three times that of other metals from the time. It was made of a metal called “crucible steel.”

A 10th-century double-edged sword inscribed with the name "Ulfberht"

A 10th-century double-edged sword inscribed with the name "Ulfberht". Image source .

It was thought that the furnaces invented during the industrial revolution were the first tools for heating iron to this extent.

Modern blacksmith Richard Furrer of Wisconsin spoke to NOVA about the difficulties of making such a sword. Furrer is described in the documentary as one of the few people on the planet who has the skills needed to try to reproduce the Ulfberht.

“To do it right, it is the most complicated thing I know how to make,” he said.

He commented on how the Ulfberht maker would have been regarded as possessing magical powers. “To be able to make a weapon from dirt is a pretty powerful thing,” he said. But, to make a weapon that could bend without breaking, stay so sharp, and weigh so little would be regarded as supernatural.

Furrer spent days of continuous, painstaking work forging a similar sword. He used medieval technology, though he used it in a way never before suspected. The tiniest flaw or mistake could have turned the sword into a piece of scrap metal. He seemed to declare his success at the end with more relief than joy.  

It is possible that the material and the know-how came from the Middle East. The Volga trade route between the Viking settlements and the Middle East opened at the same time the first Ulfberhts appeared and closed when the last Ulfberhts were produced.

The article, ‘ Mysterious Viking Sword Made with Technology from the Future’ was originally published on The Epoch Times , and has been republished with permission.

Featured image: An Ulfberht Viking sword. Credit: National Geographic Television


Tsurugi's picture

But...what was the technique??

NOVA has a video for sale, "SECRETS OF THE VIKING SWORD," showing how Furrer made the sword, using technology available at the time.

the video isn't available in the UK. Do you have another link to it

The documentary can be found here

Justbod's picture

Really interesting, and prompted me to look into it further. Found the idea of over 170 'Ulfberhts' being found the most interesting, suggesting a whole industry. Also the idea that this sort of 'trade mark' was a mark of quality, a sort of 'designer brand' also prompting the subsequent production of 'fakes.'

The discovery of such advanced metal work so early on is also very interesting. I am constantly in awe of the craftsmanship, artistry and knowledge of our forebears.

It is one of my ambitions to one day be able to have-a-go at forging a sword. Doubtless when I do, I will develop an even greater understanding of the skills involved.

Thanks for the article.

Sculptures, carvings & artwork inspired by a love of history & nature:




Could the 'surprisingly pure iron'
Perhaps have come from an iron meteorite?

I love history and the great mysteries from our ancestors. I ant to learn more!

The method of pattern welded steel (erroneously called "Damascus") was used throughout the ancient world. Although closely guarded, it wasn't as extraordinary as these articles and shows make it out to be. Of course archeologists who study pots are amazed and can't figure it out. Historians who study metal work are not surprised by it at all.

smh, What does that even mean? Are you implying that archeologists ignore metal artifacts? Or are you implying that historians are out digging up metallurgic sites and hiding the results from everybody else? Either way, your astounding ignorance about both disciplines is showing!

To your first question, no.
To your second question, no.
I'm a welder and blacksmith for more than twenty years and I've made many patter welded blades so, no, I'm not ignorant of the techniques and processes, modern or ancient.

Ulfberhts weren't pattern welded swords. They were forged from excellent steel billets with a very low content of sulfur and phosphorus and up to 1.1% carbon. This steel was most likely acquired through trade through the Volga trade route, where ingots of the steel were obtained from central Asian countries.

They were crucible steel swords made from single billets and differentially tempered to give them qualities as good as if not better than any pattern welded swords of the day.

So yes, Ulfberhts were extraordinary, especially in 9th and 10th century Europe.

Now I know how South Americans and Egyptians feel when people claim it must have been aliens who made their buildings.

They make our ancestors out to be idiots who can't do anything amazing.

angieblackmon's picture

i'm still always left wondering 'how did they figure this out???' 

love, light and blessings


Same way everything else is figured out...experimenting.

I agree with 'Denver' from the post in August, and I'll add to that:

Who might shed a light on the makers of the Iron Pillar, which doesn't rust, standing in Dehli India. It's been there for over a thousand years; maybe much more, and still it astounds! In the Rig Vada's, it's spoken of great energies, known and unknown.

While WIKI fails to note this unusual metal content, S Keane does in his book The Disappearing Spoon about the elements of the periodic table.  He says molybdinum was found in the ancient Samuri swords of Japan. 


Perhaps they were all forged from a choice chunk of "meteoric iron",.. extra-terrestrial indeed ;)

Afro centrists will now claim the vikings were black because of this

Possibly this could be Damascus steel which was produced by process unknown today. What has been called Damascus steel -or Wootz Steel- was superplastic but hard at the same time . Scientist studying it today emphasize the use of carbon introduced through using organic matter in the forging process. How did Damscus Steel end up in Scandanavai. Could Vikings have traveled to the middle East and discovered the process ?

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