Post Roman/ Pre Saxon swords

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Mark Sanderson
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Post Roman/ Pre Saxon swords

Postby Mark Sanderson » Wed Nov 28, 2007 12:00 am

I'm looking for information and examples of swords in britain from 400 - 500 ad. Pictish or Scots examples from the same period will do.

All I can find on the web are Roman, "Celtic" and Saxon swords.

Thanks in advance


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Postby WorkMonkey » Thu Nov 29, 2007 9:46 pm

Do you mean Romano british examples?
There isn't really an intervening period between post-Roman and pre-saxon since they overlap so much, and the people left in the vacumn of the roman withdrawel didn't really develop their "own" style but rather just carried on being Roman since that's what they'd been doing for the last 300 years.

http://heronarmoury.co.uk/swords/1-8/spatha.jpg
Late roman Spatha, these things were knocked out in such numbers that they could have worked their way into the hands of anyone, can't really go wrong with something like that.


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Postby Mark Sanderson » Thu Nov 29, 2007 11:10 pm

Thanks WorkMonkey,

I guessed as much but I was hoping for more information on the hilts, grip and pommel.

I want to manufacture a couple of examples for a display and they have to be as correct as possible. I won't start making them until May, for an August show, so I have plenty of time to get my act together and research them to death.

I have found a couple of examples, including a jewelled pommeled example (a bit of artistic lisense there I think), but yeah, basicaly your common or garden Spatha with an egg shaped, or indented pommel.

I'll post a piccy when I've made them, if I remember!

PS. The pic you Linked me to has a fullered blade. Spathas were diamond or lenticular in cross section as a rule. I don't know of any finds that were fullered, but I'm willing to be proved wrong.


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Postby WorkMonkey » Sun Dec 02, 2007 2:58 pm

jewelled pommel?

Like this? Not artistic licence, just very rich german warlord.

http://www.templ.net/pics-weapons/115-s ... /a15cv.jpg


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Postby steve stanley » Sun Dec 02, 2007 7:02 pm

Mark Sanderson wrote:
PS. The pic you Linked me to has a fullered blade. Spathas were diamond or lenticular in cross section as a rule. I don't know of any finds that were fullered, but I'm willing to be proved wrong.


You're right for the classic 1st cent pattern...But about the time they became widely used by Infantry,fullered ones seem to appear...Have a look at Osprey"Roman legionary Ad 161-284" or the Tempus "Roman-Byzantine infantry equipment"
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Postby Mark Sanderson » Mon Dec 03, 2007 8:27 pm

Sorry, Workmonkey, that is a 6th/7th century Anglo-Saxon sword based on finds from Sutton Hoo. The spatha I am refering to had a flattened pommel with a large (plastic?) lewel glued to the flattened faces. More than likely this was aimed at LARPers rather than re-enactors. I've lost the link but will send it when I find it.

Steve Stanley, I said I was willing to be proved wrong, and I have been.
There are several examples of late Roman Spatha with barely discernable fullers the entire length of the blade. Nothing as deep as Workmonkeys Heron Armouries link. There was also an example with multiple fullering, like a series of 5mm grooves along the blade but these may have been put in more recently (Bloody Victorians) to enhance the appearance of the blade.

Thanks for you input guys

Mark


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Postby Medicus Matt » Tue Dec 04, 2007 2:17 pm

Mark Sanderson wrote:
hoping for more information on the hilts, grip and pommel.


Tough I'm afraid because early germanic spatha's are all you're going to get for the fifth and sixth century and the hilt fittings for most of those were primarily organic and have perished.

The reasons that there aren't similar numbers of 5th/6th non-germanic swords found in Britain are, I think, because:-

1)The population was predominantly Christian, so weapons didn't figure in the inhumation process

2) Ownership of weapons by non-military personel was a criminal offence under Roman law. Once left to their own defenses, it is likely that spears, knives and axes would be the most commonly manufactured weapons, given that these require less skill to manufacture and use effectively than swords. It's probable that, given that Imperial troops had been supplied with weapons by the fabricae of mainland Europe, there were few if any smiths in Britannia with theskills to make a good sword.

There are some Pictish sword fittings in the Museum in Edingburgh that I've got some pics of. If the jewelled pomel thing your talking about is the one to be found in the Osprey book on the Pictish Warrior then you're right, it is grossly stylised and bears little resemblence to the real find.

I've also got pictures of some Irish blades from Lagore and other sites which MAY be 6th century but, again, as the hilt fittings were mostly organic, any recosntructions would be mostly specualtive.

