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STUDIA I MATERIAŁY – STUDIES AND MATERIALS

Acta Militaria Mediaevalia VIII
Kraków – Rzeszów – Sanok 2012, s. 7-68

Sergej Yu. Kainov
SWORDS FROM GNЁZDOVO

Abstract:
S. Yu. Kainov 2012, Swords from Gnёzdovo, AMM VIII: 7-68
This article is concerned of swords discovered in different time and circumstances in the area of archeological complex in
Gnёzdovo (Smolensk obl., Russia). To this moment we have information about no less than 27 intact swords, their details and
fragments, founded in Gnёzdovo. We were able to establish the type of the hilt of the sword according to J. Petersen’s
classification for 22 (19+3?) specimens – special type 2 or Mannheim type (1), B type (1), D type (1), E type (4 = 3+1?), H/I
type (6), T-2 type (1), V type (4), X type (2), Y type (2 = 1+1?). The chronology of early types of swords (special type 2 or
Mannheim, B, D, E), discovered in Gnёzdovo, differs from dating analogous artefacts from the other European territories. This
situation is typical not only for the swords from Gnёzdovo, but also for whole Old-Rus area. The dating of other types is much
closer to chronology of their European parallels.
Key words: Old Russia, Gnёzdovo, Viking Age, sword

The archaeological complex of Gnёzdovo is
the largest preserved site from the period of
the development of the early medieval Russian
state. The main part of the site is located near the
Gnёzdovo village (Smolensk Oblast, Smolensk
Region, Russia) 12-15 km to the west from the
city of Smolensk. It straggles out 5 kilometres
long hard abroad the right (to a lesser extent
along the left) shore of the Dnieper. The complex
comprises two fortified settlement sites (the
Central Fort and the Olshanskoye Fort), with
adjoined unfortified dwelling settlement sites
(the settlement total area – more than 30 hectares),
and eight groups of barrows, all together about
4000 mounds (Fig. 1).
Gnёzdovo came to the archaeologists’ notice
after two finds of hoards with coins and other
items had been reported in 1867 and 1870 during
the construction of the Orel-Vitebsk railway. The
scientific study of the site was started by
M. F. Kustsinsky, who excavated 14 mounds
there in 1874. The most significant scientific
work in the 19th c. was made by V. I. Sizov, who
explored several hundred barrows at Gnёzdovo.
Besides him, in the 19th – 1st half of the 20th c.,
V. D. Sokolov, S. I. Sergeev, N. Birukov, G. K.
Boguslavsky, I. S. Abramov, V. A. Gorodtsov,

E. N. Kletnova, N. V. Andreev, N. P. Milonov
worked on the site. In the 1920s, an extensive
reconnaissance was undertaken by A. N. Lyavdansky
in the Gnёzdovo archaeological complex, which
resulted in the first thorough description of the
site (Авдусин 1999, 12-18). During the
occupation of the Smolensk Region several barrows
were excavated in 1942 by K. Raddatz, an
archaeologist from the University of Göttingen
(Raddatz 1991). Since 1949 up to the present
time the work on the Gnёzdovo site has been
carried out by the archaeological expedition of
the Lomonosov Moscow State University, since
1999 conjoint with the expedition of the State
Historical Museum. During this time more than
730 barrows, and more than 7000 sq. m. of the
settlement have been explored. Materials of the
Gnёzdovo archaeological complex excavations are
partially published (Сизов 1902; Спицын 1905;
1906; Авдусин 1952; 1957; Ширинский 1999;
Мурашева, Ениосова, Фетисов 2007). The
basic interim results of the study are summarised
in several generalizing works (Сизов 1902;
Авдусин 1991; Пушкина 2001).
During the site exploration an extensive
collection of armaments of more than 1.000 items
has been gathered, including all categories of

Sergej Yu. Kainov

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Fig. 1. Gnёzdovo archaeological site plan: 1 – The Central stronghold; 2 – The Central site of unfortified dwelling settlement; 3 – The Central
barrow group; 4 – The Glushenki’s barrow group; 5 – The Forest barrow group; 6 – The Left shore barrow group; 7 – The Dnieper barrow
group; 8 – The Olshanskaya barrow group; 9 – The Olshanskoye stronghold; 10 – The Olshanskoye site of unfortified dwelling settlement;
11 – The Right shore Olshanskaya barrow group; 12 – The Nivlyanskaya barrow group.
Ryc. 1. Plan stanowisk archeologicznych w Gniezdowie: 1 – grodzisko Centralne; 2 – osada Centralna; 3 – Centralna grupa kurhanów;
4 – Głuszczenkowska grupa kurhanów; 5 – Leśna grupa kurhanów; 6 – Lewobrzeżna grupa kurhanów; 7 – Dnieprzańska grupa kurhanów;
8 – Olszańska grupa kurhanów; 9 – grodzisko Olszańskie; 10 – osada Olszańska; 11 – Prawobrzeżna grupa kurhanów; 12 – Niwlańska grupa
kurhanów.

protective and offensive arms, inherent for the end
of the 1st millennium AD. This article focuses on
one of the most spectacular and effective weapon
category – swords1.
In the investigated period the sword, for
the predominant part of the European territory,
is a kind of offensive weapon with a straight
double-edged blade more than 70 centimetres
long. The main purpose of the sword is causing
cutting wounds, and to a lesser extent swords
could be used for inflicting thrusting wounds.
Vocabulary
The sword consists of two main parts –
the blade and the hilt (Fig. 2). The hilt consists
of the crossguard and the pommel, also including
details, shaping the grip of the hilt, such as wooden
plates, leather or wire wrapping, fastening rings and
so on. In certain cases a metal tube of the hilt
appears as its grip. The pommel can be one or twoparted. The upper part of two-parted pommels is
denoted as the head of the pommel, the lower one is
the base of the pommel, or the upper guard.
Details of the hilt are fixed on the tang of the

blade, which is a continuation of the blade. The
central part of the blade is taken by the fuller, on
both sides of which are cutting edges. The side
opposite to the tang ends in the tip, the ending of
which in the investigated period was usually
rounded. In the upper part of the blade, closer to
the hilt, the mark or inlay, made of iron or
damascened wire was usually arranged.
The pommel is attached to the tang of the
blade in several ways – for the one-parted pommels
the tang passes through it and is riveted from the
top. As for the two-parted pommels, in addition
to the fastening method described above, another
technique was also used, when the tang of the
blade passes only through the base of the pommel.
The head of the pommel was attached to the base
of it by using one of the two methods – with two
iron rivets brazed (hard-soldered brazing was usually
used, but there may be other ways) from inside into
the head of the pommel or with a hard-soldered
U-shaped loop. Rivets or loops ends passed through
the rivet holes in the base of the pommel and were
riveted under it. Generally, under the riveting iron
or brass washers were fixed.

1 The author heartily thanks T. A. Pushkina and V. V. Murasheva for the opportunity to use unpublished materials, and F. A.
Androshchuk for the opportunity to review and make references to the book unpublished yet (Androshchuk forthcoming).

9

Swords from Gnёzdovo

Fig. 2. The main component parts of the sword: 1 – hilt; 2 – blade;
3 – grip; 4 – tang; 5 – head of the pommel; 6 – base of the pommel
(upper guard); 7 – crossguard; 8 – cutting edges; 9 – fuller; 10 – tip;
11 – inlay (mark).

5
6
1

3

4

Ryc. 2. Główne partie składowe miecza: 1 – rękojeść; 2 – ostrze;
3 – uchwyt rękojeści; 4 – trzpień; 5 – nakładka głowicy; 6 – baza
głowicy; 7 – jelec; 8 – krawędzie tnące; 9 – zastawa; 10 – sztych;
11 – inkrustacja (znak płatnerski).

7
9

A. Geibig proposed three Construction Types
of pommel fixing (Fig. 3) (Geibig 1991, 91, Abb.
24). In cases where we are able to identify how the
head of the pommel is fixed on the upper guard,
it is suggested to denote the type as IIa – when it
is fixed with a loop, and IIb – when it is fixed
with rivets.

8
11

Chronology
The “Viking age” sword chronology proposed
by J. Petersen in 1919 and developed on the basis
of the analysis of Norwegian material, is still the
primary one for dating of the swords from the
entire territory of Europe (Petersen 1919). At the
same time, the sword chronology is frequently
determinative for the chronological arrangement
of archaeological sites, which then provide the basis
for dating and reconstruction of various historical
1
processes that took place in one or another territory.
Herewith, the question of correctness of J. Petersen’s
dating and its relevance for territories where
swords were imported or re-imported, remained
almost unnoticed.
The «age gap» problem between the
Norse and the local dating was noticed by

2

Fig. 3. A. Geibig’s structural types of the sword’s head of the pommel
(after Geibig 1991).

10

Ryc. 3. Typy konstrukcji głowic mieczowych w klasyfikacji A. Geibiga
(wg Geibig 1991).

IIa

Konstruktiontyp I

IIb

Konstruktiontyp II

Konstruktiontyp III

Sergej Yu. Kainov

10

D1

C

B

A

1

800

K1

2

850
E

H/I

L

900
D2
K2

O

N

X1

M

950

R

S

T

Q

V

Y

P

1000
Z

AE

1050

X2
hilts with incrustation
plain iron hilts

Early Viking Age
(AD 750-900)

Middle Viking Age
(AD 900-970s)

Types A, B, St1, St2, C, D1 K, L, H/I Types D2, H/I, M, N, O, P, Q, V, W, X, Y

Late Viking Age
(AD 970-1000s)
Types N, X, Y, P/Q, R/S, T, Z

Fig. 4. F. Androshchuk’s Viking Age swords typology and chronology (after Андрощук 2010, 82, рис. 4).
Ryc. 4. Typologia i chronologia mieczy z okresu wikingów F. Androszczuka (wg Андрощук 2010, 82, рис. 4).

A. N. Kirpichnikov, who stated in his work in
1966 that in the territory of early medieval Russia
several swords types had more prolonged existence
than in the Norwegian territory. For example, Type
H, dated by J. Petersen from AD 800 to 950,
belongs to the 10th – 2nd half of the 11th c. in the
Old-Russian territory, according to A. Kirpichnikov
(Кирпичников 1966, 27). The researcher assumes

that development delay (about 50-100 years) of
several swords from Russian excavations (such as,
e.g., Types D, E, or H), as compared with Norse
ones, seems to be explained not by the long existence
of this or that sword, which found its way to Russia
from the north or the west of Europe later, but by
researching and source-studying vicissitudes of the
Early Modern period (it concerns a better or worse

Swords from Gnёzdovo

state of preservation, different frequency of finds
of archaeological material, probable imperfection
of some of old chronological observations, increased
numbers of similarities, and so on). I suppose that
this “age gap” between northern and eastern
European finds of swords will be reduced during
further explorations (ibidem, 42). In his work,
a Swedish researcher H. Simonsson analysed
the source andthe material base of J. Petersen’s
chronology (Simonsson 1969). It turned out that
J. Petersenhad used only twenty professionally
excavated archaeological complexes in arranging
his chronology of swords, and other swords were
incidental or poorly documented finds (Андрощук
2010, 72-73).
The problem of the “Viking Age” sword
chronology was discussed in detail by F. Androschuk
in his recent article. Following H. Simonsson,
he pointed out the ill-founded source base of
J. Petersen’s chronology and emphasised that it…
may be used only as a very rough scheme of the
relative chronology of swords, denoting only main
trends of types’ succession (ibidem, 82). Based on
the analysis of material, mainly from Birka and
Valsgärde, as well as making use of iconographic
sources, this researcher offered his own opinion
on the relative and absolute chronology of “Viking
Age” swords (Fig. 4).
Concurring with F. Androschuk’s view on
the potential of J. Petersen’s chronology, I note,
however, that the chronology offered by this
researcher requires more detailed substantiation.
The problem of existence of territorial features
of various sword types is also relevant, i.e.,
a question emerges whether it is possible to create
a pan-European chronology, or it is necessary to
talk about regional sword chronologies.
In this work, we will date the swords based on
their archaeological context2 when it is possible.
At the same time, chronologies offered by
J. Petersen and other researchers will be presented
for comparison.
Typology
No less urgent than the problem of
chronological arrangement of swords is the issue
of typological definition of various items.
Published in 1919, the typology proposed by the
Norwegian researcher Jan Petersen is still, on
A. Stalsberg’s words, the “lingua franca” for
researchers of European swords from the 8th-11th c.

