25 Sep 2018

Rørby Sword

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natus.dk:In 1952 Thorvald Nielsen was dredging a ditch in a small bog at Rørby 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.

Combat Archaeology:

A peculiar class of swords emerge in the earliest periods of the Danish Bronze Age, namely the curved sword. The specimens from Rørby 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 Rørby, 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 Rørby 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.

One Feedback on "Rørby Sword"


If ceremonial, it would have two holes: one at the top and one at lower middle. For a cord arrangement to enable walking about in the Palace (where else?) and not tripping over it…..
Bronze.. it’s a bit bendy, isn’t? so, one can’t really stab/thrust with it… It’s light, isn’t it? so, put some weight down the end: indeed, as much as one can (but not have that extra weight then be the cause of it bending in action, and this curl looks like you couldn’t engineer anything better).
“Unweildy?” For you and me, perhaps… for someone from boyhood swinging such a one, quite a lot less so.
And, anyway, that handle with the knob on the end at an extreme angle says to the human hand which, when gripping something straight out in front is also on about the same angle: “Hold me straight out in front and then swing/sythe me! You’ll find it very comfortable to do so. And I’m not too heavy to do so..” I have not the slightest doubt someone did just that.


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