Friday, December 29, 2023

A medieval grave containing the remains of a man more than six feet tall with a sword more than four feet long has been discovered in the port city of Halmstad on Sweden’s west coast.

Osteological examination of the skeletal remains found the man was at least 6’3″ and the surviving parts of the sword, wooden hilt included, are 4’3″ long.

The burial was discovered at Lilla Torg, a square in the city center that in the 15th century was part of the Franciscan monastery of Sankta Annas. The first excavation at the square in 1932 found the remains of the monastery kitchen and of the church. This year’s excavation found more of the monastery church. The grave with the sword was discovered under the floor of the south nave. Two other graves were found next to him, one belonging to an adult woman, the other to a man.

The sword find at Lilla Torg confirms that Sankta Anna’s church was used as a burial place for, among other things, people of noble birth during the 35 years that the Franciscan order operated on the site.

Eirik Johansson from the Bohusläns Museum holds the newly discovered sword.  Someone get that man a helmet that fits!

The sword has been removed from the ground and sent to conservation to begin examination and treatment of the find in a protective environment. The first X-ray image of the find shows that the blade is decorated with two inlaid crosses, probably in precious metal. Already when the sword was found, the field archaeologists could guess that the blade was decorated, something that the X-ray image has now confirmed.

Halmstad received its first town charter in 1307 and its current historic center was established in the 1320s. It was part of the Kingdom of Denmark at that time. The Sankta Annas monastery, built between 1494 and 1503 with the aid of a donation of an expensive silver plate from Christina of Saxony, then Queen of Denmark, had a brief life. It was shut down by the city magistrate in 1531 and the property repurposed to various uses including as a hospital and an armory. What was left of the monastery burned down in a 1619 fire that destroyed much of the town.

Via the always good History Blog.


  1. I'm conflicted on these "digs"...historical data is necessary and fascinating to understanding from whence we came...if by accident, not as invasive. But intentionally digging around in old places for that have remains...just seems wrong.

  2. "...Someone get that man a helmet that fits!..."

    I resemble that remark. I've had the life-long problem of finding hats that fit. One-Size-Fits-All hats, almost never work. In ball caps, the manufacturers' easy answer is to make the adjustment thingis in the back a bit larger, but I end up with a brim and a crown that are out of proportion to my head. Once I find a hat that doesn't leave me feeling as though my head is in a band-clamp, I generally buy it regardless of whether it is something that I might favor.

    While they don't sell helmets (that I'm aware of), has served me well.

    1. True story.
      Once when I was in NH taking the women of the family to the Outlet stores and waiting patiently while they shopped, a woman came up to me and said "Excuse me could you try this hat on for me? My husband has a big head and I see that you have a big head and if the hat fits you I'm sure it will fit my husband".
      With a raised eyebrow but saying nothing in return I took the hat and put it on my head where it perched precariously. "Oh no! That's much too small, Thank You" and she left.
      I then made the mistake of saying to my mother who was nearby shopping, "Did you hear what that lady said to me?".
      And in a loud voice and to the great amusement of all the other female shoppers around us she replied, "Don't have to tell ME you have a big head! Nine stitches I had to have when I had you!". All the other women, including my wife, laughed and commented among themselves.
      I shut my mouth, too late.

  3. By far, women outnumber men in the profession of archeology... due to their ability to dig up the past.

  4. Mighty bold of you to assume that the helmet is not completely filled with head.