A probable early medieval Knife, Ipswich

three profiles of iron knife

Recovered by chance by a member of the public earlier this year, this iron knife likely dates to between circa AD 500-1000.

A ‘whittle and tang’ knife; this knife has a blade with a straight back and curved cutting edge. It has a long, narrow, tang which would have been attached to a grip made of organic material, which in this case no longer survives.  

Iron knives in the Early Medieval period generally follow six basic forms based on the shape of the back and cutting edges. However, very often, corrosion makes it difficult to identify the form with certainty.

On the Continent, knives with straight backs and curved cutting edges were in use between the mid-fifth to seventh centuries AD. In Britain, the positions of knives recovered from graves indicate that they were probably attached to the waist, strapped to the forearm or worn in a container attached to the hip. They have been found in both male and female graves.

This knife was found near Ipswich by Ross Harvey, who intends to donate it to Ipswich Museum.

View the full record on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database: SF-EAF8A6

Thank you to the finder for allowing this object to be featured.

This find was recorded by the Suffolk Finds Recording Team, supported by the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

Find out more

Discover more about the history of Ipswich

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