The Cawood Sword

The Cawood Sword

It’s amazing what you can find on the river bed. We were on holiday one year and someone collected fifteen mobile ‘phones and three wallets. Shopping trolleys are the usual find at a particular spot on my local river. But I always hope that one day I might discover a sword just like someone did in the late 1800s.

The Viking sword was found on the bed of the River Ouse by Cawood Castle in Yorkshire. It still remains the best example of a Viking sword that we have although a near identical one was found in Norway, too. It was very well preserved and as such gives a rare glimpse into Viking style and metalwork.

The elegance of this sword is remarkable. In its heyday it must have been a beautiful and striking object, obviously belonging to someone of influence and wealth.The quality of the steel matches its beauty. The exceptionally high carbon content shows that the sword was made of the hardest steel available at the time.This could also explain why the sword was so very well preserved.

There is an inscription that runs down the blade of the sword. On one side, it’s in capital Roman letters that do not form known words. On the other side, it’s in Lombardic script, undecipherable as well.  The theory is that this may be a spell to give invincibility.

Until the 1950s the Cawood sword was displayed at the Tower of London, but then it was sold to a private collector. Fortunately, after almost fifty years in private possession, the Yorkshire Museum in York took ownership, where it can be seen today. Of course, there is no need to rush to see it as it’s obviously magic and designed to last forever.

Just like shopping trolleys.

© 2016 A.J. Sefton


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