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Perfectly preserved Bronze Age sword found in Denmark


Archaeologists at Odense Bys Museer have made an astonishing discovery – a perfectly preserved bronze sword weighing 1.3 kg has been excavated at Håre on West Funen. 


Perfectly preserved Bronze Age sword found in Denmark
Discovery of Bronze Age sword [Credit: Odense City Museums]



"We are dealing with a 3,000-year-old marvel," exclaims chief curator Jesper Hansen, as the sword date from the Nordic Bronze Age’s period IV. He then continues enthusiastically "the sword itself is rare and, in addition to the bronze part being intact, it is completely unique in that the grip, which is made of wood/horn/antler, is so well preserved. Furthermore, the sword has been neatly wrapped with a bast material before being laid in the ground. The sword is a so-called votive offering which was placed in a simple pit within a settlement."


Perfectly preserved Bronze Age sword found in Denmark
Bronze ceremonial sword found in Håre, ca. 3,000 years old
[Credit: Odense City Museums]

The settlement was encountered during a large archaeological investigation which has been ongoing for more than a year. The work is being carried out ahead of the establishment of a major gas pipeline, the Baltic Pipe, which extends for over 60 km. within the museum’s area of responsibility. This has been a huge project, during which the museum has examined the route of the pipe and its associated depots. The find was made at Håre on West Funen which is on the final part of the stretch investigated by Odense Bys Museer.


Perfectly preserved Bronze Age sword found in Denmark
The sword and grip were wrapped in bast fibers
[Credit: Odense City Museums]



The sword was carefully lifted out of the ground and transported to the museum’s department for preservation and conservation. Due to the sword being composed of different materials, the conservation is a complex matter, and therefore the sword’s grip mountings and binding have been dismantled for the purpose of preserving the metal, wood, horn and bast separately. 


Perfectly preserved Bronze Age sword found in Denmark
With wood and antler/bone handle removed, you can see the grip was cast together
with the blade shaft of the sword [Credit: Odense City Museums]

In connection with the conservation work, samples are taken to determine the species of the various materials (plant fibres, horn and wood). Samples of the plant fibre will also be used for carbon 14 dating so that the age of the sword can be accurately determined. A sample of the metal will be used to ascertain the origin of the metal alloy (bronze) from which the sword is made.


When the analysis and conservation work is completed, the conservator will reassemble the sword, ready to show off in all its glory. It will definitely be an eye-catcher, and it will be possible to show and tell the whole story of this marvel from the Bronze Age. The sword will be exhibited at the museum at Møntergården.


Source: Odense City Museums [March 12, 2021]



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