If you are ever visiting the National Museum in Kopenhagen, make sure to study the medieval swords on display. This museum offers a fantastically rich exhibit of objects and it is understandable if one gets distracted on the way to the room where medieval weapons are kept.
Among the swords there is one rare and interesting specimen in a humble place among the others.
The hilt is skillfully forged of iron and is devoid of any embellishment. The design is somehow extreme and is quite expressive: a broad guard with wildly flaring ends and a nicely defined D-shaped pommel. The blade has a fuller of medium width and seems to date after the period we know as the Viking age.
Peter Johnsson was happy for the opportunity to develop a hilt for the Next Generation line that is inspired by the outstanding and unusual original in Kopenhagen.
Jan Petersen, in his work on Norwegian Viking swords, defined the AE type that shares exactly the same kind of broadly flaring guard as the sword in Kopenhagen. The Norwegian hilts mostly or all seem to have U shaped pommels however. Petersen dates this type to the 11th C.
Interestingly, apart from the famous Suontaka sword, there are other weapons with similar hilts found in the Baltic states. Some of these have curling antennae pommels and single edged blades, but other have pommels that are D-shaped,triangular or even trilobate. It seems we are dealing with a type that saw popularity in different places around the Baltic Sea, with quite a bit of regional variation. These swords belong to the end of the Viking period or slightly later.
This was an age of profound and sometimes violent change, that saw the end of paganism with the introduction of Christianity as the established and favoured religion. Perhaps this hilt type is an expression of a lingering spirit that harks back to older times?