(About): A Sword Fit for a Heroic Saga
Darksword Armory’s master artisans have been inspired during the design, construction and finish of our Einar Sword by the Vinland Sagas, which tell the story of the first Europeans to make the crossing of the Atlantic to the lush coastlands of North America. They have combined intricate late-Viking artwork with a range of absolutely spectacular metalworking techniques to produce three peerlessly beautiful limited-edition swords that are artistic masterpieces in their own right.
Three Blades to Choose From: Forging Together the Old, the New, and the Far East
Curiously, the Vikings themselves made comparatively few swords in the Viking period, and they were of inferior quality. Since there were few deposits of mineral iron in Scandinavia, most Viking-made weaponry was made from ‘bog iron’; these masses of accreted iron oxides found in marshy environments made serviceable farming implements and even basic weaponry like axeheads and spearheads, but they could not be refined into the consistent, high-quality steel required for a fine noble blade. Thus, Viking nobles looked abroad for fine weaponry. The best swords in Europe during the early-medieval period were being made by smiths in the Upper Rhine, in Southern Germany and Switzerland, which the Vikings would trade for – or simply take – whenever they were encountered. The cachet attached to high-quality foreign-made goods was not unique to swords: fine jewellery, spices and wine were all hankered after by the Viking nobility, and the Vikings stimulated a thriving silver bullion trade in the Mediterranean with the Islamic kingdoms there.
Thus, as the Viking Age reached its zenith in the 10th– and 11th-centuries CE, the height of noble display and the most powerful statement of martial prowess was a steel sword made by the master smiths of the Upper Rhine – and it is this style that is precisely replicated in our Einar Sword. The sword blade design is that of a classic Viking sword, described by Oakeshott in his sword typology as a Type X: long, with parallel or near-parallel edges, with a spatulate (rounded) or very short tip, and a broad, shallow fuller. Carolingian smiths had begun in this period to experiment with distal taper (narrowing the blade in cross-section at it neared the tip), so these blades were not the unwieldy choppers that Viking weaponry is sometimes portrayed as – they were beautifully well-balanced swords, carefully designed to deliver slicing blows to poorly armored foes, but also heavy and tough enough to chop into the sturdy wooden shields wielded by those that they would have faced in the course of raiding, trading and exploring. Such swords doubtless accompanied the early explorers of Vinland from the Greenlandic colony across the Atlantic.
Carolingian smiths knew that carefully ‘piling’ steel billets of different grades (arranging and forge-welding them together into one blade) resulted in better swords: the most effective swords from the period show that extremely hard, high-carbon steel was selected for the edges of the sword to give razor sharpness and edge retention, welded onto a more flexible core of lower-carbon steel to avoid brittleness and afford the blade extra resilience. Darksword’s master smiths have replicated this time-consuming process by a patented dual-temper heat treatment, which hardens the edges of the blade to 60 HRC, and the core to 48-50 HRC, combining resilience and cutting power to produce fantastic battle-ready blades.
The Einar Sword is available with one of three magnificent blades: a historically-faithful polished steel blade, a rippling pattern-welded ‘Damascus steel’ blade, or a stunning blade made with the Japanese folding method of shita-kitae.
One option for the Einar Sword’s blade is polished 5160 spring steel. This material is closest to the swords made by the Germanic and Frankish smiths of the Upper Rhine in times of old. It is a stainless alloy of steel and chromium, so it has some significant perks beyond the historical Viking Age swords; it is much more resilient (Darksword boast that their swords return to true after being bent up to 90º!), and is more corrosion resistant. It’s a rugged workhorse of a blade, guaranteed by Darksword Armory’s dragon sejant stamp just below the crossguard. The 5160 steel Einar Sword’s production run is limited to only 800 swords – so it is a most exclusive weapon, the envy of any Viking chieftain looking to get the leg up on his neighbors.
