A hiker walking on an old mountain trail in Haukeli (on the border of Telemark County, Norway) discovered a Viking sword that is more than 1,250 years old. Goran Olsen found the sword stuck among some rocks near the road when he sat down to rest. It was in a really good condition for an item that is thousand years old.
The sword was taken to Hordaland County Council, where it was examined by local archeologists working for the council. They feel lucky and grateful that the sword was brought to them, and having the opportunity to study it. County conservator Per Morten Ekerhovd said that “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”
Preliminary analysis shows that the 30-inch (77 centimeters) iron sword is from about AD750, and according to Ekerhovd, it’s an important find that will shed light on early Viking history.
Wrought-iron arms and armor were expensive in that time and they were used as a high-status symbol. The owner of this sword was probably a wealthy and influential person and not some average Viking. Professor Alexandra Sanmark, a Viking expert at the University of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland, said:
“The common idea about Vikings was that they wore big, metal helmets, but they probably wore leather helmets. The metal would’ve gone into making these fabulous weapons, which have more like steel, it’s really high quality.”
Norwegian archeologists think that the sword is part of a burial for a high-status person. Wealthy individuals used to be buried with hundreds of valuable objects: weapons, armor, riding gear and even with their horses. The Viking sword has now been sent to the University Museum of Bergen for further study and restoration. Haukeli’s mountains are buried in frost and snow for six months, but due to climate change, artifacts have increasingly started to turn up along mountain paths in the last few years. Because of this, more clues are revealed how the Vikings lived and died.
Jostein Aksdal, an archeologist with Hordaland County, plans to begin excavation on the location where the sword was found; he says that “If we find several objects, or a tomb, perhaps we can find the story behind the sword.”