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Ulfberht - Secrets of the Viking Sword - 1000 years ahead of it's time

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posted on Oct, 12 2012 @ 11:53 AM
reply to post by JohnPhoenix

Thanks for a great thread OP.
Have you come across mention of how crucible temperatures were obtained with methods of the time?

posted on Oct, 12 2012 @ 11:59 AM
Simply remarkable quality for that day and age. I wish I was rich, I would have Darrell Markewitz forge me a sword in that same fashion. I would have him inlay a Thor's hammer instead of a cross though.
edit on 10/12/12 by VikingWarlord because: dunno

posted on Oct, 12 2012 @ 01:51 PM

Originally posted by dainoyfb
reply to post by JohnPhoenix

Thanks for a great thread OP.
Have you come across mention of how crucible temperatures were obtained with methods of the time?

The video was not clear on how or why the crucible oven was invented that was found on the Scandinavian/Asian trade route. It did say that around 3000 degrees is the temperature required for modern steel making. The steel ingot that was created by Darrell Markewitzand with his homemade crucible oven was tested for purity and quality of strength by a laboratory at a steel companies testing facility. His steel rivaled top quality steel made today and had the same qualities of an Ulfberht sword so it must have reached these temperatures.

Darrell Markewitz showed you step by step how the oven was made. It's the oven design that allowed these high temperatures. The oven is essentially a sealed box with brick and mortar and a small opening at the very bottom of one side where a vent and bellows are connected. The crucible that contained the raw iron and carbon is sealed with a cap and mortar and placed inside before the top of the oven is sealed up. Once charcoal for fuel is lit it is fed oxygen from the bellows operated by hand continually over many hours time. These bellows were operated in turn by Darrell and his partner but it is believed many people from whole villages took turns operating these bellows in Viking times.

posted on Oct, 12 2012 @ 02:18 PM
I found a link to the video Secrets of the Viking Sword

I had a hard time getting this to work on some browsers. A clean copy of firefox seems to run it well.

I'd try to embed it but have no idea how since it's not a YouTube video.


Editorial Retraction:

I made a Big Mistake in my opening thread. I did not realize it until after I re-watched the video but Darrell Markewitzand was NOT the sword maker in the video. That honor goes to Richard Furrer with Door County Forgeworks.

The mistake was made while searching for links to information in the the TV show I came across Darrell Markewitzand's website and info on Ulfbehrt. As you see from his picture on his website, Darrell Markewitzand and Richard Furrer, both share striking resemblances. They both are big men with long brown hair, wear glasses and are in the blacksmiths business and admirers of Ulfberht. I incorrectly assumed this was the same man in the video. Darrell Markewitzand had nothing to do with the Nova tv show or the authentic remaking of the Ulfberht sword. My apologies to Richard Furrer , Darrell Markewitzand and this ATS audience.

I will attempt to contact Richard about this thread, and contact Darrel with apologies - I'm sure my previous email will confuse him.

Sometimes you have to break a few eggs to make the dish and sometimes, you must wear that egg on your face. It's a good thing I like eggs.
edit on 12-10-2012 by JohnPhoenix because: sp

posted on Oct, 12 2012 @ 04:28 PM
The Mystery deepens.

Here is Richards website:

According to Richard, he has different opinions from the Nova show he was featured in.

The Ulfberht sword was only made for about 200 years between 800 and 1000 A.D., Furrer said. Only about 300 Ulfberht swords have been found.

He heard about the documentary from a mass email that was sent out to swordsmiths. For nine months he and the producers discussed the project. Last October a camera crew came to his workshop in Nasewaupee to film him forging the sword over the course of two days.

“I had to make a convincing ninth-century viking blacksmith setup,” said Furrer, who has 23 years of smithing experience. He built a small anvil and a mud brick forge. He even made the steel that was used in the blade and the inlay of the sword.

“Nothing was off the shelf. Everything was made purpose-built for this project,” he said.

More than 1,000 years ago the Ulfberht was forged from a single piece of steel, while other swords of the same time period would have been created using smaller pieces welded together to create a pattern, he said.

It was also superior to other swords of its time because the metal used for the blades was high quality and did not contain slag, a byproduct of smelting ore.

One word, “Ulfberht,” is inlaid on the sword’s blade. On the reverse side of the blade is a crossed T.

Why “Ulfberht”?

“It’s not the name of the maker,” Furrer said. Ulfberht could be a word for power, called a kenning, that is meant to protect the sword’s owner, or it could be a word meaning “wolf.”

“It could be wolf, it could be many things,” he said.

The only known fact about the crossed T is that it signifies the sword was slag-free, Furrer explained.

Doing the inlay of the sword was the most difficult part.

He said that at any point something could have gone “horribly wrong” with recreating the sword.

Furrer was assisted on the bellows by Kevin Cashen, a master smith and longtime friend from Michigan.

“It’s a pretty short list of people who could come and be of benefit,” he said.

Furrer has not seen the documentary yet.

posted on Oct, 12 2012 @ 07:17 PM
reply to post by JohnPhoenix

Thank you for the great reply. I look forward to seeing how this is done. I take great interest in ancient skills with the belief that someday it may become a real asset.

posted on Oct, 13 2012 @ 03:13 AM
Sometimes, the Vikings gave their swords names. When a formidable foe had died on the battle-field or if a great warrior died, it is speculated that they (the vikings) added the ashes of the bodies to the iron used in making swords.

