28 December 2008

Caveat Emptor Gladii

Yesterday's Guardian reports recent research which shows that not all Viking swords were reliable. While they were sharp enough, some were prone to shattering when used, and it was apparently impossible to tell this just by looking at the sword. The research appears to relate only to the Ulfberht swords and it is not clear how many they have tested, though there is the intriguing suggestion that some of the 'fakes' (as they call them, i.e. the inferior swords) were designed for graves and possibly not for use at all. I look forward to some proper discussion of this research somewhere... Interestingly, a 'proper' Ulfberht sword was auctioned at Christie's in May for over £9,000, though another one without Ulfberht's name (but perhaps in better condition) sold for over £14,000.

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