Historic Viking broadsword goes to auction

Broadsword The Viking sword, which has a 27-inch blade, is believed to have had a long and colourful history

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A double-edged sword seized as a spoil of victory at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 is to be auctioned.

With a 27-inch blade, the broadsword was used by Viking forces at the Stamford Bridge battle.

Almost 300 years later, the weapon is believed to have been owned by Sir Humphrey de Bohun, joint commander of the English forces at the Battle of Bannockburn.

Auctioneers expect it to sell for between £80,000 to £120,000.

The sword, with a 11th century Viking blade and an iron cross-guard, features a flattened "iron wheel" pommel, inlaid with a copper shield on each side.

According to auctioneers Christie's, the sword's story starts in 1066, the year of the Norman conquest of England.

Three weeks before the disastrous Battle of Hastings, Harold, the last Anglo-Saxon king of England, defeated the Viking army of the Norwegian King Hardrada at Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire. The sword then fell into the hands of the De Bohun family.

'Badge of identity'

Christie's spokeswoman Dernagh O'Leary said: "Whilst it cannot be proved, it is not at all inconceivable that the blade of the present sword was captured or taken as a trophy by de Bohun at Hastings and was later remounted to become a family sword.

"The present sword, whilst not being a war sword, would have served as a clear badge of identity with its gold and enamelled coat of arms on the pommel and eminently more practical as a side arm around camp when not mounted and armed for battle.

"It is therefore entirely possible that this sword was present at Bannockburn in June 1314, if not actually on the field of battle."

For the last 50 years, the sword has been in the hands of two private collectors, firstly with the Australian-based Corrigan Collection, and latterly with the present, anonymous, vendor.

A Christie's expert said: "The whereabouts of the sword prior to Corrigan's ownership is not known, but the mention of a family sword bearing the de Bohun arms in Sir Humphrey's will and the use of a mid-11th century Viking blade makes for an interesting train of thought, potentially linking significant events of British history from the Vikings, Hastings and Bannockburn through this object. "

The sword will be auctioned with a series of x-rays that prove its age as well as showing that it has had no modern repairs.

Celia Harvey, Christie's Head of Sale, said: "We are delighted to be offering this extremely rare sword during the year in which the Battle of Bannockburn celebrates its 700th birthday.

"The sword will be on display for a month at our South Kensington saleroom, which will allow it the publicity and exposure it deserves."

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