A treasure trove of valuable goods was found in an Orkney Viking burial, which dates back approximately 1,200 years. It included a swathe, buckle, and arrows.

Papa Westray is the original location of the Mayback Viking burial. Analysis of precious objects has been completed.

One of the most exciting items is a sword, which is believed to be a Pederson Type D sword – one of the heaviest Viking weapons.

Andrew Morrison from AOC Archaeology stated: “Given that very few Viking Age swords have survived,” the Mayback case is an important addition.

“We have at least thirty of these blades in the Viking world. About half of these blades were found in Norway. Others have been discovered in Ireland, Slovakia, Poland and Russia.

The only Type D sword that is known to exist, however, comes from Eigg. This one was found in 1830.

The sword was found in 2015 during excavations of a cemetery at Mayback, Papa Westray, but has only now been identified as one of the heaviest designs of the Viking era

The Viking-era sword was first discovered during 2015 digs in Papa Westray’s Mayback cemetery.

The sword and its surrounding soil were lifted and transported to the lab in an entire block to preserve as much evidence as possible

To preserve as much evidence possible, the sword and surrounding soil were taken to the laboratory in an entire block.

Pederson Type D swords 

According to the researchers, the Mayback blade was a Pedersen Type C – a sword The 9th century is often associated with this term.

Type D swords, which are the largest from the Viking Age’s Viking Age, would require the stability of a large hilt. 

These knives are distinguished by their decorative hilts. For the pommel and guards, elaborate geometric patterns were combined with contrasting nonferrous metals to produce impressive effects.

The sword was discovered in an unusual position within the burial – laid over the top of the body, with the hilt at the hip and the blade tip over the face.

The archaeologists believe that the commonest placement for a sword beside the body with the blade facing down is more prevalent.

The researchers removed the entire sword from its soil and placed it in a block. They then transported the blocks to the laboratory to perform forensic excavations.

Morrison stated, “It’s fragile, we don’t know what it looks like yet. So our understanding of the future is certain to change.”

“The sword’s iron has been heavily corroded with some striking details visible only through xray!”

The researchers believe the sword is a Pederson Type D – a Viking sword associated with the 9th century.

Morrison stated that Type D swords were some of the most heavy from the Viking Age. They would require the stability of a significant hilt.

They are distinguished by their decorative hilts.  

Although currently only visible through X-ray, experts said the guards appear 'highly decorated', with a distinctive animal paw design on the buckle

Even though the guards can be only seen by Xray, experts believe they are highly decorated with an animal-paw design and a buckle.

The Mayback Viking burial in Papa Westray was first discovered back in 2015, but analysis of the precious items is now well underway

Papa Westray is the original location of the Mayback Viking burial. Analysis has begun on these valuable items.

It was noted that the pommel’s upper and lower guards had impressive effects thanks to the use of intricate geometric designs as well as non-ferrous metallic contrastings. 

Initial xray scans indicate that Mayback sword guards have a richly-decorated pattern featuring honeycomb-like hexagons.

According to researchers, however, the hilt seems to have been covered in mineralised organs. This may indicate that the cover was placed directly on the sword.

Other key finds at the site were a bundle of arrowheads still attached to their arrow shafts, and two shield bosses (pictured)

Another important find at the site was a bunch of arrowheads that were still attached to their shafts and two shield bosses.

Morrison added, “If this is true, we may be able to gain a rare insight into how weaponry was kept when it wasn’t being used.”

Due to corrosion, a brass- or bronze-colored buckle loop was found stuck to the blade. It could have been part the sword’s scabbard or a part of a belt.

Additional key discoveries at the site included a bundle of arrowheads attached to their shafts, as well as two shield bosses.

A brass or bronze buckle loop was also discovered stuck to the sword due to corrosion, and may have been part of the sword scabbard, or part of a waist belt

Another brass or bronze loop buckle was discovered to be attached to the sword by corrosion. This could either have been part or the waist belt.

Morrison stated that it is not very common for arrows to be found in Viking graves. When they do, however, they are usually taken out as one arrow. Surprisingly, there have been three quivers found in Viking burials, including one in Orkney.

Excavations are ongoing at the site, so it is likely that more Viking items will also be discovered, Morrsion said. 

He stated that the work to be done over the coming months could really shock some people’s minds.


From 700 AD to 1100 AD, the Viking Age was a period in European history.

This period saw many Vikings leave their Scandinavian homes and travel by longboats to Britain and Ireland.

Britain was awestruck when the Viking longboats first appeared. 

But the Vikings attacked locals by stealing from churches, and setting fire to buildings.

British people called them “Danes”, but the invaders came not only from Denmark, but also Norway and Sweden.

The name ‘Viking’ comes from a language called ‘Old Norse’ and means ‘a pirate raid’.

The first Viking raid recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle was around 787 AD.

That was the beginning of a fierce battle between the Anglo-Saxons (or Vikings)