viking period swords: scandinavia

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Viking Period Swords: Scandinavia Steven Blowney February, 2016 This essay is the third part of an ongoing work about Viking Period swords. Like the second part swords will be cataloged using a scheme. The cataloging scheme for this part is provided as an appendix at the end of this work. The geographical area for this part is Scandinavia: Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland. Originally separate parts were planned for Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. Finland was to be included in another part about the countries around the Balc Sea (excluding Sweden), but this plan was changed. The reason for this change is explained below. As usual, the sources for each list are directly below the summary. Also F. Androshchuk’s chronology of swords (based upon Petersen’s typology) is used for each sword’s approximant date (1). Norway Unlike Denmark and Sweden, Norway does not have a widely dispersed periodical dedicated to archaeology (Denmark has the Acta Archaeologica; Sweden has Fornvannen.). The Norwegian archaeological structure is a network of regional museums—Stavanger, Tromso, Bergens, and Oslo. Each museum has its own set of publicaons, usually a yearbook. Indeed, A. Lorange’s Den Yngre Jernalders Svaerd (2) is part of Bergens Museums Skriſter for 1889. However, these museums are not exclusively used for archaeology. They also include animal biology, plant biology (both of these subject were once called “natural history”) and geology. In the US the publicaons of these museums were put into a single (usually annual) bound volume—so those interested in archaeology can find themselves paging through an arcle on grasses or a variety of marine

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Viking Period Swords: Scandinavia

Steven Blowney February, 2016

This essay is the third part of an ongoing work about Viking Period swords. Like the second part

swords will be cataloged using a scheme. The cataloging scheme for this part is provided as an appendix

at the end of this work. The geographical area for this part is Scandinavia: Norway, Denmark, Sweden,

and Finland.

Originally separate parts were planned for Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. Finland was to be

included in another part about the countries around the Baltic Sea (excluding Sweden), but this plan was

changed. The reason for this change is explained below.

As usual, the sources for each list are directly below the summary. Also F. Androshchuk’s

chronology of swords (based upon Petersen’s typology) is used for each sword’s approximant date (1).


Unlike Denmark and Sweden, Norway does not have a widely dispersed periodical dedicated to

archaeology (Denmark has the Acta Archaeologica; Sweden has Fornvannen.). The Norwegian

archaeological structure is a network of regional museums—Stavanger, Tromso, Bergens, and Oslo. Each

museum has its own set of publications, usually a yearbook. Indeed, A. Lorange’s Den Yngre Jernalders

Svaerd (2) is part of Bergens Museums Skrifter for 1889.

However, these museums are not exclusively used for archaeology. They also include animal

biology, plant biology (both of these subject were once called “natural history”) and geology. In the US

the publications of these museums were put into a single (usually annual) bound volume—so those

interested in archaeology can find themselves paging through an article on grasses or a variety of marine

life before finding what they want. This is an awkward arrangement (3), even if some of these

publications are now found on the internet.

Place Scheme Petersen Type Date

1.Aker, Vang Parish 2,A,?,c S 950-1000.

2.Bale, Tjugum Parish 2,A,?,c ? ?

3.Grave I, Gjermundbu 2,A,I,c S 950-1000.

4.Grave II, Gjermundbu 1,A,I,c Q 950-1000.

5.Gloppen 5,A,II,b, c M? 900-950.

6.Grave S400, Gulli 4,A,I,c M 900-950.

7.Grave S1033, Gulli 4,A,I,b L 850-950.

8.Grave S1199, Gulli 6,A,I,b K 800-950.

9.Hellebost, Vik Parish 1?,A,?,c H 850-950

10.Grave II,K/IV, S. Bikjholberget,

Kaupang 2,4,A,I,b X 950-1050.

11.Grave I,K/V, S. Bikjholberget,

Kaupang 6,A,I,b M 900-950.

12.Grave III,K/V, S. Bikjholberget,

Kaupang 2,A,I,b H 850-950.

13.Grave II,K/VI, S. Bikjholberget,

Kaupang 1,A,I,b C 800-900.

14.K/VIII, S. Bikjholberget,

Kaupang 1,A,I,b K 800-950.

13.K/IX, S. Bikjholberget,

Kaupang 1,A,I,b M 900-950.

14.Grave I,K/XII, S. Bikholberget,

Kaupang 6,A,I,b ? ?

15.Grave II,K/XII, S. Bikholberget,

Kaupang 1,A,I,b M 900-950.

16.K/XXV, S. Bikholberget,

Kaupang 6,A,I,b?,d? D?E? 800-900.

17.K/XX, S. Bikholberget

Kaupang 2,A,I,d C? 800-900

18.Grave I,K/1950, N. Bikholberget,

Kaupang 2,A,I,d H 850-950

19.Grave II,K/1950, N. Bikholberget,

Kaupang 2,A,I,d M 900-950.

20.Grave III,K/1950, N. Bikholberget,

Kaupang 4,A,I,d H 850-900.

21.Grave IV,K/1950, N. Bikholberget,

Kaupang 6,A,I,d E 850-900

22.Grave I,K/1952, N. Bikholberget,

Kaupang 2,4,A,I,d M 900-950.

23.Grave II,K/1952, N. Bikholberget,

Kaupang 4,A,I,d L 850-950.

24.Grave V,K/1953, N. Bikholberget,

Kaupang 2,A,I,d M 900-950.

25.Grave VII,K/1953, N. Bikholberget,

Kaupang ?,A,I,d H 850-950.

26.Haug 1, Lo 2,A,I,b,c H 850-950.

27. Losfunn 1953, Kaupang 6,A,I,? ? ?

28. Grave I,K/1954, N. Bikholberget,

Kaupang 4,A,I,d M? 900-950.

29.Grave II,K/1954, N. Bikholberget,

Kaupang 1,A,?,d M 900-950.

30.Grave III,K/1954, N. Bikholberget,

Kaupang 1,A,I,d O 900-950.

31.Grave IV,K/1954, N. Bikholberget,

Kaupang 6,A,I,d ? ?

