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Iron sword with white-metal gilt pommel and guard, and organic and textile scabbard remains

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posted on 2021-10-27, 15:32 authored by Helena HamerowHelena Hamerow
Card 1: Silver-gilt sword pommel and upper guard. Pommel, length 4.2cm, height 1.2cm, is cast in cocked hat form, hollowed beneath to fit over top of tang. Decoration on one broad face only consists of a pair of confronted 'chip-carved' scrolls? within side borders of inward pointing niello-filled triangles (very worn and partly obliterated especially at top). Narrow faces have pair of carved grooves with nicked rib between. At sides a raised band with more nielloed triangles, and outside that the chamfered seating for pairs of dome-headed rivets which attach it to upper surface.The ring mechanism fixed to one side of pommel consists of two half-rings, one set at right-angles to the other and immovably fixed. The upper ring has traces of ornament (a pair of punched grooves) on upper edge; the horizontal has traces of radial grooves on its upper edge.The upper guard, width 6.5cm is fixed below pommel and projects beyond it. Originally there was an elongated oval cross-piece of perishable material held between two silver plates: the upper of thin sheet silver (now badly broken), the lower cast with upward sloping rim. The rivets which attach it together have long shanks; additional rivet at one end and the long shank which attaches the ring at the other. The tang of blade broken off at lower edge of guard. Impression of wooden or other casing of grip very clearly indented - sub oval, 2.5 x 1.7. Pommel and ring very worn indeed.The Chape: max. width 3.4cm. There remains only the U shaped silver binding, with its dome-headed rivets and transverse grooves above. Metal plate(s) missing.Card 2: Sword in fragmentary state: blade imperfect, length below guard 47cm and little piece from near tip. Traces of wooden scabbard apparently ornamented? constructed? with vertical ribbing, and underneath it a smooth skin surface with traces of fibre below again directly against blade. Probably the by now familiar sheep-skin lining. Above the wood, especially at scabbard mouthpiece are remains of leather outer cover, and at the mouth of scabbard a narrow binding, apparently a woven cloth braid, width not determinable - probably tablet braid? This sword has silver guards and pommel. The pommel is detached, and the guards in poor shape. The lower guard is still attached to the sword: max. width 3.5cm and similar in construction to the Bifrons pair, that is the narrow oval plates, the upper a sheet silver plate, the lower more solid with upward sloping rim designed to grip the base of the now perished cross piece. The two plates were held together by a pair of dome-headed silver rivets. The tang was covered by a wooden handle, part of which still survives.The pommel and upper guard will be dealt with separately [see above], when they arrive from Maidstone.X-ray no. 15. The blade has a pattern welded core: 4 composite rods in alternate arrangement; 4 groups of diagonal twists in chevron pattern, give way to four straight sections. Does not appear to be in double assembly. The welding pattern can be seen right up the tang. Very little metal left and pattern visible only in patches.The catalogue (Payne 1892a, 38 and figures) indicates that three sword pommels were asigned this catalogue number. See pommels for graves 88 and 104. – D.H.


Grave ID

Sarre Grave 88

Object ID


Catalogue Number

KAS 838


white metal, gilt, niello, organic, horn, wood, skin product (Sonia Hawkes Material Notes; silver gilt, niello, wood, sheepskin, leather, cloth) (Antiquarian Material; silver, enamel)

Complete Keyword List (Including Alternatives)

sword pommel, sword scabbard (Sonia Hawkes Keyword; Sword pommel, guard, sword scabbard) (Antiquarian Keyword; sword)




Maidstone Museum


Kent Archaeological Society

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