Stunning Discovery of Medieval Sword by Workmen on a Danish Street
Many rare historical objects have been found during construction projects. A rare sword from the 14 th century has recently been unearthed in Denmark during a project in a busy city-street. The find is an important one because of the state of the sword and what it can tell experts about a particularly bloody time in Medieval Denmark.
The discovery was made in the Danish city of Aalborg when workmen were removing the oldest layer of stone paving on the street. This was part of a regeneration project in the Algade area of the city. A plumber and a machine operator were working on an area of exposed earth when they spotted something unusual. Upon inspection, they knew that they had made a dramatic discovery. The two men Jannic Vestergaard and Henning Nøhr called the Historical Museum of Northern Jutland because they believed they had found a sword.
A Remarkable Find
The item was examined by an archaeologist from the local museum, Kenneth Nielsen. He concluded that the artifact was indeed a 3-foot (1.1 meter) sword. According to the Local.dk Nielsen “quickly concluded it was of 14th-century Medieval origin”. It seems likely that the sword became buried in the earth also at this time. The weapon has an “extremely high level of workmanship” reports the Local.dk and is in a very good condition, which is very rare.
The weapon could only have been made by a master swordsmith. It has a distinctive rounded groove known as a fuller, this was designed to make the long sword lighter and more manageable. The weapon weighs some 2.2 pounds (1kg). The hilt and pommel of the weapon are still intact and all that is missing is its wooden grip, which probably disintegrated in the soil over the centuries. Such a weapon could only be afforded by a member of the local elite and was probably once wielded by a feudal Lord or a knight.
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Sword found in Denmark by workers is from the 14th-century Medieval era. (Nordjyllands Historiske Museum)
Danish Civil wars in the 14 th Century
Denmark like other European kingdoms in the 14 th century was torn apart by many wars. After the death of the incompetent King Christopher II, the kingdom fell into a period of anarchy. Feudal Lords fought for control of the realm. It is highly likely that the sword may have been used in one of the countless conflicts in Denmark at the time.
The find raises many questions, chiefly why such a valuable weapon appears to have been simply discarded. Typically, they were treated with great respect and even buried with their owners. One theory is that the weapon was lost or abandoned during one of the many civil wars that devastated Denmark in the 14 th century. It was possibly trampled into the earth and lost and was hidden beneath the street that was later built over it, until uncovered by the two workmen. The sword may have been lost during a battle in Aalborg which was a small but important trading center in the 1300s.
King Christian II of Denmark. (Soerfm / Public Domain)
More Sword Finds in Denmark
The Aalborg find is not the only sword that has been found in Denmark in recent times. According to Mindactivist.com many swords “has been unearthed in the last few years” in the country. For example, a 3,000-year-old sword, from the Bronze Age was found on the island of Zealand by a metal detectorist on some farmland in 2018. According to Mindactivist.com, so many historic weapons have been unearthed that they are “still waiting to be properly studied and cataloged” by the Danish National Museum.
The almost 700-year-old sword is being treated by experts so that is can be conserved. It is hoped this will allow the blade to eventually be put on display at the local Historical Museum of Northern Jutland. Ironically, this museum is located not far from where the workmen unearthed the long-lost weapon. It is hoped that more artifacts can be unearthed during the project in Aalborg.
Historical Museum of Northern Jutland. (BrøGym / CC BY-SA 3.0)
Top image: Plumber Jannick Vestergaard and operator Henning Nøhr unearth a medieval sword on a Danish Street, February 5 th. Source: Nordjyllands Historiske Museum
By Ed Whelan