Collection online


  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Copper alloy 'ceremonial' dirk. Exceptionally wide hilt plate with a broad midrib running down the blade. The surfaces of the blade are pocked and the patina is mid to light green. Ricassos have been made on either side of the hilt but appear to have been added in modern times. A darker band runs through the blade. The hilt and lower blade (i.e. the portion of the dirk above the darker band) appears to have been cast-on in modern times. This assessment is based on differences in colour, patina, profile and metal composition and is reported in Needham (1990).


  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1500BC-1350BC (circa)
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Type series

    • Famille à languette large. Plougrescant-Ommerschans Type. (Large Hilt Family. Plougrescant-Ommerschans type.)
  • Dimensions

    • Length: 68.1 centimetres
    • Length: 54.5 centimetres (Blade)
    • Width: 7.5 centimetres (Blade max)
    • Weight: 1964.7 grammes
  • Curator's comments

    The Beaune dirk is one of only six other exceptionally large ('ceremonial') dirks found throughout northwest Europe. The design is identical to smaller dirks but the sheer size implies a ceremonial function.

    Hook (in Needham 1990, pp.245-47) observed that approximately half the blade (above the darker band in the patina, visible running across the blade) had a 'vastly different [metal] composition', suggesting that the 'hilt had been cast-on in modern times, followed by skilful patination'.

    The ricassos on either side of the hilt do not appear to be original features and Needham (1990, 245-6) has suggested that they were modelled on similar features on the Kimberley dirk (WG.2062) that was also in Greenwell's collections. Ricassos are not a feature of blade of this period and Needham suggests that the Kimberley blade has been accidentally broken in the shape of ricassos. The Beaune ricassos appear to be an incorrect identification of an anachronistic feature added to the replacement hilt in modern times.


  • Bibliography

    • Needham 1990 242-51, fig. 2.1 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history

    1985 1 Aug-13 Oct, Edinburgh, National Museum of Scotland, Symbols of Power at the Time of Stonehenge
    2016 1 Apr- 30 Sep, The Netherlands, Leiden, Rijksmuseum van Oudeheden, Vlijmscherp Verleden

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number


COMPASS Title: Ceremonial bronze dirk


COMPASS Title: Ceremonial bronze dirk

Image description



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Object reference number: BCB12437

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