The Cawood Sword
Mystery surrounds this Viking sword which has survived virtually intact for nearly 1,000 years.
Please note: The Yorkshire Museum is home to an extensive and varied collection of items and artefacts. Whilst we make every effort to display a broad spectrum of our collections it is not always possible for all our collections to be on display at once. Please check the latest exhibitions to find out what collections are currently on display or contact us on 01904 687687.
The Cawood Sword is only the fifth sword of its type to be found and is by far the best preserved.
It was discovered in the River Ouse, near Cawood Castle, North Yorkshire, in the late 1800s and its condition is so good that some strange wording can still be seen along its blade.
There are capital letters from the Roman alphabet on one side and from the Lombardic alphabet on the other, but they do not spell any known words.
Archaeologists believe the words make up a religious phrase to give the sword’s owner extra strength in battle.
The sword dates from 1100, the end of the Viking period and the beginning of the Medieval period, and is very similar to another sword found in Norway, which has Runes written down its blade, a Viking language.
Mystery also surrounds how the sword ended up in the river. Cawood Castle was the summer palace for the Archbishop of York and in earlier times was a Viking lord’s manor house.
- Jurassic Success! Yorkshire Museum Has Its Most Successful Year Since Formation of York Museum Trust
- New Chair of Trustees Appointed at York Museums Trust
- Take Part in the World’s Biggest Birdwatch!
- Visit York Museums Trust sites for Free This York Residents Festival
- The York Helmet Back On Show At the Yorkshire Museum
Keep in Touch
Enter your email address to sign up to the York Museums Trust newsletter.