The Abingdon Sword

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The Abingdon Sword
Reproduction of the Abingdon Sword on display at Abingdon County Hall Museum.[1]

The Abingdon Sword is a late Anglo-Saxon iron sword and hilt of the late 9th or early 10th century;[2] only the first few inches of the blade remain attached to the hilt.

The sword was found in 1874 at Bog Mill (possibly Buggs Mill, on the River Ock), near the town of Abingdon on the River Thames in Berkshire (now Oxfordshire) in England.[3] It is held in the collection of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, north of Abingdon.[4]

The Abingdon Sword has silver mounts inlaid with niello in the Trewhiddle style.[5] The sword's guard has interlaced animal motifs.[3] Ornamentation includes symbols of the Evangelists. The pommel of the sword has two animal heads for decoration.

A reproduction of the Abingdon Sword has been on display at Abingdon County Hall Museum since it reopened in 2012.[1]

The style of the guards and pommel also suggest the sword dates from the late ninth to tenth century.


The upper and lower guards are curved and contain various interlaced designs, including birds, animal and human figures, and foliated patterns. The figures on the upper guard have been identified as the four symbols of the evangelists. The style of leaf used next to the figure of the eagle on the upper guard has also been identified on early tenth century embroideries from Durham, on the back of the Alfred Jewel and a number of other objects dating to this period. The pommel incorporates two outward-looking animal heads, with protruding ears and round eyes and nostrils, now fragmentary.

The lower portion of the iron blade is missing, however X-rays of the sword show that the blade is pattern welded.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Abingdon Sword replica; Saxon; England, Oxfordshire, Abingdon-on-Thames". eHive, Vernon Systems. Abingdon County Hall Museum. Retrieved July 8, 2012. 
  2. ^ Wilson, David M. "Some Neglected Late Anglo-Saxon Swords" (PDF). 9. Archaeology Data Service, AHDS, UK: 32–54. Retrieved September 12, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Birkett, Thomas (11 November 2010). "The Abingdon Sword". Woruldhord collection. University of Oxford, UK. Retrieved September 12, 2011.  External link in |work= (help)
  4. ^ "Sword fragment and hilt (The Abingdon Sword)". Ashmolean Prints. Ashmolean Museum, UK. Retrieved September 14, 2011.  External link in |work= (help)
  5. ^ Graham-Campbell, James. "Some New and Neglected Finds of 9th-century Anglo-Saxon Ornamental Metalwork" (PDF). Notes and News. Archaeology Data Service, AHDS, UK. 26: 144–151. Retrieved September 12, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Ashmolean Museum: British Archaeology Collections - Abingdon Sword". Retrieved 2017-04-18.