Battle of Fornham site surrenders eight-century-old sword

David Weakes, left, and Dominic Corcoran at the pond at All Saints Hotel golf course where they found the sword  Picture: Mark Bullimore
David Weakes, left, and Dominic Corcoran at the pond at All Saints Hotel golf course where they found the sword Picture: Mark Bullimore
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The last thing a digger team expected to see as the bucket rose from a pond they were dredging was sword sticking up like Excalibur.

But the pond on the golf course at All Saints Hotel, Fornham St Genevieve, is on the site of the 1173 Battle of Fornham where forces loyal to Henry II drove the rebel Earl of Leicester’s mercenaries into a marsh and killed them.

Part of the inscription on the Fornham sword, which is inset with silver.
Picture: Suffolk County Council

Part of the inscription on the Fornham sword, which is inset with silver. Picture: Suffolk County Council

David Weakes, of Weakes Construction, was banksman to digger driver Dominic Corcoran when they found it.

Mr Weakes said: “It was sticking out of the digger bucket with the cross handle upwards – it was weird, really.

“It’s lucky the digger bucket didn’t break it. I’ve found coins, old bottles, things like that, before but nothing like this. It’s very rare for something that old to be in that condition after all those years.”

David Harris, who is in charge of the work at the hotel, said the 12th century sword was sent to a conservator who while cleaning it found engravings of words, birds and animals inlaid in silver.

The 12th century sword found at All Saints Hotell Golf Course, Fornham St Geneveive
Picture: Suffolk County Council

The 12th century sword found at All Saints Hotell Golf Course, Fornham St Geneveive Picture: Suffolk County Council

That means the sword, complete with parts of its scabbard, is now going through the Treasure Act process so will be subject of an inquest. It is currently held by Suffolk County Council’s Archaeological Service.

Mr Harris added: “It’s wonderful – you can see all the silver emblems over it.

“We would like to retain the sword on the premises. Our restaurant, The View, looks out over the battlefield so people could see it and look out over where it was found while they drink their coffee.

“Museums are great but it would be nice to have it here on the site where it was found.”

If an inquest decides it was treasure hidden by someone intending to reclaim it, it becomes Crown property though the finders and land owner are entitled to a reward based on a British Museum valuation.