Miniature Sword

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Julie Shoemark

One of our favourite finds from Scotch Corner was this perfect miniature sword, the only complete example (at the time of publication) of its kind in Britain. The sword has an iron blade with the remains of a ribbed bone hilt and a separate guard and is sheathed in a tiny sheet copper-alloy scabbard. It is just under 12cm long from the top of the grip to scabbard tip. You can see the distinct components clearly on the x-ray.


The form of the sword is unusual in that it exhibits features from both native British and Roman swords, making it a hybrid. The hilt is Roman in style, but the scabbard shows a mixture of influences, notably the suspension loop at the back which, on a full-sized example, would have been used to hang the sword from a belt a style distinct to the south of Britain. There was a short-lived fashion for Roman soldiers to use hybridised weapons of this form during the conquest of Britain up until the Flavian period. It is probable that it was made in the south and brought to Scotch Corner as a personal possession, possibly of a soldier. Whoever made it would certainly have seen full-sized examples to create such an accurate miniature version. We don’t know if it was made as a votive model, a souvenir, or even if it was used as a tiny pocket knife!


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