Viking swords have the reputation of being heavy, hacking weapons with little in the way of grace or beauty. This popular misconception was perpetrated over the last 80 years by Wagner operas and Hollywood films full of blond-bearded Thor lookalikes wearing horned helmets. Over the last two decades however, collectors and sword enthusiasts who study Viking culture widely recognize these beliefs as false. Many remaining Viking swords are not only functional, but beautifully decorated, and often lighter and more lively than expected. This may be because some of those weapons were not meant for musclebound comic book heroes, but may in fact have been meant for women – the Shield-maidens.
The existence of Shield-maidens, or Skjaldmær in the Norse language, is hotly debated among historians. Some argue that there is little historical evidence that women were trained and active members of Norse fighting units. Others, like archaeologist Dr. Neil Price (author of the widely acclaimed book The Viking Way), argue that the archaeological evidence speaks for itself – numerous texts speak of Shield-maidens engaging in combat and being fearsome warriors, and some artistic remnants from the Viking age depict women warriors with weapons and armor. While it is possible that these depictions were meant to represent the Valkyrie – supernatural servants of Odin who escorted fallen warriors to the afterlife – there have now also been several archaeological finds involving Norse women buried as warriors. In some of these cases, the Viking women were buried with swords as beautiful and deadly as the women who carried them.
One such example is an elegant 11 th C. Viking sword, found buried next to the body of a Viking woman in Finland. Known as the Suontaka sword (named for the village near which it was found), it is a startling example of 11th century Viking sword design. Interestingly however, little is known about the sword, its maker, and the Viking woman it was made for. While the remarkable grace and detail suggest a person of high rank or status, no clues attest as to who exactly this Shield-maiden was.
Exquisitely crafted, the 11th C. Suontaka Viking sword is the finest of its kind. The elegantly carved knot-work on the guard and pommel reflect the height of Viking art. The pommel type according to the Petersen Typology is AE, known for being intricately decorated. Mirroring the dragon-prowed ships of the raiding Norsemen, the guard and pommel show the scrolling knots of dragons in interlocking loops. From the beginning we at Darksword Armory knew that reproducing this sword was going to require all the skills at our disposal.
While working on the guard and pommel, considerable attention was given to the detailed knot work associated with the sword. Darksword Armory’s initial step in making this piece was to study original photographs of the medieval sword. We then magnified the photographs allowing our staff to recreate this beautiful piece. The blade has a deep, crisp fuller typical among Viking swords of the period, impeccably complimenting the intricate hilt design. The broad, stiff blade is suitable for the sort of combat that Viking warriors and Shield-maidens would engage in – sweeping one-handed cuts and slashes, paired with the classic circular Viking shield.
The Suontaka sword may have belonged to a Shield-maiden. Female warriors may or may not have been commonplace in Norse society. Regardless, the Darksword Armory 11th-Century Viking Sword would be suitable for warriors of any gender. Balancing form and function, danger and beauty, this battle-ready Viking Sword would be suitable for anyone who wants to carry on the spirit of the Viking warriors – and the Shield-maidens who fought alongside them.
5160 High Carbon Steel Differential
Hardening : 60 Rockwell at the Edge
50 At the Core
Total Length: 36″
Blade length: 30″
Blade width at base: 2″
blade thickness: 1.48 mm
Weight: 2 lbs 11 oz