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Rare Viking Sword Unearthed! 7 May 2008

Two highly decorated parts of the Viking sword Beautifully cast fragments from a Viking sword have been discovered by two members of the Manx Detectorists Society. Dan Crowe and Rob Farrer discovered the artefacts whilst metal detecting in the north west of the Island. Both Dan and Rob are experienced metal detector users and have found many interesting artefacts over the years, so they knew the importance of what they had found. But this discovery really could be a once-in-a-lifetime find.

Manx National Heritage Curator for Archaeology, Allison Fox explained:

“This is only the 13th recorded Viking sword from the Island – but Dan and Rob knew what they were looking at and what to do next, in notifying MNH. Even though they had done exactly the right thing by not cleaning the surface dirt from the finds, when they brought them into the Manx Museum it was clear straight away that we had something very special indeed. Once the artefacts had been initially cleaned by our Conservator, the wonderful designs have really had an impact on all the people who have seen them.
The most decorative part of a Viking sword was usually the handle, or hilt and it is part of this that has survived over one thousand years in the soil. And the decorations are really superb. The pommel (the top part of the sword) looks like a set of knuckles - it is divided into 5 parts, or lobes, each with intricately carved designs. In between the lobes are sets of finely twisted silver wires – this is a technique that we’ve seen a few times on artefacts from the Island. But the shape and style of the pommel hasn’t been found over here previously. Unfortunately the blade of the sword has not survived.”

The artefacts have been very kindly donated to the Manx National Collections by the landowner.

Allison commented:

“As the landowner of the site of the find, Mr John Radcliffe and his family have been very helpful and clearly appreciate the value of this find to the Nation’s heritage. Artefacts like this are not only fabulous objects in their own right, but also help to shine a little more light on the make-up of past societies on the Isle of Man. We would like to thank Mr Radcliffe very much for his generosity and also Dan and Rob for their time and for their assistance with this discovery.”

Further research will be carried out on the sword before it is permanently displayed in the new Viking and Medieval Gallery at the Manx Museum, Douglas. During the interim period, the sword fragments will be on display in the foyer of the Manx Museum from Monday 12th May.

The Manx Museum is open 10am – 5pm Monday to Saturday. Admission is free.

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