A Norwegian man made a rare discovery when he stumbled upon an ancient Viking sword while clearing a field on his farm. This rare weapon is thought to be 1,000 years old.

Discovering the Sword

Øyvind Tveitane Lovra and the ancient Viking sword he found on his farm; Photo: Rogaland County Council

When Øyvind Tveitane Lovra was planting seeds in a field that he says hasn’t been plowed for years, he came across a piece of old iron. Originally, Lovra planned on throwing it away. After a closer inspection, Lovra realized it was more than an old piece of metal. Instead, he was looking at a piece of ancient Viking history. When he discovered the sword, he notified archeologists with the local government, Norwegian law.

Lovra is a part-time farmer, ferry engineer, and local politician in the Suldal municipality of Norway’s southwest Rogaland County. “I quickly realized that this was not an everyday find,” said Lovra in a translated statement. “It’s about our history, and it’s nice to know what has been here before.”

Rogaland government archaeologists recovered the sword and now confirm that it’s the remains of an iron sword from the Viking Age, between A.D. 793 and 1066.

Ancient Viking Sword

Inscriptions suggest the ancient Viking sword is very rare; Photo: Rogaland County Council

According to archeologists, it is not just any sword. Instead, it’s a rare type of Frankish origin known as Ulfberht swords. Inscriptions distinguish these swords inlaid on the sword’s blade. “This is very rare,” said Rogaland archaeologist Lars Søgaard Sørensen. “The sword was the greatest status symbol in the Viking Age, and it was a privilege to be allowed to wear a sword.”

The sword’s remnants are about 14.5 inches long and consist of the handle, the cross guard, and part of the blade—about half of its original length. However, archeologists say it is well preserved for Rogaland because the soil has poorer conditions compared to other parts of the country. Thankfully, the sword was trapped in dense clay, which prevented oxygen exposure that leads to rusting.

X-ray image of the ancient Viking sword; Photo: Rogaland County Council

When the archeologists x-rayed the blade, the scans revealed an inscription. “This means that it could be a so-called VLFBERHT [Ulfberht] sword from the Viking Age or the Early Middle Ages,” said professor of archaeology Sigmund Oehrl. “These are high-quality swords produced in the Frankish Empire [now Germany and France] that are marked with the weapon manufacturer’s name.”

These ancient swords are rare. For example, out of the 4,000 swords found in Europe, only about 170 have Ulfberht inscriptions. 45 of them are from Norway, which is even rarer for this country. Oehrl said, “We are not aware of similar swords being found in Rogaland before.”

Local Lore

Lovra’s farm bears the family name. He thinks the sword arrived at the Lovra farm when Vikings brought gifts, an event described in local lore.

He said, “I know that the Vikings sailed into the fjord and decorated the lady of the house at Lovra with nice things, including from Ireland.”