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Balladoyne Sword Hilt

Date made: Viking

Description: This is the hilt, or handle, of a Viking Age sword found near Tynwald Hill. It is made from iron and is of a type thought to be made around AD 900. It is a plain sword, with no decoration, but its importance lies in its proximity to Tynwald Hill. Found with spear (1954-3898b), shield boss (1954-3898c) and a fragment of bone (1954-3898d).

Tynwald was the parliament set up by the Vikings over one thousand years ago and still in operation today. The word Tynwald comes from the Norse thingvollr, meaning place of the parliament. The annual meeting held at St John’s would have been the “all-Island” meeting – smaller local groups would have met elsewhere throughout the year.

At the annual Tynwald, new laws would have been enacted and disputes settled. No weapons were allowed within the boundaries of the meeting site. Swords, spears, axes and knives would have had to have been left outside the fence that marked the area of the court. Even in today’s Tynwald ceremony, the Deemster (a judge) commands that the court be fenced.

Measurements: overall: 2 cm x 15 cm x 3 cm

Materials: iron

Date found: 1937.12.02

Object name: sword

Collection: Archaeology Collection

ID number: 1954-3898a


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