A Still-Sharp Medieval Sword Showed up in a Danish Sewer and We Have Questions

Image Credit: Historical Museum of Northern Jutland

Turns out that you don’t have to travel to the Welsh countryside for a chance to become the next King (or Queen!) Arthur.  That is, as long as you don’t mind pulling your sword from a pile of human excrement instead of a stone.

A pipe-layer, Jannick, and an engineer, Henning, were going about their typical days doing some work on a street in Denmark when they pulled a sword from a layer of muck – largely excrement – that covered the oldest layer of pavement in the city. And the museum that examined it reported that it was still sharp.

Luckily, Denmark has archaeologists ready and willing to look at whatever people happen to pull out of the sewage, thinking it might be really old. Some of the streets of Denmark have been around for many centuries, and the pavement layer Jannick pulled this sword from often holds archaeological treasures dating back to the 1300s. It’s really uncommon to find swords there, though – those were usually buried with the warriors who carried them. The most likely explanation for why it was found in a layer of waste deep below the city’s streets, Danish archaeologist Kenneth Nielsen explained, was that it was lost in battle and simply never recovered.

It was so well-preserved down there that some of its fantastic details could be seen plainly. Among them was a shallow channel in the blade for which the technical term is “bloodrille,” or “blood groove.” It also had a really nice hilt and protective bar, details that said that it would have been considered a weapon of finest craftsmanship back in the 1200s, when it was likely in use.

The sword – which is, perplexingly, as-yet unnamed – will go on display at the Aalborg Historical Museum, not far from where it was unearthed by our heroes Jannick and Henning. And even though Mr. Nielsen thinks that the sword was simply lost in battle, then buried in the post-war mud by retreating feet, it’s important to remember that we can’t possibly know the details of the sword’s past.

We like to think that it’s possible some medieval maiden was throwing her cheating boyfriend’s stuff out of her house, and had no pity for any of it – not even his sword. As fancy as it was, he very well may have loved that hunk of metal more than anything else, including his best girl. Now that’s what we call a pile of excrement.