Well-Preserved 3,000-Yr-Old Pre-Viking Sword Unearthed in Denmark Is Still Sharp

June 7, 2019 Updated: June 12, 2019

On the large island of Zealand, located in eastern Denmark, two amateur archaeologists fortuitously  decided to bring their metal detector along with them on a stroll through a field one evening.

While the archaeologists were on their walk, the metal detector’s alarm sounded, and the pair from the small town of Svebølle, Ernst Christiansen and Lis Therkelsen, made a startling discovery: they dug into the earth, about a foot underground, and uncovered what appeared to be one end of a sword.

Believing that it might be a discovery of considerable significance, they decided to get a hold of someone with more expertise before extracting the find. So, they reburied it, and the next morning they contacted the Museum Vestsjælland to report the discovery.

The museum’s inspector, Arne Hedegaard Andersen, went out with them the next day, and together, they unearthed “an incredibly well-preserved sword,” dating back approximately 3,000 years—to a time that predates the Vikings by about 1,000 years.

The weapon is 82 centimeters in length, and although the leather hilt had long since rotted away, still, it was in remarkably good condition, considering its age.

“The sword is so well-preserved that you can clearly see the fine details. And it is even sharp,” stated the museum in a press release. It is also believed that the artifact had remained untouched since the Nordic Bronze Age, from 1,100 to 900 BC.

Although it is hardly unheard of for people in Scandinavia and northern Europe to uncover ancient relics such as jewelry or coins under the soil, swords such as this one are incredibly rare. This sword in particular seems to have been more of a status symbol for its owner rather than a weapon. The intricate bronzework likely required great skill to fashion. Used more commonly in those days were clubs and axes as a means for actual fighting.

The sword is one of many that has been unearthed in the last few years, and the Danish National Museum currently has a backlog of ancient finds still waiting to be properly studied and cataloged. In the meantime, though, this sword will be displayed in Kalundborg Museum, where sightseers may enjoy its splendor, while it waits its turn.