Guilton Grave 5
online resourceposted on 10.11.2021, 15:13 by Helena HamerowHelena Hamerow
Grave as before, near four feet deep, the bones pretty sound ; here we found the hemispherical umbo of a shield [M 6193]; it was of iron, and hollow; at the centre of the convexity was a sort of stud, about one inch broad, fixed on to it by a strig or foot, about half an inch long; three iron rivets with flat round heads near two inches broad, with part of the wood of the shield adhering to them. By the length of these studs or rivets, the shield appeared to have been exactly half an inch thick. On the right side of the skull was the head of an hasta or spear, much like that described at No. 1; and on the left side of the skull, the head of a pilum or dart; this was not more than nine inches long, socket and all. The socket, both of this and of the head of the hasta, were full of the rotten wood of their staves. A self-opinionated carpenter, who looked on, did not hesitate a moment, but very assuredly pronounced that it was 'quartered ash'; this is not at all unlikely; but I think it impossible for him to be sure. We found, besides a large iron buckle, a round hollow iron cylinder, about one inch and a half diameter, and about five inches long. I take this to have been a handle to hold the shield by. It appeared to have been bound round with some string, not unlike our packthread, I suppose for the more commodiously grasping it; the string was by the rust of the iron converted into a hard iron-like substance. There was also a blade of a knife, exactly like that at No. 1; it had rotten wood adhering to its strig; but, as my wise friend the carpenter had now unfortunately left me, I will not of myself presume to determine what wood the haft was made of. We also found several small pieces of rusty iron; but all of them so swoln and broken that I could not pretend to give any guess what they might have been. They had something of the appearance of long nails, with very broad heads. The carpenter was probably correct. Portions of wood remaining in the sockets of Anglo-Saxon spear-heads have been ascertained, by the aid of the microscope, to be ash. The Saxon æse, ash, is constantly used in the old Anglo-Saxon poetry for spear. In Beowulf, 1. 664, the javelins or spears gáras are described as having shafts of ash-wood: gáras stódon sæ-manna searo samod ætgædere, æsc-holt ufan græg. Their javelins stood, the weapons of the sea-men, collected together, ash-wood grey above. - C.R.S. See Montfaucon's Antiquité Expliquée, translated by Humphries, vol. iv, pl. 6, fig. 14; pl. 8, fig. 6.
Date excavated11th and 12th of April, 1760
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