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Viking Sword

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Why are the Vikings’ mighty swords found broken?

And why are so many inscribed with the word “Uflberht”

The Vikings claimed that their swords were indestructible.  That’s probably a bit of a stretch.  But they must have been nearly indestructible to allow the Vikings to wreak so much havoc and destruction.

And yet… there is a mystery about Viking swords that confounds historians. Those that have come down to us are often broken.  If they were so mighty, why did so many break?

The museum’s Viking sword (an unbroken one) may harbor a clue.   There is an 8 letter word welded to the blade:  “Ulfberht.”  It turns out Ulfberht is the name of an ancient foundry.

Did the Ulfberht foundry make swords that were prone to shatter?  Or is there a deeper secret to the broken Viking swords?


All is revealed in Museum Secrets: Inside the Berlin Islands Museums.

Further Questions

Historians are divided over the location of the Ulberht foundry.  But many suspect it was in the German town of Solingen.

Solingen has been a center for blade making since medieval times.  And even today, some venerable brands like Henckel and Boker still have foundries in the town.   Currently, these companies make kitchen knives but less than a century ago, they provided daggers for the Third Reich.  You can often find such weapons (with brand names clearly visible) for sale on eBay.

It would be nice to report that Solingen’s Nazi connection ended with close of World War Two.  But sadly, in the 1990s, the town of Solingen became known as a hotbed of neo-Nazi violence.  To find out what happened, we invite you to read this New York Times opinion piece The Solingen Tragedy.


Gemme • #66 • 2018-03-27 10:33:41
@ #62: \nThere are many possibilities, some based in superstition and theology. The belief that there exisited a spiritual bond or link between a warrior and his sword. The warrrior and to larger extent his clan life\'s blood, depended on this conn

Brigitte • #69 • 2018-03-27 10:33:41
Hello! I have a question : what if the cross before and after the name \"ULFBERH\" was like a \"protection\" (I remember that at a certain period, the Vikings were converted to Christianism) and then, the \"T\" might be the firstname of the blacksmit

Bill Cameron • #71 • 2018-03-27 10:33:41
Many Uflberht swords were counterfeit swords, that broke, That is why there are so many broken swords. There is a slightly different marking between the older good swords and the later poorer steel blades, with the same name. There is also a few more