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Home > Auctions > 25th February 2020 > Viking Single-Edged Petersen Type C Sword

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LOT 0463

GBP (£) 8,000 - 10,000
EUR (€) 9,390 - 11,740
USD ($) 10,440 - 13,050

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£8,000 (EUR 9,391; USD 10,438) (+bp*)

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Viking Single-Edged Petersen Type C Sword

9th-early 10th century AD

A rare single-edged Viking sword of C type following the classification of Petersen (1919, pp.66ff), with a finely tapered blade, being in almost pristine condition for most of its length and showing wonderful pattern-welding according to the style of ninth or tenth century AD; the exquisite pattern-welding runs into a good solid cutting edge, although, like in the sword of Telemark, the cutting edge itself does not appear to be pattern-welded, but consists of bundles of thin longitudinal rods; a small copper alloy dragon is inlaid on the upper part of the blade, whose edges are almost parallel all the way to the point; towards the end of the blade are traces of corrosion, revealing the structure of the blade in a very remarkable way; the cross is boat like in shape, like the sword from Telemark, unusually delicate for a single-edged weapon, it is pierced by a broad, acute tapering tang; the pommel is forged in one piece, well-formed and decorated by two horizontal lines in copper-alloy; the hilt is decorated with a continuous X-pattern, all around; excellent condition of the blade due to the glødeskall. 1.1 kg, 1.01m (39 3/4"). Fine condition. Excessively rare.

From an important private family collection of arms and armour; acquired on the European art market in the 1980s, and thence by descent; believed originally from the Dnieper River; accompanied by an academic report by military specialist Dr Raffaele D'Amato.

See Petersen, J., De Norske Vikingsverd, Oslo, 1919; Bøe, J., Norse Antiquities in Ireland in Bjorn A., Viking Antiquities in Great Britain and Ireland, part III, Oslo, 1940; Oakeshott. E, The Archaeology of Weapons, Arms and Armour from Prehistory to the Age of Chivalry, Woodbridge, 1960 (1999); The national museum of Ireland, Dublin 1000, Dublin, 1988; Peirce, I., Swords of the Viking Age, Suffolk, 2002.

A wonderful specimen, very similar to our sword, was excavated, together with other weapons and tools, at North Arhus Farm, near Telemark, in Norway. These single-edged weapons were very common in the ninth and early tenth century alongside other types. Schetelig raised the possibility that these swords were still present at the beginning of the Viking Age.

This specimen is in excellent condition and very rare, especially in such a good state of preservation. Most probably our specimen is from a grave or a settlement. The analysis of the single-edged swords is particularly important for the study of the weapons of the early Viking Age. The find-combinations that are created by them also have significance for investigating the oldest weapons of the Viking Age. With regards to the hilt, it is evident that the single-edged swords have assumed this characteristic from the double-edged swords with guards, mainly of type B and C in Petersen’s classification. The main body of the blade was cunningly fullered, to reduce the blade weight and improve wield-ability, both in this sword as well as in the Telemark one. Peirce suggests that this was almost a standard feature of the single edged weapons. The pattern-welding was particularly exquisite in such weapons; the Vikings had specific terminology for it. According to Oakeshott (1960 (1999), p.151). 'The decoration is called Mal or Moel, but it was really used far more often in describing the blade of a sword—one of the things which baffled scholars a good deal before the identification of pattern-welding. There is frequent mention of the wave-sword (Vaegir in Old Norse and Waegsweord in Old English), but even more obscure seemed the descriptive terms for certain blade-patterns: 'Blood-eddy', for instance (Bloida), or Ann, which is an old Norse word for swathes of mown corn (the same word as the Middle High German Jan)....' Of a more robust character are two other terms occurring in a poem as features or parts of a sword: Blodvarp and Idvarp. These could (and probably do) refer to a style of pattern-welding of long parallel stripes running lengthwise down the blade. Varp means a warp in weaving, and the long lines down the blade are likened to the warp of a web which is completed when the blade is imbrued with blood or vitals (Blod is blood, and Idr means intestines).
The pattern welding is of blodida configuration, similar, according to Peirce (commenting the sword of Telemark) to 'the swirling eddies at the bend of a small stream'.