11

However, it obviously does not account and is
unable to accommodate all the typological and
informational variety of the material. J. Petersen’s
typology was created based only on the Norse
material, and in some cases the criteria for
identification of various types were very fuzzy.
In view of this, during the processing of “nonNorwegian” material, there arose a necessity to
define new sword types, as well as variants of
already existing ones (Вешнякова 2005, 307-317).
Besides a “widening” of J. Petersen’s
typology, attempts to create typologies based on
a strictly formal analysis of swords, in contrast
to J. Petersen’s typology (which was based
largely on the descriptive and intuitive approach),
were also made (Wheeler 1927, 29-37; Maure
1977).
The most successful attempt at creating an
“alternative” typology, is, in my opinion, the
typology proposed by A. Geibig for swords found
in Germany (Geibig 1991). A. Geibig regards
the sword as a complex item, whose parts vary
independently from each other. Using precise
formal criteria, this researcher created separate
typologies of hilt elements and blades. He also
systematised blade inlays and identified several
1
ways of fixing particular elements of sword hilts.
A. Geibig identified 19 types of 8th-11th c.
sword hilts and 14 types of their blades. Table 1
demonstrates that A. Geibig’s typology allows to
consider most types and variations of swords,
identified by other researchers, both as separate
types and in addition to J. Petersen’s typology
(ibidem, 16, Abb.1).
However at the same time, some Geibig’s types
include several types of J. Petersen. Some types
according to J. Petersen were not identified in
Geibig’s typology, because it is based on finds
from a particular region, where some types were
not ever found.
One of advantages of A. Geibig’s typology
is its “open” nature, i.e. the possibility of using
the proposed criteria to add some new types and
variants to the typology. From our point of view,
in order to increase the amount of information,
taken into account by the typology, it is necessary
to include in it such criteria as the ornamentation
of hilt elements and the material these elements
were made of.
We will discuss the swords found in
Gnёzdovo in accordance to the generally accepted

2 Unfortunately, the partitive chronology of the Gnëzdovo archaeological complex has not been developed yet. The most reasonable
is the dating of wheel-made pottery’s appearance to the 920-930s. From the mid-10th c., finds related the Middle Dnieper Valley
appear at Gnëzdovo – slate spindle-whorls, strap decoration of the “Chernigov school”, and Middle Dnieper pottery. Of importance
is also the appearance of inhumation burials in wooden chambers at the site (Мурашева, Ениосова, Фетисов 2007, 68-72).

Immenstedt/
Altjurden

I

Menghin 1980
Müller-Wille 1982

Menghin 1980

Stein 1967

Von zur Mühlen
1939

Jankuhn 1939

Petersen 1919

Geibig 1991

Oakeshott 1960,
1964

Sergej Yu. Kainov

12

Type
Dunum

II
1

III

B

IV
Type
Dunum

V
VI
Special
Type 2

2

Type Mannheim

3

Type
Mannheim Speyer

4
I

H/I

II
5

Type
Dunum

III
IV

B

V
Immenstedt/
Altjurden

VI
6

K/OIII

7

L

8

N

9

O

10

R/S

11

U/V/W

12

I

X

II
I

Y

13
II
14

Y/Y2

IX
IX/C/
(D)
(B)

I
II
15

III
IV
V
VI

X

VIII/
B/(A)

Type
Dunum

Swords from Gnёzdovo

and commonly understood typology of J. Petersen,
taking supplements made by other researchers into
account. In cases when it is possible to propose the
appropriate type/variant of A. Geibig’s typology,
it will be given3.
Type B
According to J. Petersen, hilts of swords of
this type have the following features: Crossguards
are short, tall, with a rib, rectangular in longitudinal
section, with the largest widening in the middle.
The head of the pommel is triangular, rectangular
in longitudinal section. Components of the hilt
are not ornamented (Петерсен 2005, 98).
F. Stein identified two forms of swords, related
to Type B – Type Immenstedt and Type Altjuhrden
(Stein 1967, 78-79). The first one is characterised
with narrow verges on the crossguard’s sides and
on the pommel base. These continue up to the head
of the pommel. The other type had no such verges
and the base of the pommel and crossguards
were boat-shaped in their plans. F. Stein believed
that these swords types were not ever found in
Scandinavia, and therefore they did not find place
in J. Petersen’s typology.
W. Menghin identified one more sword type,
related to Type B – Type Dunum. The main
distinction of which is the attachment of the base to
the head of the pommel with two rivets, which is
absolutely not peculiar for Type B swords, whose
two-parted pommels were fixed to the blade’s
tang, by means of riveting of the top of the
pommel. (A. Geibig’s Construction Type I).
(Menghin 1980, 256).
F. A. Androschuk proposes to identify three
main variants of Type B swords among the
Scandinavian material (Androshchuk 2007, 153,
Fig.1):
– Variant B1 – swords with pommel bases
being oval and slightly flattened on the ends and
with crossguards of the same shape in the plan;

13

– Variant B2 – swords with pommel bases
being oval in the plan, and with tapering endsl
crossguards are of the same shape;
– Variant B3 – encompasses swords with
pommel bases which are oval, slightly flattened
on the ends and oval in their plans; crossguards
taper towards their ends4.
According to A. Geibig, Type B correspond
with his Combination Types I (Variants I – VI),
and V (Variants II – VI)5.
Construction Type of Type B swords’ pommels
is determined as Type I (according to A. Geibig),
where the tang of the blade passes through both
parts of the pommel and is riveted from the top.
In Europe there were found no less than 125
(excluding the finds from early medieval Russia)
Type B swords (Jakobsson 1992, 208; Marek
2004, 109; Żabiński 2007, 56; Androshchuk,
forthcoming).
According to J. Petersen’s data, in Norway
Type B swords are dated to the 2nd half of the 8th c.
(Петерсен 2005, 100). In the works of other
authors the dating proposed for Norway also
refers to swords found in other regions. Recently,
F. A. Androschuk stood out with the criticism of
an early dating of Type B and substantiated the
1
appearance of this type not earlier than the
beginning of the 9th c. (Androshchuk 2007, 157).
In A. N. Kirpichnikov’s Early Medieval
Russians Swords catalogue three Type B swords
originating from the Russian territory were indicated
(Кирпичников 1966, 26). One of them was found
during the excavation of Barrow 5 in the group
of barrows nearby the village of Novoselki
(Smolensk Oblast, Russian Federation), located
just a few kilometres from Gnёzdovo. Barrow 5
is dated to the 2nd quarter of the 10th c. (Нефёдов
2001b, 156; Шмидт 2005, 160). It is worth
noting that we can classify only the Novoselki
sword’s crossguard exactly as Type B. The Type B
pommel was replaced by the base of the hilt with

v
Table I. Comparision of early medieval swords classifications.
v
Tab. I. Porównanie typologii mieczy wczesnośredniowiecznych A. Geibiga i innych badaczy.
3 From my point of view, J. Petersen’s typology, despite of all its territorial universality, went out of date and is no longer capable
of receiving and properly take into account all the variety of swords of the end of the 8th – the beginning of the 11th c. Any further
attempt at splitting Petersen’s types into variations and sub-variations just makes the picture more complicated, not giving the
universal approach to swords’ typologisation. The lack of clear criteria in identifying typological units and the absence of
markers’ hierarchy in Petersen’s typology in particular should encourage the search of new approaches in the “Viking age” swords
studies. Probably, the new period in European sword systematisation should be based on the principles laid down in A. Geibig’s
typology. On the other hand, it also requires additions.
4 Let us doubt the expediency of the identification of Variant B3, which is, in my opinion, just a particular case of the combination
of the guard and the pommel, characterising Variants B1 and B2.
5 The difference between the swords of Combination Types I and V is in the inclined lateral sides of the head of the pommel.
If they are convex – the grip of the sword belongs to Type I, if the sides are straight – to V (Geibig 1991, 38). It also worth to
mention that A. Geibig identifies as Type B not only swords of the “classical” type according to J. Petersen, but also related types,
identified by other researchers as, for example, Type Immenstedt, Type Altjuhrden, or Type Dunum (ibidem, 16, Abb. 1).

14

Sergej Yu. Kainov

0

3 cm

Fig. 5. The base of the pommel of the B-type sword from the Central site of unfortified dwelling settlement excavation in Gnёzdovo. Photo by
S. Yu. Kainov; drawing by A. S. Dement’eva.
Ryc. 5. Podkładka głowicy miecza typu B z osady Centralnej w Gniezdowie. Fot. S. Yu. Kainov; rys. A. S. Dement’eva.

another pommel, typical for another type (N?)6
(Шмидт 2005, 207, илл. 22:1). By morphological
attributes the sword’s crossguard belongs to Variant
B1 (according to F. A. Androschuk)7. but at the
same time it has a feature which distinguishes it
from the bulk of swords of this type – the ornament
covering the ends of its lateral sides. Here three
vertical non-ferrous metal (copper?)8 wires are
encrusted on each side. The thickness of the side

wires is about 1 mm, and of the central one is
about 2 mm. A similar encrustation can be seen on
a crossguard of the sword from Holland (Province
Limburg), which, according to I. Peirce, is related
to Type B or to a transitive version between Types
B and H (Peirce 2002, 34-35)9. The latter is due to
that fact that the head of this sword’s pommel is
fastened to the base not by riveting on the tang,
which passes through the head and the base of the

6 Analogous bases of the pommel occur in the case of two swords from Germany (Oedt-Mulhausen, Bederkesa) (Geibig 1991,
Taf. 105:1-5, 115:1-4). In both cases the heads of the pommel were absent.
7 The identification of the Combination Type according to A. Geibig’s typology is impossible due to the fact that only the guard
has been found.
8 Visually three colours of the metal used in encrustation can be distinguished – white, yellow and assumed red. The metallographic
of the metal used in encrustation were carried out in some cases. The guard of Type H sword, associated with the burial near the
farm of Scar (the Orkney Islands), was encrusted with white and yellow strips. The examination, done with the use of X-Ray
Fluorescence Spectroscopy (XRF), showed that the strips of white metal were fabricated from silver, and the yellow ones from
brass (Owen, Dalland 1999, 105). Spectrographic analysis revealed that parts of the swords of Type S from Lutowo (Poland) were
encrusted with copper, silver and brass metal (Rybka 2009, 180). No analysis like this has been carried out for Gnëzdovo swords
yet. In our work we will define the metal used for the grip elements as silver, brass or copper, in cases where the colour of the metal
can be visually defined as white, yellow or “red” respectively.
9 On the lateral side of the base of the pommel, which is preserved much worse than the guard, a separate rib for encrustation has
been found (Peirce 2002, 154).

Swords from Gnёzdovo

pommel (like in Type B), but with rivets (like in
Type H). But unlike in Type H, the surfaces of
particular elements of the Holland sword hilt are
completely devoid of ornament. The same swords
were identified by W. Menghin as Type Dunum,
which is widespread only in mainland Europe and
not in Scandinavia (Androshchuk 2007, 57).
Given the existence of the Holland and
Novoselki swords’ crossguards with similar
encrustation, which, according to the author’s
knowledge, does not occur on swords of “classic”
Type B, and also complete morphological
similarity of both crossguards, it can be assumed
that the Novoselki sword’s crossguard originally,
before its reworking, also belongs to a sword of
Type Dunum.
The other two early medieval Russian swords
are intact. One of them was accidentally found
nearby the Bor village upon the River Oyat in the
south-eastern side of Lake Ladoga (Russia)
(Raudonikas 1930, 113,114). It was found stuck
in the ground, and, apparently, originates from
a destroyed grave.
A place, where the third sword, kept in the
collection of A. A. Bobrinsky, was found was
considered unknown for some time. Recently F. A.
Androschuk discovered in T. Arne’s archives some
entries that revealed that the sword mentioned above
had been found incidentally in the 1860s nearby
the Bichevo village (Liubar District, Zhytomyr
Oblast, Ukraine) (Андрощук 2008, 11-12, рис. 3).
Unfortunately, the absence of the fixed
archaeological context does not allow to date
these two swords. If the assumption that the
sword from Bor belonged to a destroyed grave in
a burial mound is true, the sword could not get
there earlier than in the 2nd half of the 9th c. – the
period of spreading of burial rites in barrows in
the south-eastern side of Lake Ladoga.
The fourth find of a Type B sword’s part in the
territory of early medieval Russia was discovered
at Gnёzdovo.
1. Base of the pommel (Fig. 5). A part of
a sword, which can be interpreted as a base of
the pommel of a Type B sword, was found in 1972
during the excavation of the eastern part of the
unfortified settlement site (excavation area VS-4),
not so far from the Central Fort. The length of the
pommel’s base is 71 mm, the height – 25 mm, the
thickness – 19 mm, and the weight – 156 g. The
discussed part is a short and tall iron block with
a precise horizontal rib in the middle. The top
face has a slightly concave shape. In the plan it has

