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.

Discovery Story

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.

Dimensions

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’.

Dimensions

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

Dimension

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. 

It is really wonderful to know how the artist could draw so minute details in the figures which were inspired and associated with multiple cultures.

Rudham Dirk

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.

Conclusion

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.

Reference

https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zwaard_van_Jutphaas

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxborough_Dirk#Rare_find

Sword of Jutphaas

https://research.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?images=true&objectId=808153&page=1&partId=1&searchText=beaune

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  1. Maybe they were intended for the founding kings of old. Back when people were still hunting and gathering, so maybe they united the european kings across the lands.