Yorkshire Museum

The Gilling Sword

This sword, first spotted by a nine-year-old boy playing in a stream, is one of the finest Anglian weapons to be found in England. Eagle-eyed Garry Fridd was later awarded a Blue Peter badge for his amazing discovery in April 1976.

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He was playing next to Gilling Beck, Gilling West, near Richmond, in North Yorkshire, when he noticed a piece of metal close to the stream’s edge.

The two-edged iron sword he found dates from the 9th century. The sword’s handle is decorated with silver which has a combination of geometric and plant designs.

Anglian and Viking warriors were often buried with their swords. Archaeologists have discovered a number of these burials in North Yorkshire. Other swords of this date have also been found in rivers and it is thought that weapons of defeated armies may have been thrown into rivers.

After the discovery of the Gilling West Sword it was put up for auction and acquired by the Yorkshire Museum, then cleaned and restored by the British Museum before going on display.