Viking Sword

Exposition of the military history of Polotsk of the 13th – 16th centuries at the Local History Museum presents one of the most interesting and unique items from the museum collection - a Carolingian sword, or a Viking sword that dates back to the 10th century. Similar swords were made from the 8th century on the territory of the Rhineland during the period of the unification of Western Europe states under the leadership of Charles the Great and his descendants, which explains the name of the sword type. Spears and battle axes were the main combat weapons up to the wide distribution of firearms in the 16th – 17th centuries. Sword was the weapon of a professional warrior, it was expensive and rare. The iron sword, preserved entirely, was found in 1956 in Polotsk. It was found on the right bank of Zapadnaya Dvina at a depth of 3.5 m during the construction of a garment factory. Presumably, the sword comes from a ruined kurgan burial. The total length of the sword is 97 cm, the weight in the current state is 1260 g. It belongs to the V-type (according to the international classification of Jan Peterson). It consists of a blade and a hold that ends at the top and is separated from the blade by a crosspiece.

The inscription “ULFBERHT” is preserved on the blade of Polotsk sword, supplemented with the image of a cross between the letters H and T, while the letters U and L are fused and have a common side. Perhaps, originally the inscription designated the name of the Frankish master. Later the name as a sign of distinction and quality belonged to the whole network of forges in the territory of the Frankish empire. Some researchers believe that Scandinavian and other non-Franck craftsmen imitated such a quality mark, while allowing for the distortion of letters or disrupting their sequence.

More than 100 swords with the inscription were found in Europe. On the territory of the former Soviet Union countries, 14 similar swords were found, and only 7 with the stamp “ULFBERHT” or the remains of inscriptions made in Latin letters. Swords from "ULFBERHT" were made of the best metal. The blade of a weapon of this type was rounded, not at all intended for a thrusting attack. His main power lay in chopping blows. By the 10th century trade routes had spread Carolingian swords very widely - in the Franco-Celtic, Scandinavian and Slavic regions. In European countries, swords were actively used until the 17th century, when they were finally replaced with epees, sabers and broadswords. In the East, including Russia, the saber had finally crowded out the sword by the end of the 14th century.