The EirikR Sword
– A Sharp Touch of History
“One of the very best swords anyone in the Northern Lands has carried…”
– The Saga of King Hrólfr Kraki, chapter 30.
These words describe the famous sword of Hrólfr Kraki, the King of Lejre, in a passage where he draws it to cut off the ass cheeks (yes, the ass cheeks!) of the Swedish King Eadgils as the latter bent over to pick up his precious ring, Svíagris, from the ground. However, the words might as well apply to the Osted Sword that was found over 130 years ago and less than 30 kilometres away from the Iron Fortress Headquarters. If anything the tale of the EirikR Sword is a testament to the legends and history hidden in the soil beneath our very feet!
In 1887, long after the end of the Viking Age, an old rusted blade was sold to the Danish National Museum for the price of merely 30 DKK. The seller was a Mr Wildman, who had found the weapon on the ground near the town of Osted in Lejre, Denmark. Today the blade is exhibited at Lejre Museum and is one of the central pieces of their exhibition. Well deserved! Regarding Viking Age weaponry, the Osted Sword is one of the finest examples of skill and craftsmanship so far known.
A Pattern Welded Blade
Upon a closer inspection of the Osted Sword, the central part of the blade glistens in the light as if demanding attention and awe. It is an arrow pattern that points towards the tip of the sword, constituting two bands of pattern welding – a technique where the smith folds iron and steel with differentiating carbon content to get the desired hardness and properties. The process also creates a distinct cosmetic effect in a flame-like pattern that most wealthy Vikings seem to have coveted. Pattern welding is an arduous technique and demands – today, as in the Viking Age – an exceptionally skilled artisan to master. A sword fit for a master collection!
A Precious Pommel
In addition to the master-crafted blade, the pommel and upper guard are likewise artisan works of art. The decoration consists of herringbone patterns made from twisted silver wire, meticulously hammered onto the surface with extreme care for detail and expertise only few can claim. When turned towards a light source, the decoration shines and glimmers, displaying quality and prestige worthy of a ruler.