HESH-7344A1: Late Iron Age: Scabbard Chape

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SCABBARD

Unique ID: HESH-7344A1

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Awaiting validation Find awaiting validation

A cast copper alloy fragment from the chape of a scabbard of a later Iron Age (La Tène III) sword (c. 200-50 BC). The fragment is irregular in plan and profile with a large fragment of iron passing through the centre of the piece; this iron fragment is probably the remains of the sword blade. In plan the piece is broadly sub-rectangular with irregular edges; in profile it is also irregular. Down the centre of the fragment, on one face only, is a large D shaped ridge. This ridge terminates at the base of the chape in a rounded knop like projection which has been heavily abraded. One of the long edges seems less abraded than the other; this has a distinctive curved edge which is slightly faceted in nature. The opposite long edge is badly abraded and poorly survives; a large fracture toward the base reveals the iron core / sword blade. Apart from the central vertical ridge no other decorative motifs are present. It is possible that a cast or incised design is present under the surface corrosion but this has not been observed in any of the investigations.

The surface is a mid green colour with a highly corroded surface which poorly survives. None of the original patina is extant. The iron is a mid purplish brown colour and is corroded, although stable. A blue coloured mineralised deposit is present on several of the faces. This mineralisation looks as if it is enamel or a similar surface decoration; however, it adheres directly onto the surface of the metalwork rather than being inlaid or set. Similar coloured mineralisations have been observed on metalwork discovered in cess-pits. A red coloured mineralisation is also present and associated with the iron. The artefact was X-rayed by Ludlow Hospital and the images / plates are attached as images to this record. The X -rays reveal a distinct hole near the upper edge of the fragment, this is partially visible in the images (and to the eye) but seems to be more uniform in shape when viewed in X-rays. The X-rays also do not show any inlaid enamel or incised decoration. They do show the different densities between the copper alloy and iron but little definitive detail is shown by them. The sword chape is currently unparalleled; it is highly unusual in form and no known sword chapes have been recorded with this distinct central bar like ridge. Stead's corpus of Iron Age Swords has been consulted but again cast examples similar to this have not been discovered. It has been suggested that the date might be similar to medieval examples but again a direct parallel has not been found with this distinct central bar.

The fragment measures 73.2mm length, is 39.3mm wide, 16.3mm maximum thickness across central bar (11.4mm minimum thickness). The bar is 11mm wide and projects 6.3mm. The artefact weighs 117.98 grams.

Sincere thanks are extended to Ludlow Hospital and Helen Williams (Radiographer) for their time and expertise in providing X-Rays of this artefact

Find of note status

This has been noted as an interesting find by the recorder.

Class: Chape

Chronology

Broad period: IRON AGE
Subperiod from: Late
Period from: IRON AGE
Date from: 200 BC
Date to: 50 BC

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 73.2 mm
Width: 39.3 mm
Thickness: 16.3 mm
Weight: 117.98 g

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Mr Peter Reavill
Identified by: Mr Peter Reavill
Secondary identifier:

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Secondary material: Iron
Manufacture method: Cast
Completeness: Fragment

Spatial metadata

Region: West Midlands (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: County of Herefordshire (Unitary Authority)
District: County of Herefordshire (Unitary Authority)
To be known as: Leominster

Spatial coordinates


Grid reference source: From finder
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 100 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
General landuse: Cultivated land

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: HESH
Created: 9 years ago
Updated: 4 years ago

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