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The Seax of Beagnoth, an Enchanted Blade

By Pollyanna Jones

In 1857, Henry J. Briggs, was milling about on the banks of the Thames at Battersea in London, when he found something lying in the mud. A labourer by trade, he pulled the metal item out of the sticky brown river sediment and wiped it clean. He realised that it was a treasure at once, and took it to the British Museum who bought it off the man. Henry had stumbled across one of the most important Anglo-Saxon relics ever discovered.

The blade at first was wrongly described by Augustus Woollaston Franks, who worked in the Antiquities Department as a “scramasax, in the style of the Franks”. We know now that it is an Anglo-Saxon blade from the 10th Century, in a style known as a long seax.

Made from iron, this wicked looking weapon was embellished with golden runes and decorations along one edge on both sides of the blade. Further study has shown that these decorations were fused in to the blade, with copper, silver, and brass wire delicately placed into grooves cut out into the iron. Lozenges of these precious metals were also worked into the edge, making it a valuable and special thing indeed.

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