The Cawood Sword: History of York (and early password generation!)

July 30th, 2010 by John Leave a reply »

The Cawood Sword (via

One of the finest Viking swords ever discovered was found in the River Ouse near the village of Cawood, a few miles South of York.The Cawood Sword can be dated to 1100 by comparing it to a very similar sword found in Norway which was probably made by the same craftsman.  The swords are almost identical except the one in Norway has an inscription on its hilt in Runes.  Both swords can be fairly accurately dated from the clues in this Viking language.

via The Cawood Sword: History of York. Later in that same article:

The inscription runs down the blade and is made up of a number of capital letters which do not form known words. On one side they are in Roman script and on the other they are in Lombardic script. It is believed that these letters stood for words which in turn represented a phrase or saying. By looking at similar inscriptions it is thought that the phrase is religious, with the sword’s owner believing the words gave him extra strength in battle.

Turns out that this is a medieval example of good password generation, known as mnemonic password (c.f., which Google recommends (see “Solution 1”).

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