- Museum number
Iron sword corroded into its scabbard, 894 mm long. Four fragments. The blade is visible only where the upper part of the scabbard's front plate has become detached: 46 mm wide, it has a median ridge, rounded shoulders, and the very sharp point is clear on X-rays, giving the length of the blade as 754 mm. The tang is rectangular in section, flaked, and broken at the top, now 110 mm long. The iron scabbard is complete, but the top of the front plate is broken and detached. It is 798 mm long and 51 mm wide, it has very little taper until just above the chape. The mouth is convex and there is a narrow midrib down the front plate. With broad and salient overlaps on the front (rather more flat on the back), the front plate overlaps the back down to the very bottom, within the chape end. The narrow suspension loop, 35 by 8 mm on top, with a deep central groove, has rounded loop plates each with a narrow projection at the end, 84 mm long in all. A simple wire reinforce through the lower part of the loop survives on the back but has been lost on the front. The chape binding is 174 mm long on one side and 178 mm on the other, secured by a simple wire bridge on both sides (now broken on the front): 170 mm long to the top of the bridge. The chape end is trefoil, with a large terminal disc hollowed to hold the ends of the scabbard plates, linked by two arcs to smaller discs with rounded finials above.
- Production date
- 450 BC - 320 BC (circa)
Length: 174 - 178 millimetres (chape binding)
Length: 754 millimetres (blade)
Length: 798 millimetres (scabbard)
Length: 84 millimetres (suspension loop)
Length: 110 millimetres (tang)
Length: 894 millimetres
Weight: 1118 grammes
Width: 46 millimetres (blade)
Width: 52 millimetres (scabbard)
- Curator's comments
- Stead and Rigby 1999
There were four bronze rings found with this sword, but they have not survived. (p.117)
Findspot: Marson (Marne)
Morel's report on the excavations at Marson was read at the Sorbonne on 4 April 1874 and again at Châlons-sur-Marne on 27 October 1874. His publication (Morel, L., 1874a, La découverte de sépultures gauloises au territoire de Marson, ‘Mémoires de la société d’agriculture, commerce, sciences et arts du department de la Marne’ (1873-4), 179-94.), virtually identical to the version in Morel, L., 1898, ‘La Champagne souterraine’ Reims, 5-20, is accompanied by the first six plates of the ‘Album’.
(b)'La voie de Lépine'
A huge cemetery at the top of and on the slopes of a hill, extending for almost a kilometre. Morel excavated here between April 1873 and February 1874 and found about 200 burials scattered over about a kilometre, sometimes in groups of four or five. Some graves held more than one skeleton, with two or three burials superimposed, or two side by side. Most graves were orientated west-east, from 1 m to 1.5 m deep, and filled with terre noire, and almost half of them had been disturbed previously. Smith, R.A., 1925, ‘A guide to the antiquities of the Early Iron Age’ (second edition), London, 64-5.
Grave 21: The objects found included: a sword in an iron scabbard (ML.1522), four bronze suspension rings, two tripartite carinated jars (ML.2617 and possibly ML.2643), biconical carinated jar (ML.2616), barrel-shaped goblet. The four pots wre found at the foot of the grave.
Context: Swords and Scabbards; Long swords and their Scabbards; La Tène I
The blades of most La Tène I swords have median ridges or ribs and taper for about a third of their length to a fairly sharp point. Scabbards are made of two metal plates, the front plate often with a central rib or ridge, and the mouth is convex or campanulate. The suspension loop is long and narrow (De Navarro, J.M., 1972, ‘The Finds from the Site of La Tène, 1, Scabbards and the Swords Found in Them’, London, fig. 8, 1 = type IA; Stead, I.M., 1983, La Tène swords and scabbards in Champagne, ‘Germania’ (61), 487-510, 497), and the chape, whose frame is topped by a bridge on the back and clamps on the front (some early examples are bridged on both sides), terminates in a trefoil or open chape end (i.e. there is space between the scabbard plates and the inner edge of the chape end). Chape ends are the most substantial pieces of the scabbard and the most useful feature for classification.
1. Swords in scabbards with convex mouths, chapes bridged front and back, and trefoil chape ends. The two examples in the Morel Collection are exceptionally long, and the swords have very little taper. For a similar chape end on a short sword see ML.1515.
Bibliography: Morel, L., 1898, ‘La Champagne souterraine’ Reims, pl. 2, fig. 13.
- On display (G50/dc13)
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number