Bamburgh Sword

February 5, 2011

Bamburgh SwordBamburgh sword is a rare Anglo-Saxon sword from the seventh century. It once belonged to an Anglo-Saxon king or a member of a royal family. The sword was made up of six individual strands of iron: this technique is known as pattern welding, Babmburgh sword thus being a six pattern-welded sword. Cold weapons of such structure are also called ‘snake patterned’ because of the herring bone appearance created by the forged strands. Six strands or layers of carbon steel forged together made it a perfect weapon: in comparison, Sutton Hoo sword had only four layers. Bamburgh sword is the only one of its kind ever found.
The recovery of the sword is rather peculiar. It was dug out during the first excavation at Bamburgh castle, Northumberland, in 1960. After that it was forgotten in the attic of the broadcaster and archeologist Brian Hope-Taylor who took part in the excavations. After his death in 2001, some of his former PhD students came to his house hearing that his books were being sold off. The sword was going to be dumped in a skip by workers who were clearing the house. It was returned to Bamburgh Castle in 2005, where Paul Gething and Graeme Young were working on the Bamburgh Research Project. It is then that the rare nature of the artifact became known. The sword was sent to the Royal Armouries for further examination.
Discovering such a sword is a unique chance for an archeologist. More excavations at the Bamburgh castle may reveal more details as for this exceptional weapon.

Photo: Bamburgh sword

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

James W. Skene February 21, 2011 at 1:24 pm

I understand that the Picts were the most prominent metal workers of this time period and that the Votadini who previously inhabited this area might have been a pictish tribe. Is it possible that the Bamburgh sword is of Pictish manufacture to Saxon or Anglish order or design? Further the association with Lancelot and” joyeuse garde” would appear to be over the moon fantasy as Lancelot and his legend were a fabrication of the French romanticists of the middle ages, the ” age of chivalry”. However, legend has it that Merlin left the child Arthur with a guardian and his son in northern “England”. I no longer remember the names but Sir Kay comes to mind. I don’t know whether it has been established as fact or fraud but I ran across an article a few years ago claiming on the basis of a couple of “tombstones”(?) that there were two Arthurs, one in the early fifth century just after the Roman withdrawal, and the other in the mid-sixth century at the height of the Saxon troubles. The time would appear to be approximately right if “Excaliber” were a possession of the second Arthur. Any merit to any of this?


derek craggs April 28, 2011 at 9:20 am

A very interesting find, the subject is almost mythical.
Can you tell me, is this site still being excavated.


Rhino Gunn April 1, 2012 at 3:52 am

to: Kate Clarke, et al
re. Bamburgh sword
I think that if this artifact were carbon dated it would be much older than 1,300 years. Since found in Britian my guess is that it is a Roman sword.
Best regardss


Michael Garfield February 16, 2013 at 10:22 am

It’s an English sword, so let’s stop all the denial shall we? I’m sick to death of all this “it’s Pictish, no it’s Roman” bullshit. And as for king Arthur! You’re joking, right? Our Englisc ancestors produced their own weapons, and were renowned for doing so – though the deniers will say anything rather than give them credit for anything.


Maz February 1, 2014 at 12:48 pm

Agree completely.


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