Mike Bishop (external specialist)
This copper-alloy sword handguard was recovered from a castrum, or fortified military site, in North Yorkshire in 1993 during road widening works.
The two faces of the object have been decorated with a simple incised line just above the base. The upper aperture, where there is a small casting flaw, provides a likely tang width, whilst the lower does the same for blade width and thickness. There are two instances of damage visible: on the top edge, half-way between the tang aperture and the terminal is a cut caused by the handguard being struck at an angle; a second instance of damage is a scratch on the oppose face, perhaps the result of a glancing blow. XRF analysis suggests it is made from a high tin bronze.
‘Cocked hat’ and ‘crown’ handguards are known from a number of Roman military sites of the later first century A.D. in northern Britain, including Manchester, Newstead, and Fendoch. Similar handguards have been found on sites associated with the Legio II Augusta in the West Country, where they date to the post-conquest period.