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Viking sword
unknown maker
Steel or iron blade; iron pommel; copper and silver inlay on hilt; hand-forged, chiselled and/or filed and inlaid
Centimetres: 95.9 (length)
c. 900 - 1000 AD
Pommel: Wheeler-Oakeshott typology, Type VII
Area of Origin: Germany or Scandinavia
Area of Use: London; England; United Kingdom; Western Europe; Europe
Samuel European Galleries
Gift of Dr. Sigmund Samuel

Description: The ROM is fortunate to have four excellent Viking swords, dating from the eighth to tenth century. The image shows the one real masterpiece—a weapon presented to the Museum in the 1920s by the late Dr. Sigmund Samuel, and one of the finest Viking period swords preserved in any public collection in North America. Used in battle, the sword is nevertheless beautifully designed, with the purity of form and balance of line and proportion associated in our own era with the best abstract sculptures. This type of blade first appeared in Europe around 900 AD and was equally effective for cutting and thrusting. The hilt is decorated with copper inlay; the decoration is completely subordinate to the design and balance of the hilt itself. The precision of detail and the sheer elegance of the inlay in the form of miniscule strands of metal filament rivals the finest examples of goldsmiths' work of the same period. The inscription on the blade is indecipherable, but similar examples often consist of the name of the blade smith or religious inscriptions. The sword was dredged from the Thames River at Vauxhall in London, England. It was possibly carried here aboard the ship of Viking raiders. This sword type was widely used in Europe, and similar examples have been found in Scandinavia, Britain, and in rivers along the western coasts of France.

Object History: Gift of Sigmund Samuel, Toronto. (Purchased through G. F. Lawrence at Sotheby's). Acquired by the ROM in 1928. The catalogue notes indicate it was dredged from the River Thames at Vauxhall.

Exhibit History: The sword has been on display since its acquisition in 1928.

Other Media:
VIDEO: Viking Swords (time: 0.57; 3.91MB); Host: Julian Siggers
Selected segment from the ROM/Discovery Channel series Hidden Treasures as seen on Discovery Channel.

Publications: VIDEO: Viking Swords (time: 0.57; 3.91MB); Host: Julian Siggers. Selected segment from the ROM/Discovery Channel series Hidden Treasures as seen on Discovery Channel.

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