Turning Swords into Battleaxes: Recycled Vikings!

How the Vikings Recycled Metal
Jan 30, 2010 3:00 PM ET

Turning Swords into Battleaxes: Recycled Vikings!

No, I don’t mean Brett Favre and his latest overtime interception. Sorry, Viking fans - we got used to it with the Packers. Why do you think we recycled him ourselves?

No, I mean the wooden ship, horns on head, sack London and conquer everything in sight Vikings. Like Hagar the Horrible, only fiercer and bloody. Long before they became famous for never winning a Super Bowl and way before it was chic, the Vikings were recycling.

According to a recent online article in National Geographic, recent archeological finds in England seem to show that the Vikings were metal recyclers, recycling and reforging their weapons after battles. And you thought putting your bottles and cans out on the curb was a lot of work. Imagine having to pull an iron axe head out of old Thjorgard’s skull in order to recycle it!

Photo: Malene Thyssen, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Malene

According to historian Charles Jones, of the Fulford Battlefield Society, the Vikings may have recycled as they fought. Jones and his team unearthed a metalworking site in the city of York, where Vikings took their weapons after battle for reprocessing. York long ago absorbed the village of Fulford, where a decisive battle occurred, and was settled by Norse raider in the mid 800’s C.E.

Photo: C. Jones

The archeological team has found hundreds of examples of ironwork - axes, sword parts, and arrowheads, as well as lumps of melted down iron and the remains of smelting pits.

In the National Geographic piece, Jones is quoted "The iron finds support the idea that metal was gathered and recycled in the area just behind where the fighting took place."

Søren Sindbæk of the University of York is testing the artifacts to determine if the corroded items were forged using Norse ironwork, which used alloys of soft iron and hard steel.

"The Vikings were very skillful metalworkers," Sindbæk, an archaeologist, told National Geographic News. "Their weaponry is famous for the way iron is treated.

"Any metal was a precious material that would be recycled," he added. "Whoever won a fight in this period would collect what was left on the battlefield."

Photo: Archiwum Własne Wikingów, Jarmeryk

The Vikings recycled off the battlefield as well. Other excavations in York indicate that Vikings recycled boats into houses and sidewalks.

The story that Jones and his team have pieced together is that the Viking forces were working the metal in 1066 after defeating English fighters at Fulford. They think the Vikings had to call off the recycling effort five days later when the English attacked, this time killing the Viking leader, Brett Favr - er, I mean King Harald III of Norway, and routing his army.

So there are things worse than throwing an interception in overtime that costs you the championship. Fortunately, in our times, paying close attention to recycling won’t cost you your life. It just means that all those bottles, cans, and stuff can live to fight another day.

Greenopolis.com is dedicated to our users. We focus our attention on changing the world through recycling, waste-to-energy and conservation. We reward our users for their sustainable behaviors on our website, through our Greenopolis Tracking Stations and with curbside recycling programs.


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