Viking Sword of Petersen Type D

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Viking Sword of Petersen Type D

9th - 10th Century A.D.
L: 88.7cm



This magnificent double-edged sword has a shallow fuller (central shallow rivet) over nearly its entire length, along both sides to the point. The hilt comprises of a thick ovoid cross-guard, which is intricately decorated with an incised scrolling pattern, with a dome-headed rivet on copper-alloy washers, flat tapering tang retaining the original ovoidal copper-alloy grip mounts above and below and with notched borders. The pommel is trilobed with the central section being the largest, copper-alloy mounts en suite including small circles on each side forming eyes. All these features place the present sword into Petersen’s typology as type ‘D’, which comprises some of the largest examples of Viking swords. It is believed that many of the blades found on Viking swords from the 9th and 10th centuries were made and imported from regions such as the Frankish Rhineland where the quality of iron and skill in working it was highly regarded. From about the 8th century onwards swords featured a groove, or fuller, which ran down the length of the blade and is sometimes referred to as the blood-channel. The true function of the fuller was to give a deeper backing to the tapered edges of the blade without increasing its weight or decreasing the weapons flexibility. The average weight of Viking swords was from 1-2 kg, with most at the lower end of this range. The lightness of the sword with a point of balance towards the hilt allowed it to be wielded with ease and made it capable of delivering the devastating, limb-severing blows frequently described in sagas. The fuller on this sword is shallow but visible and is approximately 3cm in width near the cross-guard, narrowing gradually as it parallels the taper of the blade to its point. The sword blade most closely resembles type ‘2’ from Geibig’s classification of double-edged Viking swords. Type 2 blades appear in the middle of the 8th century and continued into the 10th century and averaged in length from 74 to 84 cm. The Viking people were originally from southern Scandinavia (present-day Denmark, Norway and Sweden). From the late 8th to late 11th centuries they traded, raided, and settled over Europe, as far west as North America and as far east as parts of Russia, modern day Turkey and even Arabia. A result of their warlike ways was a large canon of highly developed weaponry, including swords, battle-axes and shields. Often these items were buried with their owners, and many famous grave hoards have been found in burial sites around Northern Europe. The present sword was found near the River Thielles, a tributary of the Aare which runs into Lake Neuchatel in Western Switzerland.


Jean Boissonas, Armes Ancienne de la Suisse : Collection Charles Boissonas, 1910, p. 18, no. 107, pl. XXV.
Ada Bruhn Hoffmeyer, Gammelt Jern, E.A. Christensens Våbensamling, Copenhagen 1968, no. 29, fig. 13.
Antiques Arms & Armour including items from the E.A. Christensen Collection, Bonhams, London, 28th November 2012, Lot 57.
David Aaron Ltd, 2022, No. 4.


Found in 1887 in the mouth of the River Thielles, a tributary of the Neuenburgersee, Switzerland.
Private Collection of State Councilor Charles Boissonnas (1832-1912), Switzerland.
Thence by descent to his son Jean Boissonnas (1867-1951), Switzerland.
E.A. Christensen (1893-1969) Collection, Denmark.
Thence by descent.
Sold at: Antiques Arms & Armour Including items from the E.A. Christensen Collection, Bonhams, London, 28th November 2012, Lot 57.
London art market, acquired from the above sale.
Paris art market, acquired from the above (accompanied by French cultural passport 146214)
ALR: S0071207, with IADAA certificate, this item has been checked against the Interpol database.

Note on the Provenance

Charles Boissonnas (1832- 1912) was an architect and politician, son of businessman Henri Boissonnas. He studied architecture at Karlsruhe and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. A Democratic deputy from 1878 to 1896, he was the author of the constitutional law of 1886 which extended the ownership of the Mortgage Fund to all municipalities in the Swiss cantons, whether Catholic or Protestant. A member of the Council of State of the Canton of Geneva from 1889 to 1897, Boissonnas undertook major urban planning work, passed the 1895 Roads Act and studied a plan to extend communication routes. He also directed the construction of the 1896 National Exhibition in Geneva.

His son Jean Boissonnas (1867-1951) studied engineering and became a Councillor of State for public works between 1924 and 1930, and was responsible for the completion of the Butin bridge, the reconstruction of Cornavin station, the development of Cointrin airfield, among many other Swiss reconstructive works. He was a member of the Paris Committee of the Ottoman Bank from 1919 to 1942 and became President of the Geneva Industrial Services from 1931 to 1941, where he decided to build the Verbois hydroelectric plant.

Einer Andreas Christensen, known as E.A. (1893-1969), was born in Copenhagen and educated at the Danish Politeknisk Laereanstalt, qualifying as a technical engineer.

As a young man he trained as a smith, giving him a lifelong appreciation of metalwork in all its forms, and in particular of antique weapons and armour. He established a small garage workshop and in time went on to invent several types of pumping machine, then had the good fortune to patent one of the first petrol pumps used by the major oil producers of the time. Some years later he acquired the engineering factory Waltrich a/s, which specialised in precision engineering, employing some fifty staff.

E.A.’s first acquisitions were African weapons, found on his visits to Paris in the years prior to the First World War. Later, his interests widened to include ancient edged weapons and oriental pieces, and the collection grew significantly as a consequence of his extensive travels around Europe attending auctions and visiting dealers. His criteria were form and method of manufacture, hence his abiding interest in the Viking, Medieval and Renaissance swords for which the collection is famous.

He was a founder member of the Danish Arms and Armour Society and served on its Board of Directors from 1932 to 1937 and again after 1966. Pieces from his collection were first published in the Society’s Yearbook for 1935, volume 1b, and a number of the earlier reference works on edged weapons draw on his collection.

E.A. was a very private family man who took immense pride in his collection which he displayed in elaborate arrangements around his home.