Discovery of ancient sword stud might rewrite Welsh history

June 8th, 2009 - 2:50 pm ICT by ANI  

London, June 8 (ANI): The discovery of a sword stud beneath shops in Monmouth, Wales, could be evidence of an Anglo-Saxon period settlement, which might rewrite Welsh history.

According to a report in Western Mail, at barely a centimetre across and almost unrecognisable after centuries underground, the stud could shed light on an almost unknown era of Welsh history.

Hardly anything is known about the Anglo-Saxon period, or Dark Ages, in Wales, which roughly bridges the six centuries between the demise of the Roman Empire and the Norman Conquest.

The discovery of the site where the sword stud was found is “one of the most important early medieval sites in Wales,” according to Stephen Clarke, chairman of the Monmouth Archaeological Society.

“The structure may be centuries older than these (carbon) dates as they follow the removal of posts which must have been erected years before,” said Clarke.

“It survived until dismantled in the late 1000s or early 1100s when the Normans dug a huge defensive ditch across the site, from the Castle to the River Wye,” he added.

The buildings are ancient and date from before the Normans arrived. It could be evidence of occupation unbroken since the Dark Ages.

The tiny sword stud is a silver pyramid 12mm high with a 12mm square base and a setting for a stone at its top, similar to two found in the burial of the King of East Anglia at Sutton Hoo.

It was used on leather straps, which held a scabbarded sword to the sword-belt, and none have previously been found in Wales, where any Anglo-Saxon material at all is extremely rare.

A preliminary report, based on pre-conservation assessments, by Dr Mark Redknap of the National Museum Wales suggests it is similar to those found elsewhere in the UK and dated to the sixth and seventh centuries.

“It’s possible that what we’ve got with this find is evidence of the Normans arriving. It’s also possible it’s earlier, but the Anglo-Saxon stud doesn’t prove that,” said Neil Maylan, of the Glamorgan Gwent Archaeological Trust.

“All we can say for certain is that there was activity there at the Normans’ time, which is still hugely significant,” he added. (ANI)

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