Rare Viking Sword Discovered on Orkney Islands

X-rays of the Mayback sword show elaborate patterns and ornate decorations on the pommel. Historic Environment Scotland

Rare Viking Sword Discovered in Grave on Scottish Island

by David Kindy/Smithsonianmag.com

Archaeologists have revealed new X-ray scans of a Viking sword found on Scotland’s Orkney Islands in 2015, reports David Walker for the Scottish Daily Express. The ninth-century weapon was one of several Viking artifacts discovered in a hidden cemetery on the northeast coast of Papa Westray.

“Possibly one of the most exciting and most complex artifacts [found at the site], this rare survival will have many stories to tell,” writes Andrew Morrison of AOC Archaeology, which is leading the project, in a blog post for Historic Environment Scotland (HES).

Dubbed the Mayback sword after the site where it was found, the artifact is a Pedersen Type D sword—one of the heaviest used by the Vikings, report Ellie Forbes and Jennifer Russell for the Daily Record.

“Type D swords … would need the balance of a substantial hilt to stabilize them,” notes Morrison.

According to the blog post, just 30 or so comparable swords survive today. Half were found in Norway; others were recovered in Ireland, Slovakia, Poland and Russia. But the Mayback is one of just two Type D swords known to scholars. Read More:


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