X.*17 Late Viking Age to Norman Period sword with brazil-nut pommel

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Find place  Unknown
Collection Private 
 Length Overall: 95.0 cm. Blade: 82.1 cm.
 Date 950 to 1100 AD
 Condition Excavated with moderate to severe pitting, minimally bent, opaque painted surface.
 Exhibiton Higgins Armory Museum, Worcester, MA (current)

This mildly tapering, broadly fullered blade is characteristic of those seen in the later half of the Viking Age, and on the basis of this blade shape, in accordance with Oakeshott's classification, this sword is classified as Type X. Although largely lost and obscured by corrosion and the painted finish, a strong suggestion of a tall lettered iron-inlaid inscription remains on both sides of the third of the blade nearest the hilt. The very end of the tip of the blade is missing (about 1 to 2 cm.).

Oakeshott favors a central or eastern European origin for the brazil-nut pommel form (Sword in the Age of Chivalry, 1964, p. 82) and extensively covers its variations (p. 80 to 94). In his description of type X, Petersen illustrates (Norske Vikingesverd, 1919, p. 166 - 167, fig 129) a pommel, otherwise of "tea-cosy" form, with a convex underside (facing the hand) associated with a crossguard longer than that usually associated with Viking swords. Compared with the straight flat surface usually against the small finger and ulnar aspect of the hand in sword pommels and upper guards typical of the Viking Age (i.e. M.1, X.4 herein), the brazil-nut pommel, with its convex surface, allows a greater range of wrist motion without sacrificing comfort to the hand (Sword in the Age of Chivalry, 1964, p. 87).

While commonplace later, long guards did exist in the later Viking Age and were termed gaddhjalt or "spike-hilt" in the sagas (Falk, 1937, p. 380, Oakeshott, 1964, p. 113 and Oakeshott, 1991, p.27). Oakeshott illustrates a brazil-nut pommel similar in profile to the present example as X.13 (Oakeshott, 1991, p. 32) which has an INGELRII iron-inlaid inscription and another INGELRII inlaid blade with a pommel transitional between the tea-cosy and fully-developed brazil-nut as X.9 (p. 27); the latter remaining in extraordinarily fine condition and presently in Glasgow (see also Scott, 1980, p. 11.)


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