“I was outside mucking around,” he says. “I saw something poking out of the ground and thought it was just a root. Then I started pulling at it. The sword just came straight out – I didn’t need to dig or anything.” Ruben, 11, and his mother Sarah Candler were amazed at the find but had no idea what it was.
“I wasn’t sure what to think when I first found it,” Ruben says.
Sarah got in touch with the Auckland War Memorial Museum where staff could do little to solve the puzzle.
“They were mystified,” she says. “They said there’s lots of people in New Zealand who would know how to clean and preserve it but wouldn’t be able to identify it. We don’t have that specialist knowledge of swords here.” Her next port of call was the British Museum in London and they put her onto experts at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds.
Robert Woosnam-Savage, the museum’s curator of edged weapons, revealed the artefact to be a falchion – a one-handed, single-edged sword of European origin which combined the weight and power of an axe with the versatility of a sword.