Ken's Bamburgh Journal
Fieldwork 2006

Paul, Jake, and Paul
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The project director, Paul Gething, apparently has a thing for knives, swords, and axes (he even forges them in his own metalworking shop), so he's especially excited about the possibility of finding more items from the hypothetical metalworking area where the recently rediscovered swords were originally found. These weapons were found by Hope-Taylor in the 60s or 70s, but kept under his bed until after his death just a few years ago.

One was recently x-rayed and found to be pattern welded. This means that the smith took extreme measures to build a blade that was strong but flexible. The term "pattern welding" refers to the end result: gorgeous almost-magical patterns appear along the length of the blade within the metal itself, something revered by the Anglo-Saxons and others, with such weapons being passed down through the generations.

Anyway, to-date the most beautiful pattern-welded swords, such as the one found in the famous Sutton Hoo ship burial have been four-strand. The one found here is six-strand. That not only makes in unique in the entire world, but probably an order of magnitude harder to forge in the first place. Quite a find indeed. Why the weapon appears to be deliberately broken in half remains a mystery, but possibly the sword became damaged in battle and had been ritually killed.

Jake, Paul's Rhodesian ridgeback dog, appears to have accepted me finally. For the first 10 days or so, he'd go into a fit on sight. Apparently he has a thing for guys in ball caps and/or beards, and I have both, so I had to steer well clear of him for a while. He rides around in the back of Paul's Jeep, and usually hangs on in the project office at the dig, so I have to be careful about popping in there unexpectedly, despite some biscuit feeding and head patting.

We had another personnel turnover this weekend, with one of the new arrivals being an older guy named Paul, who's a manager at the commercial archaeology firm that employs most of this project's staff during the rest of the year when they're not here. He looked a bit familiar and had the right accent and the right name and age, so I asked him whether he had dug in Orkney in 1988, and he replied affirmatively: thus, we had worked together on a project 18 years ago. Can't cite the small-world effect really, given the pretty small British archaeology community. But still, how cool is that?!

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