Scots goldmsith carries sword to London


Kenneth making the hilt

By Cara Sulieman

A SCOTS goldsmith carried a sword through the streets of London to claim his right as a Freeman of the City.

Kenneth Moffatt was the first person to carry a sword from Edinburgh to London in over 400 years – the last being James 6th of Scotland who made the same journey to claim the throne.

After being escorted into the City by a Yeoman Warden and blessed at St Paul’s Cathedral, he now has Freedom of London under an ancient law.

Kenneth crafted the sword himself, putting over 2,000 hours of work into the intricate design.

And his journey was primarily to enter the sword into the Goldsmith’s 2010 competition at Goldsmith’s Hall.


Working in the family business near Hawick, the 40-year-old has been involved in Goldsmithing since he was just eight years old – when he started helping out in the workshop.

In 2008, he was granted a Freeman of the Company of Goldsmith’s by redemption – which means that he had at least 15 years continual service and made a significant contribution to the trade.

And last week’s journey marked the final part of his claim to the Freedom of London, carrying a sword from Guildhall to Goldsmith’s Hall.

It took Kenneth three years to make the sword, and the idea of the journey came to him as he worked on it.

The 40-year-old said: “It’s something which has evolved over the course of three years. I have worked on the sword in my spare time.

“I was granted a Freeman of the Company of Goldsmith’s in 2008. You swear an oath to the Queen to defend the city and so are allowed to carry a sword through the City.

“I thought since I was making the sword to the traditional style it would be fitting to carry it ceremonially to the competition.”


And despite carrying a large metal sword through the streets of the capital, Kenneth only noticed one remark.

He said: “No one seemed to notice, I was quite surprised.

“There was one guy on a phone who said ‘there’s somebody just walked past with a sword’ right in the middle of his conversation about stocks and shares or something.

“It was a really special time.”

And the sword itself has special meaning for the artist, who used a blade that had been in the family for years and making the hilt to create the finished article.

He said: “It is a 16th century blade. We’ve had it in the family for many years and it has always been in the back of my mind to do something with it.

“The idea for the sword is from this part of the world, the design is based on the 16th century Ballad of Johnnie Armstrong.

“Johnnie Armstrong had his stronghold in the debatable land, the land between England and Scotland – the Borders.

“In 1530, James V was sent by his uncle, Henry the VIII to deal with Johnnie Armstrong and he was hung from a tree with his men.

“The Ballad tells his story.”

“Ignored and forgotten”

Kenneth’s journey started out at the ruins of Gilnockie tower in the Borders where he was piped off to the tune of the Ballad of Johnnie Armstrong.

He and his father Brian then travelled to Edinburgh where they were blessed at St Giles Cathedral before boarding the train to London.

Welcomed at the Tower of London by a Yeoman Warden, he was escorted into the City and blessed at St Paul’s Cathedral.

The final part of the journey was the mile walk from the Guildhall to Goldsmith’s Hall.

Kenneth hopes that both the sword and the journey will highlight the rich culture of the Borders, and make people more aware of an area he calls “ignored and forgotten”.

He added: “The motivation for the journey is primarily as an expression of art and culture from one of the most remarkable and magical regions of Britain, the Anglo Scottish Borders.

“It is an area with an incredible wealth of history and culture, which today, is one of the most politically ignored and forgotten regions of the British Isles.”