The sun cuts low through winter trees, woodsmoke hangs in the air.  Walking through the forest one day I find what’s left of a raven dance, the steps clear in the snow. I can see where a raven has scratched it’s beak back and forth drawing concentric lines.

As part of a project I have been drawing too, exploring Viking Age ornamentation with pencil and paint, I interpret the knotwork that was inlayed long ago on the blade of an axe that was found in a place called Mammen in Denmark.

If you look closely you can see that this is a beast tangled in it’s own horns and body, head thrown back.  Viking Age ornamentation is expressive with a narrative purpose that forcefully shines from the arcane lines. Strange and beautiful, what must a Viking artist’s dreams have looked like. These were the shapes of their fierce spirit allies; the heath monsters that they drew on their weapons to frighten their enemies.  Perhaps they believed that by tying them up in this way they where harnessing their power.

I have been exploring Mammen ornamentation for a sword I have recently completed. I’ve shown many of the steps of it’s creation on this blog. Here is the finished product – Galdrgrimm.

This blade exemplifies the ancient European tradition of pattern welding. A mastery of this time consuming and challenging process produces a swirling star like pattern running down the center of the blade and a keen edge which has been folded and refined to produce a shimmering subtle effect in the steel. Galdrgrimm is forged of contrasting layers of carbon steel and has a subtle blue sheen from the tempering process. Two narrow fullers run down one side of the blade and a wide single fuller graces the other.
The hilt and scabbard are carved in the Mammen style; a popular form of narrative ornamentation in Denmark and elsewhere during the Viking Age. It features looping intertwined figures of dragon-beasts and human forms.
The figured maple wood of the scabbard seems to shift and ripple when turned in the light, adding a mysterious glamour to the complex knotwork. The high layer edge steel refracts light in a similar way to the maple, so that there are dimensions to this sword which can only be experienced in person.

“Galdrgrimm” is a combination of the old Norse word ‘galdr’ which was a sung incantation and the word ‘grimm’ which comes from an Indo-European root word that is cognate with the word thunder. Therefore “Galdrgrimm” roughly translates to “thunder-song”.



hilt – bronze, blackwood
blade -pattern welded 1075/8670m
scabbard – quilted maple wood lined with
sheered sheep fleece, hand cast silicon bronze.
blade length – 26 3/4″
hilt length – 6 1/4″
overall length – 33″
weight – 2 lb : 7.0 oz
 Smoke curls from the chimney, winter ages, the setting sun glints on the ice bordered river.
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Jake Powning

Jake is a professional swordsmith, artist, and writer who explores the strange place where traditional culture and the land meet.


  1. Truly and deeply beautiful!!! A sword fit for a hero from myth and legend.

    Your work never fails to stun me.


  2. Galdrgrimm is the most beautiful sword I have ever seen. Magnificent!


  3. Your work is breathtaking.
    I’m ARMA certified in medieval swordplay, and have a variety of weapons from Angel Swords, Angus Trim, Albion, and Christian Fletcher as well as others.
    I must say that your work far surpasses anything in my collection.

    Thank you for your contributions, they are stunning.

    Chris Howard

  4. I love this sword, but I’m confused by something. Does it have a single fuller on one side of the bade and a double fuller on the other? If so, why? I’m sure you have reason for everything you do; it’s just something I’ve never seen before.

    Thanks very much,
    -Alec Barbour

    • Hi Alec. thanks. Yes it has a double fuller on one side and a single on the other. some swords were constructed this way (especially during the Germanic Migration period) and I thought it was cool, so I tried making one that way also. A double fuller serves the same basic function as a single fuller, it makes the blade a bit lighter while keeping it as strong as possible, similar to the physics of an ‘I’ beam.

  5. Inspiring – Back to the forging cave… after a good walk!

  6. As you know Jake, I love all your work, but this piece is just SO beautiful…. just had to drop you a line to tell ya bro!

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