Length: 53.500 cm
Gift of Sir Augustus Franks, 1893
Prehistory and Europe
Iron spearhead with silver and copper decoration
Viking, late 9th-10th century
This large and elegant spearhead was found in the River Thames in 1848. It formed part of the collection of the pioneering Derbyshire archaeologist Thomas Bateman.
All free men in Viking society were entitled to own and carry weapons: spear heads are the most commonly found weapon of the Viking period. Although often discovered in graves, there is much discussion about why so many weapons from this period were lost or deliberately put into rivers, notably the Thames in the London area.
The blade is slender and tapering, with a long socket. The socket is completely covered with rings of twisted silver, and copper wires are inlaid into the iron surface in a herring-bone pattern. This decoration is typical of the craftsmanship of the Viking smiths in Norway. One substantial rivet attached the spear head to a long wooden shaft, making an effective weapon for both hunting and fighting.
J. Graham-Campbell, Viking artefacts: a select cat (London, The British Museum Press, 1980)