Anglo-Saxon Barbed spears

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Freebeard
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Anglo-Saxon Barbed spears

Postby Freebeard » Fri Jun 26, 2009 1:58 am

Hello there,
I am wondering if anybody has any information on what I can only describe as being barbed-spears of the Anglo-Saxons.
I apologise if I have gotten this wrong, but I have come across various studies that mention the Anglo-Saxons as using barbed spears, but I have been unable to find anything myself that discusses them in full. I have come across R. Underwoods "Anglo-Saxon Weapons and Warfare", but I feel his discussion on the topic lacking.

Does anybody out there have references to other books, articles, journals that may discuss these?

But if anybody can help with this query, I would be very appreciative.
Thank you in advance to anybody who can help out,

Beir Bua,
Freebeard


wyt ti’n ffrwtin fel gwyddel
(you are farting like an Irishman)

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zauberdachs
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Postby zauberdachs » Fri Jun 26, 2009 8:36 am

Is this the same as what some people might term "winged" spears?
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Brother Ranulf
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Postby Brother Ranulf » Fri Jun 26, 2009 9:23 am

You could try this book available now from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Spearheads-Angl ... 967&sr=1-1

You may be thinking of the angon, which was probably based on the Roman pilum. It had a very long, narrow iron shank behind the head and could have a small, plain, leaf-shaped head or one with barbs like a broadhead arrow. These were certainly used by Angles, Saxons, Franks and others on the Continent in the 4th and 5th centuries but I am not sure if any examples are known from post-migration England (not my period of interest, sorry!).

I do know of a hoard including 14 Saxon spearheads found at Croydon, all of which are standard socketed leaf-shaped heads; they are in the British Museum. No barbs are to be seen among them.

EDIT: I just found this example on an American forum (English historical heritage being converted into dollars) :shock:
http://forums.swordforum.com/attachment ... 1139299828


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PaulMurphy
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Postby PaulMurphy » Fri Jun 26, 2009 10:51 am

Swanton's book linked to above is the standard text for pagan types, and the evidence suggests that the later types continue in use almost unchanged up to and beyond the Norman period.

There are 3 broad types:

1. An early form which resembles the Roman pilum, referred to as an angon, which appears in low numbers and mainly in Kent. These are the only barbed types.

2. Leaf-shaped blades (the edges are curved), which appear in moderate numbers across most of of the country.

3. Angular blades (the edges are straight), which appear in very large numbers across the country.

The supposition is that the order given here follows the chronology, although there are some late examples of leaf-shaped blades, and early example of angular blades. What there isn't is evidence of late finds of Angon-type barbed heads.

There are also a very small number of "corrugated" blades found - in cross section, they look like a runic S (think lightning bolt, but not as pronounced in width). What the significance of these is remains open to question.


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WorkMonkey
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Postby WorkMonkey » Fri Jun 26, 2009 11:56 am

Corrugated for strength I'd imagine, means you don't have to put a central rib in it to make the thing strong. But with regards to the barbed head, if it's an angon you're talking about, it's all been said.


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PaulMurphy
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Postby PaulMurphy » Fri Jun 26, 2009 12:36 pm

Hmm, possibly, but I'm not so sure - the central part is effectively a rib anyway, and there are many examples of the other type and very few of these.

See the attached photo for a crude capture of the page
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CeDeBe
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Postby CeDeBe » Fri Jun 26, 2009 9:52 pm

could it be a lazy way of adding a weight saving fuller on the forge?

What the estimated dates are those 's' spear heads from?



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WorkMonkey
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Postby WorkMonkey » Sat Jun 27, 2009 3:22 pm

Still think it's just an easy easy way of making it stronger without having to weld a seperate central rib in. If it's the cheap and easy way of doing it explains why it's so rare.


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Postby Hobbitstomper » Mon Jun 29, 2009 9:25 am

Should be very easy to do on the edge of an anvil. Adds strength and corrogation might allow air in if it is driven between ribs so the victim falls over quicker.

On the original question, there are lots of pictures of barbed spears on the Utrecht Psalter (google it). They are not angons or winged spears with leaf shaped blades. This is from the continent with Byzantine influences though.



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Brother Ranulf
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Postby Brother Ranulf » Mon Jun 29, 2009 11:15 am

The Utrecht Psalter is probably the most annoying and inconvenient manuscript in the history of Europe, from a historian's point of view. It has caused more misunderstandings, mistakes and confusions than any other source.

It is Carolingian (that is, Byzantine-influenced French) and produced near Rheims between about 850 and 900 AD. As a source of info on that place and time it is without equal. As source of anything Saxon or otherwise, it is completely useless.

The problem comes from the fact that it was "acquired" by the Saxon monks of Canterbury around 1000 (we will never know quite how this happened, perhaps it was a case of a book being "borrowed" and never returned . . .). It remained at Canterbury Cathedral Priory library throughout the remaining Saxon, Norman and Medieval periods and (in the way of scribes) it was copied and re-hashed several times, with varying degrees of fidelity to the original.

Saxon art was immensely influenced by it; the Harley Psalter of 1020 to 1040 was based very closely on it; in the mid 12th century the Canterbury monk Eadwine copied great chunks of it into his "Eadwine Psalter" and so on. He and others also tried to copy many of the images within it, but in the style on their own period and often without any understanding of what the pictures portrayed - this is why the idea of "12th century geteld tents" and "Saxon rotary grindstones" and many other anachronisms have come into being.

The geteld tents in the Eadwine Psalter, as an example, are lifted directly from the Carolingian original, so they are definitely not evidence for that kind of tent in Eadwine's time. Anyone not understanding Eadwine's reliance on the much earlier source is likely to jump to the wrong conclusions - as I believe many people have. He is only reliable when he is not copying from the original document (for example in his self-portrait of himself, his chair and his desk).

The same goes for the earlier Saxon and later Medieval copies of the Utrecht Psalter, all of which must be treated with extreme caution. As a source of evidence for Saxon barbed spears it must be rejected completely.


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Freebeard
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Postby Freebeard » Thu Jul 02, 2009 4:48 pm

Lads,
thank you all for your help. It is very much appreciated!

Beir Bua,

Andrias


wyt ti’n ffrwtin fel gwyddel

(you are farting like an Irishman)


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