15

the shape of elongated oval.
The sword part was found in a fill of a pit
together with wheel-made pottery. This fact restricts
the lower limit of it getting into the complex by
the 920-930s – the period when the potter’s wheel
appeared in Gnёzdovo. This dating differs from
the chronology of Type B swords in other regions.
This fact has several possible explanations. First,
as valuable and rare items for the Eastern territory,
swords, and in particular their individual elements,
may have had a much longer existence than in
Western and Northern Europe10. Second, the element
may have got into the 10th c. pit filling from an
earlier, totally ruined 9th c. layer. But this explanation
does not find yet any assured confirmation in the
materials from the site. Perhaps future studies will
help to cover the question of the chronology of
early Gnёzdovo more precisely11.
Type D
According to J. Petersen, crossguards of
such swords are massive, with a fin, and their ends
taper in the longitudinal cross-section. The head
of the pommel is three-parted with the tall middle
part, fastened to the base with rivets. Besides
some morphological features these swords are
1
also characterised with rich and diversified
ornaments of individual parts of the hilt (Петерсен
2005, 106-107).
J. Petersen identified two groups of swords
within Type D (in F. A. Androschuk’s works these
groups are marked as D1 and D2) – the early and
the late one, which differ not only with chronology,
but also with ornamental features (Androschuk
forthcoming). Hilts of swords of Group D1 are
ornamented with lines of cruciform figures, D2
group – with lines of small convex silvered
bronze badges (Петерсен 2005, 106-107). It is
appropriate to say that these two groups do not
represent all the variety of Type D swords’
ornament, and the Gnёzdovo sword illustrates it
in a perfect way. In A. Geibig’s typology Type D
has no match.
In Europe there were found no less than 38
(excluding the finds from early medieval Russia)
Type D swords (Jakobsson 1992, 208-209; Marek
2004, 109; Żabiński 2007, 56; Зозуля, Каинов
2008, 161; Androshchuk forthcoming). All the
swords have a composite design, which rarely
repeats. Swords of this type seem not to have been
a mass production of that time, as most of other
sword types were, but patterns of unique custommade weapons.

10 The example of such a chronological «gap» – the Type N?/В sword from Novoselki.
11 We are talking precisely about the existence of Gnëzdovo in pre-state and early-state periods.

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Fig. 6. Gnёzdovo: 1-2 – The D-type sword from the C-2 barrow; 3 – the stamps on the blade of the sword (1-2 – drawing by A. S. Dement’eva;
3 – after Кирпичников, Каинов 2001, 71, рис. 4).
Ryc. 6. Gniezdowo: 1-2 – miecz typu D z kurhanu C-2; 3 – znaki na głowni miecza (1-2 – rys. A. S. Dement’eva; 3 – wg Кирпичников, Каинов
2001, 71, рис. 4).

Swords from Gnёzdovo

J. Petersen generally dates these swords to
the 9th c., emphasizing that some Type D specimens
relate to the beginning of the 10th c. (Петерсен
2005, 108-110). F. A. Androschuk broadens the
upper date of this type to the 1st half of the 10th c.
(Андрощук 2010, 82, рис. 4).
In the territory of early medieval Russia two
Type D swords were found. The first of them was
found in 1902 during V. A. Gorodtsov’s excavation
of Barrow 1 of the Mikhailowsky barrow field
(Yaroslavl Oblast, Russia), which can be dated
to the 1st half of the 10th c. (Мурашева 1999,
30-32; Зозуля, Каинов 2008, 164-165). The
second sword is known from Gnёzdovo.
2. The intact sword (Fig. 6-8). It was found
in 1950 by D. A. Avdusin during the excavation
of C-2 Barrow (Central Barrow Group, Barrow
No. 2), associated with a double cremation burial.
The sword, bent and broken, was in a pit under
the funeral pyre (Авдусин 1957, 163). The full
length of the sword is 92 cm, the length of the
blade is 74 cm, the width of the blade near the
crossguard is about 5.5 cm, the length of the
crossguard – 10.1 cm, the height of the crossguard
– 2.8 cm, the crossguard thickness is 3.4 cm, the
length of the hilt tang is 9.1 cm, the height of the
pommel – 6.0 cm, the length of the pommel base
is 8.8 cm, the height of the pommel base is 2.8 cm,
and the thickness of the pommel base is 3.1 cm.
The pommel is two-parted, the tang of the
hilt passes through both parts of it and is riveted
from the top (A. Geibig’s Construction Type I).
The crossguard and the base of the pommel are
constructed the following way: the backing with
its hollow details is cast of brass, and openwork
plates, brazed (?) on the lateral sides, are attached
to its frontal surfaces. The lower surface of the
pommel and the upper and lower surfaces of the
crossguard are covered with brass plates, which
are fastened to the base by iron rivets (about
1.5 mm in diameter). Rivet ends are projecting
a few millimetres outside, what makes us to
suppose that they were covered by destroyed
decorative caps. The same structural scheme is
reproduced on the head of the pommel, besides
the fact that the lateral ornamented sides were
soldered with the non-ornamented central part,
which was covered with openwork plates. In
wide slots between three parts of the head of the
pommel and between the head and the base of the
pommel twisted wires (which did not survive)12
were fastened. Openwork plates and lateral parts
of the head of the pommel were gilded; brass
plates on the lower surface of the pommel and
12 The lower part of one of the yellow metal wires is preserved.

17

on the upper and lower surfaces of the crossguard
were tinned.
Openwork plates on the sword details were
decorated with a two panel zoomorphic ornament,
the chief motif of which is a twisted monster, shown
in full face, with a small three-toed paw, catching
a long, narrow loop-like tail, with spiral-shaped
joints and a head with a lush flowing mane
(Тунмарк-Нюлен 2001, 73-74). On the lateral
sides of the head of the pommel there are frontviewed anthropomorphic masks with typical “long
strands”, having a certain similarity with suchlike
masks on Types 37 and 51 oval fibulae (according
to J. Petersen’s typology). These are also equallyshouldered and 3-lobed. However, in the opinion
of I. Jansson, the Gnёzdovo sword’s ornament
has no direct parallels with oval fibulae, as well
as with other mainland Scandinavian jewellery
decorative motifs (ibidem, 74). L. Thunmark-Nylén
has clearly shown that the ornament of the
Gnёzdovo sword’s openwork plates is most similar
to the ornamentation of numerous specimens of
Gotland jewellery, primarily box-shaped fibulae.
It is emphasised that just the backs sides of
Gotland fibulae were sometimes decorated with
an engraved geometrical ornament, similar to the
1
ornamentation of the plates, attached to the
lower surface of the pommel base and the upper
surface of the crossguard on the Gnёzdovo sword.
All of the above lets us agree with L. ThunmarkNylén’s opinion that the hilt of the sword found
in C-2 Gnёzdovo Barrow is a product of a Gotland
craftsman, made in the traditions of Gotland
jeweller’s art (ibidem, 76).
The blade of the sword was in the poor state
of preservation, and its present form and shape
are the result of restoration. Fragmented inlays,
made of simple iron non-damascened wire were
identified on the blade (Fig. 6:3). On one side of
the blade there is an O-shaped symbol, on the other
side there are remains of a cross (Кирпичников,
Каинов 2001, 71). It remains unclear whether
these signs were autonomous, or a part of composite
marks of the manufacturer.
The site where the sword was found, based on
the find of a Type 52 oval fibula (J. Petersen’s
typology), and the find of an equally-shouldered
one (Type 73 of J. P.), can be related to the
middle or the 2nd half of the 10th c. (ibidem,
68-70). From my point of view, the discrepancy
with the dating of swords of this type, proposed
both by J. Petersen and F. A. Androschuk, is
explained primarily by a rather conditional
typological identification of the Gnёzdovo sword.

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Fig. 7. Gnёzdovo: 1 – the D-type sword from the C-2 barrow; 2 – the hilt of the sword. Photo by S. Yu. Kainov.
Ryc. 7. Gniezdowo: 1 – miecz typu D z kurhanu C-2; 2 – rękojeść miecza. Fot. S. Yu. Kainov.

19

Swords from Gnёzdovo

Morphological attributes, such as large individual
elements, two-parted pommel, the top of which is
divided into three parts, may link it to Type D
swords. However, no ornamental features or
structural characteristics of the assembly parts have
any similarities in any of known Type D swords.
Most likely, we have a pattern of a piecework job
for a customer, who sought to have a luxurious
and unique sword, not similar to other ones,
which prevailed in the investigated period and
were produced in relatively large quantities.
Type E
J. Petersen noted that Type E swords had
developed from Type D. In general, Type E is
characterised by massive crossguards, three-parted
pommel head, the extreme parts of which resemble
animal heads by its shape, but at the same time,
crossguards may be smaller, and the head of
the pommel could also lose its three-parted shape,
as an expressive form (Петерсен 2005, 111).
A distinctive feature of swords of this type
is the presence of incised ornamental slots (round,
oval or square-shaped) on front surfaces of the
crossguard and the pommel.
Due to the nature and the grouping of the
ornamental incisions, a division of this type into
several variants was proposed. In 2001 in my article
I identified four different variants of Type E,
based on the analysis of the Old-Russian material
(Каинов 2001, 56-58). The first one (labelled as
E-1), is characterised by an ornamental pattern of
simple round pits with diameters of 1.5-2 mm.
They are arranged in 5-9 lines. The second one
(E-2), has an additional ornamentation of round
pits with diameters of 3-5 mm, situated in 3-5 lines.
The third one (E-3) – with oval-shaped pits, placed
in three- or quatrefoils, and the fourth, (E-4) –
with simple round pits grouped in rhombuses13.
F. A. Androschuk supplemented and slightly
changed the foregoing division (Андрощук 2004,
100-101). He suggested an identification of the
following variants: Variant 1 – swords whose
pommel heads, pommel bases and crossguards, are
ornamented with pits being about two millimetres
in diameter. The ornament of the crossguard and
the pommel base is arranged in 5-7 lines. Based
on the presence and arrangement features of
encrustation of individual parts of the sword, f
our sub-variants were identified (a-d); Variant 2 –
sword hilts with large (about 5 mm in diameter)
pits, arranged in 2-3 lines. The presence of the
encrustation between pits, as well as as the
presence of wire inside them let us to identify two

0

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Fig. 8. The parts of the hilt of the D-type sword from the C-2 barrow
in Gnёzdovo. Photo by S. Yu. Kainov.
Ryc. 8. Elementy rękojeści miecza typu D z kurhanu C-2 w Gniezdowie. Fot. S. Yu. Kainov.

sub-varieties (a-b); Variant 3 – sword hilts with
smaller pits which are grouped in rhombuses.
Swords with the rhombus figure, arranged on
lateral parts of the head of the pommel are allocated
in Sub-variant a; Variant 4 – sword hilts with oval
(leaf-shaped) pits, arranged in three- or quatrefoils.
Pommels of Type E are two-parted; both parts
are attached to the tang of the blade (A. Geibig’s
Construction Type I).
All over Europe no less than 122 (excluding
the finds from early medieval Russia) Type E
swords were found (Каинов 2001, 62; Janowski,
Kotowicz, Michalak 2008; Androshchuk

13 It was discovered later that besides circular and oval shapes of the pits, they can also be square-shaped (Каинов 2011, 148-149).

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Fig. 9. Gnёzdovo: 1-2 – the E-type sword from the barrow C-15/Kusts.-1874; 3 – the stamps on the blade of the sword. Drawing by
A. S. Dement’eva.
Ryc. 9. Gniezdowo: 1 – miecz typu E z kurhanu C-15/Kusts.-1874; 2 – znaki na głowni miecza. Rys. A. S. Dement’eva.

