Viking-Age Sword Discovered in Norway

A Viking-Age sword, probably dating from the 10th or 11th century, has been discovered in southwest Norway. Uncovered by a farmer, the item could be a VLFBERHT sword.

Archaeologists from Rogaland County Municipality announced the news last week, detailing how Øyvind Tveitane Lovra made the discovery while working on his farm in Suidal, and informed local officials of the find.


“We were going to start sowing new grass on a field that has not been plowed for many years,” says Øyvind. “Haakon, my son and me were plowing the field and picking stones before we took a break with a neighbor who came to visit. Then I spotted an iron object that I was about to throw, but just as I was about to throw it, I discovered that it was a sword. ‘Oh, what’s happening now?,’ I thought.”

Farm owner Øyvind Tveitane Lovra first thought it was scrap iron he found on the field where he is going to sow grass. But when he picked it up, he was mildly surprised that it was a sword. Photo courtesy Rogaland County Municipality

The sword is 37 centimetres long, and about half of the length is missing. It is still surprisingly well preserved as it had been submerged in dense clay. The sword was sent to the Archaeological Museum in Stavanger, where detailed x-rays were taken. These revealed inscriptions with a cross pattern and perhaps letters on the blade.


“This means that it could be a so-called VLFBERHT sword from the Viking Age or the early Middle Ages,” explains Sigmund Oehrl, professor of archeology at the University of Stavanger. “These are high-quality swords produced in the Frankish Empire (now Germany) which are marked with the weapon manufacturer’s name.

“When we first got to see the sword, we were delighted, because it is not very often that we receive swords from the Viking Age. When we saw the X-ray, we were really excited. That there would be an inscription on the blade, we really did not expect that.”

X-ray image of the sword found in Suldal. Photo courtesy Archaeological Museum, University of Stavanger

Oehrl notes that about 3000 to 4000 swords from the Viking Age have so far been found in Europe. Only about 170 of these swords have inscriptions on them, of which 45 were discovered in Norway. This sword was probably made between 900 and 1050, but more research and conservation has to take place before that can be confirmed.

“This is very rare,” adds Lars Søgaard Sørensen, an archaeologist for Rogaland County Municipality. “The sword was the greatest status symbol in the Viking Age, and it was a privilege to be allowed to carry a sword. It is not often that we as archaeologists get to experience something like this.”


Top Image: This rare sword is well-preserved, thanks to having been encased in clay. It is 37 centimeters long, and about half is missing. Photo courtesy Rogaland County Municipality