New Insights into the Bedale Hoard Sword

In 2012 metal detectorists uncovered a hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver items in a field at Bedale, North Yorkshire. New research presented last week at the International Medieval Congress is offering insights into the remains of a sword that was part of that hoard.

Remains of the Anglo-Saxon sword discovered in the Bedale Hoard - Photograph by Mike Peel

In her paper, “A Hack-Sword? The Golden Hilt in the Bedale Hoard,” Susan Brunning gave details about the weapon, of which survive its iron pommel, lower guard, grip mounts and rivets. The weapon, like the other items in the hoard, dates from the 9th or 10th century, and is the only known pieces of a sword that have been found in a later Anglo-Saxon hoard.

The art on the pommel of the weapon, which shows animal and plant motifs, is of the Trewhiddle style popular during that time in England, while the sword blade was likely a Petersen Type L design. Brunning, the curator of Early Medieval European Insular Collections at the British Museum, adds that the gold metalwork is rare for the late Anglo-Saxon period, and this weapon would have belonged to someone with high status as it would have been extremely valuable.

The four gold ring mounts would have also had some commercial value, and could have used as bullion. Brunning speculates that there may have been five rings originally but that one was perhaps sold or traded away. However, the rest pommel and rivets would have had limited commercial value, as the gold foil would have been too delicate to remove.

Brunning will be able to provide more details as her research continues with a paper to be published on the topic within the next year.

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