Best source of evidence for hilt fittings of the period comes from some of the Pictish carvings but even the relevent ones of these are really later than what you're looking for.

Happy to supply you with whatever pics you think might be useful. I investigated this area a few years ago when we started making our own Migration period hilt fittings coz there wasn't anyone else making them.

Mark Sanderson wrote:Spathas were diamond or lenticular in cross section as a rule. I don't know of any finds that were fullered, but I'm willing to be proved wrong.


Spatha just means 'broad bladed' (from the greek σπάθη, which also gives words like spatholmele) and, as such, is used to distinguish the mostly parallel bladed, broad, long swords of the early Imperial cavalry and Northern European Auxilliary infantry from other types of blade (initially from the gladius and then later from the increasingly tapered blades of the later early medieval period). Spatha blades can be diamond, oval or even veryl nearly flat sectioned but they are also fullered, with anything from one wide single fuller on each face up to 8 ( I think that's the most I've seen, on a Danish blade) narrow fullers per side.


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Postby chrisanson » Tue Dec 04, 2007 10:15 pm

Medicus Matt wrote:
Mark Sanderson wrote:
hoping for more information on the hilts, grip and pommel.


Tough I'm afraid because early germanic spatha's are all you're going to get for the fifth and sixth century and the hilt fittings for most of those were primarily organic and have perished.

The reasons that there aren't similar numbers of 5th/6th non-germanic swords found in Britain are, I think, because:-

1)The population was predominantly Christian, so weapons didn't figure in the inhumation process

2) Ownership of weapons by non-military personel was a criminal offence under Roman law. Once left to their own defenses, it is likely that spears, knives and axes would be the most commonly manufactured weapons, given that these require less skill to manufacture and use effectively than swords. It's probable that, given that Imperial troops had been supplied with weapons by the fabricae of mainland Europe, there were few if any smiths in Britannia with theskills to make a good sword.

There are some Pictish sword fittings in the Museum in Edingburgh that I've got some pics of. If the jewelled pomel thing your talking about is the one to be found in the Osprey book on the Pictish Warrior then you're right, it is grossly stylised and bears little resemblence to the real find.

I've also got pictures of some Irish blades from Lagore and other sites which MAY be 6th century but, again, as the hilt fittings were mostly organic, any recosntructions would be mostly specualtive.

Best source of evidence for hilt fittings of the period comes from some of the Pictish carvings but even the relevent ones of these are really later than what you're looking for.

Happy to supply you with whatever pics you think might be useful. I investigated this area a few years ago when we started making our own Migration period hilt fittings coz there wasn't anyone else making them.

Mark Sanderson wrote:Spathas were diamond or lenticular in cross section as a rule. I don't know of any finds that were fullered, but I'm willing to be proved wrong.


Spatha just means 'broad bladed' (from the greek σπάθη, which also gives words like spatholmele) and, as such, is used to distinguish the mostly parallel bladed, broad, long swords of the early Imperial cavalry and Northern European Auxilliary infantry from other types of blade (initially from the gladius and then later from the increasingly tapered blades of the later early medieval period). Spatha blades can be diamond, oval or even veryl nearly flat sectioned but they are also fullered, with anything from one wide single fuller on each face up to 8 ( I think that's the most I've seen, on a Danish blade) narrow fullers per side.






smat *rse :roll:



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Postby Medicus Matt » Wed Dec 05, 2007 10:43 am

chrisanson wrote:
smat *rse :roll:


You can get back in your shed as well, Gimli. :wink:


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Postby chrisanson » Wed Dec 05, 2007 11:56 pm

Medicus Matt wrote:
chrisanson wrote:
smat *rse :roll:


You can get back in your shed as well, Gimli. :wink:



ok, back in shed now, oh wise *rse :twisted:



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Postby Mark Sanderson » Thu Dec 06, 2007 5:38 pm

Now, now boys. Don't start a flame war on my thread.

If it wasn't for smart ar5es and wise ar5es like Workmonkey, Steve Stanley and Medicus Matt I would still be ignorant as to the style of sword used in post Roman/ pre Anglo-Saxon England.

Granted, I am no wiser as to pommel/hilt changes but, as Medicus matt pointed out, they were primarily made of organic material and have not survived 1600 years of neglect.

I have also learned that late Roman Spatha had fullers, indeed multiple fullers which I had atributed to the (Bloody) Victorians. Thanks for that MM. I apologies to any (Bloody) Victorians for that generalisation.

So, let's hear it for the smart ar5es and wise ar5es out there who are willing to give up their time and share their research with those of us who are less enlightened.[insert round of appreciative applause]

And yeah, get back in your shed, Gimli.

