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Medieval Christian invocation inscriptions on sword blades

Journal article
Authors Anna Holst Blennow
Thomas Gregor Wagner
John Worley
Gunilla Beckholmen
Published in Waffen und Kostümkunde
Volume 51
Issue 1
Pages 11-52
ISSN 0042-9945
Publication year 2009
Published at Department of Languages and Literatures
Pages 11-52
Language en
Keywords sword, middle ages, inscriptions
Subject categories Archaeology, medieval, Latin language

Abstract

The following article presents and discusses four high medieval swords (12th to 13th centuries) deriving from the Uppland- (Uppsala) or the Värmland-region (Karlstad) in Sweden. Two of the Uppsala-swords were the main part of an exhibition (entitled “Svärd från Sveriges turbulenta barndom” or “Swords from Sweden’s turbulent childhood”) that was open to public from July 2007 to January 2008 in the Museum Gustavianum in Uppsala (Fyris UMF/B 74 and 78). The Värmland-sword (Nr. 17001-34945) is kept in the Värmlands Museum in Karlstad. The forth sword to be included was found near the town hall in Uppsala, but it is now kept in the Historical Museum in Stockholm. The archaeological and typological data of all the swords are presented here for the first time. The main focal point of the article is the examination of the hitherto unpublished epigraphic evidence, namely the metal inlay, gold and silver inscriptions on the blades. A comparison with specimens in Germany (Deutsches Historisches Museum, Zeughaussammlung Berlin) revealed a close relationship between the blade-inscriptions on the Swedish and the German swords), potentially even a provenance from the same workshop. By analyzing the letter sequences it was possible to categorize the inscriptions in three different subgroups (DIC-, SDX- and INNOMINEDOMINI-group). Although a definite reading could not be given, the intense examination brought to light arguments that led to the interpretation as religious invocations, probably addressed to Jesus Christ himself.

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