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1,000 year-old Viking sword found just lying on the ground in Iceland

Ian Harvey
The Cultural Agency of Iceland
The Cultural Agency of Iceland

A large number of archaeological finds are often the work of accidental discoveries; wherein people and sometimes experts stumble upon an amazing historical artefact out of nowhere.

In a similar case of accidental discovery, a group of goose hunters from Iceland got a lot more than what they bargained for while on a routine outing. Despite their apparently unsuccessful goose hunting trip which ended with no bird hunted; the locals stumbled upon a large Viking sword which is thought to be more than a millennium old.

The group of five hunters were trying to hunt geese in the southern Icelandic region of Skaftarhreppur when they made the historic discovery. Experts believe that the sword had actually spent centuries under water and only arrived on land due to the massive floods that hit the region last year.

The group of five goose hunters that found the sword in Skaftárhreppur, south Iceland . The Cultural Agency of Iceland

The group of five goose hunters that found the sword in Skaftárhreppur, south Iceland .
The Cultural Agency of Iceland

Excited by their discovery anticipating fame and possibly a handsome reward one of the hunters Arni Bjorn quickly posted the images of the Viking sword on his Facebook page. Bjorn made the claim that the double-edged sword may have once belonged to Ingolfr Arnarson.

Those who are familiar with the Viking history of Iceland know this name very well, as Arnarson is widely recognized as the first ever Icelander and the person who set up the first settlement on the Iceland more than a thousand years ago. Another member of the hunting party commented that the legendary sword was not buried deep under the soil it was rather just lying there waiting to be picked up, and that they felt extremely honored to have found the artefact.

Ingolfr Arnarson, a noble Norse chieftain and his beloved wife Hallveig Frodesdatter are thought to be the first Icelanders and first permanent settlers on the Icelandic island. The detail of Ingolfr arrival on the island are recorded in detail in the Icelandic Book of Settlements.

According to this record, Ingolfr had decided to leave Norway after he was involved in a blood feud with his rivals and had to escape for his life. After spending some time adrift along with his wife, Ingolfr saw the soaring shores of the island and threw his high seat pillars off board saying that he would set up his farm wherever these pillars touched the shore. Ingolfr finally decided to build his settlement in an area that he named Reykjavik in 874 AD; Reykjavik actually means Steam Bay.

The excitement and hope for a big reward for the hunters quickly vanished when Icelandic Cultural Heritage Agency stepped up and claimed the ownership of the sword, effectively taking the artefact under its possession. According to the Icelandic law, any archaeological find found on or inside the ground are automatically the property of the Icelandic state.

This law has been hailed within the archaeological communities since it has always been a cause of concern among experts around the world. China has been one of the few places on earth with very flexible laws when it comes to Archaeology, recently a hoard of locals attacked and ran-sacked a plethora of ancient artefacts from a canal; there has been a number of such cases of looting the archaeological sites around the world.