Sword of State 3

The Sword of State

It is traditionally viewed as the sword of Olaf Godredson, who became King of the Sudreys in 1226.

Its Role

The ancient ceremonial Sword of State is carried by the Sword Bearer, preceeding the Sovereign or the Lieutenant Governor, at each Tynwald Day sitting.

It also appears when Tynwald sits in the Legislative Chambers in Douglas, and a replica of the sword is displayed on non-sitting days.

Tynwald is not properly constituted and no proceedings can take place without its presence. Members show deference to its authority by standing in their places as the sword is brought in and placed in position, prior to commencement of business.

Significance

The sword signifies the duty of the Sovereign, acting through Tynwald, to protect and defend the people from the incursions of their enemies, both in peace and in war.

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History

The sword dates back to the 12th Century, and is traditionally accepted as belonging to Olaf Godredson (Olaf II or Olaf the Black). He became King of the Sudreys (the Southern Hebrides and the Isle of Man) in 1226.

Together with an army of northern Manxmen at Tynwald, he successfully routed a challenge to his rule on 14th February in 1228. His followers are said to have scattered the opposing forces like sheep.

The Sword Itself


The Sword of State has a two-edged steel blade (29 inches long) with a hardwood hilt (9 inches long), which tapers from the guard to the pommel. 

The guard is a thin steel band 11 inches across, surmounted where the guard intersects the blade, with shields carrying the Three Legs.

The Current Sword Bearer

The current Sword Bearer is Mrs Bernadette McCabe, first appointed in 1997, who is the first woman to hold the position.

Photo: Manx National Heritage