Secrets Of The Viking Sword Another Interesting Addition To PBS’ NOVA Series

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

Vikings seem to be rather popular right now thanks to History Channel’s series centered on the legendary figures.  Though there has always been quite an interest in the Vikings because of all the stories that have been passed down through popular media.  Now thanks to PBS, audiences get at least part of the legend surrounding the Vikings cleared up in Secrets of the Viking Sword

Secrets of the Viking Sword takes viewers into the rich history of the weapon of choice by the Vikings.  It notes that while many Vikings did in fact use axes in battle, it was only the best of the best that used the sword.  There are those that have criticized this NOVA feature for not going into more depth about how the Viking sword was created.  The complaints range from why there was no explanation as to how the desired heat was achieved to make the initial steel for the sword to why one sword needed multiple layers of metal whereas the Viking sword didn’t.  How the Vikings reached the ideal heat is in fact explained indirectly.  It is explained through a demonstration by a modern day sword smith who creates a sword out of carbon steel.  He creates a kiln of sorts based on a model of what the Vikings would have used.  It is explained that the kiln is closed off at the top and vented at the bottom.  Herein lies the explanation behind how the ideal temperature was reached for their swords to be crafted. 

The complaint regarding why a sword such a Katana needed multiple layers versus the Viking sword is answered in connection to the heat needed to craft the sword and the process used to create it.  Obviously the Vikings did something very right, as it’s shown how a good true carbon steel sword was able to bend without breaking in the heat of battle.  As the narrator notes here, most Viking swords were in fact not used for offensive combat, but for defensive combat.  They were generally not used sword against sword.  Rather, they were used more often than not, to hit shields and break said shields down.  This is perhaps why Viking swords needed fewer layers of steel than perhaps a Katana.  So that complaint regarding this feature is negated, too.

Having rebutted both of those complaints and explained at the same time parts of what made this feature so impressive viewers will also find interesting in watching Secrets of the Viking Sword just how important the sword was to the Vikings.  As one individual interviewed for the feature notes, it was so important that there were in fact counterfeits made, even back then.  And just as today’s counterfeits are of inferior quality to the originals, so were the swords.  The counterfeit swords were not made the way that the originals were made, thus leading to them breaking in battle.  That in itself is a rather interesting cultural note concerning these blades.  It shows the value that the blades had to the Vikings.  And it’s just one more of so much that viewers will learn by watching this roughly hour long feature. It is available now and can be ordered via the PBS online store at

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