Given the strategic and cultural importance of these weapons, and the six century duration of the period, we might expect to see an ‘adaptive radiation’ of fundamentally different sword types, with different vocabulary preserved in literature, yet the design of Anglo-Saxon swords appears to have been highly conserved - tweaked and improved gradually over time but not splintering off into substantially different types. While it may always be tempting for weaponologists to introduce technical vocabulary and typology, such as the glossing of all swords from the Migration Age until the Crusades with the exotic and anachronistic term “spatha” (which refers more particularly to the related Roman “long” sword), the lack of coexisting diversity of blade types for most of the Anglo-Saxon period renders this unnecessary; it is perfectly sufficient to refer to all such weapons with the word they themselves used, and handed down to us; “sword”.
That being said, a variety of terms do occur in Old English texts to refer to these noble double-edged weapons. While most can be interpreted merely as kennings - figurative circumlocutions or euphemisms used in the place of the word “sword” in poetry to add colour, variation and/or to better fit the metre - one example; the word “mēċe” shows up surprisingly frequently and has its own set of compounds alongside “sword”. Could “mēċe” actually represent a distinct form of blade? Did the Anglo-Saxons use two different types of swords after all?