A Viking sword from the 9th to 10th centuries was accidentally discovered a few days ago at the bottom of the Vistula River in Włocławek. According to experts, this is an extraordinary find, as only thirteen weapons of this type have been found in Poland until now. The sword has been handed over for preservation to the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń.

During the dredging of the harbor basin on Piwna Street in Włocławek, a sword from the 9th-10th century, likely belonging to a Viking due to the inscription ULFBERHT, was unearthed from the bottom of Poland’s longest river.

Provincial curator Sambor Gawinski stated on Wednesday in Toruń that around 170 Ulfberht swords have been found in Europe, most likely 177.

Between the 9th and 11th centuries, a type of sword with a trademark became popular in northern Europe and Scandinavia, signifying both the quality of the steel it was made of and its origin.

They are called Ulfberht swords because they all bear the inscription +VLFBERHT+ or variants thereof, a Frankish name possibly initially used by a single manufacturer, later perpetuated as a mark of quality.

These swords bridge the gap between the ancient Viking sword and the later medieval knightly sword, with a wide, flat blade of average length 80 centimeters. They were made using various pieces of metals of different compositions in a process commonly referred to as Damascus steel.

Gawinski emphasized that these swords are of an incredibly high technological level, difficult to achieve even today. There was a strict carbon mixture in the steel used in the production of these swords that gave this weapon the appropriate power, flexibility, and durability.

Vikings used these swords, but they did not manufacture them. Their production likely took place somewhere in Western Europe, but it is still not precisely known where.

The sword, believed to date back to the 9th century, is well-preserved and has already undergone an X-ray examination.

The director of the Institute of Archaeology at Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Dr. Wojciech Chudziak, noted that these types of weapons were a symbol of belonging to a specific state and had a prestigious and ceremonial significance, especially in the Christian era.

Until now, thirteen swords of this type have been found in Polish lands. Each of them had an individualized shape and was unique in its own way. We hope that, after the conservation work, the inlays and decorations will be revealed, stated Professor Chudziak.

In his opinion, it is likely that this is the weapon of a Viking warrior. Professor Chudziak pointed out that in the vicinity of Włocławek, routes crossed: the Vistula route and the route to Kiev Rus, as well as land routes connecting Kujawy, Mazovia, and Greater Poland.

Conservation work at Nicolaus Copernicus University, led by Dr. Ryszard Kaźmierczak, will last at least two months. Afterward, the sword will be sent to a facility with suitable conditions for storing such objects. The decision on its placement has not been made yet.


Dzieje.pl Portal Historyczny | Ośrodek Sportu i Rekreacji Włocławek

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