During excavations at Søborg castle a number of swords have been unearthed. Many of these are preserved in the National Museum in Copenhagen. One of them (inventory number D 8801) is an especially fine example of a long bladed knightly sword from the high medieval period.
According to Geibig´s classification of medieval swords, the blade conforms to type 9 (a type that was in use during the 12th century) and the hilt is of combination type 16 variant 1 (mid 10th century to the third quarter of the 12th century). A further basis for dating is the inscription that according to Geibig is of a type that is in use from the mid 11th century to the end of 12th century. This suggests a span for dating from around AD 1100 - 1175 for Søborg D 8801.
D 8801 is a weapon of the highest order. It is masterfully made with a clear understanding of function and a fine sense of form and proportions.
The inscriptions in the fullers show that its owner viewed his weapon and his role as a warrior in a religious perspective. The lettering is cryptic, but part of its meaning might be desciferable. The first part of the inscription is probably a prayer for blessing from someone upon "Us" since the N after BENEDICoAT could indicate "Nos". TIoSEToMAoT could be an acronym for a saint (or saints) or religious persona(- s). MA(oT) towards the end might stand for "Mater" or "Maria".
The inscription "SctSPETRNnuS" on the other side is probably an invocation to Saint Peter, the protector of the Catholic Church.
In its time it would have belonged to a man of means and power. It was a weapon that vouched for his martial prowess, his sense of duty as well as his privileges. It did not express its owner´s status through any gold or silver on the hilt but through a stark form that shows a dedication to severe knightly ideals.
The Søborg sword and its time
The sword D8801 from Søborg is contemporary to the dynamic and powerful archbishop Eskil (ca AD 1100 - 1181), who according to legend had Søborg castle built into the most formidable stronghold in 12th century Denmark. This was a period when the political necessities of kings clashed dramatically with the interests of the Holy See. Eskil took active part in the internal conflicts of the kingdom as well as the powerstruggle within the Church. As a loyal follower of Pope Alexander III, he put the interests of the Catholic church before those of the Danish monarchy. He was also much in favor of the Cistercian order and it expanded its influence during this time period.
The inscriptions in the fullers of ther Søborg sword makes clear that it was a weapon intended for a holy purpose and that its owner most probably favored the cause of the Catholic church. If we let our imagination have some free rein it is not difficult to imagine thsat the original owner could have been a man at arms in the service of Archbishop Eskil.