10th century
European, probably Scandinavia
Steel, copper, silver, niello
L. 37 3/4 in. (95.9 cm); L. of blade 31 7/8 in. (81 cm); W. 4 5/16 in. (11 cm); Wt. 2 lb. 4 oz. (1021 g)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1955
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 370
The richly decorated hilt and pattern-welded blade indicate that this sword was carried by a warrior of high rank, perhaps a Viking chieftain or a Frankish nobleman. The braided copper wires on the pommel may represent an earlier Scandinavian custom of tying a protective talisman to a sword hilt. The pattern-welded blade was forged of intertwined rods of steel and iron, a technique that produced a tough yet resilient blade with a distinctive swirling pattern on its surface. Such blades were treasured for both their practical and decorative qualities.
#4401. Sword
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Orleans, France.Mr. Prudent Turcq, Fort Pierce, Florida (until 1954; sold to MMA).
Grancsay, Stephen V. "A Viking Chieftain's Sword." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (March 1959), pp. 173–81, ill.

Nickel, Helmut. Ullstein-Waffenbuch: Eine Kulturhistorische Waffenkunde Mit Markenverzeichnis. Berlin: Ullstein, 1974. p. 167, ill.

Past Worlds: The Times Atlas of Archaeology. London: Times Books, 1988. (for refs. to Haithabu/Hedeby).

Geibig, Alfred. "Zur Formenvielfalt der Schwerter und Schwertfragmente von Haithabu." Offa. Berichte und Mitteilungen zur Urgeschichte, Frühgeschichte und Mittelalterarchäologie (1989), pp. 223–60, ill.

Nickel, Helmut. "Arms and Armor from the Permanent Collection." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (Summer, 1991), pp. 11, 64, ill.

Past Worlds: The Times Atlas of Archaeology. New York: Crescent Books, 1995. (for refs. to Haithabu/Hedeby).

Gogan, Art. Fighting Iron: A Metals Handbook for Arms Collectors. Lincoln R.I.: Andrew Mowbray, 1999. p. 162, ill.