An Ingleri Viking Sword
Date: c. 1000 CE
Images: Taken by myself
Location: Lent to the Art Institute of Chicago (There on there date: August 10th, 2015 - not a permanent piece in the collection)
Origin: Scandinavia or Francia
Perhaps the most significant symbol of authority in the Viking Age was the sword. Sung about in the great legends, these swords carried with them a great deal of prestige and identity. The warrior elite would claim their power in their skills in combat but also in the origins of their equipment. Magical swords reveal themselves in many sagas, such as Sigurd’s with Gram and also the saga of Hrolf Kraki with Skofnung. These swords would remain with their owners even in the journey to the afterlife, serving as a unique symbol for each ruling elite warrior.
The significance of these swords being buried with their champions is told in Hrolf Kraki’s saga, “A burial mound was built for King Hrolf, and the sword Skofnung was laid beside him. A mound was made for each of the champions, and each had his weapon beside him.” It is this same pattern seen before, where the warrior elite rise in the name of these legends, living them out and creating new ones for themselves to credit their authority.
This sword has a latin inscription imbedded into the blade, Inglerii me fecit, which translates to “Ingleri made me”. It was likely made and imported from the Frankish Empire, symbolizing a control over trade networks as well as the capability of acquiring such a good.
Somerville and McDonald, The Viking Age: A Reader (Readings in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures: XIV, 2010), 172
Hrólfs saga kraka, in Fornaldarsögur Norðurlanda, ed. Guðni Jónsson, 4 vols. (Reykjavík, 1959), vol. 1, pp. 98-105