Thursday 14 March 2019

REVIEW: The Sword in Anglo-Saxon England: From the 5th to 7th Century edited by Paul Mortimer and Matt Bunker

The Sword in Anglo-Saxon England: From the 5th to 7th CenturyThe Sword in Anglo-Saxon England: From the 5th to 7th Century by Paul Mortimer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Sword in Anglo-Saxon England from the 5th to 7th century, edited by Paul Mortimer and Matt Bunker, is an astounding achievement and a wonderful addition to the corpus on the subject. It is both scholarly in its depth and approach and at the same time accessible to the more casual reader with an interest in early Anglo-Saxon England, or swords in general. It covers just about everything you could think of about swords from this period, from how they were used, their place in the military culture, their symbolism, how they were fashioned and decorated, in-depth analyses of the distribution of archaeological finds, the different forging processes, the ideology of swords and several case studies of reconstructions of famous historical swords, such as the Sutton Hoo sword from mound 1 and the Bamburgh Blade.

This is a hefty tome, weighing in at 450 pages. The contributions are varied and for anyone with even a vague interest in the subject matter there will be some chapters that will make compelling reading. There are several highlights in the book, but for me the detailed descriptions of the pattern-welding process and the step-by-step accounts of forging replicas of pattern-welded swords, with numerous enlightening colour photographs, really stand out and elevate this above other works by adding in-depth practical knowledge from expert blade smiths.

If you wish to know more about swords, particularly those from the early Anglo-Saxon period, this encyclopaedic book is a must-buy.

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