Sep 24, 2017 I Brett Tingley

Reindeer Hunters Find Mysterious 1,000-Year-Old Viking Sword

This story sounds like something straight out of an RPG video game. A pair of Norwegian reindeer hunters (yes, they exist) came across a startling find when crossing a rocky plateau in Norway’s remote Oppland county. As the pair scrambled across a field of boulders, they noticed something smooth and man-made looking sticking out from between two stones. After freeing the object, hunters Geir Inge Follestad and Einar Åmbakk discovered it was actually a sword and appeared to be quite old. The pair then took the sword to local archaeological authorities who were utterly baffled to find such a rare artifact in such an unassuming location.

Follestad and Åmbakk in the location where the sword was found.

It’s a mystery as to how the sword ended up alone in this barren mountainous region. A main theory is that its owner became lost in a blizzard and died on the mountaintop, although no other artifacts or human remains have been found in the same area. Archaeologists have scoured the plateau with metal detectors for traces of other treasures, but none have been found. The sword itself turns out to be over 1,000 years old, but is in remarkably good condition aside from its wooden or leather grip which decomposed throughout the ages.

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The sword was well-preserved by the frigid Norwegian climate.

As we continue to hone and refine our archaeological research and excavation techniques (like reindeer hunting), we’re beginning to understand more about many areas of history that were once glossed over for various reasons. Due to the profound influence of Anglo-Saxon society on many contemporary western cultures, Vikings have long been portrayed as mindless brutes in popular culture and our collective cultural consciousness. They did repeatedly sack medieval England, after all.

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How did a sword end up alone on a mountaintop?

Recent discoveries, however, indicate that Viking culture was much more sophisticated and multifaceted than was previously believed. Several finds indicate that Viking women played a more prominent role in Viking societies than historians thought, as well as showing that Viking culture had a long tradition of manufacturing and even winemaking instead of solely just the raping and pillaging stuff - although I’m not sure how the discovery of this sword will help dispel that reputation.


Brett Tingley

Brett Tingley is a writer and musician living in the ancient Appalachian mountains.

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