A Viking sword, believed to be around 1,000 years old, has been plucked out of the River Cherwell in rural Oxfordshire by a keen hobbyist magnet fisher. 

Using a method becoming increasingly popular among hunters of historical treasure, Trevor Penny of the active local group Thame Magnet Fishing threw his magnet-weighted rope into the water and came across a rusty object.  

At first, Penny mistook it for discarded scaffolding, but was amazed to find a sword in his hands. 

Estimated to be over 1,000 years old 

Following the correct protocol, Penny then contacted the Oxfordshire Museums Service, which acknowledged it was almost certainly of Viking heritage and duly took it away for further analysis and restoration. 

In the meantime, a local archeological group has estimated that the sword must date to a 125-year period between 850 and 975. 

What happens next depends on how the object is classified. If it is categorized as "treasure" – that is to say, a metallic object that contains a minimum of ten percent gold or silver and is at least 300 years old, then the finder and landowner may receive a reward. 

In the UK, while the Treasure Act 1996 specifically mandates the notification of authorities within two weeks for items classified as "treasure," it is encouraged to report all finds of potential historical significance. 

In this case, location is another important factor, as Mr. Penny was magnet fishing on land overseen by the Canal & River Trust, which does not permit such activity within its boundaries. 

However, the positive attention Mr. Penny's discovery has brought to the field of magnet fishing and historical preservation could work in his favor. 

This remarkable find was made possible through the increasingly popular hobby of magnet fishing, which involves individuals using powerful magnets attached to ropes to search for metal objects in various water bodies. Photo: Szike / Shutterstock

Danish raids, English massacre 

The Cherwell runs around the northeastern edge of Oxford and eventually joins the Thames. 

An important settlement in the Anglo-Saxon era, one mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Oxford was raided by the Danes in the 900s when it sat on the military frontier between Mercia and Wessex. 

Many Danes were slaughtered here on the St. Brice's Day Massacre in 1002, though the sword looks to have been held by a Viking at least two decades before then. 

Watch this space for more details of what emerges once experts have gone over the rusty weapon after closer examination. 

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