A SAXON sword discovered at the bottom of Wareham’s River Frome 85 years ago may have belonged to royalty, it has emerged.

The 10th century weapon, inscribed with old English, took pride of place at Wareham Town Museum this week.

But the nature of the inscription has museum staff in a spin.

“The wording on the sword’s hilt translates as ‘Ethe owns me’”, explained town museum creator Mike O’Hara. “The rest of the inscription has worn away, but names of that era starting with Ethe are associated with the royalty of the time.”

Ethelbald, Ethelwulf and Ethelred were all kings of Saxon England.

Mr O’Hara continued: “A sword like this would have only been owned by high status individuals, with lower ranks owning spears or axes.

“And the time and expense obviously lavished on this make it more probable it was owned by someone prominent, possibly royal.”

The sword, dating back to the late 900s AD, was discovered in 1927. It was taken to the Dorset County Museum and this is the first time it has been loaned out to Wareham Town Museum.

Mr O’Hara said: “The big thing for us is it has come back to Wareham after 85 years.

“It represents an incredible link to a time when Wareham was an important frontier fort.”

Scholars believe Wareham was one of a chain of fortified Saxon forts across the ancient Kingdom of Wessex.

“These forts gave people somewhere to retreat to when Vikings carried out raids,” said Mr O’Hara.

The saxon sword is available to view at Wareham Town Museum in East Street, 10am-4pm daily, except Sundays, from now until the end of October.