- Museum number
An iron sword, about 973 mm long, which is complete, but is badly damaged towards the tip and corroded near the top of the blade. It is sharply bent, but that probably happened when it was discovered. The blade is about 853 mm long (but its upper part was covered by the organic guard, the exposed length is about 846 mm), 36 mm wide at the top and lenticular in section with a rounded tip. The wavy striations of surface-to-surface piling are clearly visible and there are sharply defined edges about 4 mm wide. Traces of the organic handle, which terminated on the blade in a straight line, have been preserved by iron corrosion products. It has been in two halves, with a sharp division between the two, and apparently had a wedge just below the division to help to secure the lower half. The handle was 127 mm long; the upper part is 62 mm and the top of the tang is burred. Corrosion has also preserved fragments of the wooden scabbard throughout the length of the blade.
Length: 853 millimetres (blade)
Length: 973 millimetres
Width: 36 millimetres (top of blade)
- Curator's comments
From I. Meadows 'Nene Valley Archaeological Survey: The Late Bronze Age and the Iron Age':
"A substantial deposit of metalwork [was] deposited into one course of the River Nene at Orton Meadows. The metalwork included swords, spearheads and currency bars that had been bent, perhaps ‘ritually killed’ (Stead 1984). These objects were found during gravel extraction in a channel near to a pair of Bronze Age round barrows, perhaps reflecting some continuity of respect for the general location. As a practice the deposition of metalwork in water is also more a Bronze Age trait than Iron Age although significant deposits of both periods are known. The recovered objects comprised two La Tène I swords, a La Tène III sword in a copper alloy scabbard, a spearhead with engraved decoration, seven complete currency bars (additional fragments were also found), a rare ladle perhaps used in wine consumption and a latch lifter of La Tène III style. Whilst the objects span a 400-year period, and although some could have arrived in the water accidentally, the currency bars were deposited in a single event. That many of the pieces showed damage that was probably deliberate would also suggest the conscious separating of them from this world. No other deposits of metalwork have come from the Nene."
Stead, I. 1984. 'Iron Age metalwork from Orton Meadows [Cambridgeshire: currency bars, swords, ladle, etc - dredger finds]' Durobrivae 9, pp.6-7
Found in 1980 during gravel extraction from an old course of the River Nene, as were 3 swords now held in Peterborough Museum, 1981,1202.1-2 and 1989,0302.2-3. Stead 1984a and 1984b: 47-9; Lang 1987:70, no. 2; Jope 2000:39 and 244, pl. 52:g.
For a technological report on the iron sword, see p. 97.
- Not on display
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number