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Purchased 3 April 1978. One of a group of 7 swords reputed to have been excavated (probably in 1974) from a ford near the site of a battle in 1453 at Castillon-la- Bataille on the Garonne. First sold at Christie's (Geneva) 26 April 1977, lots 66-72. For further details see Notes.

Physical Description

Hilt: iron pommel of fish-tail pattern, scalloped at the upper edges and with traces of incised line decoration and applied silver. The cross guard is straight with small globular finials and small moulded central langets with tear-drop finials and traces of applied silver decoration. The wooden grip is missing, only traces remaining adhering to the tang (see Notes for wood analysis)
During cleaing in 1983, additional decoration, consisting of silvering and incised lines to the pommel, was found (see notes and sketch by BC on inv. file).
Blade: straight, double edged and flattened diamond section, slightly bent at two points towards the tip.

Featured in

Hundred Years War


Dimensions: Overall length: 1483 mm (58.375 in) (or approx. 1485 mm (58 1/2 in), blade length: 1148 mm (45 in), blade width, at hilt (=max.): 47 mm (1.85 in), blade thicknes, at hilt (=max.): 8.5 mm (0.33 in) Weight: 2.2 kg (1 lb 13 oz)


Places England

Bibliographic References

CHECK sale cat. and other pubs on Castillon listed in entry for IX.3683.

N. Melville, 'Towards the identification of a group of fifteenth century English two-handed swords', Eighteenth Park Lane Arms Fair [guide], 18 February 2001, pp. 19 (illus. - gen.view), 20 (liius. - author's outline drawing), 21.

C. Paggiarino, The Royal Armouries, masterpieces of medieval and renaissance arms and armour, Milan, 2011, volume 1


This is one of a group of at least eighty swords said to come from the same find spot. For general information about these swords and others in the Royal Armouries Collection and elsewhere, see entry for IX.3686 under 'Notes'.

NOTE: The following information, in so far as it relates to the group generally rather than specific comparisons for the present sword, should in due course be moved to and spliced in with the information already in IX.3683 under 'Notes'. PLEASE DO NOT ADD FURTHER GENERAL
The wherabouts of these swords sold at Christie's on 26 April 1977 is as follows:
lot 66 - Phillippe Missilier
lot 70 - Musee de l'Armee
lot 72 - Armouries (IX.1787).
Some of the other swords found at this site are known to have been sold in the Paris Flea Market. (P Missilier says that some 80 were found - added note ny AVBN). Lots 66 - 70 are single handed swords similar to 'Henry V's' sword in Westminster Abbey.
Lot 70 is a single hand sword with traces of gilt inscriptions, with straight quillons with bulbous tips and an inverted pear-shaped pommel.
Lot 71 is similar to IX. 1797 but with a shorter grip and block and a pommel with only two lobes. This re-sold at Christie's 19 July 1978, lot 25.
Another sword from the same site is in the Musée de l'Armée, No. J 21592. It was ourchased in 1975 and exhibitied in 1976 at the exhibition, 'La Guerre au Moyen Age', Château de Pons (Charente-Maritime), cat., p. 39, No. 76 (illus.).
Others of the same group are said to be in the Curtis collection [owner now dead, collection dispersed? - PJL] (end of note by GMW).
For further information on the 'Castillon' swords, a list of other examples in the Royal Armouries and publications, see entry for IX.3683, under Notes.
For a similar hilt see Hornpenger Votiftafel, 1462, in Diocesan Museum, Vienna, No. 49 (note by BC from inf. from AVBN, Aug. 1983).

Melville (2001) compared this sword with swords in the Museum of London (no. 39.142) and the Wallace Collction (no. A474) and identifed these three as part a group of an English type of two-hand sword with an implied dating for this sub-group (his Group I) of around the first half of the fifteenth century (see also entry for IX.633).

The wooden grip was examined by Dr Allan Hall, a consultant archaeobotanist, on 27 October 2000. His findings were as follows: 'fragments from grip [which had become detached during previous handling] proved to consist only of iron corrosion; fragments from the base of the handle appeared to be wood; they were soaked in dilute HCl (there was slight effervescence) but the only diagnosis which could be made was that the material was a hardwood, perhaps one with large vessels (consistent with oak ('Quercus') or ash ('Fraximus'))'. See also scientific analysis sheet on inventory file. Two other swords from the Castillon find were analysed by Dr Hall (IX.2226 & IX.5409) - these produced similar, inconclusive results, but were also thought most likely to be oak or ash.
Without testing a much greater number of grips, it is impossible to know whether any significance can be attached to the fact that these three swords all appear to have grips of the same kind of wood (however, the fact that other types of wood were also used for this purpose is suggested by IX.3744, also analysed by Dr Hall and thought to have a grip of poplar - see entry for IX.3744). _