Kirkburn Sword
I've been fascinated by this sword ever since I learned about the Kirkburn sword from this discussion on another forum back in 2002.

I did get to go to London and visit the British Museum in 2009 and see this sword in person and took some photos. It is an amazing piece. It reminds me of Migration Period swords more than Celtic swords because of the extensive decoration in the hilt. The British Museum website says that the hilt is composed of thirty seven different pieces of bronze, iron and horn with decorative red glass inset into the hilt.

I have two books which reference the Kirkburn sword in my library, one being Celtic Warrior by Stephen Allen, published by Osprey and the other being Celtic Art in Britain before the Roman Conquest by Ian Stead (whom I believe directed the Kirkburn excavation). Neither book provides much information although the Celtic Art book states:
The most impressive [hilt] is on a sword found in a decorated scabbard in a grave at Kirkburn (East Yorkshire). The pommel and guard are made of horn framed with iron inset with red 'enamel', and decorated front and back with domed 'enamelled' discs. The grip, probably made of horn too, is encased in a iron tube decorated with 'enamelled' panels.

Can anyone refer me to more references for this sword?

I see that Ian Stead wrote a book entitled Iron Age Cemeteries in East Yorkshire: Excavations at Burton Fleming, Rudston, Garton-on-the-Wold and Kirkburn (English Heritage Archaeological Report) but I am not finding it anywhere.

I also read that Simon James' The World of the Celts has a diagram of the sword exploded inside but I don't know which edition, or if all editions have that diagram.

Second, do we know anything about the blade itself? Is it piled in the kind of proto-pattern-welding that we see in the La Tene era? The outside appearance of the scabbard seems to indicate that the tip was more pointed and not a spatulate tip, but that is just a guess on my part.

Last, does anyone else have any other photos or drawings of the Kirkburn sword - or similarly decorated Celtic swords - that they can share?

All assistance is appreciated!

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Aha! I just realized that the book "British Iron Age Swords and Scabbards" by I.M. Stead is in fact by Ian Stead. And according to the reviews it does cover the Kirkburn sword!

I feel both dense for not realizing that I.M. Stead was Ian Stead and triumphant for finding the book! :D
There's more information and pictures about this sword on the British Museum website here:

I hope this is helpful.

Thank you! That is very helpful!!
Kirkburn Sword
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I realized that the Kirkburn Sword's blade was never revealed to the public at the British Museum.
Maybe the rusted centuries-old blade is so brittle that it can break when removed from its scabbard.

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