This essay is a cultural and military history of the sword in early Medieval Scandinavia and Northern Europe. Specifically, This I.S looks at the social influence the sword possesses, and attempts to analyze Norse Scandinavian martial culture through the material object of the sword. To do so, this thesis looks at several aspects of Norse culture; first the historical context of the migration and Viking ages, then the physicality, construction and use of the sword. The third chapter focuses on gift giving in Norse society, in which the sword became a powerful social tool. The final chapter focuses on Norse burials; important in the context of the sword as men and women often took swords with them into the grave. In examining these practical and social considerations, this thesis uses historical sources, archeological finds, and period literature to argue for the social importance of the sword. Most prominent among the literary sources used in this essay is Beowulf, an Old English epic poem concerning a Scandinavian hero.


Hettinger, Madonna



Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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