Letter from Henry Syer Cuming to Sir Samuel R. Meyrick regarding the existence of a scythe-shaped sword in early Saxon times, known as the seax.
3 Dean's Row Walworth, Surrey
September 5th 1846.
My dear Sir
I have lately laid before the British Archaeological Association, a little paper on the Saxon Seax, in the hope of convincing some unbelieving members, that it was a scythe-shaped weapon. I cited Bailey's English Dictionary; Fosbrokes Encyclopaedia of Antiquities; Verstegan; Mr Planches History of British Costume; and the article "Arms" in the Penn cyclopaedia, with a view of showing how popular was the belief that it was in the shape of a scythe: and in support of this belief, I alluded to the Asiatic origin of the Saxons, and proved by the exhibition of several examples, that the scythe formed weapon is common at the present day among the tribes of India. As a conclusive proof of position I had taken, I quoted several passages from your two matchless works - "The Costume of the Original Inhabitants of the British Islands", and the "Critical Inquiry". These passages were so apposite and convincing that they could not be met by any fair argument, and a sceptic was obliged to fall back upon the expedient of declaring his belief "that since the publication of these two works Sir Samuel Meyrick had seen occasion to alter his opinion regarding the form of the Seax, and he did not now believe that there were any grounds for thinking it a scythe shaped weapon".
[overleaf] You would be doing me a great favour by letting me know if your opinion has really undergone any change; and also whether you have since the publication of the two valuable works alluded to, met with anything which tends to prove or disprove the belief, that the Seax of the primitive Saxons was a scythe-shaped weapon. In my humble opinion it was of this form, and I shall not lightly abandon this belief till the first authority on everything connected with ancient Arms and Armour declares it to be erroneous.
As I feel very anxious about this subject, I trust you will forgive this instrumsion, and believe me to remain
Yours most faithfully and obliged.
H. Syer Cuming
Sir Samuel R. Meyrick.
Henry Syer Cuming (1817-1902) was a collector.
Sir Samuel Rush Meyrick (1783-1848) was a collector.
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