This rare and striking Iron Age sword was found by accident in 1902 while estate workers were digging post-holes on Lord Middleton’s land near North Grimston. J.R. Mortimer – the pioneering early archaeologist and Driffield corn merchant – was called in and published the extraordinary find in his book ‘Forty Years Researches in British and Saxon Burial Mounds of East Yorkshire’ in 1905.
The diggers had uncovered the burial place of an important Iron Age warrior. As well as the famous short-sword with its bronze hilt in the shape of a human head, there was another much longer iron sword, two iron rings probably from the sword belt and the fragmentary remains of a shield in the form of pieces of bronze binding.
The North Grimston sword is one of a small number of similar weapons found across Celtic Europe which feature a human figure forming the hilt. Other examples come from Hungary, northern Italy, Switzerland and France. Ownership of such a rare item marks the man buried at North Grimston out to be one of the most important people in Iron Age East Yorkshire.
This sword can now be seen on display at Hull and East Riding Museum.
North Grimston Sword can be viewed at Hull and East Riding Museum