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Rare Crusade-era grave site
Upon further investigation the find turned out to be both rare and valuable. Researchers found a grave dating back to the Crusade-era 12th century. The cadaver had been extremely well preserved allowing researchers to use new techniques to harvest information that would not have been previously possible. On top of all this, the find was a rare two-sword grave, in other words this traveller had two swords to accompany him on his journey into the afterlife. As a bonus puzzler, the swords originated from different historical periods. “There were two swords, one on top of the other, the smaller of which was a Viking-era artifact. There is now speculation that it may have been in a fire. In other words, it may have been an heirloom that was in a cremation fire. So that’s a rare combination. It’s one of the longest swords in Finland, from the crusade or medieval era roughly,” said the NBA’s researcher Simo Vanhatalo, who led the dig last week. In addition to the swords, an array of tools had been provided for the dead traveller, including a spearhead and an axe blade. The remains indicate that the dead adventurer was a strapping 180 cm tall man who also carried his own 120-cm sword dating back to the period of the Vikings or Crusades.
What i forgot to mention is that crusader sword has some writing in it and it will be x-rayed so hopefully writing will seen then.
The United States, where I live, only has a widespread history going back two or three centuries, and therefore there is not as much to be found in the earth as there is in places overseas.
I do some metal detecting every now and then myself, and sometimes I envy those who live in countries that are shrouded in history. The United States, where I live, only has a widespread history going back two or three centuries, and therefore there is not as much to be found in the earth as there is in places overseas.
This is an amazing find. Just think of all the treasures and wonders lying below the earth around the world, just waiting patiently for someone to come along and find them. The monetary value of such treasures alone is probably staggering, not to mention the sheer historical value.
It would be amazing to see the story of this person and why they were buried with a viking sword along side their own crusader one.
Or perhaps it's a viking who took a crusader's sword as a trophy?
A big old claymore like that is certainly something worth having on teh battle field. Although as short as the body is claimed to be, it doesn't seem like it would be very functional.
It ought to be stressed a bit more that the greatsword was not necessarily a crusader sword, just from that era. I believe the jury is still out as to whether or not this individual participated in the Crusades. From what I read in the article, a few things strike me as interesting which have not been mentioned. First is that grave goods are an exceedingly rare find in Christian burials, much less an entire panoply of weaponry. For example, most Vikings were not Christian, and so were buried with grave goods, but I know of no case even among the vikings that the full panoply of sword-spear-axe were found in a single grave, as was the case in this one.
My own speculation is that this individual was probably not a Christian per se - or at the very least not a "strong" one - since at that time the Church frowned upon grave goods as a pagan practice, and paganism was still a open sore to the church, a fresh "danger", to be stamped out. I can almost see a village priest having a coronary over some cat thinking he'll need a sword in the Christian heaven, much less two swords, a spear, and an axe!
It looks to me more like the grave of a professional soldier - i.e.a "mercenary", which most armies were composed of at the time. The era of "citizen soldiers" had not yet come, and most fighting men were itinerant professionals, marching towards the sounds of the drums and the clash of steel to ply their avocation. Now, he may have participated in the crusades, but I'm not sure who would have paid him to do so. That does not, however, preclude the possibility of his participation. Going on the evidence of the grave goods, I think it unlikely that he participated out of any sense of Christian "duty", however - mercenaries fight for money. it's how they eat and keep a roof over their heads.
The presence of the viking sword is interesting. If, as seems likely, it was an heirloom rather than a functional item at that point, having been burnt, it may indicate descent from a viking. It appears that the fighting trade may have run in this man's family.
Unlikely, as the Viking Era ended a century or so before the Crusades began, and was a mere shadow of it's former self even then.
With that said, however, greatswords were originally developed for use from horseback. War horses in those days were great big brutes. What are now called "draft horses", along the lines of Clydesdales and Percherons were originally bred big to bear the weight of a fully armored knight, not to pull a plow as they are now used for. The greater sword length gave greater reach from up there, and so was not quite the disadvantage one would at first assume for smaller folks - they actually gave a greater advantage, and let the wielder reach out, reach out and touch someone!
reply to post by nenothtu
Christianization started in Skandinavia somewhere between 8th and 12th century. To Finland christianity came from both sides, east ( Russia ) and west ( Sweden ). There have been graves from 8th century which have crucifixes. The difference in northern land and christianization is that when christianity arrived the ecclesiastical laws were not introduced. Graves without any goods started later. In Finland earliest graves without goods are dated to 11th century.
When christianized Kings started to turn people to christianity it was " Follow the Christ or Die". The message was adopted later.
not in finland, maybe in other places, the finns had no problem with christianity since they already buried their dead too, and the church really didn't see much of a difference between burying them with or without weapons.
he was most likely a leader of the community. weapons were a sign of power to the people in the area, it's not a viking sword it was a sword made in the 8th-10th century or the "viking-era". more than likely it was locally made.
if he lived up to around 1250 he did fight against crusaders, namely the swedish second crusade.
the first one was in 1096, 30 years after the end of the viking era, so not really, by the time the crusade begin it was just starting to wind down.
it's hard to find info on iron age finland, until they were conquered by the swedes they didn't even write stuff down.
there also needs to be more info on medieval armor and weapons, all i find is crap about replicas.
edit on 20-11-2013 by demongoat because: (no reason given)