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.