Saxon mail

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Andy92
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Saxon mail

Postby Andy92 » Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:03 am

I'm looking at adding a mail shirt to my Anglo-Saxon kit (aiming for around 9th c. but very general). After trawling through what feels like every page on the web, I still don't have a definitive answer on construction. I have it narrowed down to three possibilities:

1. All riveted, round section rings.
2. Mixed solid flat rings and round riveted rings.
3. Mixed solid and riveted rings, all flat.

If anyone knows the most combination, or if all are equally viable, it would be much appreciated. If you have a source too, that would be great although I know mail finds are next to non-existent.

And just to reassure people, I do plan on talking to our AO before spending anything. Just wanted to do some research first.

Thanks!



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Neil of Ormsheim
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Re: Saxon mail

Postby Neil of Ormsheim » Thu Aug 29, 2013 5:01 pm

The problem you have is the paucity of finds. There are examples of all 3 types of construction but they are all very fragmentory. Personally, I have had 3 maille shirts over 27 years of Viking-age re-enactment. The first was just butted wire (which The Vikings still allow on cost grounds) - this was brutally heavy :o but was all I could afford at first. The second was all rivetted and weighed in at 18 kilos :o - less than the butted shirted but still heavier than I am prepared to carry nowadays. Both these shirts had "round" cross-section wire. My third shirt is alternative rows of rivetted and solid (punched) rings of a rectangular cross-section. This ones weighs in at around 9Kg :D and is just as hard-wearing as the all rivetted shirt (if not harder wearing). If you are aiming for 9th century, you might consider having a "dagged" shirt with the triangles at the hem and cuffs - there are not many to be found but they are authentic.


Lurv 'n' Kizzez

Andy92
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Re: Saxon mail

Postby Andy92 » Thu Aug 29, 2013 5:24 pm

Thanks, Neil, that's great. I'll probably go for all flattened and mixed then. That was one of the cheaper options anyway and the lighter coat would be nice. I was thinking of adding dags already as I haven't seen anything similar in the Vike but had heard it was authentic so thanks for seconding that :)



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Medicus Matt
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Re: Saxon mail

Postby Medicus Matt » Thu Aug 29, 2013 9:36 pm

What is the evidence for dagged mailshirts? I thought it was generally agreed that it was a misinterpretation of depictions of what are now thought to be leather jerkins?

Russ' page on mail is a useful synthesis of the evidence for mail types of the early medieval period.
http://www.vikingsonline.org.uk/resourc ... /index.htm

Although this statement dates it a bit:-
"Riveted mail is now available at a cost of approximately £250 per square foot."
:D


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Andy92
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Re: Saxon mail

Postby Andy92 » Thu Aug 29, 2013 11:13 pm

That's where I started, Matt, but the information is so out of date now (given that the addendum was added in '98 :D), it didn't seem reliable. Incidentally, the page you linked makes reference to dagged shirts :roll:

If you have any sources refuting the dagged mail idea, I'd appreciate them :)



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Medicus Matt
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Re: Saxon mail

Postby Medicus Matt » Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:10 am

Andy92 wrote:
If you have any sources refuting the dagged mail idea, I'd appreciate them :)


Surely you've got that the wrong way round? Where's the evidence for them?

The only 'evidence' I've seen is the illustrations in 11th century manuscripts (espec the Cotton Cleoptatra C VIII) of warriors wearing hip length short sleeved garments with dagged hems. However none of these show any sign of being made of mail in the way that they're drawn, unlike mailshirts depicted in other Anglo Saxon manuscripts of the same period (like MS Harely 603).

Russ' analysis covers most of the known finds from the period, there haven't been any more of any great significance. HOwever, for a more complete synthesis of the evidence, Jenny Baker's page is pretty good.
I've only really looked closely at mail in the early part of the early medieval (up to the 9th century), where the majority are round wire with round rivets mixed 50/50 with stamped solid. The soild links are closer to square than rectangular but are not much thicker than the round wire.


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Andy92
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Re: Saxon mail

Postby Andy92 » Fri Aug 30, 2013 10:22 am

What I meant is, the only decent analysis I've found is that page, which says it's accurate. So any more recent work contradicting that would be useful.



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Medicus Matt
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Re: Saxon mail

Postby Medicus Matt » Fri Aug 30, 2013 1:40 pm

Andy92 wrote:What I meant is, the only decent analysis I've found is that page, which says it's accurate. So any more recent work contradicting that would be useful.


Russ' page says this:-
Saxon manuscripts at the time of the conquest show mail about the same length as the Gjermundbu example. Some have 'dags' that is triangular extensions of mail around the lower hem and sleeves.


He's talking about the same manuscript evidence that I am and I see no sign of the 'dagged' ones being drawn using any of the conventions used in manuscript illustrations when depicting mailshirts.

I can scan the manuscript illustrations if you like but they're not hard to find online.


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Andy92
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Re: Saxon mail

Postby Andy92 » Fri Aug 30, 2013 2:25 pm

Don't really have much time to trawl through the internet at the moment. I'll talk to my group leader anyway and see what she says but I'll go without dags for now. Can always add them later if I decide :)

Thanks guys, all very helpful.




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