The Brodie Sword

WGrant Jacobean collection_12Jan2016_0590To 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

Bibliography

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 .

 

 

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Jacobite Jaunt

This week was time for our annual Jacobite Jaunt, where we head off with our volunteers to explore more sites that tackle Jacobite history. This year there was really only one choice for our destination and that was the National Museum of Scotland, which is running a special Jacobite exhibition, from 23rd June to 12th November, this year.

The National Museum of Scotland (NMS), which can be found in Edinburgh, is a beautiful building and worth a visit any time you head to the capital, but this year it is extra special as it hosts one of the largest exhibitions of Jacobite history for at least 70 years.

Following on from their very successful exhibition around Mary, Queen of Scots the NMS have now formed a fantastic display of artefacts including weapons, letters, portraits and unique trinkets that take the visitor on a dramatic journey through the whole of Jacobite history.

When we arrived at the museum we were lucky enough to have a short talk with one of the curators before being shown around by one of their excellent volunteer guides. Needless to say we were all very keen and excited to be visiting and we were not disappointed.

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Ticket for the exhibtion

 

The exhibition covers the whole of the Stuart dynasty breaking down the action into sections so that the highly complex story is taken in nice manageable stages. The objects on display are fascinating and we all spent hours in the exhibit trying to take in every bit of detail. The collection is comprised of pieces from the NMS as well as many other collections throughout Britain and Europe.

One of our highlights was seeing our own sword, known as the ‘Brodie Sword’ on display in the exhibition. It was lovely to see it on display in the capital and taking part in such an iconic exhibition alongside other incredible displays. Also on display are stunning letters and articles that, if you have the time, are wonderful to read. There are some great portraits and images that carry through subtle messages of power and monarchy. We also spotted a beautiful pin cushion embroidered with the names of men who fell at Culloden which was a lovely personal and sentimental item to see.  The exhibition covers the history very well and it was great to follow the journey right from 1688 all the way through to Culloden and beyond.

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The Brodie Sword in the exhibtion

 

If you are in Edinburgh we strongly recommend visiting the exhibition. We were all very reluctant to leave and it would have been easy to spend a day in the beautiful museum. The NMS has done a fantastic job and it is a great spot to begin your introduction to Jacobites before you head north to see us!

As always please like, share, comment, tweet and let us know if you have been to the exhibition.

All the best,

K & D