The Cawood Sword

The Cawood sword with its distinctive hilt

One of the finest Viking swords ever discovered was found in the River Ouse near the village of Cawood, a few miles South of York.

The Cawood Sword can be dated to 1100 by comparing it to a very similar sword found in Norway which was probably made by the same craftsman.  The swords are almost identical except the one in Norway has an inscription on its hilt in Runes.  Both swords can be fairly accurately dated from the clues in this Viking language.

This date is at the end of the Viking period and beginning of the Medieval and the sword itself reflects this.  The pommel, the top of the handle, is typically Viking while the guard is in a style  more traditionally associated with the medieval era.

The sword was made with a great deal of care and skill. The blade itself is made using the hardest steel available at the time, which meant the carefully designed inscription could have only been created by the most skilled of craftsmen.

The inscription runs down the blade and is made up of a number of capital letters which do not form known words. On one side they are in Roman script and on the other they are in Lombardic script. It is believed that these letters stood for words which in turn represented a phrase or saying. By looking at similar inscriptions it is thought that the phrase is religious, with the sword's owner believing the words gave him extra strength in battle.


Related themes

Here is a list of themes to explore.

More themes