NMGW-709985: Middle Bronze Age blade, possibly a dirk of Group II blade

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Unique ID: NMGW-709985

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

Middle Bronze Age bronze blade, possibly a dirk of Group II blade with a damaged butt.

The dirk is incomplete with some peripheral damage to the butt and some distortion (with a length of 131.4mm and a weight of 19.7g). The shoulders are eroded but are probably close to their original width (with a surviving width of 39.2mm). The original form of the hilt is now uncertain and there are no definitive arcs from rivet holes present along the edges although it is possible to suggest an arc at the apex, towards the more complete shoulder side. The butt is thinned (with a thickness at the apex of 0.8mm) and may have been reworked. Below the shoulders, the sides are gently concave (for 24mm) before becoming near-straight and convergent (for approximately 82mm) before converging more sharply above the tip. The blade outline is comparatively triangular and perhaps suggests a Group II blade. The blade section is now difficult to determine with no midrib or mid-ridge discernible although there is the tentative suggestion of ephemeral surface marks or facets. The blade achieves a maximum thickness (of 2.3mm) below the butt and gradually thins to the tip (at 1.4mm thick).

The blade edges have been lost and are now rounded on one edge and stripped on the other. The original surface has been lost and the metal is heavily-corroded with a grey-brown to black patina and with areas of pale-green corrosion. There is no surviving evidence for a hilt mark on the surface.


The blade has bowed slightly along its length in both directions so it has a low wave-like side profile. Due to the thin nature of the blade, this could be the result of soil warping or another post-depositional process. Alternatively, it may be the result of heat warping, as seen on burnt Early Bronze Age daggers, or deliberately distortion by some other means. The poor surface condition is indicative of burning damage.

The corrosion and peripheral damage makes it difficult to confidently identify the blade typologically with the scheme as outlined by Burgess and Gerloff (1981) but the triangular form would seem to best fit the Group II weapons with damaged or reworked butts. Group II have a suggested date range spanning the Early to Middle Bronze Age transition (ibid., p 45), and largely belong to Acton Park Metalworking industry but continue into Taunton Metalworking, corresponding with Needham's (1996) Period 4 - 5, and perhaps can be dated to c. 1600 - 1200BC.

1. Burgess C.B. & Gerloff S., 1981; The Dirks and Rapiers of Great Britain and Ireland, Prähistorische Bronzefunde Abteilung IV. Band 7.

2. Needham, S. 1996; Chronology and Periodisation in the British Bronze Age, Acta Archaeologica 67, p. 121-140

Class: blade, possibly a dirk of Group II blade with a damaged butt

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: BRONZE AGE
Subperiod from: Middle
Period from: BRONZE AGE
Subperiod to: Middle
Period to: BRONZE AGE
Date from: Circa 1600 BC
Date to: Circa 1200 BC

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 131.4 mm
Width: 39.2 mm
Weight: 19.7 g

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Miss Wenke Domscheit
Identified by: Mr Mark Lodwick
Secondary identifier: Mr Matthew Knight

Other reference numbers

Other reference: NMWPA 2014.175.2

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Manufacture method: Cast
Completeness: Incomplete

Spatial metadata

Region: Wales (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Swansea (Unitary Authority)
District: Swansea (Unitary Authority)
Parish or ward: Castle (Community)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: SS6591
Four figure Latitude: 51.60161274
Four figure longitude: -3.95064992
1:25K map: SS6591
1:10K map: SS69SE
Grid reference source: From finder
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 10 metre square.

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: NMGW
Created: 4 years ago
Updated: About one year ago

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