The Ancient Sword of State is carried before the Sovereign or the Governor by the Sword Bearer at each meeting of Tynwald at St. John's. The Sword of State dates from not later than the 12th Century. It is traditionally the sword of Olaf Godredson (Olaf II or Olaf the Black), who became King of the Sudreys (Southern Hebrides and Man) in 1226. Together with an army of northern Manxmen, he successfully routed a challenge to his rule on 14th February in 1228 at Tynwald (considered to be Tynwald Hill, St John's). His followers are said to have scattered the opposing forces like sheep.
The ceremonial sword is used at the Tynwald Day sitting at St Johns and is carried by the Sword Bearer preceding the Sovereign or the Lieutenant Governor in the procession. It also appears when Tynwald sits in the Legislative Chambers in Douglas where a replica of the sword is displayed on non-sitting days.
The sword signifies the duty of the Sovereign, acting through Tynwald, to protect and defend the people from the incursions of their enemies, in peace and in war. Tynwald is not properly constituted and no proceedings can take place without its presence. Members show deference to its authority by standing in their places as the sword is brought in and placed in position prior to commencement of business.
The Sword of State has a two-edged steel blade, 29 inches long, with a hardwood hilt, 9 inches long, which tapers from the guard to the pommel. The guard is a thin steel band, 11 inches across, surmounted where the guard intersects the blade with shields carrying the Three Legs, which also appear on the flattened pommel. The current Sword Bearer is Mrs Bernadette McCabe, appointed in 1997, who is the first woman to hold the position.