Belfast Telegraph

Boyne sword that crossed the divide from James to William goes on display in Belfast

A historic sword that saw service in the armies of both King William and King James has gone on display in Belfast.

The 17th century bayonet has been unveiled at the Museum of Orange Heritage in Castlereagh, and is thought to have belonged to a Jacobite soldier who switched allegiance prior to the Battle of the Boyne.

The swords markings tell the story of its move across the divide, with the reference to 'Albany' on its hilt and guard indicating it belonged to a soldier who served under James II prior to his becoming king in 1685.

Markings on the lower section of the blade show that part, if not all, of the regiment the soldier had been part of switched sides at the start of the Glorious Revolution and the Williamite and Jacobite War.

Speaking about the weapon, museum curator Dr Johnathan Mattison said: "This change of allegiance makes the piece quite interesting as it reflects the fact that many soldiers and regiments, who had been serving together prior to 1688, ended up fighting on rival sides during the war in Ireland.

“The soldier who used this weapon may have been conscious that the regiment had originally been loyal to James Stuart so etched WR and 1689 on the blade to show his support for the Glorious Revolution and the Constitutional change that had just taken place.”

Dr Mattison said the weapon showed the "complexities of the armies fighting on either side" and that it demonstrated the soldier had wished to publicly display his loyalty to both kings at various times.

The swords unveiling comes ahead of the Boyne Day next month, which will take place on August 18 with a range of family activities.

On the day there will be a £3 reduced rate of admission to the museum for adults, and free entry for children. 

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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