Viking sword making techniques revealed by neutron scanning

Researchers applying high-tech scans to the study of three Viking swords revealed details about the techniques behind sword-making over 1000 years ago.

Analysis of the Viking swords (by Anna Fedrigo)

The three swords date to the Viking Age swords and are in the collection of the National Museum of Denmark. They date to the 9th or 10th century AD and where discovered in Central Jutland, Denmark. The study involved the use of neutron scanning enabling a non invasive study of the weapons, as neutrons can penetrate the clouds of electrons surrounding each atom, enabling deeper scans. It was revealed that all three swords were created using through pattern-welding, a technique in which thin strips of different kinds of iron and steel are welded together and then folded, twisted and forged in various ways to produce decorative patterns on the resulting surfaces. The results suggest that these swords were not well-designed for combat but were possibly symbols of power and status that were only rarely used. A fighting tool would rather have a hard steel edges and an iron core to absorb blows. In addition, the scans revealed that the different strips of metal in these swords were forge-welded at high temperatures, making it more likely that materials known as oxides formed on the surface of these strips. These oxides weaken the swords and can allow rust to develop.

(after Live Science & Anna Fedrigo)

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