M.1 Mid-Viking Age sword with simple iron guards

Use "hot spots" in orange to zoom to Hilt ( 24 kb), Inlay ( 53 kb) or Pattern ( 109 kb); or Overall View (49 kb JPG)

Find place  Schelde River, Belgium
Collection Private 
 Length Overall: 89.2 cm. Blade: 78.0 cm.
 Date 850 to 950 AD
 Condition Excavated with moderate pitting, still solid though mildly bent, appears to have been gently acid cleaned.

Mid-Viking Age sword with simple "bar" guards of unadorned iron characteristic of Petersen's type M with a pattern welded blade inlaid in iron with symbols on one side. As is expected with a hilt of this type, this sword lacks a pommel. This is a very common type, representing about twenty-three percent of those cataloged in Jakobsson's (1992) dissertation (p. 210 - 211, 222), with 409 examples of type M swords being from Norway, mostly in the south, out of a total of 432 of this type.

In British works concerning Viking swords, which will have been the sources most English language readers will have turned to, it has long been asserted that iron inlays are not found on pattern-welded blades, and the truth of this in British material was confirmed by Lang and Ager's (1989) radiographic study. However, Viking Age swords with both iron inlays and pattern-welding are frequently seen in material from "continental" Europe, such as this example. This sword (M.1) shows, in its central shallow fullered zone, two wide bands of pattern-welding, of straight herringbone character on each side of the blade. On one side only, near the hilt, an iron inlay is present in the form of two omega-like symbols, their bases joined at an imaginary line perpendicular to the length of the blade such that each is a mirror image of the other.

The blade is slightly bent, without being twisted, by not more than one or two degrees, first within a few centimeters of the hilt and then in the opposite direction in the mid-portion of the blade. One side of the blade, that without an inlay, shows a much greater degree of pitting and corrosion than the opposite side. The relative degree of corrosion continues on the guards, with the upper guard more spared than the lower. The tang shows little corrosion on either side, presumably having been protected for some time by a grip. Such a variation in the degree of corrosion from one side to the other is commonly seen, in my experience, in river finds.

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 Copyright © 1998 by Lee A. Jones