Ulfberht Swords – Far Beyond their Time

The Ulfberht sword is the most celebrated of all Viking blades. During the Viking Age, an Ulfberht sword was a symbol of wealth and status besides being a formidable tool of war. Produced extensively in the period 800–1000 AD, the Ulfberht was centuries ahead of its time. It was made from a type of “pure” steel, which would not be seen on the continent for almost the next 800 years.

What made them special?

Thousands of Viking swords have been found across Europe, of which 171 are identified as Ulfberhts. What experts saw in these weapons have astonished them.  Medieval iron is typically soft and brittle because of slag, the non-metallic part of the ore. Blacksmiths in the Middle Ages could not make slag-free steel as that required fires of over 3000 degrees Fahrenheit, which their furnaces could not achieve. This high heat separates the slag and enables more carbon to be added. Back then, the only way to remove the slag was to strike out the impurities with a hammer, which was not a very effective method.

But the Ulfberht was different. These swords were discovered to possess about three times the carbon content of a regular medieval sword, with little or no slag inclusions. This lack of impurities made the sword extremely flexible and durable and so it is no wonder that the Ulfberht was deemed to have magical powers. The steel, known as “crucible steel,” was not a Viking invention though; in fact, it was not available anywhere in Europe. There’s a good chance that this steel was made in Central Asia (more precisely modern-day Iran) which produced the best swords of the time.  The Vikings, who were highly skilled navigators and traders, may have reached Central Asia and paid for the steel with furs and other commodities.

At Museum Replicas, we house a range of excellent Viking swords, including the legendary Ulfberht. The blades in this selection have been crafted by some of the best smiths in the industry and are high in both design and quality. While we do not have a genuine Viking sword with us right now, we guarantee that our replicas are as good as any you can find for the price. Check them out for yourself and let us know what you think. 

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