To celebrate the return of the Brodie Sword, from display at the National Museum of Scotland’s Jacobites exhibition, we thought we would re-share the story of this intriguing sword.
Sword and Symbols
With the recent exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland, many iconic and beautiful pieces related to the Stuart court and its followers were brought together under one roof.
As part of the exhibition the book Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites was published by NMS; with a chapter dedicated to ‘Weapons fit for a Prince’ it brings new insights into the Brodie sword within the context of two other pieces – The Kandler Sword and a Targe
The Brodie sword was reportedly commissioned by James Drummond the 3rd Duke of Perth to be presented as a gift to the Stuart heir to the throne. A basket-hilted broad sword, the Brodie sword dates to the 18th Century, along with the sword the matching scabbard has survived and can be seen on display at Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre.
The basket hilt is constructed from moulded silver; with the individual pieces of silver cast and then soldered together to create the hilt.
The design centres on the Greek mythological being of medusas’ head. Medusa was a symbol used by the Stuart royal family, as for every head of the snake cut of more would appear.
A pair of snakes coming out from the head twist forming the wrist guard, on the hilt there are many military trophies – from Hercules club, swords, arrows to guns – with a dolphin found at the pommel. It was suggested by Helen Wyld and George Dalgleish that the Dolphin might relate to the French word Dauphin meaning heir to the throne (Wyld & Dalgleish, 2017).
The basket hilt features many images of conflict it also contains images of peace. From the olive branch (meaning peace) on the sword to yet more olive braches and the cornucopia (representing plenty) on the matching scabbard, the idea is that when the sword is sheathed at the end of the campaign and the ultimate goal of restoration for James VIII & III being achieved Great Britain will see peace and prosperity.
The Brodie Connection
This sword was said to have been removed from Charles Edward Stuart’s baggage train in the immediate aftermath of Culloden, the Dukes of Gordon (who fought on both sides of the ’45 conflict) had many objects related to the ’45 – everything from pieces of tartan to the beautiful sword.
It was in the care of the Dukes of Gordon until it came into the care of the Brodies through the marriage of Elizabeth Brodie (1794-1864) to George, fifth Duke of Gordon in 1813.
The castle ancestral home of the Brodie clan is a picturesque Brodie Castle in Moray. The castle has a history dating back over 400 years there is a magnificent collection of books, art and objects to explore.
We hope you’ve enjoyed finding out a little more about this amazing piece. Hopefully you will have a chance to come and visit it ! As always please like, share, follow, tweet, comment and let us know if you were able to visit the Jacobites exhibition at NMS.
Discover more about the symbols of the ’45 at our Swords and Symbols event on the 26 November 2017
Forsyth, D. (2017). Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites. Edinburgh: National Museum Scotland .
Wyld, H., & Dalgleish, G. (2017). “A slim sword in his hand for batle” Weapons fit for a Prince. In D. Forsyth, Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites (pp. 80-93). Edinburgh: National Museum of Scotland .