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Ancient Viking Sword Pulled From Oxfordshire River

The 1,100-year-old Viking sword discovered in the River Cherwell in Oxfordshire, south west England. It's amazing what you can find if you lob a magnet into a river's murky depths on the off chance that there might be something there (that isn't a rusty supermarket trolley).

The weapon was found in the River Cherwell last year by a magnet fisherman and has now been confirmed to date back to between AD 850 and 975. That dates it to about a century after the Viking's first foray to Britain's shores.

Viking sword found in Oxfordshire
Viking sword | Credit: Trevor Penny

Whilst the landowner around this part of River Cherwell does not permit magnet fishing, he has agreed that no legal action would be taken and the ancient sword is now in the care of the Oxford Museum. Trevor Penny, who found the object, told Live Science: “I was on the side of the bridge and shouted to a friend on the other side of the bridge, ‘What is this? He came running over shouting ‘It looks like a sword!’”

In the mid-ninth century, when the sword was forged, the Vikings were giving Britain’s Anglo-Saxon kingdoms a tough time. The Scandinavian pagans first arrived on the British Isles in the late eighth century, conducting a violent raid on the Northumbrian Lindisfarne monastery in north east England in 793. From there, the Vikings embarked on a conquest of Britain, raiding coastal communities with increasingly large and brutal armies. According to English Heritage, a charity that oversees hundreds of historic sites, “The Vikings entered written history in a maelstrom of fire and blood.”

By 871, Vikings had destroyed the armies of Northumbria, East Anglia and Mercia, taking over large areas of northern and eastern England, says Smithsonian Magazine. Over the following centuries, Scandinavian power and influence clung to the regions, becoming part of British history. Norse words were integrated into the English language, Danes became common villains in British folktales and Scandinavian descendants took root across the country. “In this sense, the Vikings never left England,” says English Heritage.


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