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Author Topic: OTD 9th April 1975: the Gilling Sword  (Read 175 times)


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OTD 9th April 1975: the Gilling Sword
« on: April 10, 2021, 09:41:44 AM »
Continuing my series of posts from the Companions' Facebook page, here is the most popular post from the past week commemorating the discovery of the Gilling Sword, although to be honest with you much of the commentary was about the relative vlaue of a Blue Peter badge...

On 9th April 1976 a nine year old boy playing by Gilling Beck in North Yorkshire made a discovery that later earned him one of the most coveted of all awards – a Blue Peter Badge! A second Blue Peter badge was also awarded to the sword.

Gary Fridd spotted metal about 2 feet from the water’s edge and so uncovered one of the finest Anglian swords found in Britain. Fortunately for us it was acquired by the Yorkshire Museum and is frequently on display there.

The sword dates to the 9th-10th century, and is typical of this period. It is made of iron and is about 33 inches (83 cm) long, with a maximum width of 3.4 inches (8.6 cm) across the guard. Of this the blade is about 28 inches (70 cm) tapering to a width of about 2 inches (5 cm).

It is two-edged with five silver bands on the grip and silver plaques on the pommel. The patterns are geometric with horizontal and vertical lines around a circular design. The Yorkshire Museum gives a more detailed description here:

“Iron blade with five silver bands on grip and silver plaques on pommel. Two edged blade, pattern welding, pommel decorated with silver plates with geometric decoration, five silver bands in grip, grip missing. Elaborate pommel with large central lobe topped with a circular button below which is a silver band decorated with vertical lines, on both sides of the lobe there are small plaques with a geometric circular design. Running vertically on the shoulders of the pommel either side of the lobe are two thin silver bands decorated with horizontal lines. The shoulder beyond these are concave and curve to meet another silver band which runs along the top of the upper guard, again decorated in a geometric pattern. The tang is visible through the silver bands that remain from the grip - which too bear the geometric pattern - between there it can be seen to reduce steeply in size as it reaches the pommel. The guard is thick but short, curving at an angle similar to that of the pommel it is slightly deformed on one arm. The blade by the hilt is black and reasonably intact, it still holds a sharp edge, and the cutting edge is chipped as well as corroded. The condition of the blade becomes worse toward the tip and the wide shallow fuller or plane which runs along the blade becomes obscured in the damaged portion, the blade is also reasonably loose in its hilt.”