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Sarre Grave 39

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posted on 2021-11-10, 15:41 authored by Helena HamerowHelena Hamerow
XXXIX. A double grave, of two old men buried one above another.The upper, a person of stout frame, and short but large bones, had with him a spear-head [KAS 880] to the left of the skull, and, lower down, its ferule and a broken knife.The lower interment contained a wooden bucket at the right foot about eleven inches in diameter, having a bronze rim and an ornament of bronze like some attached to a similar bucket found at Fairford; its bottom and sides had nearly perished. Two knives, one of which measured nearly nine inches in the blade; a bronze buckle [KAS 354]; an umbo with iron bands which had led from it outwards to the rim of the shield, and the studs by which it had been fastened. The impression of the whole shield, about eighteen inches in diameter, was very apparent in the soil.[1] Two spear heads were by the left side of the skull. One was ten inches long, and its wooden shaft must have been an inch thick. The other stood vertically upright in the grave. On the right side was a sword. A palstaab or chisel [KAS 816] lay by the left shoulder, and an axe [KAS 817] by the left foot. This was the only axe found at Sarr, and differs in shape from those found at Ozingell[2], as well as from others found in Saxon graves. Is it not a battle-axe accompanied as it is by a sword? and does it not indicate its owner to have been a man of rank?[3] Neither axe nor sword were usual weapons of the lower class. Its broad blade and short handle resemble those of the hatchet described as borne, with a sword and buckler, by the infantry of the army led by Theodobert into Italy.[4][1] The common circular fibula with a central boss and radiating bands of garnets was very probably intended for a model in miniature of the Saxon shield, which we may suppose to have been painted or otherwise ornamented, to complete the resemblance, as Tacitus describes the shields of the German tribes. – J.B.[2] Collect. Antiq., vol. iii. p. 1. – J.B.[3] A battle-axe was found in the grave called that of Childeric; but some doubts have been raised as to the correct appropriation of this grave. – Douglas.[4] Archaeologia, vol. iv, p. 176. – J.B.


Grave title


Date excavated

between September and December 1863


Brent 1866

Page number


Sonia Hawkes description

Double grave - 2 old men buried one above the other.Upper: a. spearhead with ferule, b. broken knifeLower: a. wooden bucket, b. 2 knives, c. bronze buckle, d. umbo, e. 2 spearheads, f. sword, g. palstave, h. axe.Clear impresson of shield to which umbo belonged - 18 inches diameter

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