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west Kentish saxon hoard


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Hoard comprising of 12 blades .

Notable are the size of the large "lang seax" ( blade at 35 inches)and the proliferation of pattern welding in the seax blades which is very rare for this period .

The lang seax is particularly interesting in that it shows a conveluted snake pattern similar to an example I have seen in the BM.

The blades seem to show varying piled structure and evidence of sandwich construction (passably piled sheer steel?) . the sword is an anomaly and is a 4 bar construction with a interrupted chevron pattern (reminiscent of the sutton hoo blade ?) and a high layer edge ,runic letters are visible on the blade . I should note that the sword blade is not bent as it apeares to be in the picture , this is an effect of the camera lens.

A substantial hoard like this is good evidence that weapon-smiths of the time did not specialize in either making just swords or tools but made both as part of there normal job of work.

My suspicion is that the hoard is most probably the work of one smith and although there are no makers marks on any pieces There are considerable similarity's between some of the work.

It is hard to put a value on a hoard such as this ,especially considering the high preservation of the pieces .Most blades were found heavily waxed and wrapped in raw silk ,some look as though they could have been finished yesterday.

There is no evidence of hilt fittings and I like to think these blades were part of a smiths commercial trade and were either lost on rout to market or (which I think more likely) hidden in the smiths forge . There is substantial evidence of forging activities at the find sight .

Given the extremely good state of preservation ( there is even heat oxide from the tempering still visible on some of the tangs) I would like to see at least some of the blades with handles , this could at last give an idea of what these pieces would have looked like in there full glory .I am currently looking in to the possibilities of finding modern craftsmen who would have the skill and attention to period . Given the current lack of interest that museums have with pieces of this period it is quite likely that at least some of these pieces will end up in the hands of private collectors . I will make sure that they are well documented before this happens .

 

Best estimate date wise is late 9th or early 10th YTM*

 

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I shall add more in depth photos and material analysis as the pieces are documented .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*YTM meaning Year of the Third Millennium , an abbreviation used by pseudo historic formited to denote gravitas and antiquity .

Edited by owen bush
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Petr,

Do not worry you are first on my list and your name sprang to mind as soon as the hoard was discovered.

In a strange way I have a feeling that the smith may have had you in mind too , I know this is a very romantic notion , but to view such things through the eyes of a cold historian is to deny some of the more beautiful aspects of life.

I feel that the historic is best viewed with eyes attuned to the imaginary and romantic possibilities of a period......

I will be in discussion with you as soon as the documenting process is complete......

Edited by owen bush
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where (Kent) and when is it discovered???

I'm very interested to know more about it!

 

congratulations for this find. :D

Edited by Jacques Delfosse
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Hola! Someone has been busy :) I wish there were hoards like this in my area, the best I've come across is a hoard of 4 so far, comprised of blades in various stages of production, as if the maker had suddenly stopped and disappeared doing other things (current theory is lack of a heat treating forge and engraving tools).

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Hola! Someone has been busy :) I wish there were hoards like this in my area, the best I've come across is a hoard of 4 so far, comprised of blades in various stages of production, as if the maker had suddenly stopped and disappeared doing other things (current theory is lack of a heat treating forge and engraving tools).

 

I think it is a good idea to try and put your selves in the mind of the maker .I like to think that the person or persons who made up this hoard are not that different from you and I.

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A nice dig of beautiful pieces, God knows who the smith was .

 

The last one is the most difficult to make but the penultimate lower one is the most fascinating to me.

 

Well, that ancient smith would be very proud of he could hear our comments. ;):D;)

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Owen, you Sir, are taking early medieval blades to a new level :blink:

I don´t have the slightest idea how many hours an english day has, but must be some more than here!

 

I can´t even decide which I like best.... I quess the one on top wins by quite a narrow margin :o

Edited by Mat Maresch
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Excellent find, Owen! But, you scooped me, darn it! I too have an ancient blade waiting to be shown to the world, but it's not been photographed yet. Seems to be an 8th century Frankish sax blade rehilted much later in a different style. I'll post more about it when I've finished researching it.

 

 

PS I'm really diggin' that sword, and I especially appreciate the implications of your findings that the smith may not have been a specialist. ;)

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So now I think I have an explanation as to why blades are found in digs without handles. Could it be that they never made handles for them in the first place? :rolleyes:

Naw, don't you remember that Staffordshire hoard? All hilt parts, no blades. Apparently it was common practice to bury both separately :)

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Naw, don't you remember that Staffordshire hoard? All hilt parts, no blades. Apparently it was common practice to bury both separately :)

 

This is in my mind quite possable , I see no reason why blades that were made in one place were not handled in another . It seems to me that our modern idea of sole authership does cloud what could be a very different type of relationship between craftsmen from different times and places...All conjecture really but keeps one thinking .