32.Haug 47, N. Kaupang,C4198 2,A,?,c M 900-950.

33.Haug 109, N. Kaupang,C42042,A,?,c M 900-950.

34.Haug 112, N. Kaupang,C42162,A,?,c X 950-1050.

35.Haug 90, N. Kaupang,C4216 2,A,?,c X 950-1050.

36.Haug 91, N. Kaupang,C4237 6,A,?,c H 850-950.

37.N. Kaupang 1859, C4070 5,A,?,? ? ?

38.Haug 6, S. Kaupang,C4293 2,A,I,c H 850-950.

39.S. Kaupang 1859, C2270 4,A,I,d H 850-950.

40.Lamoya, S. Kaupang,C15010 2,A,I,d Q 950-1000.

41.Lishushaugen 5,A,II,c H? 850-950

42.Ljones, Skjaestad 1,A,I,c K 800-950.

43.Mound 2, Grave I,

Myklebostand 2,A,I?,b,c M? 900-950.

44.Mound 2, Grave II,

Myklebostand 5,A,I?,b,c K? 900-950.

45.Os, Eid Parish 2,A,?,c ? ?

46.Sundalen, Dale Parish 2,A,?,c H 850-950.

47.Vad, Stole Parish 2,A,?,c R 950-1000.

48.Valle, Tune 6,A,I,b,c ? ?


Total number of swords: 48


Intact swords: 9

Incomplete swords: 21

Broken swords: 8

Bent swords: 4

Fragments: 9

Swords from graves: 48

Swords from Inhumations: 32

Boat/Ship graves: 14

Grave mounds: 9

Flat graves: 15

Cremation graves: 1


Blindheim, C. and B. Heyerdahl-Larsen, R.L Tollnes. Kaupang-Funne. Bind I. Oslo: Universitetets Oldsakamling (1981).

Blindheim, C. and B. Hayerdahl-Larsen. Kaupang-Funne. Band II. Oslo: Universitetets Oldsakamling.

Brogger, A.W. “Baatgraven fra Valle.” Bergens Museums Arbok, 1920-21, Hist-antikv, raekk nr. I. Et arkeologisk bid til Vikingetiden historie. Bergen, Norway: Bergens Museum (1922).

Gjerpe, L.S. “Gravfeltet pa Gulli.” Varia 60. Kulturhistorisk Museum (2005).

Grieg, S. Gjermundbufunnet. Oslo: John Griegs Boktrykkeri (1947).

Gronnesby, G. “Graver I Veien. Arkeologiske undersokelser E6 Steinker.” Vikark 8. Trondheim, Norway. Acta Archaeologica Nidrosieensia (2012).

Lorange, A.L. Den Yngre Jeralders Svaerd. Et Bidrag til Vikingetidens Historie og Technologi. As: Bergens Museums Skrifter 4. Bergen, Norway: Bergen Museum (1889).

Nicolaissen, O. “Oldsager fra det nordligste Norge.” Tromso Museums Aarshefter 25. Tromso, Norway: Tromso Museum (1902) 1-16.

Schetelig, H. Gravene ved Myklebostad paa Nordfjordied (Bergens Musems Aarbog 1905 No. 7). Bergen, Norway (1905).

Schetelig, H. “Weapons from Western Europe Found in Norway.” In Viking Antiquities in Great Britain and Ireland. Part V. British Antiquities of the Viking Period, Found in Norway. Oslo: H. Aschehoug & Co. (1940).

The “Sword Register” of J. Petersen’s De Norske Vikingesverd (4) has 391 entries. When the list

of swords found in Norway of this essay is compared to Petersen’s register of swords found in Norway,

the notable lack of entries in this work requires an explanation. When I. Martens article, “Thousands of

Swords. Why is the Number of Viking Age Weapons Found in Norway Higher than any other European

Country?” (5), the required explanation takes on a sense of urgency.

The problem is not the abundance of swords. The problem is the quality of their

documentation. Look at this typical entry from the Bergens Museums Aarbog 1905 (6):

“30. Gravfund fra vikingetiden fra Sygnesand, Helgeim sogn, Jolster

pgd. Nordre Bergerhus amt.

a. Tveegget sverd med simpelt, ret nedrenhjalt og havvrund,massiv knap, begge af jern. Klingen er boiet I stumpvinkel og har tydelige rester af glodeskal. Den fuldelaengde er 89 cm.

b. Spydspids…

The sword is a grave find, but what sort of grave (inhumation or cremation) is not included. The sword is

double edged and is 89 centimeters long, but the condition of the blade is not readily clear. No

illustration of the sword (or any other objects found) was included. But in the entries of this period (the

Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries), an illustration of a sword was an etching that only showed the hilt

construction and its decoration. There are a great many of these descriptions, but only a few lead to

later, more detailed information that can be used here.

Given the situation, I am wary about commenting. However, with one notable exception, I

would speculate about the possible dynastic/family/clan nature of some of the graveyards where burials

contained sword. Myklebostad, Gjermundbu, and Gulli all have multiple graves and burials. In fact,

many burials have multiple graves. This is the case at Lo, where the mound (Haug 1) does not only

contain a boat-grave (with a sword), but four other graves, including a cremation grave in an urn. Gulli

has eighteen separate burials. Myklebostad and Gjermundbu have at least two “burial-sites,” usually as

mounds. What exactly happened here remains unknown, but I think some sort of traditional burial yard

—something like a family-plot--is what has been excavated here.

The notable exception is of course is Kaupang, or the graveyards around Kaupang. F.A.Stylegar

points out that there are many sites of burials that have been excavated and examined over the decades

(7): North Kaupang, South Kaupang, Bikjholberget, Hagejordet, Lamoya, Bjonnes, and Vikingholmen .

Bikjholberget has been further divided by north and south, but the whole site eight flat graves with

swords (North) and eight boat-graves with swords (South). North Kaupang has six burials, five of which

are mounds.

Stylegar does discuss weapons burials, dividing them by date. There are seven total weapons

graves with swords dated to the 9th Century. These graves had either an sword-spear-ax combination (4

graves) or a sword-spear combination (3 graves). For the 10th Century 13 graves had swords.