Swords from Gnёzdovo

forthcoming). J. Petersen dated most of Norse
swords of this type to the 9th c., and one of them –
to the early 10th c. (Петерсен 2005, 114-115).
Finnish swords were also dated to the 9th c. by
E. Kivikoski (Kivikoski 1973, 112). According
to B. von Mühlen, Prussian specimens are dated
to the 10th c. (von Mühlen 1975, 31). V. Kazakevičius
offers a broadened dating for Prussian swords,
dating them to the early 9th – 1st half of the 10th c.
(Kazakevičius 1996, 150). One of Estonian Type E
swords originates from a burial dated to the 10th c.
(Mandel 1991, 131).
In the territory of early medieval Russia no less
than 15 swords were found. Their chronology based
on archaeological context does not extend beyond
the 10th c. (Каинов 2001, 57-58). The Type E sword,
found in the Sarsky fort, can be presumably dated
to the 9th c., due to its morphology and ornament
(Каинов 2011, 149). Three (possibly four) Type E
swords were found at Gnёzdovo.
3. The intact sword (Fig. 9-11). It was found
in 1874 during M. Kustsinsky’s excavation of
Barrow 15 (C-15/Kusts.-1874), which contained
a double cremation burial. The sword was stuck in
the ground near the urn with remains of cremation.
The full length of the sword is 98.8 cm, the length
of the blade – 82 cm, the width of the blade near
the crossguard – 6.4 cm, the thickness of the blade
near the crossguard – 0.5 cm, the length of the
crossguard – 10.9 cm, the height of the crossguard
– 2.2 cm, the crossguard thickness – 3.1 cm, the
length of the hilt tang – 8.8 cm, the height of the
pommel – 5.7 cm, the length of the pommel base –
8.4 cm, the height of the pommel base – 2.2 cm,
and the thickness of the pommel base – 0.9 cm.
The sword can be defined as Variant E-1,
which is characterised by the ornament of simple
pits. The crossguard and the base of the pommel
were decorated with pits of 1.5-2 mm in diameter,
arranged in nine lines in a chequerwise manner.
These pits are arranged on the central and triangleshaped pits can be seen on the lateral sides of the
head of the pommel. The surface between the
pits is encrusted with silver wire. The coating of
alternating silver wire with iron surface is not
complete. The encrustation density is about 25
wires per 10 mm. A pair of silver twisted wires
restricted the pits ornament on the crossguard
and on the base of the pommel from above and
from below. The head of the pommel is divided
into three parts by two slots, where once three
wires twisted together were fastened. On the
lower surface of the pommel and on the upper and

21

lower surface of the crossguard two iron pintles
were fixed (they were inserted into round holes
with a diameter of 1.5-2 mm). Around each of the
pintles there are 4-5 rounded hollows. The reason
of use of these iron pintles is not completely clear.
It is likely that decorative semicircular caps were
fixed on them, in order to imitate rivet heads
(e.g. Петерсен 2005, 111, рис. 61). It is also
possible that they fastened decorative plates that
fully covered the lower and the upper surfaces of
the pommel and the crossguard.
Due to the mobility of the hilt elements we can
see that the head and the base of the pommel are
hollow. In order to prevent slacking, they were
fastened to each other with two pegs.
Marks made with simple iron wire were
detected on the blade. On one side ther was
a +ULFBERH+T mark and on the other side –
a composition of vertical lines and two “volutes”
(Fig. 9:3) (Кирпичников 1966, рис. 35:1).
Barrow 15 (C-15/Kusts.-1874) was dated to
the 2nd quarter of the 10th c. (Каинов 2001, 60).
4. The intact sword (Fig. 12-14). It was found
in 1949 during D. A. Avdusin’s excavation of
Barrow L-13 (Forest Barrow Group) with a double
cremation burial (Авдусин 1952, 334-340). The
1
sword was broken in two parts, and then stuck in the
ground. The full length of the sword is 97,8 cm, the
length of the blade – 79.6 cm, the width of the blade
near the crossguard – 6.3 cm, the thickness of the
blade near the crossguard – 0.6 cm, the length of the
crossguard – 10,5 cm, the height of the crossguard –
2.7 cm, the crossguard thickness – 3.3 cm, the length
of the hilt tang – about 9.5 cm14, the height of the
pommel – 6.4 cm, the length of the pommel base –
8.9 cm, the height of the pommel base – 2.8 cm, and
the thickness of the pommel base – 3.3 cm.
The sword can be classified as Variant E-2,
which is characterised by a complex cell ornament.
The crossguard and the base of the pommel are
ornamented with pits of about 4 mm in diameter15,
arranged in five lines in a chequerwise manner.
These pits are arranged on the central side of the
head of the pommel. These pits are attached to
each other with slots about 2 mm in diameter, in
which twisted wires are inlaid. In the last lines
of the pits there is a pair of twisted wires which is
placed in shape of a loop, in the remaining lines
the wires overlap each other (Fig. 15).
In its original form the wire coating was
preserved only on the base and on the central part
of the pommel head. On the crossguard the state of
preservation of the coating is fractional. Among the

14 The precise measurement is impossible, as the guard is dislocated from its original place.
15 Depth of the pits: 3.5-3.8 mm.

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Fig. 10. Gnёzdovo: 1 – the E-type sword from the barrow C-15/Kusts.-1874; 2 – the hilt of the sword. Photo by V. A. Mochugovskiy.
Ryc. 10. Gniezdowo: 1 – miecz typu E z kurhanu C-15/Kusts.-1874; 2 – rękojeść miecza. Fot. V. A. Močugovskij.

23

Swords from Gnёzdovo

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Fig. 11. The parts of the hilt of the E-type sword from the barrow C-15/Kusts.-1874 in Gnëzdovo. Photo by S. Yu. Kainov.
Ryc. 11. Elementy rękojeści miecza typu E z kurhanu C-15/Kusts.-1874 w Gniezdowie. Fot. S. Yu. Kainov.

pits and on the lateral sides of the pommel head
a silver-wire encrustation is applied. The encrustation
is not complete on the crossguard, on the base and
on the central part of the head of the pommel. The
encrustation density is about 13 wires per 10 mm. In
two hollows, which divide the head of the pommel

into three parts, three pairs of twisted wires,
representing so-called beaded wire, were fastened to
each of these parts. A silver place (about 0,5 mm thick)
was fixed with the use of six silver rivets on the lower
surface of the base of the pommel. On the edges of
each engraved step a patterned sennit decoration16

16 Such plaited ornament is very indicative for the Scandinavian jewellery in the 10th c. It occurs on women’s jewellery as well as

on weapons – swords, spearheads. As an example, fret is also represented on the sword of Type T-1 from Monastirishche (Russia)
(Кирпичников 1966, рис. 22:2).

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Fig. 12. Gnёzdovo: 1-2 – the E-type sword from the barrow L-13; 3 – the stamps on the blade of the sword (1-2 – drawing by A. S. Dement’eva;
2 – after Kирпичников 1966, рис. 37:7).
Ryc. 12. Gniezdowo: 1 – miecz typu E z kurhanu L-13; 2 – znaki na głowni miecza (1-2 – rys. A. S. Dement’eva; 2 – wg Kирпичников 1966, рис. 37:7).

Swords from Gnёzdovo

was arranged. Ornamental incisions are filled with
niello (?). On the upper and lower surface of the
crossguard there are several holes (6 holes on each
plan) for the rivets, which fastened the aforementioned plates. These holes were surrounded
by 4-7 round hollows for a better adhesion of the
plate to the ends of this part of the hilt.
A mark made with damascened wire was
detected on the blade: on one side there is a figure
of a man, and on the other side there are two
crutched crosses, with a helix situated between
them (Fig. 12:3).
Barrow L-13, in V. S. Nefedov’s opinion, may
be dated to the 2nd quarter – the middle of the 10th c.
(Нефёдов 2001a, 65).
Two other swords with an additional ornament
of cells were found in the territory of early medieval
Russia. One of them dates to AD 920-950
(Ust-Ribezgno, Russia), and the other – to the 2nd
half of the 10th c. (Goulbische, Ukraine)17. Outside
early medieval Russia these swords are known
in Sweden (Androshchuk forthcoming).
5. The crossguard, the fragment of the blade’s
tang and the upper part of the blade (Fig. 16). The
fragment was accidentally found in summer of 2001
in gardens, located the in immediate vicinity of
the western end of the Forest Barrow Group. The
condition of the blade and the tang in the point of
breaking indicates that the sword was bent and
broken. The most likely assumption is that this
fragment of the sword comes from a ruined and
ploughed barrow, that contained a cremation burial.
The full length of the fragment is 20.5 cm, the
width of the blade near the crossguard is 6.2 cm, the
thickness of the blade near the crossguard – 0.7 cm,
the length of the crossguard – 10 cm, the height
of the crossguard – 2.4 cm, and the crossguard
thickness – 3.1 cm.
The sword belongs to the variant with an
ornament of simple pits pattern (E-1). On the
sword’s crossguard there are seven well-preserved
lines of pits, each being about 2 mm in diameter.
Among the pits there is an encrustation of inlaid
white metal wire. The encrustation is not
completely preserved and its density is about 20
wires per 10 mm. A par of twisted silver wires,
placed in a slot, restricted the ornament of the pits
from above and from below. On the surface facing
the blade, iron pins about 2 mm in diameter are
preserved.

25

On one side of the sword’s fragment a voluteshaped mark, made of simple non-damascened
wire, was detected. The preserved part of the other
surface of the blade did not contain any marks.
Type H/I
According to J. Petersen, the crossguard and
the pommel base of Type H swords hilt are wide and
elliptical in longitudinal section. Especially wide
is the base of the pommel – it is the widest of all
the pommel bases of Viking Age swords (3.6 cm).
Most often the crossguard and the base of the
pommel are slightly rounded, but early specimens
are characterised by clearly defined ribs, while
crossguards without ribs, which are rectangular
in section, are less common (Петерсен 2005, 125).
The most massive specimens of Type H, in
J. Petersen’s opinion, are the early ones. Type H
swords are ornamented with encrusted wires,
shaping a continuous monochrome surface, or
a variety of polychrome compositions (ibidem,
125-126).
J. Petersen defined Type I as related to
Type H, emphasising that it is often difficult to
determinate to which of these two sword types one
or another sword exactly belongs (ibidem, 135)181 .
In J. Petersen’s opinion, the Type I sword differs
from Type H with a smaller size of the crossguard
and the pommel base. These parts of the hilt
are also narrower (pommel bases are from 1.8
to 2.3 cm wide), and lower (no more than 1 cm
high). The head of the pommel is more narrowed to
the top and can be slightly concave (ibidem, 135).
L. Bergman and B. Arrhenius, who studied Type H
and I swords from the Birka Barrow Cemetery
with X-ray, think that swords of these types also
differ in the way of fastening the base and the
head of the pommel. Type H sword with wide
bases of the pommel (up to 3.6 cm high), are
characterised by fastening with two pins (A.
Geibig’s Construction Type IIb), while Type I
sword pommels with a base width of 1.8-2.3 cm
were fastened with loops (A. Geibig’s Construction
Type IIa) (Thålin Bergman, Arrhenius 2005, 38,
tab. 5). F. A. Androschuk, studied 40 Swedish Type
H/I swords with X-ray, and concluded that there
was no clear boundary between the dimensional
characteristics (in this case, the width of the
pommel base) of Type H/I swords with different
structural schemes of fastening the pommel head

17 A closer study of the sword from Goulbische allowed for an identification ornamental elements on it, that characterise swords
of Type T type with ornamentation of a pattern of pits (T-1). In this regard, the presence of wire inlay (characterising Type E-2) in
the pits ornamentation of the swords, identified as Type T-1.
18 In J. Petersen’s opinion Type I is a special variant of Type H (Петерсен 2005, 138). F. А. Androshchuk also suggests combining
swords of Types H and I into one type, by adding here also swords of Special Type 20 (Androshchuk forthcoming).

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3 cm

1
Fig. 13. Gnёzdovo: 1 – the E-type sword from the barrow L-13; 2 – the hilt of the sword. Photo by S. Yu. Kainov.
Ryc. 13. Gniezdowo: 1 – miecz typu E z kurhanu L-13; 2 – rękojeść miecza. Fot. S. Yu. Kainov.

27

Swords from Gnёzdovo

1

0

3 cm

Fig. 14. The parts of the hilt of the E-type sword from the barrow L-13 in Gnëzdovo. Photo by S. Yu. Kainov.
Ryc. 14. Elementy rękojeści miecza typu E z kurhanu L-13 w Gniezdowie. Fot. S. Yu. Kainov.

to the base19 (Androshchuk forthcomig). But in
general, F. A. Androschuk’s studies confirmed
L. Bergman’s and B. Arrhenius’ observation – swords
with wide bases of the pommel are characterised
by fastening the head and the base with rivets,
and swords with narrow bases of the pommel are
characterised by fastening them using the loop.
In A. Geibig’s typology J. Petersen’s Type H/I
corresponds to Variant 1 of Combination Type V.

