- For the ethnic group, see Lurs.
A total of 56 lurs have been discovered: 35 (including fragmentary ones) in Denmark, 4 in Norway, 11 in Sweden, 5 in northern Germany, and a single one in Latvia.
Wooden lursThe earliest references to an instrument called the lur come from Icelandic sagas, where they are described as war instruments, used to marshal troops and frighten the enemy. These lurs, several examples of which have been discovered in longboats, are straight, end-blown wooden tubes, around one meter long. They do not have finger holes, and are played much like a modern brass instrument.
A kind of lur very similar to these war instruments has been played by farmers and milk maids in Nordic countries since at least the Middle Ages. These instruments were used for calling cattle and signaling. They are similar in construction and playing technique to the war instrument, but are covered in birch, while the war instruments are covered in willow.
Bronze lursThe bronze instrument now known as the lur is most probably unrelated to the wooden lur, and has been named by 19th century archaeologists, after the 13th century wooden lurs mentioned by Saxo Grammaticus.
Bronze lurs date back to the Nordic Bronze Age, probably to the first half of the 1st millennium BC. They are roughly S-shaped conical tubes, without finger holes. They are end blown, like brass instruments, and they sound rather like a trombone. The opposite end to the blown one is slightly flared, like the bell on a modern brass instrument but not to the same degree. A typical bronze lur is around two metres long.
Lurs todayThe word lur is still very much alive in the Swedish language, indicating any half-moon shaped implement used for producing or receiving sound. A mobile telephone, for instance, is commonly referred to as a lur in contemporary Swedish (derived from telefonlur, telephone receiver). A Danish brand of butter is named after the lur.
Lur in Danish: Lur
Lur in German: Lure (Blasinstrument)
Lur in Norwegian: Lur
Lur in Swedish: Lur