Object Title

Sword - Two-handed sword

Sword - Two-handed sword



Object Number



Presented by the officers of the Royal Regiment of Artillery. Transferred from the Rotunda Museum of Artillery, Woolwich, 1927

Physical Description

Iron hilt comprising a large, roughly spherical pommel and straight quillons which widen at the Úcusson and flare out immediately before the roughly hemispherical terminals. The Úcusson has a wide, shallow medial ridge. The plain grip has a modern leather binding. Straight tapering blade of flattened lozenge section with a fairly acute tip.




Bibliographic References

Official Catalogue of the Museum of Artillery in the Rotunda, London, 1873 125 no. 1798.

Official Catalogue of the Museum of Artillery in the Rotunda, Woolwich, London, 1889: 134, no. 14.7.

P. Hammond, Royal Armouries Official Guide, 2nd (rev'd) edn, London, 1993, p. 33, right (col. ill., with Henry VIII's foot combat armour II.7).

Lena Rangstr÷m (ed.), Riddarlek Och Tornerspel [English title Tournament and the Dream of Chivalry], (exhibition catalogue) Livrustkammaren, Stockholm, 1992, no. 77, pp. 95 (illus.), 349 (English translation) - 'c.1500'.

Royal Armouries, Royal Armouries Museum [souvenir guide], Royal Armouries, Leeds, 2000, p. 12 (illus. - held by tonlet foot combat armour, II.7).

N. Melville, 'Towards the identification of a group of fifteenth century English two-handed swords', Eighteenth Park Lane Arms Fair [guide], 2001, pp. 22 (illus. - author's outline drawing), 24 (illus., with II.7).

T Richardson, The Armour and Arms of Henry VIII, Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds, 2002, p. 20 (illus., with the armour II.7).

Royal Armouries, Royal Armouries Museum [Leeds]. Souvenir guide, Royal Armouries, Leeds etc. [2006], p. 28, illus. (gen. view, with the armour II.7).

G Rimer, T Richardson and J P D Cooper, Henry VIII: Arms and the Man, Leeds, 2009,p.120


A similar sword is illustrated in 'Ancient Armour and Weapons in the Possession of Thos. Barrit', (photo-facsimile of an unpublished manscript catalogue, original (location unknown)), 1793, Pl. LXI, no. 4. Its length is given as 65 in. (1650 mm). According to the text it was 'found in the Castle field at Manchester' and was supposed (on insufficient evidence? - PJL) to have belonged to Thomas de Grelle, Lord of the Manor of Manchester. There is detailed inf. on its owners immediately before Barrit. A second sword in the same collection (Pl. LI, no. 3) has the same parallel-sided grip but the blade appears to have been proportionately shorter in relation to the hilt. Its length is given as 73 in. (1855 mm) (see photocopies in inv. file).
Another similar sword, very close in size to IX.633, is in the Castle Museum, York, no. CA 700 (Timperley no. 33; City of York Castle Museum, 'Collection of armour presented to the City by E. Timperley, Esq', London 1941, n.p. [York, c.1941?]), p. 12, 1st entry, 5th plate, centre) It is reputed to have come from in 'a West Country church'. Paint remains of the grip, cross and blade and the latter appears to have been painted to resemble a scabbard with lockets and chape (see further notes on inv. file).
The York sword and the present sword are probably those listed as part of a group which was identified tentatively as English by Ewart Oakeshott ('European weapons and armour from the Renaissance to the Industrial Revolution', Lutterworth Press, Guildford and London, 1980, p. 146). The others listed are one each in the British Museum (reg. no. OA 3190) and at Oriel College Oxford (C. ffoulkes, 'Arms and Armour in the University of Oxford', Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1912, p. 29, no. 9 & Pl. VII - ends of quillons curved towards the blade), and one sold at Christie's in 1977, and 'now [1980] in a private collection in London'. Oakeshott dated the group to the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. He refers to 'the York sword and the Tower of London sword [having] been ... rigorously cleaned' though this is clearly not true for the York Castle Museum sword (decribed above).
Melville (2001) extended and refined this group of 'English' two-hand swords, citing further examples and defining three sub-groups: group I iuncludes IX.1787 (q.v.); group II includes the present sword (IX.633) and group III includes the Oriel College sword. For group I Melville implies a date around the first half of the fifteenth century; for group II he 'suggests a date later in the 15th century' [than group I]; and for group III he finds suggestions of a date 'towards the end of the fifteenth century'.