Page last updated at 15:18 GMT, Tuesday, 6 May 2008 16:18 UK

Pieces of Viking sword discovered

A mock-up of how the sword would have looked
This intricate design has not previously been seen on the island

Fragments of a Viking sword have been discovered by two metal detector enthusiasts on the Isle of Man.

Museum staff described as "superb" the discovery by Dan Crowe and Rob Farrer in the north west of the island.

It is the only Manx Viking sword find ever recorded. Archaeologists have said the hilt of the sword is intricately decorated and was a significant find.

Allison Fox, from Manx Museums, said: "It was clear straight away that we had something very special indeed."

She added: "Once the artefacts had been initially cleaned by our conservator, the wonderful designs have really had an impact on all the people who have seen them.

"The most decorative part of a Viking sword was usually the handle - or hilt - and it is part of this that has survived over 1,000 years in the soil.

"The decorations are really superb. The pommel - or weight on the top of the hilt - looks like a set of knuckles divided into five parts and in between are finely twisted silver wires - a technique not seen here previously.

"Artefacts like this are not only fabulous objects in their own right, but also help to shine a little more light on the make-up of past societies on the Isle of Man," she added.

Further research will be carried out on the sword before it goes on permanent display in the new Viking and Medieval Gallery at the Manx Museum in Douglas.

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