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NOVA TV show on Viking Swords

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October 10th 2012
"Secrets of the the Viking Sword" Documentary

some photos here:

In the Summer and Fall of last year I had the pleasure to be involved in the production of a TV documentary program focussed on the Viking Sword.
The program was produced for NOVA (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/) though the work of National Geographic and Pangloss Films (http://www.panglossfilms.com/). In October of 2011 Pangloss Films came to my shop and documented the making of a special sword based on the research of Dr. Alan William's of "The Wallace Collection" in London (http://www.wallacecollection.org/). Several years ago Dr. William's began a study of Ulfberht inlayed sword blades and discovered that the blade which carried a signature of a certain type appeared to have no slag. His work can be seen in several articles and his new book "The Sword and the Crucible" ISBN 9789004227835. I had the pleasure of spending a few weeks with Dr. Alan Williams in North India back in 2007 and can tell you he is an extremely insightful archeo-metallurgist.

The program will discuss the importance of Dr. Williams' find, a particular blade housed at the National Museum of Denmark (http://natmus.dk/) as well as illustrate the manufacture and larger context of these cultural artifacts (My bit).
We did the work in a charcoal forge with leather bellows on a stake anvil....more or less. Some of the smelting processes of manufacture are based on the research of Dr. Ann Feuerbach , currently at Hofstra University, and I await her book on the subject which she is currently authoring.
For my part I enlisted a bellows and hammer man in the form of Kevin Cashen of Matherton Forge in Michigan (http://www.cashenblades.com/). Kevin and I have been friends for many years and in addition to being a deep well regarding European blades and a talented craftsman...I simply enjoy him being around.
Kevin was a huge help to me for the film shoot as it is always a good thing to have someone around with his skills and depth of knowledge, but he preferred to be a bit more off camera than on. Thank you Kevin!
Following the filming Kevin and I went to Arms and Armor in Minneapolis (http://www.armor.com/ ) and saw Chris Poor and Craig Jonson and were given a very good tour and handling session of the Oakeshott Collection.http://www.oakeshott.org/

In this project I was part of a greater whole and I believe this may be a defining watershed for the public to see what is possible by modern smiths.
Peter Yost of Pangloss Films has produced may award winning features for TV and I look forward to seeing this program he has crafted.

As to the sword I made?
You will have to wait till the premier October 10th to see it. I will say it is the first of its kind in 1,000 years.

Richard Furrer

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Great Job!! I really enjoyed the show. I really liked the info about the knock-off swords that were made of inferior material in order to take advantage of the reputation of the high quality sword. They couldn't even copy the name correctly. Just like some of the copies being made of different things today. I guess things haven't really changed much in the last 1000 years!

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Great job Ric! I enjoyed it immensely and recorded it for posterity. All of your work was top notch and I didn't hear any BS explanations.from the other participants - it's refreshing to see something actually researched and presented in scholarly fashion but still balanced enough to engage the average viewer who has no knowledge of swordmaking.

My mother's side of the family were seafaring people from Denmark. Makes me wonder whether there's a crucible sword somewhere in our distant past...hmmm...

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That was very cool! I was amazed at how nice that crucible steel seemed to work. No slag blowing off, and looked terribly easy to weld. Ok, so the 11 hours of pounding it just to get it to a point where you can shape it couldn't have been much fun.
My favorite line. "You put hours and hours of work into a sword and if it were to break now, well, that would just...suck."

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