Reindeer hunter stumbles upon 1,100-year-old Viking sword
The incredibly well-preserved Viking sword was found by a reindeer hunter on a remote mountain in Southern Norway.
The Glacier Archaeology Program at Oppland County Council was recently notified about the sword, which was found in late August in the high mountains of the Lesja area. “It is a common type of Viking sword – what makes it special is the context and the preservation: It was found at 5381 feet above sea level,” explained Lars Pilø, an archaeologist at Oppland County Council, in an email to Fox News. “To my knowledge, a Viking sword has never been found at such a high altitude before.”
Researchers accompanied hunter Einar Ambakk, who found the sword, back to the site with a metal detector, but were unable to find any other artifacts nearby.
Pilø told Fox News that the sword had been lying on the mountain surface for around 1,100 years. “That a sword should survive more than a thousand years in the open is hard for some people to believe,” he explained, but added that, for professional glacier and high altitude archaeologists, it is less surprising. “Previously we have found iron arrowheads that are even older, with the same degree of preservation,” he added.
The viking sword was likely sitting in the open for 1,100 years.Secrets of the Ice/Oppland Count
Pilø attributed the sword’s incredible preservation to the excellent quality of Viking iron, as well as the cold, dry conditions on the mountain. Additionally, the sword was found lying in scree, or small, loose stones, as opposed to soil, which helped preserve it, he said. “Just to be clear: the sword is not from the ice, though of course it would have been covered with snow and ice for much of the year,” he said.
In a post on the Glacier Archaeology Program’s website, Secrets of the Ice, Pilø speculates that, given the inhospitable terrain, it is possible that the sword’s owner became lost during a blizzard. “It seems likely that the sword belonged to a Viking who died on the mountain, perhaps from exposure,” he said. “However, if that is indeed the case, was he traveling in the high mountains with only his sword? It is a bit of a mystery…”
In his email to Fox News, Pilø explained that retreating glaciers and ice patches have revealed a trove of artifacts in Oppland County. “We have more than half of such finds worldwide, the oldest dating back 6,000 years,” he said. “The retreat of mountain glaciers and ice patches here in Oppland is part of a worldwide phenomenon linked to climate change.”
The sword is just the latest fascinating archaeological find in Norway. Last year, for example, archaeologists in Trondheim unearthed the church where Viking King Olaf Haraldsson was first enshrined as a saint.