A team of four men out hunting wild reindeer high in the mountains of Reinheimen stumbled over “something brown” lying in a field of rocks. It turned out to be a rusty but perfectly intact sword dating to around 800AD, and Norwegian archaeologists are ecstatic.
“I thought it was a just a rusty iron rod,” hunter Einar Åmbakk told newspaper Aftenposten. “But when I picked it up I saw that it was a sword.” He and his fellow hunters from Ørsta examined it but didn’t think it was very old. The sword landed in one of their backpacks and they continued hunting.
It wasn’t until the next day that Åmbakk contacted a local archaeologist, Runar Hole in nearby Lesja, and showed him photos. “He thought it was too good to be true and so did the county archaeologist for Oppland, who immediately wanted to see where it was found,” Åmbakk said. He soon visited the area lying at an elevation of around 1600 meters.
No Viking treasures are known to have been found at such high altitudes, and a search didn’t turn up any more. County archaeologist Lars Holger Pilø said the dry air and lack of contact with the ground likely helped preserve the sword over the centuries. He suspects its owner got caught in a mountain storm, lost the sword and perhaps died at another location.
The sword was examained by more archaeologists in Lillehammer on Monday and is due to be sent to the Kulturhistorisk Museum in Oslo for further examinations and conservation.