The fabric of early human history is often woven with factual and fictional threads, mingling the bullet points found in textbooks with the legends and lore that bring timelines to life. These stories, passed down from generation to generation, humanize the past. Detailed histories can't be boiled down into numbered lists.
Monuments and works of art have a penchant for embodying this interplay between fact and fiction, and Norway's Sverd i fjell is no different.
Roughly translating to Swords in Mountain, the Sverd i fjell monument is comprised of three hulking swords that represent the unification of warring Norwegian factions under one banner.
While this unification process actually happened over the course of a few centuries, the Battle of Hafrsfjord, which some scholars estimate took place in the year 872, symbolizes those efforts. That is the event to which this monument is dedicated.
The largest, most ornate sword represents the one belonging to King Harald I, who won the Battle of Hafrsfjord against two less powerful forces.
Each sword is 30 feet tall, and they all overlook the sea off the coast of Stavanger, Norway. The monument was built by sculptor Fritz Røed in 1938 under the guidance of King Olav V.
This video will give you a better sense of what tourists see when they flock to the site each year.
We've all heard the story of King Arthur pulling Excalibur from the stone, but we'll be in serious trouble if we're ever met with someone who can free these swords from their resting place. For now, they're just waiting for giants.