Rapier Blade, Kirkconnell House, New Abbey

Kirkconnell House, New Abbey
Found as part of a hoard in the grounds of Kirkconnell House when an orchard was being laid out in the 1770s, this is an example of a corroded and pitted broad rapier blade from the Middle Bronze Age. With a long flattened diamond shaped blade with a round flattened section at the butt, the blade also has two unevenly erroded rivet holes. The main difference between a dagger and a rapier at this time is the size of the weapon. The design came from both native traditions and from the European continent.   The first metalwork   Metal working was a complex and lengthy process. A small pit was dug, filled with crushed ore and charcoal, and then ignited. The temperature was raised by using bellows, perhaps made of animal skin. Once smelting had occurred the molten metal collected in a crucible and tipped into the mould. After cooling the casting was removed and hammered to smooth any rough edges.   Cutting edges on axe heads would have been sharpened by hammering or grinding. When stone moulds were in use shapes tended to be simple, but about 3,500 years ago multiple section clay moulds were developed which enabled more complicated shapes to be made. Early Bronze Age metal workers used pure copper, but this made objects which were flexible in use and difficult to cast. After a period of experimentation, bronze, an alloy of 90 per cent copper and 10 per cent tin was developed.   In Dumfries and Galloway most Bronze Age metalwork has been found on lowlands and in river valleys. The River Nith especially has revealed many finds, perhaps because traders and settlers used it to move between the Solway shores and Ayrshire.  
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length: 380 mm
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Kirkconnell House, New Abbey
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