University of Oxford
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Iron Seax

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Version 2 2022-12-14, 12:47
Version 1 2022-12-09, 18:03
educational resource
posted on 2022-12-14, 12:47 authored by Woruldhord Project Team

AN00227879_001_l. Iron seax, with a straight cutting edge and sharply angled back, the tang offset from the blade. One face of the blade was inset with eight decorative panels, but two are now missing. They are separated from each other by short, vertical strips of twisted silver and copper wire. The panels are inlaid with silver and niello, except for one, which is inlaid with brass. The triangular panel at the angle of the back contains a winged creature, the wing terminating in an acanthus leaf, and the body decorated with double nicks. Next to it is an oblong field with a symmetrical acanthus plant. The panels to the right of this are arranged in two rows of three narrow rectangular fields, but only one survives in the top row. It contains an undulating foliate scroll. The first panel of the second row is inscribed in Old English; the second, inlaid with brass. The last field is very worn, and contains an S-shaped animal, its body pierced by a strand. The panels are set above a long narrow strip with pendent silver triangles, which runs along the centre of the blade. It is composed of alternate rectangular panels of silver and brass, bordered by lengths of twisted copper and silver wire. The other face of the blade has a similar median strip, but here the rectangular panels are far more regular, creating a chequered effect. A second strip, also bordered by twisted polychrome wires, runs along the back of the blade. It is linked to the one below by two short lengths of twisted silver and copper wire. The panel thus created contains another Old English inscription, in letters of silver wire facing the back of the blade. The spine of the blade was also inlaid with twisted silver and copper wires, alternate silver and brass rectangular panels, and a triangular terminal of silver and copper wires at the angle of the blade. Much of this decoration is now missing. All these images are © Trustees of the British Museum. These free low-resolution images are covered also under the British Museum's Terms and Conditions ( The full image collection is available at: where you can also order high resolution copies.



9th century

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British Museum


The British Museum

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