Indigenous and imported Viking Age weapons in Norway – a problem with European implications
Journal of Nordic Archaeological Science, Vol. 14 (2004)
The numerous Viking Age swords and spearheads found in Norway are a mixture of indigenous and imported items, but sound criteria for distinguishing between the two origins are lacking. While Petersen’s and other sword typologies are based on the hilts, the debate has mostly been centred on whether Nordic blacksmiths mastered the pattern-welding technique. Spearheads have played a minor role, and scholars have accepted without further debate that the inlay decorations on sword hilts and spearhead sockets were indigenously made. Recent investigations into Norwegian spearheads point to marked technical differences between imported and indigenous specimens of Petersen’s types A–E. Future research will have to take both swords and spearheads into account, and it will be necessary to study the blade construction as a whole, including forging techniques and the the steel qualities used, by means of radiography and metallographic investigations. It will also be important to focus on indigenous societal premises for special weapon production.