What this all means, however, is a matter of speculation. The Kaupang excavations show a

complex community that reflects the Viking Period in Norway. To explain what was happening in the

trading site of Kaupang, and, indeed in the rest of Norway requires more evidence. Until then there are

more questions than answers. Work needs to be continued.


Denmark boasts one of the first people to legitimately call themselves an archaeologist, J.A.A.

Worsaae. His stone-age, bronze-age, and iron-age nomenclature gave his generation and later

archaeologists a good foundation for their work. The influence of Worsaae on Northern European

archaeology cannot be understated.

S. Muller and his work Vor Oldtid built upon Worsaae’s legacy (8), but the modern

archaeological study of the Viking Period can be attributed to J. Brondsted. His long article “Danish

Inhumation Graves of the Viking Age” (9) is of such quality that it continues to be used and is included in

this work. Brondsted lists 136 burial sites containing some 340 graves. However, Brondsted only listed

inhumation graves. T. Ramskou later wrote “Viking Age Cremation Graves in Denmark” (10). This article

lists 227 cremation graves and is also used in this work.

Place Scheme Petersen Type Date

1.Agernve/Grimstup 2,A,I,d D?E? 850-950.

2.Aggersborg 6,D P 950-1000.

3.Arlov 1,A,I,a H/I? 850-950.

4.Arnbol 1,A,I,? ? ?

5.Boel 2,4,A,I,? D 800-950.

6.Bosurp 1,A,I,d? X? 950-1050.

7.Brandstrup I 4,A,I,a S? T? 950-1000.

8.Broager 2,4,A,I,d X 950-1050.

9.Errindlev 1,A,I,d V 950-1000.

10.Farso 1,A,I,a X 950-1050.

11.Fly 1,A,I,c X 950-1050.

12.Ilse of Fohr 1 6,A,II,f (urn grave) D?E? 800-900.

13.Ilse of Fohr 2 5,6?,A,II,f (urn grave) ? ?

14.Forlev Mark 4,A,II?,c ? ?

15.Frolunde 2,A,I,? S 950-1000.

16.Grave 1, Hald 6,A,I,c X 950-1050.

17.Grave 2, Hald 2,4,A,I,c X 950-1050.

18.Sword 1, Hedeby 6,A,II,? H? 850-950.

19.Sword 3, Hedeby 6,C ? ?

20.Sword 4, Hedeby 6,C ? ?

21.Sword 5, Hedeby 1,A,I,a,b T 950-1000.

22.Sword 6, Hedeby 2,A,I,a X? 950-1050.

23.Sword 7, Hedeby 6,C ? ?

24.Sword 8, Hedeby 6,C ? ?

25.Sword 11, Hedeby 6,D ? ?

26.Sword 12, Hedeby 2,A,I,a,b K 800-950.

27.Sword 13, Hedeby 1,A,I,a,b K 800-950.

28.Sword 14, Hedeby 6,C ? ?

29.Sword 15, Hedeby 6,C L? 850-950.

30.Sword 16, Hedeby 6,C ? ?

31.Sword 17, Hedeby 6,D ? ?

32.Sword 21, Hedeby 6,D S?R? 950-1000.

33.Sword 22, Hedeby 2,A,?,? S 950-1000.

34.Sword 23, Hedeby 2,A,?,? S 950-1000.

34.Sword 24, Hedeby 6,C ? ?

35.Sword 25, Hedeby 6,C ? ?

36.Sword 26, Hedeby 6,D S 950-1000.

37.Sword 27, Hedeby 2,D E 900-950.

38.Sword 28, Hedeby 1,A,I,d? E 900-950.

39.Sword 29, Hedeby 6,D ? ?

40.Sword 31, Hedeby 1,A,I,d X 950-1050.

41.Sword 32, Hedeby 6,C Y 950-1000.

42.Sword 35, Hedeby 6,C ? ?

43.Sword 36, Hedeby 6,C Q? 950-1000.

44.Sword 37, Hedeby 6,C ? ?

45.Sword 39, Hedeby 6,C ? ?

46.Sword 43, Hedeby 6,C ? ?

47.Sword 44, Hedeby 6,C ? ?

48.Sword 45, Hedeby 6,C X? 950-1050.

49.Sword 46, Hedeby 6,C ? ?

50.Sword 47, Hedeby 6,C ? ?

51.Sword 48, Hedeby 6,D ? ?

52.Hemstofe 6,A,I,c H? 850-950.

53.Herlufmagle 2,A,I,C Q 950-1000.

54.Hersom 6,A,I,c ? ?

57.Hjalby Kirkebakke 2,A,I,? Q? Y? 950-1000.

58.Hjarno ?,A,II,f ? ?

59.Hoby 2,A,I,d X 900-1000.

60.Hospitalsegan 1 1,B,R H 850-950

61.Hospitalsegan 2 1,B,R H 850-950.

62.Horby 2,A,I,e A? 800-900.

63.Jorlunde 2,B,? V 950-1000.

64.Kammerhoj 2,A,I,c V 950-1000.

65.Kallby 2,A,I,? ? ?

66.Kirkmosegard 1,A,I,f H 850-950

67.Grave 1, Ketting 1,A,I,e U 900-1000.

68.Kolind 2,A,I,e X 950-1050.

69.Laastrup 1,A,I,c X 950-1050.

70.Longelse 2,A,I,? D?E?X? 10th Century.

71.Magleo 1. 2,A,I,c S 950-1000.

72.Magleo 2 2,A,I,c S 950-1000.

73.Mollenbanken 4,A,I,f K? 900-950.

74.Near Aalborg 2,A,?,c Q? Y? 950-1000.

75.Nestelso Mark 4,A,I,c X 950-1050.

76.Norderbrarup 4 6,A,I,d ? ?

77.Norderbrarup 6 6,A,I,d ? ?

78.Grave 2,

Norre Longelse 2,A,I,? V? W? 950-1000.

