Iron spear with inlaid ornament

Early Anglo-Saxon, 6th century AD
From Grave 51, Great Chesterford, Essex

This spear was found lying close to the right shoulder of a man who was also buried with a knife, probably suspended from the waist belt which was fastened by an iron buckle. A pair of bronze tweezers lay by his right elbow. Spears are the most commonly found weapon in Anglo-Saxon England. They could be used as a thrusting weapon in battle or as a hunting weapon, essential to bring down large game such as red deer or boar.

The spear has an angular blade decorated with ring and dot motifs inlaid in copper-alloy. The spear has a long split socket with a rivet still in position. The open end of the socket is ornamented with a finely executed gilt bronze band. This is decorated with a frieze of four Style I animals, which are distinguished from each other by tiny details: each head differs in the style of the beak as do the design and position of the back leg and foot; one animal has its back leg and body transposed.

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More information


V. Evison, An Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Gre, Research Report 91 (York, Council for British Archaeology, 1991)

M.J. Swanton, The spearheads of the Anglo-Sa (London, Royal Archaeological Institute, 1973)

M.J. Swanton, A corpus of Anglo-Saxon spear, British Archaeological Reports, 7 (Oxford, 1974)


Length: 6.400 cm (max.)
Length: 6.400 cm (max.)

Museum number

M&ME 1964,7-2.491


Gift of Mrs Doris E. King


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