natus.dk:In 1952 Thorvald Nielsen was dredging a ditch in a small bog at RÃ¸rby in western Zealand. He found an ornamented curved sword of bronze that had been stuck diagonally into the turf. The sword was from the beginning of the Bronze Age, around 1600 BC, and was the first of its kind to be found in Denmark. It was handed in as treasure trove to the National Museum, but the story does not end there. In 1957, when Thorvald Jensen was digging up potatoes around the same place, he uncovered yet another curved sword. The second curved sword was ornamented like the first, but it was also decorated with a picture of a ship. This is the oldest example of a ship image from Denmark.
A peculiar class of swords emerge in the earliest periods of the Danish Bronze Age, namely the curved sword. The specimens from RÃ¸rby Mose, western Zealand, are amongst some of the most impressive armament finds from the Early Bronze Age.
The first of these swords was found by chance in 1952. Five years later, again by chance, the second was found, only a few meters away from the location of the first. The two swords are nearly identical and both intensively decorated with geometric patterns which reveal a date of c. 1600-1500 BC .
The second of the swords found at RÃ¸rby, however, features a distinctive depiction of a boat on its blade and is the earliest known of its kind in the history of Denmark The depiction is strikingly similar to the boats contained in the many Bronze Age rock art panels of Scandinavia as well as the Hjortspring boat from around 350 BC. In a certain sense, the morphology of the RÃ¸rby swords, with their curved extremes, also bear some resemblances to these boats.
Although impressive, there is little to suggest that these curved swords had any combative function. They are massive and unwieldy and their morphology does simply not allow for any functional interpretation in combative terms. Being made of expensive bronze and so intensely decorated with fine geometric patterns, the swords can more appropriately be assigned to a symbolic role.