- Museum number
Iron sword corroded in the remains of its scabbard. The blade is distorted and slightly bent, and two substantial lengths of scabbard have been lost, front and back. The overall length, with sword in scabbard, is 958 mm. The sword is about 945 mm long, its blade about 785 mm. The blade is flat, 40 mm wide at the top and has virtually no taper until the final 20 mm (seen on X-rays) where it terminates in a sharp point. The tang is sharply rectangular in section, 10 mm by 5 mm in the middle, tapering slightly at the top which is burred over a washer with slight rounded downturned wings back (damaged) and front. There is a high campanulate hilt end, 18 mm high and about 3 mm deep. The scabbard, about 813 mm long as corroded onto the blade, survives in three lengths with wide gaps between them. The top piece, 186 mm long on the back, 182 mm on the front, includes the suspension loop, a reinforce and two ferrules. The reinforce, a bilateral T-type, grooved and tapering in the middle (front and back), has been constructed as part of the upper loop plate. The suspension loop is rectangular, 30 mm long on top and 19 mm wide. The upper loop plate is 33 mm long to the bottom of the reinforce, to which it tapers. The lower loop plate is 99 mm long and rounded at the bottom. Surviving rivets can be distinguished in the plates above and below the loop, and a hole near the bottom of the lower loop plate marks the position of a third that can be seen on X-rays in the underlying scabbard plate. Two wire ferrules that cross the loop plates above and below the loop extend only to the edges of the front plate but doubtless they were continuous originally. The scabbard is 44.5 mm wide at the top, with back over front overlaps and a high campanulate mouth, 17 mm high and its back chipped at the top. The central piece of scabbard starts 183 mm below the bottom of the loop plate. Its top edge had been cut sharply at an angle in antiquity in the course of a repair. There is a rivet hole near the top edge, possibly another in an area now corroded and broken, and beyond are two surviving rivets with protruding heads. This piece of scabbard is 225 mm long on the back and 117 mm on the front. The bottom piece of scabbard, 100 mm long on the back and 66 mm on the front, includes the remains of the chape. The V-shaped chape end is surmounted by finials that are pointed and ridged on the inside. Some 22 mm above the finial ridge on one side is a similar feature which seems to be unbroken: i.e. rather than the end of a complete rung from a laddered chape, it is a tapering interrupted rung and there would have been a gap of up to 13 mm before its opposite number.
- Production date
- 120 BC - AD 50 (circa)
Length: 117 - 225 millimetres (middle scabbard fragment)
Length: 182 - 186 millimetres (top scabbard fragment)
Length: 66 - 100 millimetres (bottom scabbard fragment)
Length: 785 millimetres (blade)
Length: 945 millimetres (sword)
Length: 813 millimetres (total length of scabbard)
Length: 958 millimetres (total length)
Weight: 791 grammes (total)
Thickness: 13.70 millimetres (total, max, including suspension loop)
Width: 40 millimetres (top of blade)
Width: 44.50 millimetres (top of scabbard)
- Curator's comments
Stead and Rigby 1999
The sword is in good condition, unlike most of the Champagne swords, suggesting that it may have been deposited in water.
The reinforce is a bilateral T-type (De Navarro, J.M., 1972, ‘The Finds from the Site of La Tène, 1, Scabbards and the Swords Found in Them’, London, 26-7, fig. 7, la and b).
In the Register the provenance 'from S. France' has been altered to 'Corroy, Marne: cf. text p. 144, note'. The reference is to Morel's 1898 text where he records that Corroy produced the longest swords in his collection. On this basis Smith, R.A., 1925, ‘A guide to the antiquities of the Early Iron Age’ (second edition), London, 73 and pl. ix, no. 5, published this sword as from Corroy. But Morel found only two such swords at Corroy and both were illustrated (Morel, L., 1898, ‘La Champagne souterraine’ Reims, pl. 33, figs 8 and 9). Neither of them resembles this sword. On the other hand, the description of a sword from Clensayes (= Clansayes), Drôme, does seem to tally: the same type of sword as those found at La Tène, it was 950 mm long including the tang, the blade was in good condition, and part of the scabbard was still attached to it (Morel, L., 1884b, communication (Clensayes) ‘Bulletin archéologique du comité des travaux historiques et scientifiques’, 448). Drôme would fit the Register's original provenance ('from S. France'), and the condition of the piece is unlike the other swords from Champagne. This sword is probably La Tène III rather than La Tène II. This type of reinforce and suspension loop occurs in La Tène III contexts (Lejars, T., 1994, ‘Gournay III: les fourreaux d’épée’ Paris, 28). From the River Saône there is a slightly more angular version of the chape on a scabbard with a typical La Tène III straight mouth (Bonnamour, L., 1990, ‘Du silex à la poudre: 4,000 ans d’armement en Val de Saône’ Montagnac, no. 88); and another with scabbard mouth, suspension loop and reinforce similar to this but with laddered chape and rounded chape end typical of La Tène III (ibid., no. 84).
Context: Swords and Scabbards; Long swords and their Scabbards; La Tène II.
1. Swords in scabbards with closed chapes.
La Tène III swords were designed for slashing rather than thrusting. They were very long, broad and flat with rounded ends. The chape of the scabbard was barely distinguishable from the metal binding.
- On display (G50/dc10)
- Exhibition history
1980, London, BM, Celtic Antiquities from Gaul
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number