In 2000, archaeologist Paul Gething rediscovered a sword. An unprepossessing length of rusty metal, it had been left on a shelf for thirty years. But Paul had a suspicion that the sword had more to tell than appeared, so he sent it for further tests. When the results came back, he realised that he had in his possession what was possibly the finest, and certainly the most complex, sword ever made, which had been forged in seventh-century Northumberland by an anonymous swordsmith.
This is the story of that sword: how and why it was made, who made it and what it meant to the warriors and kings who wielded it for three centuries. It is also the story of the archaeologists and swordsmiths who found, studied and attempted to recreate the sword using only the materials and technologies available to the smith who first made it.
The result is a remarkable journey into the life and items of a seminal but little documented period of history when the foundations for what would become England, Wales and Scotland were laid.