By doing that they believed that the power of the dead person was transferred to, or somehow became a part of, the sword. When they did this, however, they also raised the carbon (from the ashes) content in the iron. Thus creating superior steel...perhaps unknowingly

The word "kenning" (mentioned in an above post) is a norse word meaning "someone I know" or "someone I am familiar with".

I am not an expert on these things, so keep that in mind :-) I am Norwegian, tho - and I have studies old Norse language

posted on Oct, 13 2012 @ 01:10 PM
I got a reply e-mail from Richard.

Richard is as pleasant a fellow as you'd ever want to meet judging from his e-mail.

Richard said,

As to the program and comments and such I am not sure what I can add.
The show pretty much stands on its told a story and had good visuals and information.
I do wish more time, energy and money were put toward such subjects...we would know so much more about the world before us.

Richard turned me onto this link which I had missed. This Link has more info on the sword from Richard's perspective.

THE sword made for the filming will be auctioned off at a future date, it is NOT currently for sale.

PRICING: A similar sword made by the same methods is $7,500 for the blade.
Fittings are in addition to that cost. Contact me for details.

I'd jump on that if I could afford it.

In the Summer and Fall of 2011 I had the pleasure to be involved in the production of a TV documentary program focussed on the Viking Sword.

The program was produced for NOVA though the work of National Geographic and Pangloss Films ( In October of 2011 Pangloss Films came to my shop and documented the making of a special sword based on the research of Dr. Alan William's of "The Wallace Collection" in London ( Several years ago Dr. William's began a study of Ulfberht inlayed sword blades and discovered that the blade which carried a signature of a certain type appeared to have no slag. His work can be seen in several articles and his new book "The Sword and the Crucible" ISBN 9789004227835. I had the pleasure of spending a few weeks with Dr. Alan Williams in North India back in 2007 and can tell you he is an extremely insightful archeo-metallurgist.

There is more information at the link with pictures of the sword and the crucible oven!

posted on Oct, 13 2012 @ 01:15 PM
reply to post by Koyaanisqatsi

Thank you for the reply. This seems to be what Richard believes too. I wonder why the writers of the piece thought this was a brand name - they must have strong reasons for this as this point was emphasized in the show. That it may have been a kenning was never mentioned.
edit on 13-10-2012 by JohnPhoenix because: sp

posted on Oct, 15 2012 @ 02:22 PM
Fascinating stuff, I wish I had watched the show
But I feel asleep on the couch while it was on.
I believe these swords represent a distinctive school of smithing, one learned via swede trading with the Arabs and through them the Indians.
It was probably a very closely guarded technique and it did show shortly after the Swedes started trading with the Arabs.
The most common method was mentioned, pattern welding, where in the case on the " vikings", raw iron was pounded into wires. Some of the raw iron was made into steel and pounded into wires. These wires were then twisted into braids of wires and beaten into a small rod the these rods were twisted into a braid and beaten into the final product.
When I was 14 I tried to make a sword in this fashion, I learned it from a book published in the 1880's in Britain.
The book was the culmination of 30+ years of research by a British professor of military history.
It detailed traditional techniques for the making of arms and armor from Europe Arab world, the author spent time in damascus with a swordsmith with photos and everything.
In the section on the norse there was an old norse myth about a legendary smith whose swords were so good that they could be put in a stream with the edge up stream and a piece of lambs wool would be cut cleanly as it floated down the stream, I bet this tale represents an exageration of the ulfberht swords.
As awsome of a book it was it had one drawback, it was intended as a scholarly reference, so most of its content was taken from period sources in the original languages, it was mostly in Latin, Old English , Classic French, a little Italian and some transcripts of Arabic sources.
My father worked at the local Cal state so I took to the language dept and had some of the stuff translated.
It also detailed the origins of the two of the modern sporting swords, the eppee and the foil.
The blade pattern of the eppee is from the 14th century at the height of chainmail use. It's stiff triangular cross sectioned blade would punch right and split links in mail like they weren't even there.
The super flexible and flat blade of foil comes from the 15th cent. during the pinnacle of plate armor use.
The flexible blade could find its way into gaps in the armor. Both of these were Italian developments, perfected through the incessant fighting they did amongst themselves.

posted on Nov, 28 2012 @ 02:48 AM
Found an interesting link. There are several stories of legends, and many pictures.

Elsewhere, I learned that most (authentic) recovered Ulfbehrts were found in river beds. Many of the burial pieces are fakes/lesser quality pieces. The soused viking would drop his sword while staggering home.
edit on 28-11-2012 by davidmann because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 24 2013 @ 08:07 AM
That NatGeo Nova episode was one of my favorite documentaries ive seen in recent months. I wanted to forge a sword so bad after watching it. Lol. It was interesting to find that 33 of the suspected Ulfberht's were actually just cheaper knockoff, using lower carbon steel. They even got the spelling wrong.. sMh

posted on Jul, 24 2013 @ 08:13 AM
reply to post by davidmann

Apparently the fakes had "+Ulfberht+" while the authentic crucible steel variants were had the inlay spelled "+Ulfberh+t".

I imagine those who got burned with a lower quality knockoff were ridiculed severely by their fellow vikings who owned the real deal...

"Hey guys, check out Sven over there... He spent a fortune on that sword and the inlay isn't even spelled right! What a douche!"

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