Object Title

Sword - Falchion

Sword - Falchion



Object Number



No provenance in the Typed Inventory. Probably ' Old Tower' Collection. In the collection before 1916.

Physical Description

The hilt consists of a beaked pommel; a flat-sectioned knuckle-guard which widens towards its rounded end, made in one with and joined by a triangular ecusson to the rear quillon which is of similar shape and which curves towards the blade; a short counter guard is set at right angles to the ecusson on the outside of the guard. The grip is missing.

The almost straight, single-edged blade, the back sharpened for 279 mm (11 in.) from the point; a narrow fuller near the back extends from the hilt almost to the point.





BladeLength680 mm
OverallLength803 mm
OverallWeight765 g


Bibliographic References

Charles ffoulkes, Inventory and Survey of the Armouries of the Tower of London, 2 vols, London, 1916, II, p. 279 - 'musketeer's sword, late 17th-century'.

C. Blair, European and American Arms, c.1100-1850, London, 1962, p. 4 - an example of 'a type of sword used by foot soldiers in the last quarter of the fifteenth century'; pl. 61 - 'English, c. 1450'.

H. Seitz, Blankwaffen, 2 vols, Brunswick, Klinkhardt & Biermann, 1965-68, I, p. 194 (illus.) - 'English, about 1450'.

John Clark, 'A Sword of about 1500 from the Thames', Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society, 24 (1973), pp. 159-61, at p. 159 (mention only) - '... may be of the late 15th century.'.

A.R. Dufty and A. Borg, European Swords and Daggers in the Tower of London, London, 1974, p. 17 and Pl. 15a - possibly English and by implication 1460-1500 from comparison with the Clarke Hall sword (see below).


his hilt type 5 (which also has a forward arm of the hilt) in a painting of 1464 (p. 68).

of the Wakefield sword (see Notes) are here confounded with features of IX.144 (corrected in Wilson 1990, pp. 23-4).

Guy [M.] Wilson, 'Further Notes on Early Basket-Hilted Swords', Journal of the Arms and Armour Society, XIII, supplement, Sept. 1990, pp. 23-6, at pp. 23-4.

Veronica Fiorato and others, Blood red roses. The archaeology of a mass grave from the Battle of Towton AD 1461, Oxford, 2000, chapter 10 (by Graeme Rimer), pp. 121-122, fig. 10.4 (full length view).

C Mazansky, British basket-hilted swords. A typology of basket-type sword hilts, Boydell Press, Woodbridge, 2005, p. 44, type A2, pommel 'basket-hilt' type XVII (illus.): 'c.1460'.


A number of broadly similar swords are cited in the literature:
- one, formerly preserved at Clarke Hall, Wakefield, was found while cutting a drain 'near the site of the Battle of Wakefield' (1460). Sold Christie's, 14 April 1966, Lot 176 (ill. in cat, pl. XII. Also published: H.C. Haldane, 'Relic of the Battle of Wakefield', 'Yorkshire Archaeological Journal', XXII, 1912-13, p. 128 (line drawing): Southwick 1982, p. 27, fig. 39; Wilson 1989, pp. 23-4 (description): P A Haigh,'From Wakefield to Towton: The Wars of the Roses', Barnsley, 2002, p. 108. This sword was examined in the Royal Armouries in 1989 (Deposit A065) and notes and sketches are filed in the Weapons Dept, 'Swords, Medieval'. As with all battlefield finds, caution should be excercised in associating the sword with the battle in the absence of corroborative archaeological evidence. However the sword was again physically examined by RC Woosnam-Savage, of the Armouries, when it came up for sale at Christie's, Lot 66, 17 December 2013, where it was bought by a private collector. The sword is undoubtedly of the medieval period (second-half of the 15th century)..The blade maker’s mark on the blade of this sword is also to be found on the blade tang of a sword fragment in the Royal Armouries collections (IX.2655). This sword pommel and blade tang was found in the River Thames, London, Notionally dated to between 1250-1400 and although identified as just ‘European’ the find spot, in England, reinforces the fact that this type of sword, and ‘The Wakefield sword’ in particular (given its find spot), is without doubt medieval and certainly of English usage, if not origin.

- one in the Museum of London (No. 84-203), found on the Thames foreshore at Queenhithe in 1984 (Wilson 1986, p. 2) - some further information on this sword is contained in a MS note by S. Bevan on the old inventory entry (IBE).
- another in the in the Museum of London (No. 24819), found in the Thames at Blackfriars in 1969-70 (Clark 1973).
- others - in the collection of Samuel Rush Meyrick; from the Thames at Benson Lock; (possibly considerably later) in the Strangers Hall Museum, Norwich; and at Warwick Castle are described by Wilson (1986, pp. 2-4).
- Royal Armouries IX.2639 (q.v.) is similar to the present sword but the lug extends round to form a side knuckle-guard.
- another with a side knuckle guard is in the King's Lynn Museum (No. F 57), found at Wormegay, Norfolk (Wilson 1986, p. 2).

N.B. This highly important sword was misidentified in the Inventory of 1916 as '144. Musketeer's Sword (Late XVIIth Century), with hammer pommel, reversly curved quillons, upstanding handguard and singleedged blade' (Vol. II, p. 279)

The inventory nembers of this sword in Hewwitt's 1859 catalogue and Dillon's 1910 guide have yet to be found. The Hewitt no. may be IX.7 (p. 59) but this has to be checked (PJL).