79.The Norreg River 1,B,R H 950-950.

80.Ravnholt 1,A,I,d U 900-1000.

81.Rends 2,4,A,I,c X 950-1050.

82.Rosenland 1,A,I,a T 950-1000.

83.Roum 1,A,I,c ? ?

84.Rya, Kvistofte 6,A,I,? O 900-950.

85.Sjorring Lake, Jylland 1,B,L H 850-950.

86.Smollerup 6,A,I,c ? “Early”

87.Grave 3, Stengard 5,A,I,a V 950-1000.

88.Suderbrurup IA 2,A,I,c D 800-950.

89.Tastam Mark 2,4,A,I,c M? 900-950.

90.Tisso, Sjaellund 1,B,L X 950-1050.

91.Veggerslev 2,A,I,? M? 900-950.


Total number of swords/parts: 91


Intact swords: 21

Incomplete swords: 27

Broken swords: 9

Bent swords: 2

Fragments/parts: 31.

Number of swords/parts from graves/burials: 55

From Inhumations: 49

Chambers graves: 9

Boat graves: 3

Flat graves: 4

Stone graves: 3

Other: 3

From Cremations: 4

Cremation Mounds: 3

Other Cremation Burials: 1

Swords/parts found in Bodies of Water: 4

Rivers: 2

Lakes/Ponds/Bogs: 2

Swords/parts found in Settlements: 20

Stray swords/parts: 7


Brondsted, J. “Danish Inhumation Graves of the Viking Age.” Acta Archaeologica (1936).

Geibig, A. ”Zur Formenvielfalt der Schwerter und Schwertfragmente van Haithabu.” Offa 46 (1989) 223-256.

Pedersen, A. “Bridging the Distribution Gap: Inscribed Swords from Denmark.” In The Viking Age. Ireland and the West. Proceedings of the Fifteenth Viking Congress. J. Sheehan and D. O’Corrain (eds.): Portland, Oregon: Four Courts Press (2010) 309-321.

Pedersen, A. Dead Warriors in Living Memory. A Study of Weapon and Equestrian Burials in Viking Age Denmark, AD 800-1000. Copenhagen. Publications from the National Museum (PNM) (2014). Volume 2, The Catalogue was particularly useful.

Ramskou, T. “Viking Age Cremation Graves in Denmark.” Acta Archaeologica (1950) 137-182.

Rosedahl, E. and S.M. Sindbaek, A. Pedersen, D.M. Wilson. Aggersborg. The Viking Age Settlement and Fortress. Copenhagen: The National Museum of Denmark (2014) 302.

Swords are rare items in Viking Period Denmark, at least as far as graves and burials are

concerned. Brondsted’s article on inhumation graves has 136 burial sites with about 350 graves. Only

23 swords, however, are documented there. Ramskou’s article on cremation graves presents 227

graves, but only three of them contained a sword. Looking a little further, cemeteries like Lindholm Hoje

has some 350 burials (dated to before and during the Viking Period), but only a couple graves contained

any sort of weapon (11). No swords were discovered there.

This lack of swords in graves—only 55 out of out of 91—possibly points toward a different

social/political structure in Denmark. Danes owned swords. The amount of sword fragments found in

and around Hedeby point towards the modification of the hilt-construct since most of the fragments

were pommel or guard pieces. But the swords found in inhumation graves point towards a small upper

class. It is the sword combined with grave (12 of which were boat or chamber or boat/chamber graves)

that denotes the prominence of someone.

Hedeby (or Haithabu) contributed more than just fragments of swords, of course. Some of the

graves excavated in and around the trading-town (some would call it an emporium) contained swords. S.

Eisenschmidt presents and discusses the burial sites (12). The author presents six burial site: two north

of the semi-circular rampart that enclosed the town; three within the rampart, and one very large burial

site south of the rampart. In all Eisenschmidt states that some 1350 burials have been excavated. The

author also believes that there are many, many more—possibly 10,000. Coffin graves were found in

small mounds in the Northern Site, and Petersen Type V sword was found in one of them. Eisenschmidt

states little else about this weapon. Which specific grave where the sword was discovered and the

condition of the weapon is not discussed. Burial Site Number 4 is within the ramparts and is made-up

mostly of chamber graves. Only Grave II contained a sword. The largest burial site is south of the

rampart. This site is now divided by a modern road; there are graves east and west of this road. The

famously unique boat-chamber grave is located here, west of the road in what seemed to be separate

area. Five chamber graves and 430 inhumation graves are also located in this southern site.

For all the excellent documentation provides by Danish archaeologists, little can be concluded

about their attitude concerning sword. The Hedeby burial sites themselves present a riddle with

chamber graves found both inside and outside the protective rampart. The boat-chamber, arguably the

most prestigious burial excavated at Hedeby adds to the enigma. The inclusion of swords in some of

these burials denotes the importance of this weapon. But the finding of sword parts and the fact that

swords were so rarely included in other weapons-graves tells that swords were not necessary part of the

deceased person’s importance. The place of swords in Viking Period Denmark remains unknown.


Published in 1873 the book Antiquites Suedoises (13) the author, Oscar Montelius, presents five

swords dated to what he called the Third Iron Age. These swords, numbered 500, 505, 506, 507, and

508 is the book, can be identified as having belonged to the Viking Period. Item 500 can probably be

categorized as Petersen’s D or E type. Item 506 is probably an example of Type S. 507 is most likely

Type H; 505 cannot be typed.

The next Swedish archaeologist of note is Hjalmar Stople, who excavated both at Birka, Vendel,

and other sites. Stople’s real contribution, however, was to master the techniques of excavating grave

and other features. He died in 1905, leaving an important collection of work.

But much of that work was left unpublished. The Early to Mid 20 th Century was a very active

time for Swedish archaeologists. The rest of Stople’s work was published by T.J. Arne and H. Arbman.

The periodical Fornvannen began publication. Important site such as the burial mounds at Valsgarde

were excavated and published. The efforts of several people—Arne, Arbman, Arwiddson, Stenberger,

and Lindquist just to name a few—established a movement that is active to this day.

