On the edge of Møllebukta Bay in southern Norway is a statue of three gigantic bronze swords, standing 10 metres tall. Sverd i fjell (swords in a rock) is an impressive sight as it overlooks the Hafrsfjord, and commemorates a critical historical moment in the unification of Norway.
History of Sverd i fjell
The statues were created by Norwegian sculptor Fritz Røed in 1983, and were officially unveiled by the Norwegian King Olav V. Planted directly into the rock, the swords commemorate the naval Battle of Hafrsfjord of 872CE, in which King Harald Fairhair defeated other rival kingdoms to unite Norway under one crown. This battle is considered the pivotal moment that brought Norway under one single ruler.
The battle is generally regarded to have taken place in the waters of Hafrsfjord, but despite several diving expeditions, no artefacts have been found from the battle so far. The largest of the three swords, which also has an ornate pommel, represents King Harald Fairhair, whilst the smaller two represent Eirik of Hordaland and Kjotve the Rich, the two rival kings who participated in the battle. In the battle, King Eirik was killed, and Kjotve fled into exile after his defeat.
Legend goes that Harald’s motivation for uniting the kingdoms of Norway was to gain the favour of Gyda Eiriksdatter, the daughter of a king. Uninterested because he wasn’t powerful enough, Harald set out to prove his power by consolidating all of Norway’s kingdoms. Until the task was done, he promised not to cut his hair.
Visiting Hafrsfjord and Møllebukta
Hafrsfjord, where Sverd i fjell is located, is a 9km long fjord in the Stavanger and Sola municipalities in the country’s south west. Despite its size, the water is only 3.5m deep at its deepest point, allowing only small boats to enter. For drivers, there is a road encircling the fjord, as well as Hafrsfjord bridge bridge to cross.
Besides admiring the giant swords, Hafrsfjord is popular for its cycling routes, bathing areas and beaches, especially in the summer. Sørmarka is a popular hiking region nearby, with over 8km of trails. For those interested in archaeology, Bronze Age petroglyphs, and artefacts such as Viking lurs (a form of trumpet) have been uncovered in this area.