1000-year old Viking warrior sword discovered in Iceland by goose hunters

1000-year-viking-sword-goose-hunters_1Credit: The Cultural Heritage Agency of Iceland

Goose hunters stumbling across a 1000-year old legendary Viking sword – while the premise sounds a bit like the start of an adventure movie, the scenario did take place at Skaftárhreppur, in the southern part of Iceland. This double-edged blade in question seems to be pretty well preserved, except for the tip that was broken off. Interestingly enough, the Viking sword does showcase a slightly curved profile, while the metal is corroded due to a millennium of rigorous exposure to outdoor elements.

Befitting good citizens, the goose hunters handed over their incredible discovery to the Cultural Heritage Agency of Iceland. Suffice it to say, the experts were pleasantly surprised by the genuine find, with their initial speculations pointing towards an unknown Viking grave in the proximate region. As the agency’s director general Kristín Huld Sigurðardóttir, said (to RT) –

We date the sword at this stage to circa 950 AD or even prior to that. We are very excited here as this is only the 23rd sword from Viking times found in Iceland. There might be some remains of scabbard on the blade but we will know more about this when the conservators have done a thorough search. The goose hunters that found the sword discovered another object which we have not analyzed yet. Our archaeologists have now gone to evaluate whether this [area] is a pagan grave.

Credit: Árni Björn Valdimarsson

Credit: Árni Björn Valdimarsson

Quite intriguingly, with the Viking sword’s date being hypothesized at a time-period before 950 AD, one of the discoverers Arni Bjorn Valdimarsson, has put forth his conjecture that the blade might have belonged to Ingólfur Arnarson, the man who is commonly recognized as the first permanent Nordic settler of Iceland, circa 870 AD. Arnarson with his wife Hallveig Frodesdatter possibly even founded the city of Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. As this excerpt from the Saga Museum mentions –

When Ingólfur Arnarson saw Iceland rise up out of the sea he decided to let the gods decide where might be the best place along the coast for him to settle. He then threw the carved pillars of his high seat overboard and swore that he would build his farm wherever they came ashore. These pillars, or öndvegissúlur as they are known in Icelandic, were carved with the family name and special emblem along with representations of the gods, but prominently featured the god to which they believed they owed the greatest allegiance. After having thrown them into the water, Ingólfur came ashore at what was subsequently known as Ingólfshöfði, where he raised a house and spent his first winter. He sent out two of his slaves, Vífill and Karli, to look for the carved pillars. They searched along the coastline for three years before finally locating them in a large bay in the southwest of the country.

When Vífill and Karli found the pillars they returned immediately to let Ingólfur know. They were not impressed with the place and said that “there had been little point in their having traveled far and wide across fertile land if they were going to end up settling in this out-of-the-way place.” Ingólfur paid little attention to their complaints and moved to the place where the pillars came ashore. He called the place Reykjavík (literally ‘steam bay’) because of the large amount of steam that rose from the nearby hot-springs.


Statue of Ingólfr Arnarson by Einarr Jonsson.

Via: RT

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