EAA Research Consultant
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
This is a fantastic contribution Gav! and it is true that in these pages we seem of course preoccupied with weapons which are among the collecting community, in museums etc. It is most thoughtful of you to remind us that archaeology is very much a work in progress which is ever bringing more fascinating pieces of the past, including weapons, gratefully to the scholastic communities to study. Actually it is like a 'cold case file' and it seems there are typically new clues and evidence to help us understand better more about the weapons of the past and the people who used them.
In the November issue of National Geographic is an article on an incredible find of Anglo-Saxon materials found in Staffordshire in England. There are some 3500 objects from around the 8th c. AD and was is most intriguing is that these items are all militarily oriented, but apparantly buried 'without' a warrior! More intriguing is that of the sword materials found(about 92) there are only richly embellished fittings, but no blades.
The suggestion is that this hoard had to do with the old custom of presenting ones Lord or King (in the case of warrior nobles) with war materials at thier death. This is called 'heriot' (O.E.=war gear) and in this case the rich materials were buried, seemingly like some sort of 'escrow' account which was clearly not claimed.
The rich hilts without blades suggest of course that the richly adorned materials would satisfy the requirement while the valuable blades could remain in use.
This find, much like the Viking find, helps us understand more in the deep symbolism, superstitions and faith held by these people and often profoundly represented in thier most valued material culture, particularly in weapons..and why the study of weapons is so dramatically important.
Thank you Gav for sharing this, and I am grateful that you and so many of the guys watch for these kinds of items to share here!!! Nicely done, and thank you Ric for the additional material.....and as always Capt. Mark for the reminder on the QAR!!!!
All the best,