man holding a sword in a field

Image credit: Stine Bækkelien / NRK

Vegard Høystad-Lunna was roaming the fields of Innlandet County in Norway with his metal detector when suddenly he heard a loud series of beeping sounds. His device was hovering over an iron object buried about three inches below the surface of the ground.

Høystad-Lunna bent over to investigate further, thinking it was almost certainly just some old scrap metal. He was about to continue on when, upon further examination, he noticed the object looked as if it was an oblong shape, rusty, and bent, so he decided to keep digging.

“First, the hilt and the guard appeared. Then I saw it was a sword,” said Høystad-Lunna. He was immediately overjoyed and very excited.

The sword dates to the early Viking age and is approximately 1,200 years old. It even has preserved remnants of leather or some type of cloth around the grip of the sword. A find of a complete sword like this is incredibly rare. Most whole swords were discovered in the 19th century, and it is especially uncommon to find an intact sword on developed property, as this one was, since most are broken apart by ploughs or other machines.

When Høystad-Lunna found the sword, the first person he called was archaeologist Lars Holger Pilø. Pilø was amazed by the find and emphasized that it is quite rare to find a sword in such good condition. He said it is much more common among amateurs with metal detectors to uncover smaller objects like jewelry or buckles.

Pilø commended Høystad-Lunna for his efforts to do things correctly by contacting an expert, and he stressed that it is very important for folks using metal detectors to follow proper procedures and protocols to preserve the integrity of the archaeological treasures they unearth. Høystad-Lunna started using a metal detector in 2015 and has found a number of significant items including a gold charm from the Roman period.