The PBS series NOVA has produced yet another stellar documentary. Although not directly related to classical fencing, Secrets of the Viking Sword is thoroughly fascinating. Broadcast on October 10, 2012, the episode is an amalgam of historical research, metallurgy, participatory archaeology, anthropology, museum curation, and historic European martial arts.
Secrets of the Viking Sword chronicles the journey of blacksmith, Richard Furrer of Wisconsin-based Door County Forgeworks, and an array of international researchers, as they attempt to unlock the mysteries of the technologically superior Ulfberht sword, the most prized weapon of the most elite Viking warriors. Swords of similarly advanced technology do not appear in Europe until several centuries later, raising numerous questions about technological innovation, tradition, and cultural diffusion in the Medieval arms race. Interestingly, the Ulfberht moniker of this Viking sword is linguistically rooted in France, further deepening the mystery.