Type H/I swords are the most widespread
swords in Europe – excluding the finds from early
medieval Russia, about 700 such swords were
found (Jakobsson 1992, 209-210; Marek 2004,
113; Żabiński 2007; Androshchuk forthcoming).
J. Petersen dated Type H swords to the early 9th –
the middle of the 10th c. (Петерсен 2005, 130-133).
Earlier datings of the appearance of the type
were also offered – about the 2nd half of the 8th c.

19 The width of the base of the pommel with the loop – from 2 to 3 cm, with the rivets’ length from 2.1 to 4.2 cm (Androshchuk
forthcoming).

28

Sergej Yu. Kainov

Fig. 15. The pit design of the E-type sword base of the pommel from
the barrow L-13 in Gnëzdovo. Photo by S. Yu. Kainov.
Ryc. 15. Zdobienie podstawy głowicy miecza typu E z kurhanu L-13
w Gniezdowie. Fot. S. Yu. Kainov.

(Вешнякова 2005, 318, табл. 1). For Type I, the
chronology is narrower – the 2nd half of the 9th –
the middle of the 10th c. (Петерсен 2005, 137-138).
In the territory of early medieval Russia no
less than 30 swords and their fragments, related to
Type H/I, were found. Their dating fits to the 10th c.
The latest Type H swords (the 11th c., perhaps circa
1000-1050), were found on the Izhora Plateau
during L. Ivanovsky’s excavation.
In Gnёzdovo (including separate fragments)
six Type H/I swords were found.
6. The hilt and a fragment of the blade
(Fig. 17-18). These were found in October of 1898
during a construction work that destroyed several
mounds (complex of finds on X.1898 (C)). Possibly,
the finds originate from a ruined chamber burial
(Булкин 1982, 140). The full length of the fragment
is 31.5 cm, the width of the blade near the
crossguard – 6.1 cm, the thickness of the blade
near the crossguard – 0.5 cm, the length of the
crossguard – 9.7 cm, the height of the crossguard
– 1.8 cm, the crossguard thickness – 2.8 cm, the
length of the hilt’s tang – 9.7 cm, the height of
the pommel – 5.2 cm, the length of the pommel base
– 8.4 cm, the height of the pommel’s base – 1.7 cm,
and the thickness of the pommel base – 3.7 cm.
A vertically arranged encrustation of yellow
metal wire is partially preserved on parts of the hilt.
The encrustation density is about 16 wires per 10 mm.
A mark made of damascened wire was found
on the blade’s fragment: on the one side there are

letter-shaped signs, on the other side – lattice
weave (Fig. 17:3) (Кирпичников 1966, рис. 37:2).
B. A. Kolchin carried out a metallographic
analysis of the preserved fragment of the blade
which revealed a homogeneous ferritic structure
(Fig. 17:4) (Колчин 1953, 133-134, рис. 105:7,
106:4). The researcher explained this circumstance
with a strong destruction of the blade in the place
of sampling, whereby the welded edges did not
survive (ibidem, 242).
Supposedly, together with the sword, a fragment
of a horse trapping (?) belt, ornamented with round
badges, and encrusted with five-pointed stars shaped
silver inserts, originates from the ruined burial.
These badges are considered to be a craftwork of
goldsmiths from the area of the middle course of
the Dnieper. At Gnёzdovo, such badges appeared
not earlier than in the middle of the 10th c. Thus,
provided that the badges and the sword come from
the same burial, and considering also the most
likely funeral rite in a wooden chamber, the burial
may be dated to the 2nd half of the 10th c.
7. The intact sword (Fig. 19-21). It was found
in 1949 during D. Avdusin’s excavation of Barrow
L-35 (Forest Barrow Group, Barrow No. 35), which
contained a double cremation burial (Авдусин
1952, 358-361). The sword was broken in two
parts, and then stuck into the ground. The full
length of the sword is 96.0 cm, the length of the
blade is 78.8 cm, the width of the blade near the
crossguard – 5.5-6 cm20, the thickness of the blade
near the crossguard – about 0.5 cm, the length of the
crossguard – 10.5 cm, the height of the crossguard –
2.1 cm, the crossguard thickness is 3.7 cm, the
length of the hilt tang – 9.4 cm, the height of
the pommel – 5.7 cm, the length of the pommel
base – 9.1 cm, the height of the pommel base
is 1.7 cm, and the thickness of the pommel base
– 3.7 cm.
Front surfaces of the hilt’s parts are coated
with a vertically (at a slight angle) arranged
encrustation of silver wire. Encrustation density
– 13 wires per 10 mm.
Between the blade and the inner side of the
blade hollow in the crossguard iron plates of
about 1 mm thickness were detected. Apparently,
their purpose was to strengthen the fixing of the
crossguard on the blade.
On the tang, minor fragments of the hilt’s
wooden grip, oval in section, were preserved to the
present time21. By the time of finding, the sword’s
hilt survived almost intact (fig. 20:3).

20 It does not seem possible to determine the original width of the blade does not seem possible in view of its poor preservation.
21 Determination of the wood species, obtained for the sword hilts found at Gnezdovo, has not been made yet. Analogous analyses

for a number of European swords detected the following species: maple (Lake Lednica), and conifers (Donnybrook) (Hall 1978, 79;
Stępnik 2011, 79).

29

Swords from Gnёzdovo

0

3 cm

1
1

3
0

3 cm

2
0

3 cm

Fig. 16. Gnëzdovo: 1-2 – the fragment of the E-type sword. Accidental find; 3 – the crossguard of the sword (1 – drawing by A. S. Dement’eva;
2-3 – photo by V. A. Baryshev).
Ryc. 16. Gniezdowo: 1-2 – fragment miecza typu E. Znalezisko luźne; 3 – jelec miecza (1 – rys. A. S. Dement’eva; 2-3 – fot. V. A. Baryshev).

Sergej Yu. Kainov

0

10 cm

30

1

2
3 cm

0

10 cm

0

3
0

3 cm

5
0

2 cm

4

Fig. 17. Gnёzdovo: 1-2 – the fragment of the H/I-type sword from the destroyed barrow (complex of finds on X.1898); 3 – the stamps on the blade
of the sword; 4 – the arranging of the metallographic grind on the blade of the sword; 5 – the technological scheme of the blade (1-3 – drawing
by A. S. Dement’eva; 4-5 – after Колчин 1953, 133-134, рис. 105:7; 106:4).
Ryc. 17. Gniezdowo: 1-2 – fragment miecza typu H/I ze zniszczonego kurhanu (zespół znalezisk z X 1898 r.); 3 – znaki na głowni miecza; 4 – miejsce
pobrania próbki na głowni miecza; 5 – struktura technologiczna głowni (1-3 – rys. A. S. Dement’eva; 4-5 – wg Колчин 1953, 133-134, рис. 105:7; 106:4).

Swords from Gnёzdovo

31

0

10 cm

1

Fig. 18. The fragment of the H/I-type sword from the destroyed barrow in Gnëzdovo (complex of finds on X.1898). Photo by V. A. Mochugovskiy.
Ryc. 18. Fragment miecza typu H/I ze zniszczonego kurhanu w Gniezdowie (zespół znalezisk z X 1898 r.). Fot. V. A. Močugovskij.

On the blade a mark made with simple wire
was detected – on one side there was a fragment
of a letter-shaped sign, and on the other side
– a helix (fig. 19:3-4) (Кирпичников 1966,
рис. 37:9).

On the basis of contextual data provided by
the burial’s furnishings, the barrow may be dated
to the 2nd quarter – the middle of the 10th c.
8. The intact sword (hilt and the most part of
the blade are preserved) (fig. 22-24). The artefact

32

Sergej Yu. Kainov

was found in 1987 during D. A. Avdusin’s
excavation of Barrow Lb-1 (Left Dnieper Coast
Barrow Group, Barrow No. 1), with a double
cremation burial (Пушкина 1993, 113-115). The
sword was bent and broken, the pommel was
broken off. The width of the blade near the
crossguard is 6.6 cm, the thickness of the blade
near the crossguard – 0.6 cm, the length of the
crossguard – 10 cm, the height of the crossguard
– 1.5 cm, the crossguard thickness – 2.5 cm, the
length of the hilt tang – about 9.5 cm, the height
of the pommel – 4.8 cm, the length of the pommel
base – 7.9 cm, the height of the pommel base –
1.4 cm, and the thickness of the pommel base –
2.5 cm. The weight of the pommel is 238 g.
All visible surfaces of the sword’s crossguard
and the pommel were covered with white metal.
The same coating is evident on the lateral walls of
the hole for the blade’s tang, as well as on the top
end of the pommel base, passing under the head.
The way of making the coating is still unclear.
When the coating was applied, the frontal surfaces
of the crossguard were engraved with thin parallel
lines about 0.2 mm in diameter. This is how an
imitation of the encrustation was created (fig. 26).
On the head of the pommel’s rib a slot was made,
where white metal wire was encrusted. The end
sides of the crossguard and the pommel remained
smooth.
On the blade a mark made with damascened
wire was detected. There was an ULFBREH+(T)
mark on one side and lattice weave on the other
side (fig. 22:3).
Based on the analysis of Barrow Lb-1’s
burial furnishings, T. A. Pushkina concluded that
this barrow may be dated to the middle of the
10th c. (ibidem, 115).
9. The head of the pommel (Fig. 26). It was
found in 1881 during V. I. Sizov’s excavation of
Barrow 6, which contained a male cremation burial
(L-6/Siz.-1881) (Cизов 1902, 21; Ширинский
1999, 112-113). Dimensions: length – 6.8 cm,
height – 3.0 cm, width – 2.0 cm. Weight – 72 g.
On the surface of the find, despite a rather
fine state of preservation, no traces of encrustation
were detected. However, in some places a brass
(copper?) coating was noted. The technique of
coating is not clear. Perhaps the technology is

similar to the way of brazing of iron frameworks
of spherical weights22.
The fragment is hollow with a clearly visible
seen brass coating inside. Most likely these are
traces of brazing of the loop, which fixed the head
of the pommel to its base (A. Geibig’s Construction
Type IIa).
In addition to the original technique of nonferrous metal coating, a remarkable feature of this
find is its shape. The head of the pommel has
strongly sloping bottom corners. To the best of our
knowledge, swords of Type H/I23 with this shape
of the head of the pommel have never been found
anywhere. Apparently, we are dealing with a rare
variant of the sword, which in its morphological
features is closest to Type H/I.
Unfortunately, the burial furnishings do not
allow for dating of the barrow.
10. A crossguard (Fig. 27). The specimen
was found in 1953 during D. Avdusin’s excavation
of the Central Fort (excavation area CG ЦГ-II).
Length – 9,3 cm, height – 1.6 cm, thickness
– 2.2 cm. Weight – 182 g.
On the surface of the find there is a finepreserved continuous yellow metal vertical
encrustation. The density of the encrustation is
16 wires per 10 millimeters. On the upper and
the lower surfaces, small remains of a very thin
solid yellow metal coating were preserved. The
technique of fastening is not clear24. J. Petersen
noted cases of application of such plates, which
covered the upper and the lower surface of the
crossguard and pommel base. The crossguard
originates from a layer which is dated not earlier
than to the 2nd quarter of the 10th c.
11. A head of the pommel (Fig. 28). Found
in 1986 during T. A. Pushkina’s excavation of
the Central Fort (excavation area CG-XIX).
Dimensions: length – 7.1 cm, height – 2.9 cm,
width – 2.9 cm. Weight – 90 g.
The specimen is ornamented with vertical
yellow metal encrustation. The encrustation
density is about 17 wires per 10 mm. Three
encrusted yellow metal lines are arranged on the
pommel’s rib.
The head is hollow and was fastened to the
pommel base by two partially-preserved iron rivets
about 5 mm in diameter. (A. Geibig’s Construction

22 Consequently, by means of using “cooper coating” – a simpler technological way of covering the iron surface with non-ferrous
metal – a similar result to using monochromatic encrustation was reached.
23 The sword from Lille Vestre Finstaad (Norway) seemed for us to be the closest in its form (viewed from the front), but the head
of its pommel has a semicircular shape in its lateral view, as opposed to the Gnëzdovo find, which is sub-triangular in its lateral
view (Петерсен 2005, 114, рис. 92).
24 On the Type H sword, found near the Scar farm, the upper and the lower surface of the crossguard were covered with plates of
about 1 mm in diameter, made of brass (cooper with ample quantity of zinc and insignificant impurities of tin). The plates were
attached to the iron framework presumably by two rivets (Owen, Dalland 1999, 107).

