A Viking sword dating back more than 1,000 years has been found in Norway.
Construction workers building residential homes in the village of Melhus, in central Norway, recently unearthed what is being described as an “unusually well-preserved Viking sword,” possibly from a grave site.
The site developer then contacted archaeologists from the Museum of Natural History and Archaeology, part of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in nearby Trondheim.
Museum officials confirmed that the piece is indeed a Viking weapon, what is classified as a Type H sword, and likely dates from between 800 and 950 AD.
The H sword is well-preserved and experts are very enthusiastic about the discovery, according to The Foreigner, an English-language Norwegian media outlet.
Of the more than 200 H swords recovered, about seven of every 10 have been double-edged weapons.
H swords often used non-ferrous metals on the inlaid pommel, including silver and sometimes even gold. The swords often exceeded three feet in length and could weigh three pounds or more.
Archaeologist Anne Haug from the Museum of Natural History and Archaeology said, “It’s extremely exciting, the sword has some remnants of wood and fabric, and it is very rare.”
In addition, a small companion piece, probably a knife blade, was found buried with the sword, according to The History Blog.
“Despite its corroded appearance and missing parts, the sword retains organic elements, pieces of wood and leather that researchers believe are the remains of the hilt and scabbard respectively,” according to the blog. “It was discovered embedded in clay covered by five feet of topsoil, which is why those delicate organic materials were preserved for over a thousand years even as the area was cultivated and built over.”
Archaeologists have apparently excavated the site previously but didn’t find anything. However, the area was reputed to have had several Viking burials mounds, but they were razed for construction during the late 19th century.
The find is the sole indication that there might be still be human and material remains from the Viking era on the spot.
Construction has been suspended for now and the archaeological team has asked for permission to excavate the site as quickly as possible.
The village of Melhus has a strong connection to 10th century Viking history, according to The History Blog.
An infamous murder recounted in The Saga of King Olaf Tryggvason took place in a farm in Melhus. Haakon Sigurdsson, aka Jarl Haakon, aka Earl Haakon, ruled Norway for 20 years (975-995). Officially he held the country as a vassal of Danish King Harald Bluetooth, but in practice he had full autonomy, as The History Blog recounts:
Haakon and Bluetooth would quarrel, however, over religious matters, as Haakon worshipped the old Norse gods and didn’t cotton to Bluetooth forcibly baptizing him or trying to pack his return ship to Norway with Christian missionaries.
Haakon dumped the priests before his departure, then switched allegiance to Bluetooth’s enemy, Holy Roman Emperor Otto II. He successfully fended off Danish raids on Norway.
The constant wars began to erode Haakon’s popularity, as did his habit of having his way with the daughters of noblemen, then sending them home despoiled when he tired of them after a week.
When Olaf Tryggvason, son of a Norwegian kinglet and a direct descendant of the first king of Norway, got wind of Haakon’s political troubles, he sailed to Norway to win himself a kingdom.
Meanwhile, a rebellion drove Haakon into hiding. He and his slave Kark hid in a cave one night, than the next night dug a hole under a pigsty in a farm in Melhus and hid in there. Olaf and his soldiers unwittingly caught up with him. Olaf even gave a rousing “bring me his head” speech right outside the sty before moving on.
Eventually, Kark killed Haakon and then brought Haakon’s head to Olaf, who promptly had him executed.
Olaf Tryggvason ruled for but five years, but during that period he forcibly converted Norway to Christianity, giving people the choice of become Christians or suffering torture and execution.
(HT: A Blog About History)