Who doesn’t love a good archaeology story? This story follows two treasure-hunting friends in Norway who came across some incredible Viking artifacts. Once the word got out, scientists got ahold of the incredible artifacts and shared their findings, confirming that the treasure was an extremely rare find.
The Vikings Traveled Far And Wide, And Left Behind Many Artifacts
The Vikings were a group of people in the 8th to 11th centuries who settled the lands of Scandinavia. They’re known for their Longboats, Pantheon of Gods, raiding, exploring, and seafaring skills.
They traveled far and wide, notably to Arabia and Constantinople, and were the first Europeans to make a settlement in North America.
In 2021, a boy looking for treasure discovered a small piece of metal buried in his farmland in Stavanger, Norway, and people were puzzled as to what it was.
Then, a year later, in June 2022, the treasure hunter’s friend found another piece of metal while he was out with his metal detector.
Two Friends, Two Artifacts, One Sword
In 2021, when the scientists received the first piece of metal, they were puzzled as to what it was.
Once the second piece was discovered and scientists could examine it, the puzzle started to fit together. Literally! It turns out that both boys found two pieces of the same Viking sword one year apart!
1,200 Years Later
1,200 years after Vikings ruled the seas and Northern Europe, two treasure-hunting friends were excited to find the two unique artifacts – a year apart.
When scientists ran tests on the artifacts, they concluded that they were not unique – in fact, the two pieces of metal were part of the same sword!
Ann Zanette Glorstad – Archaeologist Extrodinaire
An archaeologist at the University of Oslo, Norway, Ann Zanette Glorstad, said:
“The sword is probably what we call a D-sword… one of the richest ornamented, and heaviest sword types from the Viking Age. It is still difficult to see all the details but the decor includes elements of the typical animal style from the Late Iron Age…”
A Viking D-Sword
The hilt has carvings and decorations of gold and silver. Due to weathering and damage, it is difficult to discern what animal the cross-guard was supposed to be shaped after.
All of this shows the extensive labor and care a Viking sword-smith would take in creating a sword 1,200 years ago.
Where’s The Sword From?
The scientists could discern that the niello technique was used to create the swords’ animals and geometric silver figures – what’s the niello technique? Good question! The niello technique is where black metal mixtures were added to the silver to form cool designs.
All this information tells us we can assume that the sword is from the Frankish Empire or England.
Viking Swords and Status
Because it was a sword that was discovered, it tells us that the owner was quite wealthy! Because swords were so expensive to make during the Viking Age, only Vikings with high economic standing could afford swords.
Though, lower-class Vikings could also get a sword after a successful raid. A sword was physical proof that a warrior was strong.
The Skill of A Viking Craftsman
A sword made by a Viking Craftsman was one to be revered. Because of their care and skill, the swords they made were awe-inspiring, with beautiful decor that intricately ornamented the sword and was wanted by many.
It would be typical for these Viking swords to be given fantastical names.
Who Did the Sword Belong To?
As of right now, it is difficult to say who owned the sword. All we know is that the pieces of the sword were found in Stavanger, Norway, and it most likely was owned by an upper-class Viking.
Archaeologists are inclined to believe that the sword belonged to the “Gausel Queen,” whose grave is not too far from the site of the pieces.
Who Was The Gausel Queen?
Not much is known about the “Gausel Queen,” only that her tomb was found with many items, like jewelry, stones, ceremonial knives, drinking horns, and other items. And some of these items came from as far away as Ireland!
Whether or not this sword also belongs to the “Gausel Queen” will be determined as investigations take place and time goes on.
Other Viking Weapons
Since a sword was costly and denoted that a Viking was of wealth and higher status, it was uncommon for a sword to be used by Vikings of a lower class.
And so, the typical Viking generally fought with axes, bows and arrows, lances, and spears because they were more affordable for the broader population.
Because Vikings were known for their fighting and raiding, they, of course, needed armor and shields to protect themselves in battle! And of course, the typical image of a Viking is an individual wearing a horned helmet with chain mail and holding a shield.
Unless, of course, we are discussing a Berserker.
Berserker was a combat form that Vikings practiced. The fighter would throw off their armor and clothes and fight naked. When a berserker entered a battle, it would strike fear in enemies and sometimes allies.
When they entered their fit of bloodthirsty rage, berserkers were known to take bites of their shields. You would not want to stand against one berserker, let alone a group of them!
Other Archaeological Viking Finds
Given how widespread the Vikings settled and traveled, it is no surprise that their weapons, armor, ruins, and treasures have been found across Europe.
And despite typically being depicted with horned helmets and chain mail armor, these have been rare to find, and most Viking finds have been their weapons.
Oppland County, Norway
In 2017, Reindeer hunters were traveling through Oppland County, Norway, when they came across a surprisingly well-preserved Viking sword wedged between two stones.
Scientists and researchers of Secrets of The Ice, a Norwegian archaeology organization, searched the area the sword was located and found nothing else. And given how well preserved the sword was and the lack of weathering, the scientists determined that the sword was simply left on the desolate lands thousands of years ago.
One of the best preserved Viking villages is in Jelling, Denmark, on the Jutland peninsula. It is the most important archaeological site, with recent findings and data.
Jelling is not only home to the Viking village but also a large stone ship, two large burial mounds, and the Jelling stones. All of which were made UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1994.
The British Isles has a long history with Vikings. Vikings settled across the Islands, and their culture and language thrived in Ireland and Scotland.
Jarlshof, located in Shetland, Scotland, contains remains from 2500 BC to the 17th century AD. Jarlshof was discovered in the late 19th century after storms revealed the ancient buildings when parts of the shore washed away.
Vikings In the East
While Viking settlements were discovered as far west as Canada, there is also proof that Vikings made it as far East as Russia. Here, they traded with traders from the Islamic world for their spices and silver coins.
Tales tell that after Vikings established dominance over Slavic tribes, three brothers claimed the land in what would be considered Kyiv Rus.
L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, Canada
In the 1960s, North American history changed as an 11th Century Viking settlement was discovered in Newfoundland, Canada. The style of the buildings and layout of the settlement was similar to Viking settlements in Greenland and Iceland.
This proved that North America’s first European settlers were the Vikings, not Christopher Columbus.