33

10 cm

Swords from Gnёzdovo

0

3 cm
1

0

2

3
0

1

3 cm

4

Fig. 19. Gnёzdovo: 1-2 – the H/I-type sword from the barrow L-35; 3 – the stamp on the one side of the blade of the sword from the barrow L-35;
4 – the stamps on the blade of the sword from the barrow L-35 (1-3 – drawing by A. S. Dement’eva; 4 – after Кирпичников 1966, рис. 37:9).
Ryc. 19. Gniezdowo: 1-2 – miecz typu H/I z kurhanu L-35; 3 – znak na jednej ze stron głowni miecza z kurhanu L-35; 4 – znaki na głowni miecza
z kurhanu L-35 (1-3 – rys. A. S. Dement’eva; 4 – wg Кирпичников 1966, рис. 37:9).

Sergej Yu. Kainov

10 cm

34

0

2

0

1

3 cm

3

Fig. 20. Gnёzdovo: 1 – the H/I-type sword from the barrow L-35; 2 – the hilt of the H/I-type sword from the barrow L-35; 3 – the hilt of the H/I-type
sword from the barrow L-35 after discovering (1-2 – photo by S. Yu. Kainov).
Ryc. 20. Gniezdowo: 1 – miecz typu H/I z kurhanu L-35; 2 – rękojeść miecza typu H/I z kurhanu L-35; 3 – rękojeść miecza typu H/I z kurhanu
L-35 w momencie odkrycia (1-2 – fot. S. Yu. Kainov).

35

Swords from Gnёzdovo

1

0

3 cm

Fig. 21. The parts of the hilt of the H/I-type sword from the barrow L-35 in Gnëzdovo. Photo by S. Yu. Kainov.
Ryc. 21. Elementy rękojeści miecza typu H/I z kurhanu L-35 w Gniezdowie. Fot. S. Yu. Kainov.

Type IIb). Remains of brass, preserved inside, let us
consider rivets to be brazed into the pommel’s head.
The find originates from the layer dated not
earlier than to the 2nd quarter of the 10th c.
Type T
According to J. Petersen, Type T is characterised
by the following features: Crossguards are usually

straight or slightly curved. They are of the same height,
with slightly rounded ends; on the lower crossguard
the ends are rounded on the bottom, on the upper one
– on the top. The head of the pommel is also threeparted, the end parts of it are more like beast’s snouts
than in the previous (S) type (Петерсен 2005, 178).
Based on the details of the hilt ornament,
J. Petersen identified two groups of Type T swords.

Sergej Yu. Kainov

36

3 cm

0

0

10 cm

2

1

3
0

3 cm

Fig. 22. Gnëzdovo: 1-2 – fragments of the H/I-type sword from the barrow Lb-1; 3 – the stamp on the blade of the H/I-type sword from the barrow
Lb-1. Drawing by A. S. Dement’eva.
Ryc. 22. Gniezdowo: 1-2 – fragmenty miecza typu H/I z kurhanu Lb-1; 3 – znak na głowni miecza typu H/I z kurhanu Lb-1. Rys. A. S. Dement’eva.

37

10 cm

Swords from Gnёzdovo

0

1

2
1
0

3 cm

Fig. 23. Gnёzdovo: 1 – fragment of the H/I-type sword from the barrow Lb-1; 2 – the hilt of the H/I-type sword from the barrow Lb-1. Photo by
S. Yu. Kainov.
Ryc. 23. Gniezdowo: 1 – fragment miecza typu H/I z kurhanu Lb-1; 2 – rękojeść miecza typu H/I z kurhanu Lb-1. Fot. S. Yu. Kainov.

He classified swords with beast style ornament or
with several lines of round hollows as the first
group. The second group is represented by swords
with hilt’s parts designed with triangles and
rhombuses. These groups, identified by J. Petersen,
are marked in A. Kirpichnikov’s work as Types
T-1 and T-2 (Кирпичников 1966, 28,30).
V. Kazakevičius’s work, devoted to swords
found in the territories inhabited by Baltic
tribes, slightly confused the definition of Type T
(Kazakevičius 1996, 44-53). There are «classic»
Type T swords among other local swords,
classified by V. Kazakevičius as this type, but,
from my point of view, the vast majority of them

– are of some more local Baltic shape. Even
a simple review of sword illustrations, included
by V. Kazakevičius in Type T, convinces us about
their extreme heterogeneity, both concerning their
morphology and ornaments (ibidem, pav. 42, 49).
Perhaps a number of swords (for example, the
sword found at Gintaliske, Burial 2), represents
(occurring in the 11th c.) a development of Type
T-1 (according to J. Petersen) type, but it is also
obvious that a significant part of Type T swords
(according to V. Kazakevičius), has nothing in
common with “classic” patterns of this type,
except for, perhaps, three-parted head of the
pommel, which are anyway common for many

38

Sergej Yu. Kainov

0

Fig. 24. The parts of the hilt of the H/I-type sword from the barrow Lb-1 in Gnëzdovo. Photo by S. Yu. Kainov.
Ryc. 24. Elementy rękojeści miecza typu H/I z kurhanu Lb-1 w Gniezdowie. Fot. S. Yu. Kainov.

3 cm

Swords from Gnёzdovo

39

Fig. 25. The surface of the H/I-type sword pommel from the barrow Lb-1 in Gnëzdovo. Photo by S. Yu. Kainov.
Ryc. 25. Powierzchnia głowicy miecza typu H/I z kurhanu Lb-1 w Gniezdowie. Fot. S. Yu. Kainov.

sword types25. In the case of swords of the Baltic
tribes in the 11th-13th c., we face the appearance
and the development of their own manufacturing
tradition, manifesting in local types of sword hilts,
as well as in types of their unique ornamentation26.
In A. Geibig’s typology Type T has no
matches.
For the European territory there is no special
statistics for Types T-1 and T-2. No less than 21
specimens (without finds from the territory of
settlement of Old-Russian and Baltic tribes) of
Type T swords were found (Jakobsson 1992, 213;
Androshchuk forthcoming). J. Petersen dated Type
T to the 2nd half of 10th – early 11th c. (Петерсен
2005, 180).

1

In the territory of early medieval Russia27 at
least another 14 Type T swords were found, no less
than eight of them of Type T-2, which is of interest
to us. A. N. Kirpichnikov dates the Old-Russian
Type T swords to the middle – the 2nd half of the
10th c. (Кирпичников 1966, 28). At Gnёzdovo one
sword of Type T-2 was found.
12. A hilt and a fragment of blade (Fig. 29-31).
The work of V. I. Sizov’s reports about this find in
the following manner: According to Mr. Filimonov
(Gnёzdovo owner), this sword was found by
workers during barrow demolition in a barrow’s
bottom, stuck into the ground (Сизов 1902, 28)28.
Full length of the sword – 64.8 cm, width of the
blade near the crossguard – 5.6 cm, thickness of

25 It is also necessary to offer objections concerning a classification by V. Kazakevičius of the «combined» form of the swords of
Type T/Z. Such-like swords have little in common with Type T swords, as like with Type Z specimens (according to J. Petersen’s
typology) (Kazakevičius 1996, 50-53, pav. 53-56). They differ from them both morphologically and technologically. Swords of
the combined T/Z form (according to V. Kazakevičius) belong to an individual type, defined by A.N. Kirpichnikov based the
analysis of Old-Russian material, as “local Type A” (Кирпичников 1966, 35-36). V. Kazakevičius’ classification denotation of
swords with a composition of bronze parts (indicative for Baltic tribes) as Type T-1 Curonian is hard to accept, either. This
produces a false illusion of the relation of this type to Type T swords in the typology of J. Petersen (ibidem, 53-58). The ornament,
the morphology, and first of all the chronology (the 2nd half of the 11th – 13th c.), in my point of view, do not let us relate this sword
to the “classic” Type T and in general analyse it as a part of the “Viking age” sword typology.
26 Apparently, this local tradition met a strong influence of the pan-European manufacturing tradition and in some way was its
continuation, but this influence did not cramp the development of original local hilt types.
27 This estimation includes Type T-1 type swords, found near the Dnieper rapids and on the Dnieper’s anastomosing branch
between Kherson and Aleshki (Кирпичников 1966, Кат. 36-37, 42).
28 A. N. Kirpichnikov classified it as Type V-type, which is wrong in my point of view. Larger parts, a high middle part of the head
of the pommel, and horizontally arranged ornamental triangles are remarkable features of Type T-2 swords.

40

Sergej Yu. Kainov

0

3 cm

Fig. 26. The head of the pommel of the H/I(?)-type sword from the barrow C-11/Sizov-1881 in Gnëzdovo. Drawing by A. S. Dement'eva; photo by
S. Yu. Kainov.
Ryc. 26. Nakładka głowicy miecza typu H/I (?) z kurhanu C-11/Sizov-1881 w Gniezdowie. Rys. A. S. Dement’eva; fot. S. Yu. Kainov.

the blade near the crossguard – 0.5 cm, length of
the crossguard – 11.4 cm, height of the crossguard
– 1.9 cm, crossguard’s thickness – 2.4 cm, length
of the hilt tang – 9.8 cm, height of the pommel –
5.7 cm, length of the pommel base – 8.2 cm, height
of the pommel base – 2.1 cm, thickness of the
pommel base – 2.6 cm.
There is a geometrical decoration in the central
part of the frontal surfaces of the crossguard and the
pommel base. It combines step-patterned rhombuses
and triangles, arranged in a vertical manner, and it
is applied in the technique of encrustation. On the
lateral sides of the crossguard and the pommel
base there are triangles and rhombuses, which are
arranged in a horizontal manner. The central part of
the pommel head is also decorated with vertically
arranged triangles and rhombuses. The triangles
are inlaid with silver wire and contoured with
copper wire; the rhombuses between them are
inlaid with twisted copper and silver wires. The
ornament of the lateral sides of the pommel head

is in a rather poor state of preservation and we can
reconstruct it as follows: the central part is taken by
sub-triangular figures with a fringe from one of the
sides. V. I. Kulakov proposes to consider these
figures as images of flags (Кулаков 1989, 69). The
rest of the space is occupied by a continuous silver
encrustation and, maybe step-patterned triangles
with silver-copper inlay. The very edge is coated
with a copper wire encrustation. An ornament of
step-patterned triangles is applied on the central
part of the upper surface of the crossguard. On the
lateral parts there is a circular ornament. On the lateral
sides of the lower surface of the crossguard there
are copper wire figures of weaving lines against
the silver background. The remaining part of this
surface is encrusted with a combination of wires of
different colours. In the central part of the lower
surface of the pommel there are step-patterned
rhombuses, and on the lateral sides – a combination
of wires of different colours. The encrustation
density is about 35-40 wires per 10 mm.

41

Swords from Gnёzdovo

0

3 cm

1
0

3 cm

Fig. 27. The crossguard of the H/I-type sword from the Central stronghold excavation in Gnëzdovo. Drawing by A. S. Dement’eva; photo by S. Yu. Kainov.
Ryc. 27. Jelec miecza typu H/I z badań na terenie grodziska Centralnego w Gniezdowie. Rys. A. S. Dement’eva; fot. S. Yu. Kainov.

