Letter from Henry Syer Cuming to Dr Dieffenbach concerning the existence of a seax, a scythe like short sword supposedly used by the Saxons.
My dear Doctor. We have a very ancient tradition in England that the Saxons in the remote periods of their history made use of a short sword termed a seax, and that it was made in the manner of a scythe being sharp on the inner curve. No such weapon has been found in any of the Saxon tumuli opened in this country and antiquaries are beginning to call in question the truth of this long standing tradition. For my own part I firmly believe that the Saxons used a scythe shaped weapon, for we must bear in mind that they were originally an Asiatic people and we know full well that scythe-formed short swords are very common at the present day among the Ghurkas, Polygars, Nairs and other tribes of India.
My object in writing to you is to make the following enquiries - have you any tradition in Germany of the Saxons making use of a scythe-shaped short sword. Have you ever seen such a [Overleaf] weapon in any of the German museums, or are you aware of the discovery of such a formed weapon in your country? It is said by some that this Saxon short sword was called indifferently seax or sais and that the latter still implies a scythe in the Lower Saxon dialect; if this be correct it would go far to prove the truth of the tradition which exists amongst us.
I am now engaged in investigating the subject, and shall feel much indebted to you for any information you can send me.
With the best respects of myself and father,
Believe me to remain
Very faithfully yours.
H. Syer Cuming
Henry Syer Cuming (1817-1902) was a collector.
Johann Karl Ernst Dieffenbach (1811-55) was a German physician, geologist, and naturalist.
No information available
w: 115, h: 188, d: -