Undertaken in 2013, the aim of this project was to produce a reconstruction broadly representative of moderate-status swords and sheaths used by 9th-10th century Anglo-Saxon and Danish thegns, based on evidence available.
Produced by our associate weapon-smith, 'Gram' is representative of Petersen Type L swords often referred to as "the English style" due to their frequency in C9th-10th Anglo-Saxon contexts, although more members of this type have been found in Scandinavia than the UK. This type is most commonly associated with Wheeler-V hilts typified by the elaborate high status Gilling-West sword. Such hilts are perhaps the most elegant of the 'Viking-Age', with their curved guards allowing for a more comfortable and relaxed grip, with greater wrist mobility.
This sword has been kept relatively simple, with little decoration on the hilt, representative of most extant examples, and a handle finished with horn. Gram's blade was built with a piled steel core with hammer-welded steel edges; a construction most notably seen, in this period, on the sword from Canwick Common, Lincolnshire.
The wood-core construction (housing an animal-hair lining to cushion the blade) wrapped with oak-tanned leather was supplemented with modest foundation-moulded radiating lines (consistent with some earlier finds) integrated with a triangular internal scabbard-slide fashioned from horn. This component was not universal on scabbards of the period, but is well evidenced from impressions and slits featured on many of the Coppergate leathers, and the scabbard from Gloucester. Strong definition of these designs was achieved by applying warm animal-glue as a gel to the foundation, sewing the leather tightly up the back while wet, then moulding the leather into the valleys as the glue cured.
Evidence for the suspensions of such scabbards are rare. Here, we took inspiration from the Norse 'Bellateare scabbard' remains from the Isle of Man, with a secondary band on the scabbard attached to the main baldrick via a three-way strap divider. This has been shown to immobilise the sword well and comfortably, preventing bouncing or swinging of the scabbard even when running.
Together, this sword and sheath are not "flashy" as with the ostentatious assemblages of the 6-7th century, but represent an elegant and functional simplicity thought to have been favoured during the latter half of the 'Anglo-Saxon period' in England, with emphasis shifting from display to practicality.