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A sword, a hoard and a moveable beast

The Bedale hilt in its early medieval context
9th February 2022 - 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

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Free

Speaker: Dr Sue Brunning, Curator, European Early Medieval Collections, British Museum

The spectacular Bedale Hoard contained a unique component: an iron sword-hilt, trimmed with gold and emblazoned with beasts.

This lecture explores the meaning of this extraordinary find, and what it can tell us about early medieval society.

Dr Brunning will explore an iron sword-hilt that was found inside a Viking-period silver hoard from Bedale, North Yorkshire. The hoard, since acquired by Yorkshire Museums Trust, is a spectacular assemblage of late 9th – 10th century metalwork, including intricate silver neck-rings and chunky ingots. The hilt, however, is of special interest by itself.

The talk will discuss the hilt’s archaeological context and what its many unique aspects – its very presence in a Viking-period hoard, its gold ornamentation, and a tiny but instructive feature in its animal decoration – can tell us about early medieval society and ways of thinking. Weapons were not simply military equipment, but held a wider symbolic relevance that transcended their functional use on the battlefield.

Image: Courtesy of York Museums Trust

This is a free online lecture. Please register to be sent a link to the online presentation.

Royal Armouries is a charity. Donations help support our work as guardians of the national collection of arms and armour. 


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