Goran Olsen was enjoying a leisurely hike recently in Norway when he stopped near the fishing village of Haukeli, about 150 miles west of Oslo. Under some rocks along a well-traversed path, he made a discovery that’s now the envy of every detectorist in Scandinavia: a 30-inch wrought-iron Viking sword, estimated to be about 1,200 years old. One would think a sword that old would be so decrepit it could never be wielded again, but a Hordaland County archaeologist says it just needs a little polish and a new grip to be good to go. “The sword was found in very good condition,” Jostein Aksdal notes, per the Local. County conservator Per Morten Ekerhovd adds: “It’s quite unusual to find remnants from the Viking age that are so well preserved … it might be used today if you sharpened the edge.”
The extreme weather in the area likely had something to do with the sword’s relatively unscathed condition: The mountains are covered in snow and ice six months out of the year, and there’s no humidity in the summer, so the sword would have been protected. No one’s sure what the blade’s backstory is yet, but scientists are already thinking beyond winter and into the springtime thaw. “When the snow has gone in spring, we will check the place where the sword was found,” Aksdal says. “If we find several objects, or a tomb, perhaps we can find the story behind the sword.” Ekerhovd says the weapon could have been from a burial site or belonged to someone passing through who may have died. But “it was a costly weapon, and the owner must have used it to show power,” Aksdal tells the Local. The Viking artifact has been sent for conservation at the University Museum of Bergen. (The inscription on this medieval sword has become a real head-scratcher.