The Construction Type of individual parts of the
pommel can be defined as A. Geibig’s Type II. The
head of the pommel is fastened to the base with an iron
loop, brazed inside the head of the pommel (we can see
solder from heavily corroded parts of the pommel).
On the lower surface of the pommel base under the
riveting of the bracket there are brass washers.
On the sword’s blade A. N. Kirpichnikov
uncovered a mark: on one side – +ULFBERH+T; on
the other – lattice weave (Fig. 29:4) (Кирпичников
1966, рис 35:2).
Polishing of the blade’s scrap revealed the
scheme of welding of a tempered steel edge on the
blade’s core, which contained almost no carbon
(Арендт 1935, 181).
As the sword was found in a destroyed burial
with no preserved furnishings, it is impossible to
date it on the basis of the archaeological context.
Type V
J. Petersen notes that in addition to types with
straight crossguards and removable three-parted

pommel heads, which were defined by him as
Types A, D, E, R, S, T, and U, there are also swords
which are equipped with three-parted pommel
heads, but their shape is so indefinite, that it is
extremely difficult to indicate the type they may be
referred to (Петерсен 2005, 183). He classified
such swords as Type V. They have the following
characteristics: The head of the pommel is rather
high – about 3-4 cm, round-shaped. The crossguards
are narrow in their cross-sections, with tapering
ends. The transition from the central part of the
pommel head to the outer parts is quite smooth. The
head of the pommel is not thickened and is roughly
of the same thickness as the base of the pommel.
Parts of the hilt are always designed with silver and
bronze wires, usually in the form of step-patterned
figures (ibidem, 183).
The ornamentation and the shape of (the head
of the pommel in the first place) of Type V hilt parts
are very similar to Type T-2 swords. Sometimes it is
difficult to determine to which type one or another
sword belongs. In our opinion, generally larger

42

Sergej Yu. Kainov

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0

3 cm

3 cm

Fig. 28. The head of the pommel of the H/I-type sword from the Central stronghold excavation in Gnëzdovo. Drawing by A. S. Dement’eva;
photo by S. Yu. Kainov.
Ryc. 28. Nakładka głowicy miecza typu H/I z badań na terenie grodziska Centralnego w Gniezdowie. Rys. A. S. Dement’eva; fot. S. Yu. Kainov.

parts of Type T-2 hilts, strongly rising central parts
and more clearly drawn lateral parts of the pommel,
as well as the presence of ornaments of horizontal
triangles and rhombuses on the lateral sides of
the crossguard and on the pommel base are
determinants here.
In A. Geibig’s typology Type V corresponds
to Combination Type 11.
In the territory of Europe, excluding finds from
Old Russia, no less than 56 Type V swords were
found (Sweden – 16, Denmark – 12, Germany – 3,
Norway – 6, Finland – 3, Estonia – 1, Ireland – 1,
Iceland – 1, the territory of settlement of Baltic
tribes – 1329) (Jakobsson 1992, 213; Androshchuk
forthcoming). J. Petersen dated this type to the
1st half of the 10th c. (Петерсен 2005, 184).
In the territory of early medieval Russia no
less than 25 Type V swords were discovered. These

finds may be dated to the middle – the 2nd half of
the 10th c. At Gnёzdovo four swords of this type
were found.
13. An intact sword (a pommel and a part
of the blade are preserved)30 (Fig. 32). It was found
in 1885 during V.I. Sizov’s excavation of Barrow
20 (41), located in the Central Barrow Group
(C-41/Siz.-1885), containing a double cremation
burial (Сизов 1902, 8-11). Height of the pommel
– 4.9 cm, length of the pommel base – 7.4 cm,
height of the pommel base – 1.6 cm, thickness
of the pommel base – 2.5 cm. Weight of the
pommel – 266 g.
The ornament is in poor state of preservation.
On the head of the pommel and the lower surface
of the pommel base there are remains of grooves
for inlays, and hardly fused encrusted areas. Based
on some of its remains, we may suggest that the

29 In my opinion, not all the swords, classified by V. Kazakevičius as Type V, are similar to the “classic” type as defined by J. Petersen.
30 The most part of the blade and of the crossguard survived in a lump with other items (spearheads, a battle knife etc.).

43

Swords from Gnёzdovo

- copper
- silver

1 cm

0

3

1
2
3 cm

0

10 cm

0

1

0

3 cm

4

Fig. 29. Gnëzdovo: 1-2 – the T-2-type sword from the destroyed barrow (with attributes of reconstruction); 3 – schemes of the encrustation
arrangement on the details of the hilt; 4 – the stamps on the blade. Drawing by A. S. Dement’eva.
Ryc. 29. Gniezdowo: 1-2 – miecz typu T-2 ze zniszczonego kurhanu (z elementami rekonstrukcji); 3 – schemat wzoru inkrustacji na elementach
rękojeści; 4 – znaki na głowni. Rys. A. S. Dement’eva.

Sergej Yu. Kainov

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10 cm

44

1

0

3 cm

2

Fig. 30. Gnëzdovo: 1 – the fragment of the T-2-type sword from the destroyed barrow; 2 – the hilt of the T-2-type sword. Photo by V. A. Mochugovskiy.
Ryc. 30. Gniezdowo: 1 – fragment miecza typu T-2 ze zniszczonego kurhanu; 3 – rękojeść miecza typu T-2. Fot. V. A. Mochugovskij.

ornamentation represented a combination of triangles
and rhombuses. On the lateral sides flag-shaped
figures are fragmentally preserved. The main
encrustation is made of silver and brass wire, while
the “flags” are made with copper wire. The edges of
the lateral parts of the pommel head are completely
covered with encrusted copper wire. Remains of
hardly fused encrustation were detected on the
lower surface of the pommel base. The encrustation
density is about 30 wires per 10 mm.
No marks were detected on the blade.

On the lower surface of the pommel base
there are fragmentally preserved iron rivets
(or ends of the loop), which slightly protrude
outside. The pommel can be defined as
Construction Type II according to A. Geibig.
In my opinion, based on the furnishings’
context, we can date the barrow to the middle –
the 2nd half of the 10th c.
14. An intact sword (a pommel and fragments
of the crossguard and a part of the blade are
preserved) (Fig. 33). It was found in 1901 during

45

Swords from Gnёzdovo

0

3 cm
1

Fig. 31. The parts of the hilt of the T-2-type sword from the destroyed barrow in Gnëzdovo. Photo by S. Yu. Kainov.
Ryc. 31. Elementy rękojeści miecza typu T-2 ze zniszczonego kurhanu w Gniezdowie. Fot. S. Yu. Kainov.

S. I. Sergeev’s excavation of Barrow 86 of the
Dnieper barrow group (Dn-86/Serg.-1901),
containing a double cremation burial (Спицын 1905,
50-51). Width of the blade near the crossguard –
5.9 cm, height of the crossguard – about 1.9 cm,

height of the pommel – 5.1 cm, length of the
pommel base – 7.6 cm, height of the pommel base
– 1.8 cm, thickness of the pommel base – 2.2 cm.
On the surface of the hilt parts mainly grooves
for inlay were preserved. Only on the lateral part of

46

Sergej Yu. Kainov

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3 cm

Fig. 32. The pommel of the V-type sword from the barrow C-20/Sizov-1885 in Gnëzdovo. Photo by S. Yu. Kainov.
Ryc. 32. Głowica miecza typu V z kurhanu C-20/Sizov-1885 w Gniezdowie. Fot. S. Yu. Kainov.

the pommel head remains of encrustation with
silver wire were detected. Density of grooves for
inlay – about 22 slots per 10 mm.
Two iron washers, enclosed under riveted
rivets or ends of the U-shaped loop, were fixed on
the lower surface of the pommel base (A. Geibig’s
Construction Type II).
The context where the sword was found may
be dated to the middle – the 2nd half of the 10th c.,
based on the find of a Type 52 fibula (according
to J. Petersen).
15. An intact sword (the hilt and the most
part of the blade are preserved) (Fig. 34-36).
It was found during construction works in July

1899 (complex of finds on July, 14, 1899) (Булкин
1982, 140). It comes from a ruined barrow, which
contained an inhumation burial in a wooden
chamber. Full length of the sword – 104 cm, length
of the blade – 87,5 cm, width of the blade near the
crossguard – 6.1 cm, length of the crossguard –
10.3 cm, height of the crossguard – 1.5 cm,
crossguard thickness – 2.5 cm, length of the hilt
tang – 10.2 cm, height of the pommel – 4.6 cm,
length of the pommel base – 7.5 cm, height of the
pommel base – 1.5 cm, thickness of the pommel
base – 2.2 cm.
A distinctive feature of this sword is the lack
of hollows, dividing the head of the pommel into

47

Swords from Gnёzdovo

3
0

3 cm

0

10 cm

1

1

2

4

Fig. 33. Gnëzdovo: 1 – fragments of the V-type sword from the barrow Dn-86/Serg.-1901 (current condition of artefact’s preservation);
2 – the V-type sword from the barrow Dn-86/Serg.-1901 (condition after discovering); 3-4 – the pommel, the fragment of tang and the fragment
of crossguard of the V-type sword from the barrow Dn-86/Serg.-1901 (1, 4 – photo by S. Yu. Kainov; 2 – after Спицын 1905, 64, рис 120;
3 – drawing by A. S. Dement’eva ).
Ryc. 33. Gniezdowo: 1 – fragmenty miecza typu V z kurhanu Dn-86/Serg.-1901 (aktualny stan zachowania); 2 – miecz typu V z kurhanu
Dn-86/Serg.-1901 (stan zachowania po odkryciu); 3-4 – głowica, fragment rękojeści i fragment jelca miecza typu V z kurhanu Dn-86/Serg.-1901
(1, 4 – fot. S. Yu. Kainov; 2 – wg Спицын 1905, 64, рис 120; 3 – rys. A. S. Dement’eva ).

Sergej Yu. Kainov

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- copper
- silver

0

1 cm
3

10 cm

2
3 cm

0

0

0

1

3 cm

4

Fig. 34. Gnëzdovo: 1-2 – fragments and the hilt of the V-type sword from the destroyed barrow (with the attributes of reconstruction); 3 – schemes
of the encrustation arrangement on the details of the hilt; 4 – fragmented stamps on the blade. Drawing by A. S. Dement’eva.
Ryc. 34. Gniezdowo: 1-2 – fragmenty miecza typu V ze zniszczonego kurhanu (z elementami rekonstrukcji); 3 – schemat wzoru inkrustacji
na elementach rękojeści; 4 – fragmenty znaków na głowni. Rys. A. S. Dement’eva.

49

Swords from Gnёzdovo

0

10 cm

1

2
0

3 cm

1

Fig. 35. Gnëzdovo: 1 – the V-type sword from the destroyed barrow; 2 – the hilt of the V-type sword. Photo by V. A. Mochugovskiy.
Ryc. 35. Gniezdowo: 1 – miecz typu V ze zniszczonego kurhanu; 3 – rękojeść miecza typu V. Fot. V. A. Mochugovskij.

50

Sergej Yu. Kainov

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3 cm

Fig. 36. The parts of the hilt of the V-type sword from the destroyed barrow in Gnëzdovo. Photo by S. Yu. Kainov.
Ryc. 36. Elementy rękojeści miecza typu V ze zniszczonego kurhanu w Gniezdowie. S. Yu. Kainov.

three parts. These hollows and twisted wires
which were fastened into them were imitated
with encrusted twisted silver wires. The ornament
of the main part of the surface is based on the
combination of vertically arranged step-patterned
triangles and rhombuses. Triangular figures were
inlaid with silver, rhombuses – with twisted silver
and copper wires. Among rhombuses and triangles
there is the inlay of copper wire. In the central part
of the lateral parts of the pommel’s head there
are “flags” inlaid with copper wire. The edges of
the lateral sides are inlaid with copper wire and
are ornamented with triangles. The encrustation
density is about 24 wires per 10 mm. In a hollow
between the upper and the lower part of the
pommel a pair of twisted copper wires is inserted.
On the lower surface of the pommels base
there are two brass washers, enclosed under riveted

rivets or ends of the U-shaped loop (A. Geibig’s
Construction Type II).
On the fragments of the blade A.N. Kirpichnikov
uncovered remains of a mark (Кирпичников 1966,
рис. 35:6). Unfortunately, the blade was preserved
only partially, so the mark is not complete. On one
side there are fragments of the mark – +INGE…IT,
and on the other side – lattice weave (Fig. 34:4).
The main part of the manufacturer’s mark (about
12 cm in length) did not survive. The mark
obviously belongs to the group of INGELRII
marks.
B. A. Kolchin carried out metallographic
analysis, taking samples in two places31 (Fig. 37).
Polishing done 14 cm from the crossguard revealed
three-layer structure of the ferritic core. The
edges which were welded on the sides of the core
demonstrated a structure of very fine martensite

31 B. A. Kolchin believed that he analyzed parts of different swords.

Swords from Gnёzdovo

51

Fig. 38. Gnëzdovo, the V-type sword from the ruined barrow. Scheme
of the scabbard: 1 – blade; 2 – skin; 3 – wood; 4 – linen. Drawing by
A. S. Dement’eva.

2
2 cm

0

20 cm

0

Ryc. 38. Gniezdowo, miecz typu V ze zniszczonego kurhanu.
Schemat budowy pochwy: 1 – głownia; 2 – skóra; 3 – drewno;
4 – tkanina. Rys. A. S. Dement’eva.

3

1

Fig. 37. Gnëzdovo, the V-type sword from the ruined barrow: 1 – an
arrangement of the metallographic grinds on the sword’s blade;
2 – technological schemes of the blade; 3 – the microtexture of the
welded edges of the blade (martensite; 200-fold) (1-3 – after Колчин
1953, 133-134, 245, рис. 105:8-9, 106:3,5; 164:3).
Ryc. 37. Gniezdowo, miecz typu V ze zniszczonego kurhanu: 1 – miejsce pobrania próbki; 2 – schemat technologiczny budowy głowni;
3 – mikrostruktura zgrzewanych krawędzi głowni (martenzyt, pow.
x 200) (1-3 – wg Колчин 1953, 133-134, 245, рис. 105:8-9, 106:3,5;
164:3).