Place Scheme Petersen Type Date

1.Birka, Black Earth 6,D ? ?

2.Birka, Grave 104 5,A,II,? (Urn?) ? ?

3.Birka, Grave 366 ?A,II,? (Urn?) ? ?

4.Birka, Grave 377 5,A,II,? (Urn?) X 950-1050.

5.Birka, Grave 426 1,A,II,? (Urn?) H 850-950.

6.Birka, Grave 496 1,A,I,a H 850-950.

7.Birka, Grave 514 2,A,I,a H 850-950.

8.Birka, Grave 520 1,A,I,a Y 950-1000.

9.Brika, Grave 524 1,A,I,a X 950-1050.

10.Birka, Grave 542 1,A,I,a H 850-950.

11.Birka, Grave 544 1,A,I,a V 950-1000.

12.Birka, Grave 561 2,A,I,a H 850-950.

13.Birka, Grave 581 6,A,I,a V 950-1000.

14.Birka, Grave 624 1,A,I,a M 900-950.

15.Birka, Grave 643 1,A,I,a H 850-950.

16.Birka, Grave 644 1,A,I,a H 850-950.

17.Birka, Grave 722 6,A,II,? (Urn?) ? ?

18.Birka, Grave 731 2,A,I,a X 950-1050.

19.Birka, Grave 735 2,A,I,a Y 950-1000.

20.Birka, Grave 736 2,A,I,a H 850-950.

21.Birka, Grave 750 4,A,I,a H 850-950.

22.Birka, Grave 752B 6,A,I,a Y 950-1000.

23.Birka, Grave 823a 5,A,I,a X 950-1050.

24.Birka, Grave 832 6,A,I,a Y 950-1000.

25.Birka, Grave 834 1,A,I,a X 950-1050.

26.Birka, Grave 842 4,A,I,a H 850-950.

27.Birka, Grave 850 2,A,I,a H 850-950.

28.Birka, Grave 855a 1,A,I,a Special Type 800-900.

29.Birka, Grave 886 1?,A,II,? H 850-950.

30.Birka, Grave 942 2,A,I,a Special Type 800-900.

31.Birka, Grave 944 4,A,I,a H 850-950.

32.Birka, Grave 957 5,A,I,a H 850-950.

33.Birka, Grave 977 1,A,I,a H 850-950.

34.Birka, Grave 1151 1,A,I,a E 850-900.

35.Birka, Seten Grave 6,A,II,c H 850-950.

36.Alands, Gotland 1,A,I,? H 850-950.

37.Auster, Gotland 1,A?,?,? H 850-950.

38.Bjarge, Gotland 1?,A,I,? B 800-900.

39.Burga, Gotland 1?,D Special Type 2 800-900.

40.Endra, Gotland 2,5,D H 850-950.

41.Grante, Gotland 1,D H 850-950.


Gotland 1,C X 950-1050.

43.Halla, Broe, Gotland 6,D A 800-900.

44.Halla, Broe, Grave 25,

Gotland 4,5,A,?,? H 850-950.

45.Hellvi, Grave 9 5,A,I,? ? ?

46.Hellvi, Grave 25 2,A,II,? H? 985-950.

47.Hellvi, Grave 34 A 2,4,A,II,? ? ?

48.Hellvi, Grave 34 B 4,A,II,? ? ?

49.Hellvi, Grave 50 5,A,II,? H 850-950.

50.Hellvi, Grave 51 2,A,II,? H? 850-950.

51.Hellvi, Grave 64 5,A,II,? Special Type? 800-900.

52.Hellvi, Grave 112 1,A,I,? X 950-1050.

53.Hellvi, Grave 113 1,A,I,? L 850-950.

54.Hellvi, Ire, Grave 169

Gotland 2,A,?,? B 800-900.

55.Hellvi, Ire, Grave 351

Gotland 1,A,?,? E. 900-950.

56.Hellvi, Ire, Grave 363

Gotland 2,5,A,?,? Special Type 2 800-900.

57. Hellvi, Ire, Grave 369

Gotland 1?,A,II,? H 850-950.

58.Hellvi, Ire, Grave 504

Gotland 1,A,?,? V 950-1000.

59.Hogbro, Gotland 6,D H 850-950.

60.Kulstade, Gotland 6,A?,?,f (Stone Cairn) H 850-950.

61.Levide, Gotland 6,A?,?,? (Stone Cairn) T 950-1000.

62.Levide, Gotland 6,D N. 900-950.

63.Mafrids, Gotland 1,D H 850-950.


Gotland 1?,B,L (bog) Special Type 1B 800-900.

65.Norrgarde, Gotland 1?D H 850-950.

66.Pilgards, Gotland 4,A,II,f (Stone Cairn?) N 900-950.

67.Sandegard, Gotland 2,4,?,? H 850-950.

68.Sandegard, Gotland 2,4,?,? H 850-950.

69.Sandegard, Gotland 2,4,?,? ? ?

70.Smiss, Gotland 2,A,?,? H 850-950.

71.Stora Sojdeby,

Gotland 6, C ? ?

72.Bengtsarvet, Dalarna,

Grave 1. 1,A,II,c Z 1000-1050.

73.Bengtarvent, Dalarna,

Grave 2. 5,A,II,c Z 1000-1050.

74.Landanget, Darlarna 1,A,?,? X 950-1050.

75.Berg, Gastrikland 6,D H 850-950.

76.Byn, Gastrikland 1?,D H 850-950.

77.Gavle, Gastrikland 4,D Special Type 2 ?

78.Hille, Gastrikland 1,A,II,f (Urn) H 850-950.

79.Hille, Gastrikland 1,A,II,f (Urn) B 800-900.


Gastrikland 1,A,II,f (Stone) X 950-1050.


Gastrikland 1,A?,?,? (Stone Layer) V 950-1000.

82.Ostby, Gastrikland 1,A,?,c E 850-900.

83.Ostreda, Gastrikland 5,A,II?,? E 850-900.

84.Ostreda, Gastrikland 1,A,?,c V 950-1000.

