- Museum number
A corroded iron sword with rough edges, lacking the tip of the blade and broken sharply across the middle of the tang. It is 820 mm long, now 54 mm wide at the shoulders, but one is damaged. Below the shoulders there is a sharp taper to 48 mm wide, then on one side the hint of a projecting step as seen on Hallstatt C bronze swords; from there the blade is 750 mm long. There is a 15 mm rivet in the centre of the tang, another 8.5 mm long in one shoulder, and perhaps the damaged shoulder has broken at a rivet hole. The tops of the shoulders and surviving edges of the tang are flat and burred. The blade has a median ridge, 8 mm thick at the top, and there is no hint of a scabbard.
- Production date
- 800 BC - 600 BC (circa)
Length: 750 millimetres (blade)
Length: 820 millimetres
Weight: 803 grammes
Thickness: 6.90 millimetres (blade, max)
Thickness: 15.10 millimetres (handle, max, including protruding rivets)
Width: 54.30 millimetres (at the shoulders)
Width: 48 millimetres (below shoulders)
- Curator's comments
Stead and Rigby 1999
This blade has been examined by Janet Lang who cut a section 445 mm from the top of the blade and concluded that it was harder at the surfaces and the cutting edge, and that the blade was probably quite effective (Lang, J., 1987, The technology of Celtic iron swords in B.G. Scott and H. Cleere, eds, 'The Crafts of the Blacksmith' (Belfast), 63). She reported "little sign of any weld. It may have been made from a bloom. It was inhomogeneous but quite heavily carburized for almost half its thickness. The other half was ferritic with some large slag inclusions which were not analysed. Grain size was generally small, and at a minimum at the cutting edge and surfaces. The metal had been heated for some time and then worked in the austenitic range (i.e. more than 800 °C) and cooled in air. The cutting edge had been turned by use" (ibid., 70).
Context: Swords and Scabbards; Long swords and their Scabbards; Hallstatt C.
Hallstatt C iron swords, with distinctive flat tangs and flaring shoulders riveted to secure the handle, are rare in Champagne. Only one in the Morel Collection, ML.1733 from Corbeil, was found in the area where La Tène burials are concentrated. Another of Morel's Hallstatt C swords came from Lorraine and the third was found in the south of France. Champagne has produced other examples: on the north-east boundary of the distribution of La Tène burials at Saulces-Champenoises (Flouest and Stead 1979, 14), a site that developed into a La Tène cemetery; in the cremation barrow cemetery at Haulzy, graves 21 and 30 (Goury, G., 1911, ‘L’enceinte d’Haulzy et sa Nécropole’ (Les étapes de l’humanité, vol. 1, fasc. 1) Nancy, 39); and possibly at Château Porcien (Freidin, N., 1982, ‘The Early Iron Age in the Paris Basin: Hallstatt C and D’ (Brit. Archaeol. Rep., International series, 131), Oxford, 22 - with distribution map 1, showing others to the south and south-east of the La Tène burials).
The Hallstatt C period saw the introduction of the first iron swords to be made in Europe. Like this example, they were very similar in shape to earlier swords made of bronze. Alterations to the shape and size of iron swords over time may reflect changes in fighting tactics.
- On display (G50/dc10)
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number