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‘The DNA of Swords’
Secrets of the Viking Sword, PBS Documentary

This journey into the past follows a historian and a swordsmith on a quest to divine and recreate the properties of the premier Viking sword, the “+ULFBERH+T,” a sword bearing a Christian name and symbol, made of Saracen steel from Central Asia, recovered along the Volga road in exchange for fair-haired slave girls, and ultimately forged by a few generations of Norse swordsmiths.

Sword expert, John Clements does an excellent job of reconstructing sword and shield combat. His finest moment is when he uses a razor-sharp Japanese katana to slice tatami mats, then picks up an unsharpened claymore and does the same thing with the dull European counterpart to what most people believe is the premier sword in all of martial history. Take away lesson, if you keep a sword for defense, don’t sharpen it and claim it is a display model—“Look, officer, it’s dull. I have no idea why his arm came off.”

The swordsmith is a consulate craftsmen who looks like Steven King with a Viking beard. His step by possibly disastrous step ordeal in the forging of this unique weapon is reverently done. The crucible steel process is fascinating and the fact that the iron was sourced from Islamic lands does not take away from, but rather enhances, the primacy of the Aryan warrior tradition, for the Vikings sailed all the way to Iran to acquire Aryan ingots from the very place where the Caucasus Mountains meet the Caspian see, where it seems our Indo-European warrior tradition—including boxing and steel—fanned out from India, to Mongolia, to North Africa, and most mythically to Ice Land, a world apart from the other Aryan culture centered in northern India, where this steel-making process was pioneered, with both of these furthest flung cultures working the hardest to preserve the ancient legends in Saga and Veda.

I highly recommend this balanced documentary, that dare not fill in all the heritage blanks considering its funding source, that I have here, but serves as a reminder that arms races are nothing new and that the weapon shops of Europe were once sacred places of sword quenching with a history linking related folk who have little sense how deep their shared story spans.

Thank you, Ishmael, for this video.

By the Wine Dark Sea

Add Comment
BobMarch 21, 2017 3:32 AM UTC

I can recommend Adam Thiele's Viking axes and his traditional Hungarian metallurgy. His smelting technique looks similar.
BobMarch 20, 2017 11:15 PM UTC

Thanks for the tip. This article on the Dragonslayer might interest you, too.

I believe Liquidiamond knives boast a cutting edge of 70 Rockwell housed in a softer stainless steel for flexibility and shock-absorbtion.