Farmer in Norway finds rare Viking sword

A farmer discovered a rare Viking sword while cleaning up a field in his farm in Suldal, Norway. Øyvind Tveitane Lovra and his son were preparing a field that hadn’t been farmed in years for plowing when they picked up an iron object. At first Lovra thought it was some rusty old piece of farm equipment, but when he went to toss it, he realized it was actually the hilt of a sword.

Norwegian law requires that people who find potentially historic objects report them to the county council which then forwards the items to the archaeological museum for assessment. Even fragments must be reported. So Lovra contacted the Rogaland County Council and on Monday, May 27th, two archaeologists went to the farm to collect the piece. They transferred it to the Archaeological Museum of the University of Stavanger, where it was examined in detail by conservator Hege Hollund.

What remains of the sword is just under 15 long. When intact, it would have been twice that length. Despite the thick corrosion crust and the severing of the blade, the sword and hilt are in surprisingly good condition, preserved by the dense clay soil. An X-ray revealed that the sword had what appear to be cross-shaped letters on the blade. That strongly suggests this is one of the rare, highly prized Ulfberht swords that are inlaid with the inscription “+VLFBERHT+,” believed to be the name of the swordsmith.

Ulfberht swords were made in the Rhineland region between the 9th and 11th centuries. They were high quality weapons and an undisputed status symbol among the warriors of the Viking Age. Most of the 170 or so examples that have been discovered were in funerary contexts, buried with their owners. About 45 of them have been found in Norway, and none of them were discovered in Rogaland. This is the first one found in the county.

Archaeologists explored the find site with metal detectors but have made no further discoveries. The sword will be cleaned and conserved to remove the rust layer and get a full look at the sword itself.

4 thoughts on “Farmer in Norway finds rare Viking sword

  1. Swords like the one discussed here, may have been just exported goods, but also could have been presents. HRR Henry III and Gunhilda of Denmark, the daughter of Emma of Normandy and Canute the Great, King of Denmark, England and Norway, were engaged on 18 May 1035 in Bamberg, and married in 1036.

    The “Sword of Essen”, is a ceremonial weapon in Essen Abbey from the mid 10th century. The 93.6 cm (36.9 in) long blade was thought to have been a gift by Otto III, Holy Roman Emperor to the convent in Essen in AD 993. It had probably been used in combat before it was decorated at the end of the 10th century.

    …apud Nortmanniam gestis, (…) archiepiscopus magnopere studuit, ut regi Danorum conciliaretur (…) muneribus atque conviviis certavit archiepiscopalem potentiam regalibus anteferre diviciis. (…) opulentum convivium habetur vicissim per octo dies (…) Ita pontifex (…) reversus, persuasit caesari, ut evocatus rex Danorum in Saxoniam, uterque alteri perpetuam iuraret amicitiam. (g. hamm. 3.17, 11th c).

    After some events in Norway, the Archbishop met with the kings of the Danes, one banquetted for EIGHT DAYS(!) to throw presents at each other, and after that, the emperor Henry III was made to invite Sweyn II of Denmark to Saxony for an alliance (against Count Baldwin V of Flanders in 1049). After Archbishop Adalbert had died in 1072, Sweyn was able to deal with the Holy See directly.

  2. “That strongly suggests this is one of the rare, highly prized Ulfberht swords that are inlaid with the inscription “+VLFBERHT+,” believed to be the name of the swordsmith”.

    How the heel does one pronounce that name?

    1. @John, the ‘V’ is just an ordinary ‘U’ (not to be confused with the ‘Double-U’, referred to as ‘W’).

      Hence, the FIRST bit is pronounced as in “(w)olf”, or what English speakers would possibly write as *”oolph”.

      The 2ND bit, however, is the name ‘*Bert’, or -more precisely- pronounced as in the last bit of ‘(Hilp)ert’ (i.e. with a ‘soft’ B). – Would that make it any clearer? 😇️

      Fun fact: People in Franconia –where arguably the swordsmith was from (Lorsch or Fulda?)– tend to be unable to differ between ‘B’ and ‘P’, and between ‘D’ and ‘T’. Hence, they (verbally) spell “with a soft” or “hard” B, or with a “soft” or “hard” D.

      To give a drastic example:

      The dad of a friend, a professor for ‘physics didactics’, had his book printed, and it was wrongly announced (in Franconian) as “The Tactics of Physics”, instead of “Didactics of Physics” 🤣️

  3. Again we see a Viking sword with very small/short handle. Some length may be missing, maybe a pommel, but not much more room for fingers, judging by other examples.

    I’ve read the various proposed explanations and not happy with any. Just compare with Roman swords of a few centuries previous, I would take the Roman ones any day, they seem very well balanced, comfortable and useful. And so many Viking swords have been found, all similar, so these are not aberrations. Strange I think.

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