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Home > Auctions > 2nd June 2020 > Merovingian or Eastern Roman Sword with Jewelled Hilt

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LOT 0472

GBP (£) 8,000 - 10,000
EUR (€) 8,990 - 11,230
USD ($) 10,080 - 12,600

Sold for: £32,500
(Inc. bp*)

Merovingian or Eastern Roman Sword with Jewelled Hilt

5th-6th century AD

An iron two-edged sword with lentoid-section blade, the blade with battle nicks to both cutting edges and traces of scabbard remaining; the lower guard formed from a gilt chip-carved plate, inlaid with garnet cloisonné; gold clad tubular grip with five raised ribs; the pommel with inset rectangular garnets with a central cabochon, agate disc above. 855 grams, 88cm (34 3/4"). Fine condition, cleaned and conserved.

Condition report [Click to show]

Property of a Kent collector; part of his family collection since the mid 1970s; accompanied by an academic report by military specialist Dr. Raffaele D’Amato.
See Behmer, E., Das zweischneidige Schwert der germanischen Völkerwanderungszeit, Stockholm, 1939; Périn P. and Kazanski M.,La tombe de Childéric, le Danube et la Méditerranée in Villes et campagnes en Neustrie, (Europe médiévale, 8) Montagnac, 2007, pp. 29-38; Lebedinsky, I., Armes et guerriers barbares au temps des grandes invasions, Paris, 2001.
The sword belongs to the type III of the Behmer classification of the Germanic swords, the so-called broad-blade group, the second main group of the blades of the Migration period. Weapons of this type have been discovered in the territory of the Franks (Tournai, Flonheim, Louvres, Lavoye), the Alamans (Gültingen) and in the tombs of different Germanic populations of central Europe (Vienne-Leopoldau in Austria, Blučina in Moravia, Bešenov in Slovakia). It is clear that such typology of swords was derived from the late Roman spatha, and it was widely used by the Roman soldiers of the period. Subtypes are known, for instance the garnet fittings are more abundant on the Frankish blades than on the Alaman ones; but in general the similarities between these weapons allows us to accept the idea of a common prototype, and that they were created in the same atelier. Scholars have proposed their origin in the Mediterranean world, and particularly in Constantinople (Quast, Arrhenius) or in Italy (Kazanski, Périn).