The Church Armory

On a Sunday morning in 10th Century Germany, where could one of the largest caches of weapons be found? In the front of the local church of course!

The Anglo-Saxon Church of St Mary
The Anglo-Saxon Church of St Mary  
© Copyright Mike Searle

The Anglo-Saxons had a tradition that ruled free men carried a sword. When a boy became a man or a slave was granted freedom, they would be presented with a sword marking the occasion. All free men, even the clergy, were almost always armed and it would take God himself to disarm them. And that’s just what happened.

An Anglo-Saxon sword on display at the British Museum
An Anglo-Saxon sword on display at the British Museum

Fights had begun to break out during services. Rules were laid out forbidding weapons from ever entering a church. To make sure this rule was followed easily, churches allowed weapons to be stored in the porch. The Church Porch is still known by some variation of Weapon-House in many areas of Scandinavia for this very reason.

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