Norway’s fjords often served as battlegrounds for the Vikings. The naval Battle of Hafrsfjord was one such conflict; unlike countless others, it was commemorated - with three large swords.

Called Sverd i Fjell (“Swords in Rock”), the monument is located on a small mountain near the waterway where, according to tradition, the Battle of Hafrsfjord took place in 872 CE. During the course of the conflict, King Harald Fairhair defeated two other rival kingdoms, to unite Norway under one crown. The battle is considered to be pivotal in bringing Norway together.

The three Viking swords are said to stand for the three areas of the country which came together under the leadership of Harald Fairhair in “peace, unity, and freedom.” The largest sword represents Harald himself; the smaller two represent Eirik of Hordaland and Kjotve the Rich, the two rival kings who participated (unsuccessfully) in the battle. During the course of the battle, King Eirik was killed; Kjotve fled into exile after his defeat.

The monument was created by sculptor Fritz Røed (1928-2002), and the grouping was unveiled by King Olav V of Norway in 1983. The installation stands 33 feet (10 m) tall at its highest point, and the designs on the hilts were taken from actual Viking swords.

The monument has also been said to represent lasting peace; the swords are planted into solid rock, so they can never be removed.

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