Sword parts and their depositional contexts – Symbols in Migration and Merovingian Period martial society
Svante Fischer, Jean Soulat and Teodora Linton Fischer
A key feature of swords from the Migration and Merovingian Periods is that they consist of many different parts, as recently highlighted by the discovery of the Staffordshire hoard.This paper seeks to understand sword parts and their depositional contexts by interpreting them as symbols of kleptocracy, animated by their object biographies in a martial society. This is done by evaluating four important finds from Sweden: a stray intact sword from Scania,a cremation grave from Hebergin Halland, a wet land deposit from Snösbäckin Västergötland,and the settlement finds from Uppåkra in Scania.
The presence of the various different parts varies substantially in the different kinds of contexts. In particular, the Uppåkra settlement is missing hundreds of swordparts that ought to have been there given the professional excavations and systematic metal-detecting over many years there. This allows for the interpretation of the Uppåkra swordparts as the remains of a battlefield of about AD600 where most of the swordparts were removed from the site shortly after the battle.