This is probably one of the best examples ever found of a Oakeshott Type X Viking sword. This one was found in Finland in 1883 and belonged to the Magnus Magnusson collection.
The blade is etched “VLFBERH+”, and its blade pattern is a Oakeshott Type X, placing its manufacturing around year 800 AD. About 170 Ulfberhts have been found, dating from 800 to 1,000 A.D.
Most "Ulfberht" swords are of Oakeshott Type X form. They are forged from excellent steel with a very low content of sulfur and phosphorus and up to 1.1% carbon. The metal so pure it baffled archaeologists. It was thought the technology to forge such metal was not invented for another 800 or more years, during the Industrial Revolution.
This will explain its excellent condition of it today.
Ulfberht is a modern transcription of the inscription +VLFBERH+T, found on some Early Middle Ages Germanic swords of the 8th to 11th century.
There are many variations of the inscription, including +VLFBERHT+ or VLFBERH+T. The inscription is believed by some to be the name of a Frankish person whose name and manufactury became the basis of a trademark. The name was used though by different bladesmiths for several centuries.
Some specialists have interpreted the presence of crosses in the signature as an ecclesiastic sign but there is no confirmation of this being true.
On the other hand since the majority of the swords have been found in pagan realms that were enemies of the Franks and the Frankish realm restricted the export of swords to those areas, the interpretation given to the name on the blade is uncertain.
The sword is typical for its pattern having though a fine inlay decorated guard and pommel. The blade is of a common pattern in the late Viking age. This kind of blade remained in use up to the 13th century.
It is a broad and flat blade with a very wide and shallow fuller running almost the entire length of it but fading out just before the rounded point.
The grip has the same average length as earlier Viking swords. The tang is very flat and broad and tapers sharply towards the pommel.
The type X is narrower and longer than the typical Viking sword, representing a transitional type to the knightly sword of the High Middle Ages. Tenth century Norsemen referred to this type of sword as gaddhjalt (meaning spike hilt).
As said before, the pommel and the guard are made in the traditional Viking manner.
The grip has two painted museum markings ‘1883 Finland’ and ‘FR 42’.
The sword was purchased from Monacco Auctions who in turn had purchased this sword and several others from the Magnusson family.
Since then the sword has been x-rayed and tested. We believe the blade to have been made on the Rhine, Germany and the hilt is typically Norse.
We think the remains of the scabbard are attached to the blade.
There is some correspondence from the auction rooms (please see images).
~ Dimensions ~
The blade length is 31.2 inches (71.5 cm) and its overall length is 37.8 inches (96 cm).
It weighs 1.35 kg.
~ Condition ~
This is one of the most clean examples we have ever seen, it was however discovered in the Victorian era and may have been cleaned or polished as was done before today’s standards of artefact preservation became universal.
The blade is very well preserved loosing part of its top layer.
The sword has a negligible amount of small nicks.
The tip is excellent for its age.
The etching on the blade is perfectly visible.
The pommel remains undamaged with minor pitting as is the grip.
The cross guard has some minor loss of its inlay and a small crack, as seen in the pictures.
~ Postage ~
UK postage is £30, international at cost and it can be viewed in our shop.