85.Trodje, Gastrikland 1,A,?,f (Stone) X 950-1050.

86.Ulvsta, Gastrikland 1,D X 950-1050.

87.Klinta, Oland Island 1,A,II,c Special Type ?

88.N. Kvinneby,

Oland Island 1,D H 850-950.

89.Aska, Ostergotland 1,A?,?,? (Stone Cairn) X 950-1050.


Ostergotland 4,B,R H 850-950.

91.Ruda, Ostergotland 1,A,?,? H 850-950.

92.Ruda, Ostergotland 1,A,?,? M 850-950.

93.Bredaryd, Smaland 1,A,II,c E 850-950.

94.Harby, Smaland 1,A,?,? H 850-950.

95.Lanna, Smaland 6,D H 850-950.

96.Mossle, Smaland 4,A,II,c H? 850-950.

97.Mossle Jossagard,

Smaland 6,A,II,c Z 1000-1050.

98.Norsberg, Smaland 1,A?,?,? (Stone Cairn) H 850-950.

99.Obestrop, Smaland 4?,A,I,e B 800-900.


Sodermanland 2,A,?,c H 850-950.


Sodermanland 2,A,?,c E 850-900.

102.Hog 1, Linga,

Sodermanland 1,A,I,c H 850-950

103.Hog 3, Linga,

Sodermanland 5,A,I,c D 800-950.

104.Alvsby, Vangean,

Uppland 1,B,R H 850-950.

105.Branna, Uppland 1,A,?,c X 950-1050.

106.Brunnby, Grave 2,]

Uppland 1,A,?,? H 850-950.

107.Enaker, Uppland 5,A,II,d Z 1000-1050.

108.Enkoping, Uppland 1,A,?,c V 950-1000.

109.Ettinga, Uppland 1,A,II,f (Urn) B 800-900.

110.Fallero Raa,

Uppland 5,A,II,f (Urn) H 850-950.

111.Fyrrsan, Uppland 4,B,R B 800-950.

112.Grafsta, Uppland 6,A,II,f (Stone Cairn) H 850-950.

113.Grafsta, Uppland 2,6,A,II,f (Stone Cairn) H 850-950.


Uppland 2,A,?,c H 850-950.

115.Harg, Uppland 1,C (Stone) H 850-950.

116.Husby, Uppland 1?,D H 850-950.

117.Husby, Uppland 1,D H 850-950.

118.Isgrena, Uppland 1,D (Found beside a stone) H 850-950.

119.Jadra, Uppland 6,D H 850-950.

120.Jonninge, Uppland 5,A,II,f (Stone) H 850-950.


Uppland 6,D Z 1000-1050.

122.Mound 10, Karby,

Uppland 1,A,II,c H 850-950.


Uppland 2,5,A,II,c H 850-950.

124.Kroksta, Uppland 1?,A?,?,? (Near a runestone) Special Type 1 800-900.

125.Kroksta, Uppland 1?,D? H 850-950.

126.Langtore, Uppland 1,A,I,a H?L? 850-950.

127.Nyby, Grave 10,

Uppland 5,A,II,d X 950-1050.

128.Osta, Uppland 1,D L 850-950.

129.Salnecke, Uppland 2,A,II,f (Stone) H 850-950.

130.Satuna, Uppland 1,A,?,c H 850-950.


Uppland 1,B,R S 950-1000.

132.Simtuna Parish,

Uppland 2,A,II,d Y 950-1000.

133.Skensta, Uppland 6,A,II,f (Urn?) H 850-950.

134.Skillsta, Uppland 1,A,II,? H 850-950.


Uppland 1?,D H 850-950.

136.Smedsbo, Uppland 1,A,II,? H 850-950.


Uppland 4,D? H 850-950.

138.Sorback, Uppland 5,A?,?,? Q 950-1000.

140.Grave II, Tuna 4,A,I,b H 850-950.

141.Grave XII, Tuna 2,A,I,b ? ?


Uppland 1,A,II,c H 850-950.

143.Valsgarde, Grave 1,

Uppland 1,A,I,b S 950-1000.

144.Valsgarde, Grave 2,

Uppland 1,A,I,b Z 1000-1050.

145.Valsgarde, Grave 4,

Uppland 1,A,I,b H 850-950.

146.Valsgarde, Grave 9

Uppland 1,A,I,b N 900-950.

147.Valsgarde, Grave 22,

Uppland 1,A,I,a Q 950-1000.

148.Valsta, Uppland 1,A,II,? Special Type 2 800-900.

149.Vasby, Uppland 2,4,A,II,? H 850-950.

150.Vattholma, Uppland1,A,II,? H 850-950.

151.Velanda, Uppland 1?,A,II,f (Stone) C 800-900.

152.Vendel, Grave IX,

Uppland 6,A,I,b,c H 850-950.

153.Ullna, Uppland 1?A,I,e B 800-900.


Vastergotland 1,A,I,e H 850-950.


Vastergotland 4,A,I,a,c M 900-950.


Vastmanland 5,A?,II?,? H 850-950.

158.Forneby as,

Vastmanland 1,A?,?,? (Runestone) Z 1000-1050.


Vastmanland 1,A,?,c H 850-950.


Total Swords/Parts: 159


Intact: 75

Incomplete: 26

Broken: 14

Bent: 17

Fragment: 20

Sword from burials: 117

Inhumation burials: 46

Chamber graves: 30

Boat/Ship graves: 7

Burial mounds: 3

Other/Unknown: 3

Cremation burials: 40

Burial mounds 13

Flat graves: 4

Other/Unknown: 20

Swords from Bodies of Water: 3

Rivers: 2

Lakes/Ponds/Bog 1

Swords/Parts from Settlements: 2

Stray Finds: 24.


Androshchuk, F. “XI. Catalogue.” In Viking Swords. Swords and Social Aspects of Weaponry in Viking Age Societies. Stockholm: Swedish History Museum (2014) 284-480.

Arbman, H. “En Kammargrav fran Vikingatiden vid Langtora, Uppland.” Fornvannen (1936) 89-98.

