N.T. Wright, who is probably my favorite contemporary theologian, was recently enthroned as the Anglican Bishop of Durham, England. As part of the ceremony he was presented with the Conyers Falchion. Here is the story behind the sword.
"Sir John Conyers of Storkburn, Knight, who slew ye monstrous venoms and poysons wiverms Ask or worme which overthrew and Devourd many people in fight, for the scent of poyson was soo strong, that no person was able to abide it, yet he by the providence of god overthrew it and lyes buried at Storkburn before the Conquest, but before he did enterprise it (having but one sonne) he went to the Church in compleat armour and offered up his sonne to the holy ghost, which monument is yet to see, and the place where the serpent lay is called Graystone."
(From British Museum MS Harleian No. 2118, fo. 39, circa 1625-49)
There's a legend surrounding the Conyers falchion, where the sword is said to have been wielded by Sir John Conyers when he slew the Sockburn Worm (Dragon) in 1063. The Conyers family probably came from France to England around the time of the Norman Conquest (1066 and all that). They were granted the manor Sockburn-on-Tees (formerly known as Storkburn) in County Durham in the 12th century, according to the legend because of Sir John's slaying of the dragon. The sword was later presented to the Cathedral of Durham and from that day on each new Prince-Bishop of Durham was presented with the sword upon entering their new Bishopric for the first time in the middle of the River Tees. The senior Conyers offered the falchion to the Prince-Bishop as a sign that he recognized the Bishop as his overlord, and then the falchion was returned to him and he was quit of all services. It lapsed after 1771, and wasn't performed in over 200 years. The falchion was kept at Sockburn Hall, but in 1947, it was presented to the Dean and Chapter of Durham Cathedral by Mr. Arthur Edward Blackett. The ceremony was revived in 1994, when the new bishop took office. It includes the following presentation speech, traditionally made by the Lord of Sockburn;
"My Lord Bishop. I hereby present you with the falchion wherewith the champion Conyers slew the worm, dragon or fiery flying serpent which destroyed man, woman and child; in memory of which the king then reigning gave him the manor of Sockburn, to hold by this tenure, that upon the first entrance of every bishop into the county the falchion should be presented." That is so cool... to think that there are still swords around that were said to have slain a Dragon