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Army Assists With Study of Anglo-Saxon Sword

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

ALDERSHOT, ENGLAND—Archaeologists have enlisted the help of the army to X-ray a sword unearthed at the cemetery at Barrow Clump. “The sword was too large for our in-house X-ray facilities,” Laura Joyner of Wessex Archaeology told Culture 24. The X-ray showed that the corroded sixth-century sword, hidden by its wood and leather scabbard, had been made by a process called pattern welding, where several bands of metal are beaten together to create a single, strengthened blade. “In this case, three twisted rods of wrought iron with steel surfaces were used, showing as a distinctive pattern on the X-ray image. The blade itself was also edged in steel. This is probably because steel can be sharpened to a much finer edge than iron. It is possible to tell the difference between metals on an X-ray image as they corrode in different ways,” Joyner explained. Other grave goods recovered from the cemetery were also X-rayed. They included a spearhead that had been produced from a single piece of iron, and a shield boss with decorative studs to attach it to a wooden shield. To read more about Anglo-Saxons, see "The Kings of Kent." 

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