 

:D Cool presentation Owen! B)

Are those runes inlaid into the blade? ;)

 

 

Jeff , on first inspection they do not seem inlaid , I have seen a couple of blade fragments (more like samplers) made in the Uk from about the same era . But as far a full sword blades the only examples I know of were from further afield in eastern europe and in the far west past Iceland . Either ways not at all common for 9th and early 10th YTM . In the late 10th quite possably they could be patternwelded!!!!!

I think most likely they were etched , On looking at pieces like these I like to try and put myself in the place of the Smith and think of the constraints and pressures of the time , It is quite possible that a smith having managed to get his head round the manufacture of a 4 core edge wrapped blade did not wish to risk the forging in of a runic inscription ...... Who can tell ?

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could the reason for the lack of hilts and fittings be that a person rich enough to buy one at the period would want to fit and finish it himself (or by his smith) and not just want it pre-made? i notice most (if not all) of them are PW, maybe the smith lost his life in a raid and hid them to keep them from being stolen?

 

yay. amature conjecture.

 

edit: looking at the third blade from the top on the right, which side was that sharpened on, the top or the bottom?

Edited by C Daniel
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could the reason for the lack of hilts and fittings be that a person rich enough to buy one at the period would want to fit and finish it himself (or by his smith) and not just want it pre-made? i notice most (if not all) of them are PW, maybe the smith lost his life in a raid and hid them to keep them from being stolen?

 

yay. amature conjecture.

 

edit: looking at the third blade from the top on the right, which side was that sharpened on, the top or the bottom?

 

All this is quite possible . and now much like then, the idea of hiding away a hoard such as this does not seem to be all that odd. Many of the blades are pattern welded and indeed valuable and I dread to think of the time the smith must have put into them .

In my minds eye I see the kentish saxon smith defending his anvil, hammer in hand outnumbered against foreign invaders ,his hoard safely hidden away.........In many ways I can relate to him .

Edited by owen bush
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Very intersting find Mr Bush, someones beard has been bright of late! There has been a similar discovery made on an old industrial site in the north of England, although the work is of much lower quality, and many pieces not finished to the degree those you have shown are,.

 

Im speculating that the northern hoard were never completed as the smith was indebted to the lender on his abode, and in order to repay the debt he was forced to toil away from the anvil and fire.

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Owen, I'm going to move to the Uk now, okay? :P I think i'm just going to secretly follow you around and take notes!

 

That lang seax has to be my favourite.

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Owen, I love the history of this craft, almost regardless of what age or culture it represents.

To see such a rich hoard found in one lace makes me think I need to go visit and learn more about any possibly surviving traditions that may still be alive there.

So much to learn.

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wow, these are for real? Owen, your not pullin our legs here are you?

 

 

I was just thinking something similiar :P those are goregous

 

 

I am certain that the hoard is dated late 9th or early 10th YTM* .and whilst there are anomalies it is almost certainly the work of a single maker .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*YTM meaning Year of the Third Millennium , an abbreviation used by pseudo historic formited to denote gravitas and antiquity .

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Owen, I love the history of this craft, almost regardless of what age or culture it represents.

To see such a rich hoard found in one lace makes me think I need to go visit and learn more about any possibly surviving traditions that may still be alive there.

So much to learn.

 

 

There is so much to learn , that is true . Being custodian of a hoard such as this really helps one understand some of the making process that must have gon into the pieces . I like to put myself into the mind of the smith and wonder as to the way he thought .The material use is fascinating to me and the combinations of piled steel and pattern weld in some pieces and plainer laminated steel in others makes me think he was serving a greater comunity rather than a body of fighting men , this is of course conjecture as the fighting man would almost certainly be adorned with more mundane pieces of cutlery to go about his every day chores.

 

I also love looking at the history of this craft as it develops . I think that like all things subjective the more we learn the more we see . I get a real sense that we are right now developing a "history" of our own both with the developments in our understanding of past history and with the applications and culture we are developing in the present .

 

Peter ,

Pieces such as these help me learn quite a lot and can be stepping stones to a better understanding of the materials used and the way we can develop them for our own future work . these are not "perfect" pieces and by looking at the limitations and choices faced by the smith in these pieces I hope to try and better my own projects further along the path .

 

As far as a kentish culture being preserved .........

there are certainly influences felt in these parts and certainly north of the river as well , As modern smiths we can take ancient influences (molded by the bias in our own observation of them) and mix them in with greater and wider inspiration. Making objects that are both of there time and ours.

I have a feeling it was not always so , I believe rite now is a lucky time to be looking and learning from such things, even 20 years ago there was still a vale of secrecy (and misinformation) surrounding the craft .

It is well to remember that knowledge was not always so free .........

I think in years to come we will have a clearer view, perched upon the shoulders of men who are them selves perched on the shoulders of giants .

 

Peter I look forward to sitting around a fire with you and discussing the past present and future .

All the best Owen

 

 

 

 

I am enjoying this thread !!

Edited by owen bush
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