Viking Era can be also called the Swords Era or the Era of Valhalla Warriors (who praised Norse supreme god – Orin). First of all, this is because of the fact that Vikings have opened a new historical war and weaponry chapter. Secondly, they also were the most active traders of weapons. In total, there were discovered about 2000 artifacts and elements of Viking Era swords dating with 9th-10th century.
It is considered that most of the Viking Era swords had continental origins – the blades were forged in Rhenish workshops. This is confirmed by the Latin inscriptions found on the blades, one of which says Ulfberht Fecit (made by master Ulfberht). The evidences point to the fact that swords were made during Carolingian Empire (which came after Merovingian Dynasty). This led to the prohibition of weapons trade by Charlemagne, who vigorously thought against Vikings.
It should be mentioned that Viking Era Swords are not pure creation of Vikings only. It is a successful combination of Frankish and Scandinavian tradition with several other antique influences.
The standard length of Viking Era swords was around 39.40 inches (100 cm); whereas the blade measured about 31.50 inches (80 cm). The width ranged from 1.97 to 2.36 inches (5-6 cm). The swords usually weighed from 2.20 lbs to 3.31 lbs (1-1.5 Kg), some of the swords reached up to 4.41 lbs (2 Kg).
The blade’s construction described a very wide groove which made it more flexible and considerably lighter. The groove was provided on both sides and went down the full length. The best Viking swords were forged by smelting a group of several iron bars bundled together.
Style of Wearing
There was a specific style of swords wearing; thus the wall paintings show that the swords were worn on the left side by the thigh. The baldric was thrown over the shoulder or bounded to the belt. It is notable that the swords were provided with a scabbard which featured a wooden confection wrapped with genuine leather. The throat and the end cap of the scabbard were decorated with embossed traditional motifs: birds and dragons entangled with complex ornaments.
A special attention Vikings draw to the hilt decoration. In most cases it was constructed from separately bronze forged elements: the pommel was mounted on the grip. There are known hilts made of bones or animal horns.
The relatively simple hilts (with straight guard and crossline and triangular pommel) of the 9th century were replaced by more sophisticatedly shaped handles. The pommel featured embossed shape with several vertical sections. The hand guard piece very often had a concave shape with bound to the blade peripheries. The ornamentation of the hilt became even more complex and subtle. Even the simplest decoration required several hundreds of holes made in the bronze plates of the hilt and several hundreds of silver or copper wire for incrustation.
Places were Viking Era swords were found and the way their hilts are worked can tell a lot about Vikings weaponry and traditions linked with it. One of the most wonderful swords of the 10th century was found next by the Thames. Its hilt is worked with incrustations of silver and copper wire featuring Scandinavian “animal” style (the complex curves of the braid feature figures of mythological monsters).
Most of the Viking Era swords feature Frankish blades and Scandinavian hilts. And these types of swords are mainly called Vikings Swords. Most of them were found in the graves of the great warriors. This is due to the fact that Vikings (and the rest of Scandinavians) believed that the warrior continues to live after his death. And that he will need his attributes when passing through Valhalla Gates.
Because there were a huge number of grave embezzlers the swords were intentionally bended and broken. This also served as precaution as the Scandinavians believed that the spirit of the passed away warrior brings danger to the living people (especially if it was a war prone person).