The sword from the burial mound is now reassembled

04. February 2016 | The Viking Museum Ladby

Fuldgrebssværd fra ældre bronzealder

In 2014, pieces of a longsword from the Bronze Age were found in a burial mound on Hindsholm. The sword has now been conserved and reassembled.
The bronze sword, which is now 36 cm. long and 4 cm. wide, was found in Lars Jens’ burial mound on Hindsholm. An impressive Bronze Age mound, lying near the coast on an 11 m. high cliff, is unfortunately about to be eaten up by the sea. An attentive passer-by discovered that pieces of bronze lay beneath the mound. This sparked a spectacular rescue mission, with the museum’s archaeologist rappelling down from the top of the mound to investigate and document the final remains of the burial that the mound was originally raised over.

Created in Denmark between 1500 and 1300 BC
The bits of the sword have now been put together. The tip is missing, but the rest tells the story of a valuable and clearly appreciated weapon worn by a chieftain from Hindsholm who had wide-reaching contacts. It is called a longsword because both the grip and the sword were moulded in costly bronze imported to Denmark from Central Europe, perhaps in trade for amber and skins. The sword was fashioned here in Denmark, and since bronze swords are subject to the quirks of fashion, we are able to date it by the shape of the sword bead and by decorations on the sword to relatively precisely between 1500 - 1300 BC. The sword grip is decorated with a zigzag pattern, inlaid with amber pieces, which in all likelihood come from the Baltic area.

The owner was one of society’s elite
In addition to the sword, a bronze shaving knife was also found in the burial mound. This combination of sword and shaving knife is well known from other rich burial finds, and several things point to the uppermost echelon of society. Maybe the chieftain who owned these fine things voyaged up the European rivers and across the Baltic Sea to make the contacts and obtain the materials needed to make the sword. When he died, he was buried in an oak coffin with his most important possessions and in an enormous burial mound that was placed so it could be seen from afar, both from sea and from land. This assured that posterity would not soon forget him.

The longsword was not only a clear sign of the owner’s high status in society, but also a splendid weapon. Finds of more well-preserved swords with signs of wear from battle, and experiments with copies of the swords, show that they were especially used for stabbing.
When the sword was found in 2014, it was in such bad condition that it had to be sent to a skilled conservator before it could be exhibited.

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