By Anne Stalsberg and Oddmunn Farbbregd
Studia Universitas Cibiniensis, Series Historica, Supplementum No. 1 (2011)
Abstract: The overwhelming number of 9th-10th century swords found in Norway has tentatively been explained by the generous Norwegian burial rites. This explanation holds well when opposed to the Christian countries where grave goods were disapproved . The explanation does not hold good when compared to the low number of swords found in other pagan countries, not even Sweden and Denmark, which were neighbors and culturally related to Norway.
Logically it does not seem reasonable that Norway should have had so many more weapons than Sweden and Denmark, not to mention the military superpower Frankia. All the same, it seems that a comparatively rather larger part of the adult and free men were buried with weapons in Norway than in other countries.
Many swords reflect many swords, but few swords do not reflect few swords. Few swords reflect only how many swords were buried in graves and hoards, and also how many have been found and even taken care of, not how many there once were. None of these thoughts explain why so many Norwegians were buried with weapons in the 9th-10th centuries. Therefore I sought advice from my retired colleague Oddmunn Farbregd, who for many years has studied the largest Iron Age cemetery in Norway, on Vang in the inland valley Oppdal, 120 km. south of Trondheim.