Hiker stumbles upon 1,200-year-old Viking sword while walking an ancient trail in Norway
A hiker in Norway has discovered an ancient sword while walking an ancient route in the mountains of Haukeli. The well-preserved sword has been dated to the 8 th century and is typical of a sword belonging to the Viking Age.
The discovery was announced by Hordaland County Council, which described the weapon as a double-edged sword that is 30 inches (77 centimeters) long and made of wrought iron. Although in good condition, the sword is missing its handle. It is believed to date back to around 750 AD.
The sword was found by hiker Goran Olsen while walking on an old route that runs between western and eastern Norway. Olsen had stopped for a rest, when he spotted the weapon underneath some rocks.
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Goran Olsen was walking in the mountains of Haukeli when he stumbled upon the old Viking sword (Eirik Apeland / flickr)
County Conservator Per Morten Ekerhovd said that the sword had been preserved by the frost and snow that covers the area for at least 6 months of the year.
“It’s quite unusual to find remnants from the Viking age that are so well preserved … it might be used today if you sharpened the edge,” Ekerhovd told CNN. "We are really happy that this person found the sword and gave it to us. It will shed light on our early history. It's a very (important) example of the Viking age."
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A Status Symbol?
After its discovery, the sword was examined by archaeologist Jostein Aksdal of Hordaland County Council. Aksdal told the Mail Online that it was unusual to find a sword of its type today. He speculates that, due to the high cost of extracting iron, the sword likely belonged to a wealthy individual and would have been somewhat of a status symbol, to “show power”.
Viking swords often had handles that were richly decorated with intricate designs in silver, copper, and bronze. The higher the status of the individual that yielded the sword, the more elaborate the grip.
An elaborate Viking sword hilt, 9 th century, Museum of Scotland (Wikimedia Commons)
While the sword discovery is rare and exciting, it does not bear the mark of a Viking Ulfberht sword. The superstrong Ulfberht swords, of which about 170 have been found, were made of metal so pure that scientists were long baffled as to how they mastered such advanced metallurgy eight centuries prior to the Industrial Revolution.
An Ulfberht sword displayed at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, Germany. (Martin Kraft/Wikimedia Commons)
The newly discovered Viking Sword is currently undergoing preservation at the University Museum of Bergen and plans are underway to conduct a research expedition to explore the area further. It is hoped that the sword may be one of many artifacts at the site.
Featured image: 8 th century Viking sword discovered by a hiker in Norway. Credit: Hordaland Country Council.
By: April Holloway