Viking Sword Discovered in Cork

A millennia-old wooden Viking loom was found in Cork city. It measures about one foot in length. (Photo: Courtesy BAM Ireland)

By Olivia O’Mahony, Editorial Assistant
October / November 2017

A 1,000-year-old Viking weaver’s sword was unearthed by archaeologists at the site of the former Beamer and Crawford brewery in Cork City in September. Dated back to the 11th century and perfectly-preserved, the yew sword measures roughly 11.8 inches and is patterned with human faces in the classic Ringerike Viking art style.

“For a long time there was a belief that the strongest Viking influence was on Dublin and Waterford, but the full spectrum of evidence shows that Cork was in the same cultural sphere and that its development was very similar,” consultant archaeologist Maurice Hurley told the Irish Times. “A couple of objects similar to the weaver’s sword have been found in [Dublin’s] Wood Quay, but nothing of the quality of craftsmanship and preservation of this one.”

A close-up of the human figure hilt carving. (Photo: Courtesy BAM Ireland)

After expert examination, the sword has been categorized as one used by women to hammer threads into place on a loom, with the pointed end being used to pick up threads in pattern-making. “It’s highly decorated,” Hurley noted. “The Vikings decorated every utilitarian object.”

The sword was one of several artifacts found in “miraculous” condition at the South Main Street site, which also included intact ground plans for 19 Viking homes, remnants of central hearths, bedding material, and a wooden thread-winder carved with two horse’s heads, used, like the sword, for fabric-weaving. The items will go on display as early as February 2018. ♦

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