Japanese Folded Steel
Ancient Japanese swordsmiths developed a technique called shita-kita, a form of pattern-welding where different grades of steel are folded over, cut and reforged to create complex layers of laminations. These swords were qualitatively better than any other of the period: uniformly higher-quality, marked out by their unique patternation. This technique reached its highest artistic expression in the late 17th-century CE with the development of mokume-gane (“wood-grain metal”) by master metalworker Denbei Shoami (1651–1728) of Akita prefecture. Far more complex and ritualised than European pattern-welding, the mokume-gane blades shimmer and ripple as the light plays over their surface. Although it is not strictly historically accurate to apply such a technique to a Viking Age sword, the result is absolutely unique: a forge-welding of two wildly different cultures, combining to create a weapon that is infinitely more than the sum of its parts. Each individual Einar Folded Steel Sword is absolutely individual; no other sword that will ever be made will bear the same pattern as yours.
Originally developing as a means of homogenising poor quality metals, Celtic sword-smiths in the 1st-millenium BCE realised that twisting together various qualities of iron produced wondrous water-like patterns in the surface of their blades. As time went on, smiths passed on techniques to produce precise and detailed methods for piling and folding the metal in exact ways to produce different complex patterns. Practically all swords produced during the Migration Period and Early Viking Age show the incorporation of pattern-welding, but the technique fell rapidly out of favour with the advent of all-steel swords in the early 900s CE, and did not re-emerge until well after the medieval period ended. In recent years this ‘Damascus steel’, named after the legendary South Indian wootz steel that was similarly patterned but metallographically very different, has become popular again for the beauty of its hand-made water-like patterns, masterfully manipulated by the maker.
The Damascus Steel Einar Sword is part of Darksword Armory’s Elite Series, meaning that it is at the very top flight of the sword-makers art. It has been personally hand-forged by their master smiths out of 1095, 5160, L-6 and O1 steels, folded, drawn, cut, piled, reforged and folded again, to give its sumptuous layered figure. This sword is limited to a run of only 100 swords worldwide – once they are gone, they will never be made again. Included is the upgraded sword belt, and a wax-sealed certificate of authenticity, personally signed by Darksword Armory’s founder and master smith Eyal Azerad. This is an opportunity that truly comes around only once in a thousand years.
A Masterpiece in Cast Bronze
The hilt of the Einar Sword, common to all three variants, is a masterwork. It is of the type classified in the Petersen Viking sword typology as a Type U, with a short, slender cross-guard and three-lobed pommel. These are cast in solid bronze, a rugged and durable alloy of copper and tin, valued by the Vikings for its ability to pick out fine artwork in exquisite detail. Bronze casting evidence appears all over early-medieval Scandinavia, and the sorts of items being made with this technique have inspired the artwork cast in relief into the hilt of our Einar Sword. The curling knotwork on the crossguard and pommel is inspired by Nordic medieval art objects, such as the prow of the Oseberg Ship – curling scrolls made from abstracted limbs, bodies and heads of ‘great beasts’, as art historians have described them. The hand-grip also exhibits enormous attention to detail, having been carved from oak with more gorgeous knotwork to give a stable and comfortable surface, in gloves or with bare hands. Darksword Armory describe it as “one of the most intricate designs we’ve ever attempted”, and the results are absolutely stunning.
The Einar Sword is constructed with a full-tang, peened method, meaning that it is fully battle-ready and safe for light combat, re-enactment and roleplay use. It is shipped sharp or rebated, and has an optional upgraded scabbard with an interlaced sword belt. It is a truly stand-out medieval replica, and it would make an amazing centrepiece of an historically-accurate Viking noble re-enactment. As well, you could combine it with an early-medieval roleplay outfit, too – could it be the sword of a warrior-queen, or a barbarian raider? The Einar Sword is such a special and rare sword that it could take pride of place in your display collection through the sheer force of its beauty alone. Don’t miss out on this chance to own one of a limited run of the finest Viking swords made in a thousand years.
Total length: 36 inches
Blade length: 30 inches
Blade width: 2.3 inches
Blade material: 5160 carbon steel / 1095, 5160, L-6 & O1 steels
Guard and pommel material: Cast bronze
Grip material: Oak
Total weight: 3 lbs 2 oz