- Museum number
Iron sword still corroded into its scabbard (seven fragments). Sword and scabbard have been broken into several very solid pieces, four of them survive but do not join. If added together these pieces give a minimum length for the blade of 550 mm, and its width must have been about 60 mm. There seems to be no midrib and the taper cannot be measured, but the point is comparatively rounded. The very base of the tang survives, and one half of the iron hilt end (or mouth guard ?) The scabbard, 66 mm wide, has no midrib, and it is not clear which is the overlapping plate. The chape end is missing, but in place of the chape bridge there are the remains of a wire-like ferrule some 4 mm diameter round both sides and about 125 mm above the tip of the sword. The scabbard mouth is high and campanulate (23 mm high), and the suspension loop seems to be obscured in a thick mass of corrosion. A piece of bronze chain is corroded onto the top of the scabbard, presumably adjoining the suspension loop. The links are cast in the form of a double-twisted ring: i.e. a ring with a single twist would be in the form of a figure-of-eight, but these links have an additional turn in the middle. The rings at the ends of each link are twisted so that the chain rests with all the links in the same plane. It comprises a single terminal link, 54 mm long (the ring 29 mm wide); and two links, one a terminal link 45 mm long (the ring 25 mm wide) with iron corrosion on one side.
Length: 550 millimetres (blade; min. length)
Width: 60 millimetres (blade; approx.)
Width: 66 millimetres (scabbard)
- Curator's comments
Stead and Rigby 1999 (Sword and scabbard)
There are two further separate links (ML.2862), the end of the connecting ring having broken; with four iron rings (ML.2863-ML.2866) 'belonging' according to the Register.
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.
7. Transitional La Tène I/II pieces. Relatively wide swords with quite rounded tips (a La Tène II feature). Both are associated with suspension chains, which implies a date in La Tène II or very late in La Tène I. The one chape end is open (a La Tène I form; Lejars, T., 1994, ‘Gournay III: les fourreaux d’épée’ Paris, Group 1, variant 3); the one suspension loop is type IIIA, which de Navarro (1972, 55) had never observed on an Early La Tène scabbard.
Stead and Rigby 1999 (Chain)
Context: Scabbard Suspension; Metal chains; Type 7, in bronze.
Towards the end of La Tène I lengths of metal chain were used in conjunction with a leather belt to suspend the scabbard (Rapin, A., 1987, le système de suspension des fourreaux d’epées laténiens au IIe siècle avant J.-C., innovations, techniques et reconstitution du ceinturon in D. Vitali, ed., ‘Celti ed Etruschi’ (Imola), 1991). The chains were fashioned in two lengths, a longer piece with a ring at one end and a hook at the other, and a much shorter piece with a ring at each end. Rapin (especially 1987, fig. 6) shows how the two lengths might have been linked to the belt. Throughout the third century BC, and into the second century, the construction of the metal links varied considerably: for the typology see Rapin 1987, fig. 9. Rapin's type 1 is the system using separate rings; types 2-5 are early forms of chain, not represented in the Morel Collection; type 6 is the laddered chain; and types 7 and 8 are the more common types of chain.
Type 7, in bronze: Bronze chain, whose links are cast in the form of a double-twisted ring: i.e. a ring with a single twist would be in the form of a figure-of-eight, but these links have an additional turn in the middle. The rings at the ends of each link are twisted so that the chain rests with all the links in the same plane. Similar chains were found in grave groups at Fère-Champenoise 'Faubourg de Connantre' grave 56 (with two La Tène II brooches) and Liry grave 3b, and the bronze chain recorded from Beine 'les Bouverets' grave 61 was presumably of this type.
Register: This seems to belong to the Gaulish burial at Marson, sketched in ms book.
- Not on display
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number