- Museum number
An iron sword corroded into the remains of a copper-alloy and iron scabbard. The tang is in three parts that do not join, but the sword in its scabbard must have been at least 720 mm long. The blade is now 41 mm wide at the top, and has been about 590 mm long. It is lenticular in section, but is very corroded and flaked. There is a bronze hilt end - highly arched above (20 mm high) and pointed below (16 mm high) - terminating in projecting bars at either end. The top of the hilt end fits the tang with a perforation only 13 mm across, whereas most hilt ends sit lower on the shoulder. The grip is defined by two 6 mm thick iron washers, the lower one 25 x 28 mm and the upper about 23 x 27 mm, and there are the remains of four iron strips that formed a frame between them. The four strips and the edge of the two washers are inlaid with alternating red and yellow glass 'enamel'. The washers are now 54 mm apart, but that includes a recent join. The tang does not survive above the upper washer. Two copper-alloy roundels, with grooves defining rounded borders and with central pins to attach them to an organic base, were found in the vicinity of the handle, and doubtless decorated it. The roundels are 11.5 mm diameter and the pins are 9 mm long (1876,0208.4 and 5).
The scabbard has been 620 mm long, with a copper-alloy front plate overlapping an iron back plate. But only the lower half of the front plate survives, and that is damaged. The back plate is in even worse condition, surviving no higher than the top of the chape. The damaged top of the chape is secured by a copper-alloy band joined and riveted at the back, an arrangement that is surely a repair. The chape measures 183 mm to the top of the band. Towards the bottom of the band, on each side, a rivet has attached it to the chape frame, and there are two other rivet holes in the edge of the front plate, below the band on the left side. The chape end, 66 mm deep, is of cast bronze with central circular perforation front and back, a terminal lip moulding and a pair of moulded finishes on each side. It is 37 mm wide at the finishes, and a maximum of 34 mm wide below. Immediately above the perforation on the front, the 'finial' is decorated with two triangular panels, each with three small sockets with central perforations. When the sword was discovered, these sockets were 'set with small rubies, which were all absent but one', the 'rubies' having been 'affixed in their places by small rivets passing through their centres' (Mortimer 1869:181). The description fits a surviving knob of coral (identified by G.F. Claringbull in Stead 1968b: 170), 4.5 mm diameter with a central copper-alloy pin 4.5 mm long (1876,0208.9). The bronze chape end has been very neatly cast on (only a couple of small flaws) to a sheet-metal frame that is plain on the front but decorated with two openwork rungs on the back. The upper rung is broken; a substantial piece survives to the left, with quite worn ends and clear traces of the other end on the frame to the right. The decoration on the rungs includes two 'bird-head' terminals and hatching. A clip over the frame at the top of the upper strip is presumably a repair.
Length: 720 millimetres (?)
Length: 590 millimetres (blade)
Length: 183 millimetres (chape)
Length: 620 millimetres (original length of scabbard)
Width: 41 millimetres (top of blade)
- Curator's comments
- Stead 2006
Found with a crouched skeleton, the fittings of a shield, a spearhead and 16 bone points. Mortimer 1869 and 1905: 150-2 and frontispiece; Piggott 1950:13, 14 and 27, figs 7:1 and 11:1 (Group III); Stead 1968b: 170, figs 13-15; 1979: 61, fig. 22:2-5, pl. 10b; Jope 2000:123-4 and 277, pl. 203:l-p.
In the account of its discovery, the complete length of sword in scabbard was given as 31" (787 mm), which seems far too long. The lengths recorded there for the scabbard and the chape do not tally with the present measurements.
Mortimer's illustrations show the missing top half of the front plate and a distinct median ridge, if not a midrib (1869: pl. xxii; 1905: frontispiece, where the front plate is coloured wrongly, as if it were iron).
For a technological report on the iron sword, see p. 101; for a metal analysis of bronze hilt end and chape, see Dungworth 1996: 415, nos 1751:a and b; Table 1; enamel report, p. 116.
- Not on display
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number