Spanish Armada sword

Contributed by Powell Cotton Museum Archives

Spanish Armada sword

This sword, given to the Powell Cotton Museum in 1968, was recovered from the seabed at Tobermory in Scotland.
In 1588, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, after the British fleet had put the Spanish Armada to flight, their ships attempted to get home to Spain by sailing around the north of Scotland. The coastline of the west of Scotland is particularly treacherous and the Atlantic gales drove many ships ashore with the loss of their crews.
Although it has clearly suffered greatly from being in the sea, this sword was once a beautiful piece of weaponry and would have belonged to a man of status. Remains of the Damascene, a decoration created by inlaying gold or silver into a darkly oxidised steel background, can still be seen on the blade.
Rumours have abounded in Tobermory for centuries about an Armada wreck in the Bay. Some say that the ship was laden with treasure and lured there by the local laird with promise of shelter. Others say that a troopship crowded with men was driven ashore by the storms.

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c. 1580

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