Poland: a rare 10th-century sword found in the Vistula

An old sword, eaten away by rust, in the middle of a pile of mud from the bottom of the Vistula… Sławomir Mularski, the owner of the company responsible for the dredging work in the river port of the town of Włocławek, in the center of Poland, certainly did not expect such a discovery. On January 12th, in the middle of the construction site, he noticed this amazing object rescued from the waters. This was brought to the attention of the regional office for monument protection, which carried out the initial analysis.

The sword will undergo further analysis.Wojewódzki Urząd Ochrony Zabytków w Toruniu (Toruń Provincial Monument Office)

The historical nature of the object is documented: it would be a sword from the 10th century, according to the Toruń Regional Monuments Office in a Facebook post. At the time, independent Poland was ruled by the Piast dynasty, which lasted until 1370. An X-ray of the sword revealed a mysterious inscription on its blade: U(V)LFBERTH. For a time, this brand was attributed to the Vikings. By mistake, according to Martin Aurel, professor of medieval history and author of Excalibur, Durendal, Merry: The Force of the Sword. Rather, these letters are a kind of label confirming that the sword “comes from a very prestigious family workshop in the Rhineland,” he explains.
There are about 150 swords from the same location in European museums. Features of weapons made in this renowned workshop: “flexibility, impact resistance. They are swords that don’t dull much. Blacksmiths spent their time hammering the blade. It’s work of a very high standard.” Very popular in Scandinavia, “Vikings bought them or looted them,” adds Martin Aurell. Viking as well as Germanic raids may also have taken place in Poland in the 10th century.

New analyses

At this time, few swords bear inscriptions. “When they exist, they are more like psalms, religious invocations,” the expert on the Middle Ages further clarifies. As for the presence of the sword in the water, this may have been due to a religious tradition that wanted the sword to be thrown there to be worshipped. It could also be a fugitive who got rid of his weapon.

Whatever the reason for being thrown to the bottom of the river, according to Polish media, the rare sword has been handed over to scientific teams in Toruń, a city neighboring Włocławek. It will undergo new analyzes and be stored at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in the city.

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