Arbman, H. Birka I. Die Graber. Uppsala, Sweden: Almqvist & Wiksells (1943).

Arne, T.J. Dasbootgraberfeld von Tuna in Alsike Uppland. Stockholm: Im Verlag der Akademie (1934).

Floderus, E. “Smarre Meddelanden. Ett Kammargravfelt I Vastergotland.” Fornvannen (1938) 360-364.

Fridell, A. “Den forsta batgraven vid Valsgarde I Gamla Uppsala socken.” Fornvannen (1938) 217-237.

Schnittger, B. “Nagra Undersokningar A Linga Graffalt I Sodermanland.” Fornvannen (1912) 19-35.

Schonback, B. and L. Thunmark-Nylen. “De Vikingatida batgravarna vid Valsgarde—relative kronologi.” Fornvannen (2002) 1-8.

Thunmark-Nylen, L. Die Wikingerzeit Gotlands I. Abbildungen der Grabfunde. Stockholm: Kungl. Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akademien.

The biggest surprise was the urn graves that contained swords. The other surprise was the

swords discovered near or at runestones. The former of these two surprises has been noted as much as

possible within the list. That has been done sword found with runestones, but the cataloging of this

situation has posed a problem. The swords here are not stray finds, and they are not quite settlement


Some might question including Gotland in this list. This island in the Baltic Sea was mostly likely

had a separate ruler during the Viking Period. Also the author of the immense multi-volume work, Die

Wikingerzeit Gotlands, L. Thunmark-Nylen, states that 170 swords are documented (14). Only 37 swords

from Gotland are included; these swords were the best documented for this project. The condition of

the sword, where it was found, and its Petersen Type is not readily available. Still, Gotland deserves

more work and closer inspection.

On the Swedish mainland, the area with the most swords is Uppland with 49 swords—not

including the swords of Birka. 34 swords from that former trading-town, now famous archaeological

site, were included. Combining Birka with Uppland makes for 83 swords and parts. The reason for this

abundance of weapons maybe due to the area being a population center during the Viking Period, or it

may be due to archaeologists investigating the obvious closer sites over the years. The rest of Sweden

may have more information to find.

Yet, with what’s here an interesting mixture of inhumation and cremation graves is apparent.

What justified a cremation or an inhumation grave with swords, other weapons, and/or other objects

does not depend upon the how the deceased was treated. Why the deceased was burned and then

buried or not burned and placed in chamber or other grave is not dependent upon their position in

society. Other factors—whatever they are—determined how the dead were handled and



The people of Finland have a completely different ethnic background than the other

Scandinavian countries. Their beliefs, traditions, and practices are unlike the “Germanic” (15) peoples of

Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. Yet, the people of Finland did have contact with their neighbors in the

Baltic Sea. Swords have been found in Finnish burials.

Place Scheme Petersen Type Date

1.Hauta 15, Luistari 2,4,A,I,d Y 950-1000.

2.Hauta 17, Luistari 2,A,I,d T? Y? 950-1000.

3.Hauta 52, Luistari 2,A,I,d (Hilt Construct Missing) ? ?

4.Hauta 90, Lusitari 1,A,I,d (Hilt Construct Bent) Y 950-1000.

5.Hauta 208, Luistari 2,6,A,I,d Y? 950-1000.

6.Hauta 281, Luistari 1,A,I,d X 950-1050.

7.Hauta 283, Luistari 1,A,I,d (Hilt Construct Missing) ? ?

8.Hauta 348, Luistari 1,A,I,d X 950-1000.

9.Hauta 378, Luistari 1,A,I,d (Possible Sax) ? ?


Total: 9


Intact swords: 5

Incomplete swords: 4

Broken swords: 1

Fragmentary: 1

Swords in Burials/Graves: 9

Swords from Inhumation Graves: 9

Flat Graves: 9


Lethosalo-Hilander, P. Luistari I. The Graves. Helsinki: Vammala (1982). ISBN:9519056467.

The “standard” work on European swords (which is to say imported) found in Finland is

Spateisenzeitliche Waffen aus Finnland Schwertinschriften und Waffenverzierungen des 9-12.

Jahrhunderts by Lappaaho (16). This source only presents swords, some of which can be dated to the

Viking Period. These are presented in the first nine plates of the work. Seven of the sword are Type X;

three are Type Z; two are Type H; one is Type B, and one is Type E. The provenance of these swords is

not discussed.

Nine swords discovered in a burial site is not much to discuss. However, like most of the swords

presented in Lappaaho’s book, these nine are dated to the late 10 th and 11th centuries. This points

towards late Viking Period trading contacts between the Finns and their Baltic neighbors, and the

possibility of a change with the Finns’ power structure.

Observations and comments:

To begin with the total numbers:

Total Number of Swords/Parts: 298.


Intact swords: 110

Incomplete swords: 78

Broken swords: 32

Bent swords: 23

Sword fragments: 61

Burials/Graves: 228 total

Inhumation Graves: 132

Chamber Graves: 39

Boat/Ship Graves: 24

Mounds: 15

Flat: 24

Other: 6

Cremation Graves: 45

Mounds: 16

Flat graves: 4

Other: 22

Bodies of Water: 7

Rivers: 4

Lakes/Ponds/Bogs: 3

Settlement Finds: 22

Stray Finds: 33.

Compiling all the information for this part (that is to say “Part 3”) was frustrating. Many of the

entries were “pieced” together from different sources. Also, some of the sources were very large, and

so cumbersome to use. These large sources were Kaupang, Hedeby, Birka, and Gotland. All them are

multi-volume works, and a great deal of time was spent working between volumes to determine if a

documented sword could be used or not. I do not doubt some were missed here, given the limited time

I had with these sources (17). Also, I did not have the full work, and possible entries were excluded. The

total number of swords in this part should be much larger.

One fact all the sources can say is that swords are rare items. Graves with swords are in the

minority, and not every weapons grave/burial contained a sword. Even the most basic examination of a

source will show that spearheads (and so spears) were far more numerous finds. The reasons for

burying the deceased with a sword needs careful consideration, and I suspect generalizations are a bad

idea in such analysis.