Mark


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Postby steve stanley » Thu Dec 06, 2007 5:54 pm

And that's all without going into shield grips changing from horizontal to vertical(I think....) :D
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Postby chrisanson » Thu Dec 06, 2007 9:03 pm

and what have YOU learned Mr Mat?



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Postby Mark Sanderson » Thu Dec 06, 2007 10:04 pm

Horizontal shield grips?

Oh Pooh!

I'm going to delegate shield research to someone else.

Oh! Hang on. Our group leader makes shields to suppliment his beer fund.
http://www.shieldsandshoes.co.uk/ so he knows all about it.

Now then, did the pugio stay fashionable or was it superceded by something like the dirk?


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Postby chrisanson » Thu Dec 06, 2007 10:53 pm

i make really, really nice sheild grips 8)



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Postby Medicus Matt » Thu Dec 06, 2007 11:52 pm

Mark Sanderson wrote:Horizontal shield grips?



Don't worry. It's only on roman shields. The late Imperial oval shields had horizontal grips, just like the Imperial rectangular scuta did.


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Postby Medicus Matt » Thu Dec 06, 2007 11:53 pm

chrisanson wrote:and what have YOU learned Mr Mat?


That you don't want me to commission you when I need shield grips and bosses for all the pretty shields I make?

I already KNEW I was a smart@rse :wink:


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Postby Mark Sanderson » Fri Dec 07, 2007 5:03 pm

Horror-zontal shield grips!!!

That's going to involve some re-training. After 20 years of defending my self with a vertical gripped Viking shield I've got set in my ways.

I still don't know if the pugio went out of fashion.


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Postby Mark Sanderson » Fri Dec 07, 2007 5:03 pm

Horror-zontal shield grips!!!

That's going to involve some re-training. After 20 years of defending my self with a vertical gripped Viking shield I've got set in my ways.

I still don't know if the pugio went out of fashion.


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Postby steve stanley » Fri Dec 07, 2007 5:08 pm

That's my problem.....when the change came.....As for the pugio,it seems to have been replaced by an equally distinctive style(which is hard to describe),if no-one can print a piccie,it's covered in the Romano-Byzantine book.
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Postby chrisanson » Fri Dec 07, 2007 6:04 pm

Medicus Matt wrote:
chrisanson wrote:and what have YOU learned Mr Mat?


That you don't want me to commission you when I need shield grips and bosses for all the pretty shields I make?

I already KNEW I was a smart@rse :wink:




got me again! Your obviously to good for me, I think I will go and throw myself onto my (horizontal) shield grip. :twisted:



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Postby WorkMonkey » Fri Dec 07, 2007 7:13 pm

You don't have a horizontal shield grip you horrid little troll!


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Postby chrisanson » Fri Dec 07, 2007 7:35 pm

WorkMonkey wrote:You don't have a horizontal shield grip you horrid little troll!





troll? who YOU callin troll? just for that you aint gona get the sewing kit i made for you 8)



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Postby WorkMonkey » Sun Dec 09, 2007 6:44 pm

; ( but I wanted it ever so much to put in my pouch.


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Postby chrisanson » Sun Dec 09, 2007 7:04 pm

WorkMonkey wrote:; ( but I wanted it ever so much to put in my pouch.



ok next time I see you I’ll swap it for a certain DVD :wink:



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Postby WorkMonkey » Sun Dec 09, 2007 7:06 pm

What's all this talk about DvD's, I don't even know what a DvD is. I use my CD drive as a cup holder.


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Postby chrisanson » Sun Dec 09, 2007 7:07 pm

WorkMonkey wrote:What's all this talk about DvD's, I don't even know what a DvD is. I use my CD drive as a cup holder.



now stop it or i'll tell you girlfriend you really a puff :twisted:



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Postby WorkMonkey » Sun Dec 09, 2007 7:11 pm

Then she wouldn't like you, and then we'd NEVER convince her to come and join our band of merry men.


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Postby chrisanson » Sun Dec 09, 2007 7:12 pm

WorkMonkey wrote:Then she wouldn't like you, and then we'd NEVER convince her to come and join our band of merry men.




merry? men?



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Postby Medicus Matt » Mon Dec 10, 2007 5:43 pm

Mark Sanderson wrote:
I still don't know if the pugio went out of fashion.


Yup. Going out of fashion by the end of the 3rd C, gone by the mid 4th.

Of course, soldiers still carried knives, presumably of patterns relevent to their own ethnicity (so Germanic warriors serving as Imperial troops, auxilliaries, foederati etc) would still have a handy seax.


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