Historical knowledge

Men carried swords

The man’s most valued possession was his sword. It became the most important weapon and was the faithful companion to men throughout the Bronze Age. The sword was not only a weapon in battle; it was a token of high rank. The spear and the lance were also important weapons, but they did not signify status in the same way as the sword. Many Bronze Age swords have been found in Denmark. Swords were placed as gifts in rich men’s graves and a sword could also be used as an offering to the divine powers, which inhabited the lakes and bogs.

Men and swords in rock carvings

In the area which is now Denmark the population was no more warlike than anywhere else. Although war and strife could be part of life, the sword was not only used for fighting. In the rock carvings one sees the sword as a part of the male costume, with the scabbard sticking out at the back. As a token of rank the sword was worn on festive occasions, at religious ceremonies and in processions. It is never seen being used in battle and no fallen warriors are shown in pictures.

A change in burial customs

In the Late Bronze Age (1100-500 BC) the burial custom changed from ground burials to cremation. The body was burned together with grave goods and deposited in an urn of clay, which was put down at the edge of a burial mound. Grave gifts were far more modest and could consist of needles, buttons and toilet equipment as razors and tweezers. In urn burials the male regalia could be a sword, which could be replaced by a miniature of bronze.

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