After more than a millennium buried in the snow of Norway’s mountains, a surprisingly well-preserved sword sheds light on the Viking age
Some time near AD750, someone left a Viking sword along a mountain plateau in southern Norway. On a late October day more than 1,250 years later, a hiker named Goran Olsen picked it up.
The Hordaland County council announced this week that the hiker had discovered the sword in surprisingly pristine condition among the rocks of an old road in Haukeli, as he stopped to rest along an old road through the region’s mountains and valleys.
“It’s quite unusual to find remnants from the Viking age that are so well-preserved,” county conservator Per Morten Ekerhovd told CNN. “It might be used today if you sharpened the edge,” he added.
The 30-inch, wrought iron sword has been dated to about AD750, and although it has rusted during its centuries of rest in frost, snows and springs, Ekerhovd called it a “quite extraordinary” find.
“We are really happy that this person found the sword and gave it to us,” he said. “It will shed light on our early history. It’s a very [important] example of the Viking age.”
Wrought-iron arms and armor were expensive, and the sword’s owner was probably wealthier or more influential than the average Viking, Professor Alexandra Sanmark, a Viking expert at the University of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland, said.
“Generally if you had a sword, that tends to be a very high-status item,” she 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.”
She added that only one Viking helmet of iron has so far been found.