Keeping with some of the “trends” seen in Part 2 (“The Atlantic Isles”) of this project the amount

of Petersen Type L swords has been counted. Norway had 2. Denmark might have had one—the

evidence is fragmentary. Sweden might have had two. Aina Margrethe Heen-Pettersen has, however

pointed out that Norway has 18 Type L swords (18).

What was also surprising here was the lack of bent swords from graves. Only 23 bent sword

blades out of 298 is a very low percentage. I doubt these numbers since there are more swords in the

Scandinavian that haven’t been found and entered into their appropriate list. However, if these number

point towards a true percentage, then this phenomena is worth investigating. Under what rare

circumstances were swords bent and then placed into a grave? If people were only trying to prevent

others from robbing the grave and taking the sword (and other objects), then it would be easier to

simply brake the sword and then place the pieces into the burial.

However, it hard has become hard to discern which swords were broken intentionally (at least

from only a photograph) and which were broken by some other means. For that reason, counting

“intentionally broken sword blades” (Category 3) hasn’t been done here. Also, the finding of fragment

parts of sword—notably from the hilt construction—has been placed in Category 6. These were useful

adjustments and will continue to be used for the rest of the project.

The project will continue, despite the disappointing results here. Norway and the areas of

Sweden outside of Uppland still concern me, and revision is always a possibility. But other areas have

Viking Period swords and they deserve to be examined.


1.Androshchuk, F. “VI. The Dating of Viking Age Sword.” In: Viking Swords. Swords and Social Aspects of Weaponry in Viking Age Societies. Stockholm: Swedish History Museum (2014) 144-174.

2.Lorange, A.L. “Den Yngre Jernalders Svaerd. Et Bidrag til Vikingetidens Historie og Teknologi.” In Bergens Museums Skrifter 4. (1889).

3. The awkward arrangement of publications from Norwegian museums is because all the year’s publications are gathered together in one bound volume. This was not how the museums intended for their publications to release. Rather, they thought of a pamphlet series with each individual report published separately. The bound volumes ruin this intent. The bound volumes usually don’t have a table of contents, so you have to work your way through a whole series of articles to find what you want. This is time consuming, and with the digitalized versions of these bound volumes, it is even more time consuming. Finally, most libraries do not loan their bound periodicals, and very few librarians are going to work through all these articles to find the right one.

4. Peteren, J. “Sverdregister.” In De Norske Vikingesverd. En Typologisk-Kronologisk Studie Over Vikingetidens Vaaben. Kristiania: I Kommission Hos Jacob Dybwad (1919) 214-221.

5. Martens, I. “Thousands of Swords. Why is the Number of Viking Age Weapons Higher than any other European Country?” Collegium Medievale 16 (2003) 51-66.

6. Schetelig, H. “Fortegnelse.” Bergens Museums Aarbog 1905. No. 14 (1906) 20.

7. Stylegar, Frans-Arne. “The Kaupang Cemeteries Revisited. In: Kaupang in Skringssal. Aarhus, Denmark: Aarhus University Press (2007) 65-101.

8. Muller, S. Vor Oldtid. Copenhagen: Ernst Bojensen (1897).

9. Brondsted, J. “Danish Inhumation Graves of the Viking Age.” Acta Archaeologica. (1936).

10. Ramskou, T. “Viking Age Cremation Graves in Denmark.” Acta Archaeologica. (1950).

11. Marseen, O. Lindholm Hoje: Beskrivelse af udgravinger og fund. Aalborg Historiske Museum (1986).

12. Eisenschmidt, S. “The Viking Age Graves from Hedeby.” In: Viking Settlements and Society. S. Sigmundsson (ed.). Reykjavik: University of Iceland Press (2011) 83-102.

13. Montelius, O. Antiquitie Suedoises. Stockholm: P.A. Norstedt & Soner (1873) 146-148.

14. Thunmark-Nylen, L. Die Wikingerzeit Gotlands I. Abbildungen der Grabfunde. Stockholm: Kungl. Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akademien.

15. The Norwegians, Danes, and Swedes are “Germanic” in their ethnic background. The Finns aren’t. The word “Germanic” has been unpopular since World War II for obvious reasons, but it is the most convenient word to use here.

16. Leppaaho, J. Spateisenzeitliche Waffen aus Finnland Schwertinschriften und Waffenverzierungen des 9-12. Jahrhunderts. Helsinki: Finska Fornminnesforeningses Tidskrift (1964).

17. Many of the sources used here I obtained by interlibrary loan. With the larger sources, I either did not obtain the full work, did not have enough time to use it full, or both. Most of these sources are rare in the United States, and the loaning libraries often charge a fee for their use—about $20 an order. I am thankful for the loan, but I also wish I had more time with them.

18. Heen-Pettersen, Aina Margrethe. Insular artefacts from Viking-Age burials form mid-Norway. A review of contact between Trondelag and Britain and Ireland. Published online: I found this work on

Appendix: The Cataloging Schem e :

The Blade’s Condition:

1. Intact –most of the sword is extant, even if there is some corrosion.

2. Incomplete—some of the sword is missing, especially with the blade.

3. Intentionally Broken—the blade is broken, but found in its scabbard, etc.

4. Broken—the blade is broken, but there are no signs of an intentional brake.

5. Intentionally Bent—the blade is bent so as to be useless.

6. Fragmentary—the blade is and hilt construction is in pieces.

The Sword’s Original Context:

A. Burials/Graves,

I. Inhumation Graves

a. Chamber Graves.

b. Boat/Ship Graves.

c. Burial Mounds.

d. Flat Graves

e. Stone Graves.

f. Other/Unknown.

II. Cremation Graves.

b. Boat/Ship Graves.

c. Burial Mounds.

d. Flat Graves

f. Other.

B. Bodies of Water.

R. Rivers.

L. Lakes, Ponds, etc.

C. Settlement Finds.

D. Stray Finds.