Bronze Age Rare Ceremonial Dirks. Why Crafted Only Five? No One Knows
Bronze Age weapons have been discovered across Europe. At first, flat daggers and knives were the most typical. These were followed by dirks and rapiers for stabbing and thrusting. Towards the end of the Bronze Age, the first true slashing swords became the weapons of choice.
The most remarkable piece of the hoard is a bronze ceremonial dirk of exceptional workmanship. The exaggerated size and its thinness, the absence of rivets for fixing to the hilt and the blunt edges, have been interpreted as non-utilitarian nature.
In all, only five dirks of the ‘Plougrescant-Ommershans’ type are known. Two were found in France, Plougrescant in Brittany and Beaune in the Burgundy region; one, the Oxborough dirk, was found in Norfolk, England.
Oxborough Dirk 1450–1300 BC England
The Oxborough Dirk is a large ceremonial weapon or dirk from the early bronze age. One of only six such objects across Europe, it was found in a rural part of the county of Norfolk, England in the 1980s and is now part of the British Museum’s prehistoric collection.
It was found by chance in 1988 protruding from a peat bog near Oxborough, Norfolk, where it had been deposited point down. A man walking in woods near Oxborough literally stumbled across this dirk in 1988. It had been thrust vertically into the soft peaty ground nearly 3,500 years ago, but erosion had exposed the hilt-plate, which caught his toe.
Dated: – 1450 –1300 BC
Length: 709 millimeters
Width: 181 millimetres
Thickness: 73 millimeters
Weight: 2.36 kilograms
Dimensions of this dirk making it “ridiculously large and unwieldy” and clearly never intended for practical use. The dirk was evidently never intended to be functional in any practical way. Instead, it was probably designed for ceremonial use, or as a means of storing wealth.
The Beaune dirk 1500BC-1350BC France
Copper alloy ‘ceremonial’ dirk. Exceptionally wide hilt plate with a broad midrib running down the blade. The surfaces of the blade are pocked and the patina is mid to light green.
It is observed that approximately half the blade (above the darker band in the patina, visible running across the blade) had a ‘vastly different metal composition‘, suggesting that the ‘hilt had been cast-on in modern times, followed by skillful patination’.
Dating: 1500 – 1350BC
Length: 681 millimeter
Width: 75 millimeter
Weight: 1964.7 grams
The Sword of Jutphass 1800 – 1500 BC Netherlands
The Sword of Jutphaas is a bronze-like bronze prestige object with a date that dates back to around 1800 – 1500 BC, during the Hilversum culture. It has a length of 42 centimeters and is of exceptional quality.
The sword was found around 1947 during dredging work for a harbor at the De Liesbosch country estate in the former Dutch municipality of Jutphaas. It was then given to two boys who hung it on the wall of their bedroom, where it remained hanging for years. In 2004 the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden bought it and since then it can be seen there.
Sword is also large, wide, without a handle and not sharp. They were probably ceremonial prestige objects for rituals
Dating: 1800-1500 BC
Length: 425 millimeter
Width:. 128 millimeter
Thickness: 53 millimeter
Weight: 705 grams
The Sword of Ommerschans 1500-1350 BC Netherlands
A ceremonial bronze dirk of the ‘Plougrescant-Ommerschans’ type, Middle Bronze Age, dating back to 1500-1350 BC and it 26 ¾ in. (68.3 cm). high.
The Ommerschans Hoard
The Ommerschans Hoard was found in the vicinity of the city of Ommen situated in the Salland region of the Eastern Netherlands. According to different accounts, the discovery took place between 1894 and 1900 and until 1927, the findings were kept in the homeowner’s landowner’s estate on which the hoard was unearthed.
The 3,500-year-old Rudham Dirk, a ceremonial Middle Bronze Age dagger, was first ploughed up near East Rudham more than a decade ago. But the landowner didn’t realize what it was and was using it to prop open his office door.
And the bronze treasure even came close to being thrown in a skip, but luckily archaeologists identified it in time.
Now the dirk is now on display in Norwich Castle Museum.
We have multiple mysteries here. By analyzing the dimensions on these dirks it is difficult to conclude the intended purpose of these dirks. Dimensions of these dirks making them ridiculously large and unwieldy and clearly never meant for functional use. Instead, it was probably designed for ceremonial use, or as a means of storing wealth.
Why only crafted limited pieces of these dirks? How they were discovered in different provinces.
Many puzzles but no answers. Over to you. If you know about these puzzles let us know in the comment section.
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