A Norwegian amateur treasure hunter made an important, but small, discovery last year. A small piece of metal that he found on a farm near Norway's west coast was his half of a discovery.
This spring, the remaining pieces of the puzzle were revealed. Another archeological find was discovered by an amateur enthusiast, actually a friend of the original. The second one was even more obvious: it was an enormous, complex, and ornate sword.
It was still to be discovered what the most amazing thing about these artifacts is. They were actually part of one discovery. Local archeologists are now recognizing the sword as an exceptional and beautiful example Viking metalwork, having reunited them after nearly 1,200 years.
Ann Zanette Glorstad (an archaeologist at Oslo's University in Norway) stated that the sword was probably a D-sword. She explained that it is "one of the most ornamented and heavy sword types from Viking Age."
The hilt of the sword has not been recovered. However, it is enough to feel the enormous amount of work that went into its creation.
Glorstad stated that it is difficult to see all of the details. However, the decor features elements from the Late Iron Age animal style as well as geometrical figures of silver with the so-called Niello technique. This is a method where a metal mixture was used as black stripes in silver.
She explained that the lower helmet is decorated the same as the grip and that the helmet at each end is shaped like an animal's head.
Glorstad stated that the sword is one of around 20 similar artifacts found in Norway. Many of these were likely imported. You might think that a Viking sword found in an ancient Viking homeland would have been made close to the place it was found. However, the sword likely traveled quite some distance from its final home. "The decoration may indicate that it was originally made in England or the Frankish Empire," stated Glorstad.
Similar swords have been discovered all over Europe. The closest example was found in a ninth century tomb on the Scottish island Eigg. Glorstad stated that this discovery will be of "great interest also to specialists in other parts of Europe" - indeed, once the sword is properly preserved, the University will contact researchers abroad to gain more information about the sword's origins.
The sword's origins are still a mystery for the moment, though there are some clues. It would have been difficult to find a large, well-decorated sword from faraway lands without a high social standing. Therefore, it is likely that the owner was someone of great importance. There's also the fact that the sword was found very close to the grave a wealthy Viking woman, the "Gausel queen", who was found with treasures from as far as Ireland.
Hakon Reiersen (acting head of the collection department at the Norwegian Archeological Museum) stated that while we knew this area was important, it was surprising that we would find something like this.
The museum is currently preserving the sword and it will be displayed once it is completed. Sword enthusiasts can follow the preservation process on the museum's website as well as their social media accounts.
Glorstad said that this is "without any doubt a completely new discovery." "We look forward to seeing the sword fully preserved.