Object Title





Object Number



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

The hilt is an 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 remain adhering to the tang (see Notes for wood analysis).
The blade is straight, double edged and of flattened diamond section, slightly bent at two points towards the tip. The tip of the blade retains traces of the wooden scabbard.





BladeLength1145 mm
BladeWidth47 mm
OverallLength1480 mm
OverallWeight2185 g
GuardLength285 mm
HiltLength335 mm

Inscriptions and Marks



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 further information on the 'Castillon' swords, a list of other examples in the Royal Armouries and publications, see entry for IX.3683, under Notes.

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).

For a similar hilt see Hornpenger Votiftafel, 1462, in Diocesan Museum, Vienna,

The wherabouts of others in the group sold at Christie's on 26 April 1977 is as follows:
lot 66 - an individual
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. 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 purchased 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.