This large, double-edged sword was forged using the so-called damast technique, involving the forge-welding of carbon-rich iron and iron low in carbon content, a process necessary in order to produce a sword both hard and flexible. Carbon-rich iron is hard and brittle and carbon-poor iron is soft and pliable. With this technique it was also possible to apply decorative patterns onto the weapons. In the case of this sword, the technique was also used to put the name of its maker on the blade: ‘VLFBERHT’. Tens of swords featuring this name are known, particularly in Scandinavia and the Baltic countries.
The sword consists of the pommel, the grip, the crossguard and the blade. The hilt is inlaid with silver and brass. Both on the front and the back, the blade features a shallow groove (‘blood groove’). The groove on the back is decorated with a damascened double braid pattern, with a crossbar at the top and bottom.
Ulfberht must have been an important armourer. Not all swords featuring his name are the same, and it seems certain a number of them are imitations. Apparently, the name featured as a hall-mark of quality. This sword, found near the town of Lith, features a small swastika in the centre of the blade’s damast decoration, inlaid in copper. Presumably this was a later addition, intended to imbue the weapon with a Christian air.


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