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The Ljudota Sword? An Episode of Contacts Between Britain and Scandinavia in the Late Viking Age

The Ljudota Sword? An Episode of Contacts Between Britain and Scandinavia in the Late Viking Age

By Fedir Androshchuk

Ruthenica, Vol. 2 (2003)

Introduction: At the end of the 19th century, a sword dating from the Late Viking Age was found near Hvoshcheve village in Ukraine. It was a stray find and there is no detailed evidence concerning the circumstances of its discovery. Because of its hilt decoration, which was associated with the style of Swedish runestone ornamentation, the sword was seen as proof of the Scandinavian production of Viking Age swords in Old Rus’. Later, Anatoli N. Kirpichnikov discovered traces of an inscription on the blade of the sword, which he interpreted as the name of the Slavonic smith (“Ljudota/Ljudosha smith”) who forged the sword. He also claimed that the sword is a specimen of local production, reflecting diverse cultural and technical influences: Western European (the inscription technique), Scandinavian (the decoration) and local (Cyrilic letters and form of the pommel).

Probably because of its evident uniqueness, the hilt of the sword has never been studied; its typology and decoration has not been extensively analyzed. For this reason, the purpose of this preliminary paper is a contextual analysis of the type and style of the sword. This article is a part of the author’s project, “Viking Age Swords of Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. An Analysis of the Swedish Sword Finds and Related Studies”, sponsored by Statens Historiska Museum and the Archaeological Institute of Stockholm University, funded by the Swedish Institute and the Berit Wallenberg Foundation.

The sword is kept at the National Historical Museum in Kiev (B–2714). It measures: total length, 85.7 cm; length of the blade, 67.9 cm; width of the blade, 4.9–3.8 c; and the length of the grip, 17.8 cm. The bronze grip is composed of five basic parts: a triangular pommel, a curved upper guard, a grip, a curved lower guard, and the base of the lower guard.

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