(troostite). At the edges of the core rectangular
insertions of sorbitic-ferritic structure were detected.
They were separated from clear ferritic zones by
welding seams (Колчин 1953, 134, 242, рис. 106:5).
It is obvious that polishing passed through the
mark which was inlaid in the core of the blade.
Sorbitic-ferritic insertions are damascened lines,
shaping the mark32. Another polishing was done
8 cm from the upper fragment of the blade.
1
It revealed that the structure of the blade core
consisted of ferrite with small patches of sorbite.
Edges were welded on the core. Their structure
consisted of tempered martensite, while troostite
was found closer to the welding seam (Fig. 37:3).
The carbon content in the edges was 0.85% C
(ibidem, 242).
The results of the analysis are remarkable.
Examinations in spots located at 20-25 cm apart
showed different technological schemes of blade
manufacture – the upper part of the blade consisted
of the composite core with welded edges, and the
lower part consisted of the one-piece core with
welded edges33.

32 The Swedish researcher M. Törnblom studied the technology of manufacture of the mark on a Viking Age sword (No. SHM
907; Go, Hurgen, Alands) (Törnblom 1981). A half of polishing was done on the longitudinal section of the blade and it passed
through three cells of the mark. The analysis revealed that the symbols which constitute the mark are made from a twisted pair of
wires. The structure consists of coarse ferritic grains almost without carbon. The section of the mark’s cells has a trapezoidal
shape. The manufacturing technology of the mark may be reconstructed as follows: first, slots were hatched in the semi-finished
blade and then the symbols of the mark were hammered or welded into them. Eventually, the final manufacturing procedures of
the blade were carried out.
33 A similar situation, where two parts of a broken sword blade had different structures, was detected by B. A. Kolchin in the case
of a sword from Barrow 1 of the Mikhailovsky barrow field (Yaroslavl Oblast, Russia). Polishing done in the upper part of the
blade revealed that the core of the blade (middle part) was welded of three bars – the iron one in the middle with steel strips on
lateral sides. On the sides of this “pile” steel edges were welded (Колчин 1953, 134, рис. 106:9). The lack of welding seams
between the strips which constituted the core of the blade is explained by B. А. Kolchin by considerable decarburisation of the
surface in consequence of the sword having been burned on the funeral pyre. What was also detected was the presence of a clear
seam between the core and the edges (ibidem, 244). Polishing on the surface of the lower part of the blade revealed a typical
structure of cementation of the product’s surface. The middle part of the blade consisted of ferrite, with the zone of cementation
being noticeable on its entire surface.

Sergej Yu. Kainov

52

10 cm

- copper
- silver

0

1 cm
5

3
3 cm

0

0

1

2
4

Fig. 39. Gnëzdovo: 1-4 – The V-type sword from the barrow Dn-4; 5 – scheme of the encrusted wire arranging on the details of the sword’s
hilt (1, 3, 5 – drawing by A. S. Dement’eva; 2, 4 – photo by S. Yu. Kainov).
Ryc. 39. Gniezdowo: 1-4 – miecz typu V z kurhanu Dn-4; 5 – schemat wzoru inkrustacji na elementach rękojeści (1, 3, 5 – rys. A. S. Dement’eva;
2, 4 – fot. S. Yu. Kainov).

Swords from Gnёzdovo

0

53

3 cm

Fig. 40. The pommel with the fragment of the tang of the X-type sword from the Central stronghold excavation in Gnëzdovo. Drawing by
A. S. Dement’eva; photo by S. Yu. Kainov.
Ryc. 40. Głowica z fragmentem rękojeści od miecza typu X z grodziska Centralnego w Gniezdowie. Rys. A. S. Dement’eva; fot. S. Yu. Kainov.
1

Remains of the scabbard survived on the
sword blade. The fragment of the scabbard, which
covered the very end of the blade is in the best
state of preservation. The scabbard’s composition
in this area may be reconstructed as follows:
animal skin, with fur turned inwards, adjoined
directly the blade of the sword. The skin was
enclosed between two wooden planks (2 mm in
thickness). On the outer surface of wood a very
thin (about 0.3 mm) layer with smooth surface
was observed. Perhaps it is leather (however, in
this case its small thickness is confusing), or the
remains of glue by which linen weave cloth (flax?)
was glued onto the wood. On the lower top of the
scabbard, a strip of twisted cloth, on which the
chape of the scabbard was mounted34 was wound
over the layer of cloth (Fig. 38). A similar structure
of the scabbard: leather (probably sheep) – wood
– cloth) was noted in the scabbard of the sword
from Scar (UK)35 (Owen, Dalland 1999, 109-112).
The inner layer of the scabbard of a sword from the
Isle of Man (UK) consisted of cloth, then wooden
planks, the outer side of which were pasted over

with another layer of cloth and leather (Bersu,
Wilson 1966, 52). A scabbard, found in Gdańsk
(Poland) in a mid-11th c. layer, was made of wood,
covered with cloth and horse leather (Nadolski
1955, 186-192). The sword’s scabbard, whose
fragments were found in the burial in the Church
of the Tithes in Kiev (M. Karger’s excavation of
1939), was made of two boxwood planks, covered
with twill weave cloth (Бредiс 1996, 47). On the
basis of radiocarbon analysis, the site is dated to
1011 in the range of +/-14 years (Андрощук,
Панченко, Ковалюх 1996, 46).
In my opinion, based on the burial custom
and furnishings, the site may be dated to the
middle – the 2nd half of the 10th c.
16. An intact sword (Fig. 39). It was found in
1984 during D.A. Avdusin’s excavation of Barrow
Dn-4 barrow (the Dnieper Barrow Group), containing
a male inhumation burial in a wooden chamber
(Авдусин, Пушкина 1989). Full length of the
sword – 105 cm, length of the blade – 87.5 cm,
width of the blade near the crossguard – 5.5 cm,
length of the crossguard – 10.1 cm, height of the

34 Inside of one of the scabbard chapes known from Gnëzdovo remains of scabbard wood were also detected (Каинов 2009,
95-96, фото 5). The scabbard was covered with plain cloth. The analysis of the wood fragments in order to identify the species
has not been carried out yet. Analyses of some other European Viking Age finds revealed that sword scabbards had been made of
ash (Scar), oak (Palace of Westminster), willow or poplar (Skrene) (Dunning, Evison 1964, 126; Owen, Dalland 1999, 110-111).
35 The lack of the scabbard leather coating, from the researchers’ point of view, lets us suppose that the ”case” in which the sword
was found was not a scabbard but was intended just for the sword’s storage (Owen, Dalland 1999, 112).

Sergej Yu. Kainov

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0

3 cm

Fig. 41. The pommel of the X-type sword. Accidental find from Gnëzdovo. Drawing by A. S. Dement’eva; photo by S. Yu. Kainov.
Ryc. 41. Głowica miecza typu X. Znalezisko luźne z Gniezdowa. Rys. A. S. Dement’eva; fot. S. Yu. Kainov.

crossguard – 1.4 cm, crossguard thickness – 2.4
cm, length of the hilt tang – cm, height of the
pommel – 4.4 cm, length of the pommel base – 6.9
cm, height of the pommel base – 1.4 cm, thickness
of the pommel base – 2.3 cm.
On the crossguard and on the pommel base
there is ornamentation in the form of two lines of
triangles, which are opposite to one another by
their apexes. The triangles are inlaid with white
metal. The space between them is taken by
rhombuses made of twisted wires where “red”
and white metal interweave. There is a thin line
between the rhombuses and the triangles (of about
1 mm in width), inlaid with “red” metal wire.
A combination of rhombuses and triangles is also
visible on the central part of the pommel head. The
ornamentation of the lateral sides of the pommel
head is in a poor state of preservation. However, the
presence of “flags” is obvious and the remaining
surface was continuously coated with white metal
(silver?). Wires, dividing the head of the pommel
into three parts, did not survive.
On the lower surface of the pommel base and
on the upper surface of the crossguard fragments of
the grip were observed. These are sub-rectangular
in section, with rounded corners.
Remains of the scabbard fragmentally were
preserved on the sword’s blade. Remains of animal
Type X

Early version
Later version

skin, with fur facing the blade and covered with
a layer of wood, are also traceable.
No mark was found on the blade.
During the examination of this burial remains
of a few logs were found. Their tree-ring analysis
revealed that the logs had been felled about AD
975 (ibidem, 203). Thus, we have all the reasons
to date the burial to AD 975-980.
Type X
According to J. Petersen, The pommel is made
of one piece of metal, semi-circular in longitudinal
section of uniform width, with rounded ends
(Петерсен 2005, 186). Two versions are identified
– the early and the later one. The early one has
a higher and thinner pommel, the lower crossguard
is also higher, slightly curved, in longitudinal
section often with narrowed ends. The later version
of X-type swords «has a lower, thicker and shorter
pommel, a lower and wider crossguard, which in
its turn can be quite long and short [...] In the
longitudinal section crossguards are of the same
width, with rounded ends. J. Petersen also gives
metric characteristics of the early and later versions
of Type X (Table II).
Type X sword pommels are one-parted
and fastened to the blade’s tang according to
A. Geibig’s Construction Type III.

Length of the pommel Height of the pommel
(cm)
(cm)
7,8
5-6,5

Table II. The differences between variants of Petersen’s type X.
Tab. II. Różnice między odmianami typu X wg J. Petersena.

5,1
2,7 -3,5

Length of the
crossguard (cm)

10,7 -17,7

Height of the crossguard
(cm)
Up to 2
0,7 -1,4

55

Swords from Gnёzdovo

3

0

3 cm

2
0

3 cm

4

1

1
Fig. 42. Gnëzdovo: 1 – the Y-type sword from the barrow Dn-88/Serg.-1901; 2-4 – the fragments of the Y-type sword from the barrow
Dn-88/Serg.-1901 (current condition) (1 – after Спицын 1905, 64, рис 119; 2, 4 – photo by S. Yu. Kainov; 3 – drawing by A. S. Dement’eva).
Ryc. 42. Gniezdowo: 1 – miecz typu Y z kurhanu Dn-88/Serg.-1901; 2-4 – fragmenty miecza typu Y z kurhanu Dn-88/Serg.-1901 (aktualny stan
zachowania) (1 – wg Спицын 1905, 64, рис 119; 2, 4 – fot. S. Yu. Kainov; 3 – rys. A. S. Dement’eva).

According to J. Petersen, Type X swords
appear in the 2nd half of the 10th c. and exist until
the the end of the Viking Age (ibidem, 192-193).
F. A. Androschuk expressed the opinion that
there was no chronological development from
early to later versions of Type X swords. He used
the argument of a burial, which in his opinion can
be dated to the 1st half of the 10th c. In this burial
a Type X sword was found, among other furnishings
(Андрощук 2004, 5-6).
In recent article it was stated that the
clarification of the chronology of occurrence of
a number of Scandinavian fibulae allows us to
determine the chronology of the early variant of
Type X to the 2nd quarter – the middle of the 10th c.
It was also pointed out that three Type X swords
(later variants) had been found in Birka burial
mounds, which were constructed before the
building of the fort’s earthwork in the middle –
the 2nd half of the 10th c. (Янсон, Потупчик,
Андрощук 2011, 578).

A much earlier dating of Type X swords is
proposed by Czech researchers. In the opinion of
J. Košta and J. Hošek, based on Burials No. 438,
805 and 1347 in the Mikulčice cemetery, the
chronology of Type X swords starts in the middle
of the 9th c. (or little later) (Košta, Hošek 2009,
109-111). This point of view about such an early
appearance of Type X seems rather strange to us,
especially considering the lack of finds of this
type swords, dated to the 2nd half of the 9th c.
in other regions.
In A. Geibig’s typology Type X swords match
Variant 1 of Combination Type 12. A. Geibig dates
them to the 2nd half of the 10th – the 11th c.
In the European territory – excluding the
finds from early medieval Russia – no less than
268 specimens of Type X swords were found
(Jakobsson 1992, 213-214; Marek 2004, 106-114;
Androshchuk forthcoming).
In the territory of early medieval Russia nine
Type X swords were discovered. They are dated to



Parole chiave correlate