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29 October 2014

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You are in: North Yorkshire > History > Archaeology > Rescued relic

The Cawood Sword

The one thousand year old Cawood Sword

Rescued relic

One of the finest Viking swords ever discovered is back home in York after being kept behind closed doors for more than 50 years. The Cawood Sword, found in the River Ouse near the village of Cawood in North Yorkshire, is nearly 1000 years old.

The Cawood Sword has a mysterious inscription that has never been solved. There's thought to be only one other sword like it in the world.

After 50 years in private hands it's been acquired by the Yorkshire Museum.

The Cawood Sword in display case

The Cawood Sword in its display case.

Andrew Morrison, curator of archaeology at the museum, says: “This is one of the best preserved Viking swords ever found. It is hard to believe it is nearly 1,000 years old. The combination of its age, condition and the mysterious inscription make it a really important acquisition for the museum, especially as it was originally found close by."

The sword was found in the late 19th Century in the River Ouse near Cawood Castle which was a Viking Lord's stronghold, but the exact date and circumstances of its find remain a mystery. Andrew says he's keen to get the people of Cawood involved in finding out more about it.

The inscription on the Cawood Sword

The Cawood Sword's mysterious inscription.

The Cawood Sword can be dated to 1100 by comparing it to a remarkably similar sword found in Norway, probably made by the same craftsman. The swords are almost identical except the one in Norway has an inscription on its hilt in Runes. By studying this Viking language both blades can be dated to this time.

Because the sword has been in the hands of private collectors for more than 50 years the museum is keen to apply modern science, such as X-rays, to see if that will reveal anything new.

last updated: 31/03/2008 at 15:17
created: 20/12/2007

You are in: North Yorkshire > History > Archaeology > Rescued relic

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