Cork city has unearthed a 1,000-year-old Viking sword.

Cork city has unearthed a 1,000-year-old Viking sword.


Archaeologists unearthed a 1,000-year-old Viking weaver’s sword at the historic site of the ancient Beamish and Crawford brewery in Cork city.

Cork city has unearthed a 1,000-year-old Viking sword.
The weaver’s sword discovered at the former Beamish and Crawford brewery in Cork city


The wooden sword is somewhat more than 30cm long, made completely of yew, and has carved human faces typical of the Ringerike type of Viking art, dating it to the late 11th century.

It was one of numerous artifacts of “outstanding value” discovered during recent excavations at the South Main Street site, which also revealed entire ground plans of 19 Viking dwellings, traces of central hearths, and bedding material, according to consultant archaeologist Dr Maurice Hurley.

“For a long time, it was assumed that the largest Viking effect was on Dublin and Waterford,” he added. “However, the complete spectrum of data reveals that Cork was in the same cultural sphere and that its growth was extremely comparable.”

2 Cork city has unearthed a 1000 year old Viking sword
The 1,000-year-old, perfectly preserved Viking sword is made entirely from yew

“A few pieces comparable to the weaver’s sword have been unearthed in Wood Quay [IN DUBLIN], but nothing of the degree of craftsmanship and preservation of this one,” Dr Hurley said, adding that it was “quite astonishing” that the different wooden artefacts had survived below in such excellent form.

“The sword was most likely employed by women to pound threads into place on a loom; the pointed end was used to pick up threads for pattern-making.” “Every functional product was adorned by the Vikings,” he remarked.

Another artifact discovered was a wooden thread-winder engraved with two horses’ heads, which was likewise related with fabric weaving.

Dr. Hurley’s eight-month archaeological dig concluded in June, but developers BAM Ireland have not said when construction would begin or stop at the site.

The site’s plans for a 6,000-seat multi-functional events center have been plagued by architectural modifications, delays, and large budget overruns, with current estimates suggesting the project might cost more than €73 million.


3 Cork city has unearthed a 1000 year old Viking sword
The carved handle is typical of the Ringerike style of Viking art, dating it roughly to the late 11th century
4 Cork city has unearthed a 1000 year old Viking sword
Detail of owl’s head carved on the handle

So far, BAM Ireland and its partners Live Nation have agreed to contribute €33 million to the project, with the Government paying $12 million and Cork City Council contributing $8 million. BAM Ireland has urged Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe to include an additional €12 million in capital development funding in the next budget.

Cork Lord Mayor Cllr Tony Fitzgerald described holding a Viking dagger that had been buried for so long as a “wonderful experience.”

“The dew on the dagger was fresh; it was in fantastic condition,” he added, expecting “extremely high public interest” when the objects go on exhibit, which may happen as soon as February 2018.

Conservationists at the National Museum of Ireland are now doing post-excavation investigation on the Viking artifacts.

Daniel Breen, Curator of Cork Public Museum, stated he would love to organize an exhibition on Cork’s Viking impact, but that “it’s early days yet; exposure to too much oxygen would be hazardous without chemical treatment beforehand.”


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