Divers discover 500 year old sword in Norwegian lake

I first came across the news of this remarkable find from a Norwegian source, and it was a bit comical in its details.

From TheLocal.no:

A sword found by divers in Mjøsa, Norway’s largest lake, may have belonged to a powerful person in the 1500s.

The sword is likely to have been used in battle or for beheading broadcaster NRK reports.

It was discovered by divers Miro Baricic and Knut-Erik Gylder.

“We’ve mostly found rubbish up to now. Miro, who found the sword, realised quickly that it was a sword,” Gylder said to NRK.

After discovering the sword, the two divers took it to Mjøs Museum. The museum’s director Arne Julsrud Berg said that there were indications the sword was around five hundred years old and that the location of its discovery suggested it may have been on board a boat.

“May have been on board a boat”. I wonder how much student loan debt the museum Director took on to develop that brilliant insight. Sorry, I couldn’t let that gem pass unremarked upon.

The article continues:

“One theory suggests it may have been a battle sword. Two-handed swords like this were commonly used in wars or battles around Europe in the 1500s,” Julsrud Berg told NRK.

A second theory as to the sword’s original use could be that it was used for executions, he also said.

It may alternatively have been used for ceremonial purposes or to show status, the museum director added.

The sword has been relatively well preserved due to being under freshwater rather than saltwater or in air, which would have eroded it.

Ok, let’s see… Battle, Ceremony, Execution. Since this sword was used in the days before YouTube, I guess you can rule out a mall-ninja backyard sword-fail video. But the suggestions cover pretty much any use of a sword I can think of. The article really doesn’t contain any more valuable information than can be gleaned from the headline.

I did a little google-fu and came up with a bit more. From Ancient-Origins:

At this time, expansion of the Norse Lands through the Vikings ventures abroad had ceased. So too had the period which is widely considered Norway’s Golden Age. This time of peace and prosperity, with trade increasing with Britain and Germany, suffered a devastating blow not through bloodshed but due to the Black Death reaching the realm in 1349 and wiping out a third of the population.  This weakened the strength of Norway for the upcoming two centuries, bringing us to what is believed to be the era of the sword.

Around 1500 AD, the weakened population of Norway was around 150000 and much of the land was owned by Church or State, with farmland being at only about 20% self-ownership. The land around Lake Mjøsa was rich and excellent for agriculture. Was this once impressive sword then the belonging of a wealthy land owner? Perhaps not as the spot in the lake where it was located led to speculation that it may have been onboard a boat. Many Norwegians made their living in shipping or fishing at the time.

Could it even have been deposited there in 1508, when Christian II was quashing a peasant revolt and rowed across the lake to Toten, there capturing residents and imprisoning them in the vaulted cellar of the rectory in Østre Toten to await torture?

Such weapons were no longer being used just to plunder wealth and territory, or solve disputes concerning the strengths of Paganism verses Christianity. A chasm was being forged in the Christian camp with the tenets of Catholicism being criticised by Martin Luther. This Protestant Reformation began to be rolled out in Norway in 1529 against a Catholic resistance led by Olav Engelbrektsson. One can only speculate as to whether this sword may have been used to aid or resist the Reformation .

That is a bit more helpful, and there is much more in that article. You can read it here.





  1. Sam L. says:


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Divers discover 500 year old sword in Norwegian lake

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