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The last Viking and his magical sword?

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Republication from Heritage Daily and University of Oslo

A deadly weapon and symbol of power – jewellery for a man, with magical properties. The sword gave power to the warrior, but the warrior’s strength could also be transferred to the sword. That is how they were bound together: man and weapon, warrior and sword.

This sword was found in Langeid in Bygland in Setesdal in 2011. It is a truly unique sword from the late Viking Age, embellished with gold, inscriptions and other ornamentation. The discovery of the sword has not been published until now, when it is being displayed for the first time in the exhibition TAKE IT PERSONALLY at the Historical Museum in Oslo.

The sword must have belonged to a wealthy man in the late Viking Age. But who was he and what magic inscriptions are set into the decoration – in gold? Was the owner of the sword in the Danish King Canute’s army when it attacked England in 1014-15?

In the summer of 2011, archaeologists from the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo discovered a Viking burial ground in Langeid in Setesdal in southern Norway. In one of the graves they made a startling discovery.

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A million Vikings still live among the British people

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 One in 33 men can claim to be direct descendants from the Norse warriors

  • Around 930,000 people can claim to be of direct Viking descent
  • A study compared Y chromosome markers to estimated Viking DNA patterns
  • The Viking DNA patterns are rarely found outside Scandinavia

Almost one million Britons alive today are of Viking descent, which means one in 33 men can claim to be direct descendants of the Vikings.

Around 930,000 descendents of warrior race exist today – despite the Norse warriors’ British rule ending more than 900 years ago.

A genetic study carried out by BritainsDNA compared the Y chromosome markers – DNA inherited from father to son – of more than 3,500 men to six DNA patterns that are rarely found outside of Scandinavia and are associated with the Norse Vikings.

Amateur Vikings process around their longboat during the annual Up Helly Aa festival in Lerwick, Shetland Islands, Scotland

Amateur Vikings process around their longboat during the annual Up Helly Aa festival in Lerwick, Shetland Islands, Scotland

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TWILIGHT OF THE VIKING LONGSHIP

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oseberg viking ship

 hansa cog

Τop: The famous Oseberg Viking ship.
Below: A German cog. These  ships
– real floating  fortresses – were the  Nemesis of the Viking longships. Note the high towers on the prow and stern, heavily manned with archers. The marines used to take posistions on the deck of the ship.
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by  P.  Deligiannis

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The Proto-Scandinavian boats, the progenitors of the Viking longships, first appear in cave paintings of Norway around 1500 BC. Millennia of evolution led to the superb Viking longships. Around 600-700 AD these progenitor ships were exclusively oared light, flexible and fragile structures that could not withstand the weight and pressure of the mast and sail. Soon afterwards the Scandinavian shipbuilders imitated the ships of the Mediterranean, adding a long beam (the keel) along the bottom of the ship. The keel made ​​them strong enough to hold the mast and sail. The addition of the keel around AD 700 marked the beginnings of the classic Viking ship and since then it was no longer propelled only by oars. The Scandinavians soon adopted the square sail of the Mediterranean, which allowed them to sail in the seas far away from their homeland.

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RES VITAE ET MORS: ROMANS, CIMBRI AND TEUTONES

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Guard Roman
The  skilful general  Gaius  Marius  turned  the  Roman  army  into  a  war  machine  of  fully  armored  professional  soldiers  (credit:  Εrmine  Street  Guard  Roman  Reenactment  Society).
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By  Periklis    Deligiannis

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[This  article is actually a part of my book  ‘The Celts‘, Periscope publ., Athens 2008, unfortunately available only in Greek]

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In  113  BC  a  great  threat  appeared  in  the  horizon  of  the  Roman  world:  the  Cimbri  and  the  Teutones.  The  ancient  writers  usually  consider  these  two  peoples  as  Germanic,  but  their  leaders  had  Gallic/Celtic  names  (Boiorix,  Lugius,  Gaesorix  etc)  or  Celtisized  (Claodicus)  and  their  arms  and  armor  were  clearly  Celtic.  Plutarch  mentions,  in  an  episode  of  his  narrative  about  the  Cimbri-Teutones  invasions,  that  the  Cimbri  descended  quickly  the  slopes  of  the  Alps  using  their  shields  as  sleds  –  therefore  these  shields  were  of  the  large  Gallic  thyroid  type  rather  than  the  small  and  weak  Germanic  type.  When  the  Roman  officer  Sertorius  was  sent  by  Marius  to  spy  the  Cimbrian  camp,  he  wore  Celtic  clothes  and  learned  the  Gallic/Celtic  language  in  preparation  for  his  mission.  The  tribal  name  “Cimbri”  is  of  Celtic  origin  and  the  word  (and  verbal  prefix)  “Teuton-”  (meaning  “people”  and  “army”)  was  used  equally  by  Celts  and  Germans  (apparently  a  verbal  type  of  Proto-Indo-European  extraction).  These  are  just  some  of  the  evidence  that  led  many  researchers  of  the  20th  century  to  consider  the  two  tribes  as  Celtic  peoples  mistaken  by  the  Romans  to  be  Germanic.  However,  the  ancient  writers  mention  their  homeland,  the  Cimbrian  Peninsula  (modern  Jutland),  a  region  undoubtedly  Germanic  in  antiquity.  In  addition,  the  Massaliot  Greek  navigator  Pytheas  had  found  the  Teutones  living  on  an  island  in  the  Baltic  Sea  (4th  century  BC):  the  Baltic  coastal  areas  have  never  been  Celtic.

Ptolemy

Map  of  Germany  according  to  the  Geography  of  Claudius  Ptolemy.  We  can  see  the  remaining  Cimbri  at  the  northern  ends  of  the  land  (in  ‘Chersonesus  Cimbrica’,  modern  Jutland)  and  the  remaining  Teutones  somewhere  in  modern  Northeastern  Germany.
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