A Middle bronze Age ‘rapier’ blade has been discovered at a bog in Rossan, Co. Meath. It was identified on the surface of the bog by Christie Nolan and then reported to the National Museum of Ireland by Pat Dunne, both of whom work for Bord na Móna.
The find-place was subsequently investigated by Mary Cahill, Keeper of Irish Antiquities and no additional artefacts were identified. However, several other important finds including a bog body and bog butter have been made at Rossan in recent years. The sword blade measures c. 40 cm in length and is fashioned out of bronze. The handle of the ‘rapier’, which was attached via two rivet holes, was probably made from an organic substance such as wood or bone and this no longer survives.
Rapiers were most likely used as thrusting rather than slashing weapons and they are recorded from both Britain and Ireland. Where finds spots are known, the majority appear to have been discovered in watery contexts, such as bogs, rivers or lakes and this may be indicative of ritual deposition rather than casual loss.
Rapier in this context is an archaeological term for a relatively short, narrow, double-sided blade that emerged in the Middle Bronze Age and represents Ireland’s earliest type of bronze sword (rather than a dagger).