Anglo-Saxons 8: rusty piece of iron
This is an iron sword from the Dover Hill Anglo-Saxon Cemetery.
Gradually over the centuries the iron sword has reacted with the soil and water in the ground and some of it has rusted away. Its wood and leather scabbard and handle have completely decomposed.
This sword belonged to an important Anglo-Saxon warrior.
When he died his sword was buried with him, along with his spear and shield.
Swords were valuable weapons. Only the most important warriors could afford them. Most warriors were armed only with a spear.
This is the only grave at the Dover Hill cemetery in which a sword was found, making this warrior the top man, perhaps even a local chieftain.
This photo was taken in 1907, just after the site was excavated.
In the photo we can see the skeleton of the warrior in his grave, with his skull (badly crushed) on the right, and his legs on the left. It’s important to note that his skull was damaged long after he died, not as a result of injury in battle.
Unfortunately, another grave that was dug later on has cut through one end of this burial and sliced off his feet!
This one was Grave 10.
His sword and shield boss (the circular piece of iron at the centre of a shield) were removed before this photo was taken.
But you can still clearly see the warrior’s socketed spearhead near the top of the body (between the remains of the skull and the photographer’s legs and feet). The wooden shaft it was attached to has decayed away.