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Medieval History
Vol. 12 (August 2004), p. 40-45


In 1867 two swords and some fragments of an associated sword belt or baldric were excavated in a cave on the near vertical south eastern side of the Rock of Gibraltar. They are very rare examples of twelfth century western Islamic military equipment and may have been buried as part of the talismanic magic that was widespread among Andalucian and North African military personnel of Berber origin. Or the swords may have been secreted in the cave, decades after being made, to prevent them falling into the hands of the Castillians who temporarily seized Gibraltar in 1309, or even when the Christians conquered the Rock permanently in 1462. To understand why good quality military equipment might have buried in such an inaccessible cave, the little known story of Gibraltar's role as a medieval naval and military base needs to be understood