The Antiquaries Journal

Shorter Contributions

Britain's First Brass

Paul Craddock, Michael Cowell and Ian Stead*

Stamps on the blade of a sword from the Thames, originally considered to be Anglo-Saxon, now place the sword stylistically in the La Tène II period (late third to early second century BC). X-ray fluorescence tests have shown that the gold-coloured foil covering the stamps consists of 80 per cent copper and 20 per cent zinc, this being the formula for brass. The sword therefore represents the earliest known use of brass in Britain.

Footnotes

* Paul Craddock, Department of Conservation, Documentation and Science, The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG, UK. E-mail: <pcraddock@thebritishmuseum.ac.uk>.

Michael Cowell, Department of Conservation, Documentation and Science, The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG, UK. E-mail: <mcowell@thebritishmuseum.ac.uk>.

Ian Stead, Ratcliffe House, 43 High Street, Ashwell, Hertfordshire SG7 5NP, UK. E-mail: <ian@steady.fsnet.co.uk>.