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Ally Rice-Finlayson





Joined: 27 Oct 2007

Posts: 2

PostPosted: Mon 29 Oct, 2007 4:42 am    Post subject: Irish swords from the 5th Century         Reply with quote

Hi. I'm very new on this forum, so I apologise in advance for my newbie mistakes I will make.

I am a Dark Ages re-enactor from Australia and I am currently researching Irish swords from the 5th Century. Unfortunately I'm coming up short. All I can find are ancient blades and swords from the true Medieval period.

Can anyone point me in the direction of a website or book that shows what on earth these swords look like? I'm at the end of my tether and I'm running out of time. I want to have a sword made by March 2008 so I can use it at an event and I am one of those people who wants to make sure my stuff is historically accurate (or as close as possible seeing as our resources are limited here.)

I'd appreciate any advice on where to find stuff.

Thanks.
Ally.
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Jason C. D.




Location: ON, Canada
Joined: 17 Jan 2007

Posts: 11

PostPosted: Mon 29 Oct, 2007 5:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just get a spear or axe and maybe a javelin or two (or perhaps a short bow), these weapons would've been seen aplenty (maybe not the bow though, a sling perhaps). But if you want a 'sword', I don't think it would've been uncommon to see a roman type Spatha, they became a pretty popular blade during such times. Though the Irish weren't conquered by the Romans, they were converted to Christianity by them (almost the whole island by the 5th century). So they would've had SOME non-hostile contact.

hope this is somewhat helpful...otherwise someone more knowledgeable will be around sometime Big Grin
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Jeroen Zuiderwijk
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PostPosted: Mon 29 Oct, 2007 6:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not sure about spatha's. As far as I know Ireland didn't adopt long swords, but adopted gladius style swords which were used until the Viking period. Here is such a gladius-style short sword:



I can't find a.t.m. from which this one dates, but it's probably a later one. This sword is on display at the British Museum.
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Jean-Carle Hudon




Location: Montreal,Canada
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PostPosted: Mon 29 Oct, 2007 9:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't think the romans had much to do with the conversion of the irish gaels to catholicism, it seems that the first missionaries would of been brythonic ( welsh or britons). This would also testify as to contact with romano-british military culture as the irish raided the coasts, as they invaded pictland ( scotland) at about the same time, though precise dates are unclear due to lack of contemporary written records. As the spatha has a lot in common with the previous celtic longsword, some say it was derived from it, I think the spatha type would be a good choice for that period. The irish were still using chariot and championed single combat (if we rely on their hero legends), and a longer sword is better adapted to both than the gladius style weapon which went with a rather large shield and line formations. Of course the spear is universal at that time, and the celtic peoples made use of javelins extensively , but sword wise I would go with the spatha type.
Bon coeur et bon bras
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Gary A. Chelette




Location: Houston, Texas
Joined: 29 May 2007
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PostPosted: Mon 29 Oct, 2007 9:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is one by Del Tin that will fit your time line.


CELTIC SWORD.
Fourth Century B.C. wooden grip, diamond section steel blade.

http://www.deltin.net/204a.htm

Are you scared, Connor?
No, Cousin Dugal. I'm not!
Don't talk nonsense, man. I peed my kilt the first time I went into battle.
Oh, aye. Angus pees his kilt all the time!
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Shane Allee
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Location: South Bend, IN
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PostPosted: Mon 29 Oct, 2007 12:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Del Tin has some problems for the time period it represents, but would not work for a 5th CE Irish sword. The Irish swords for the La Tene period were very unique in their own right and did continue to develop for a longer period then on the continent or in Britian. The late La Tene Irish sword is often called the "Ultimate La Tene" and this seems to have dropped out of use rather quickly after coming into contact with the Romans. An exact time for this is tough, but they know that there would have been contact made in the late 4th century when the Irish was in parts of Wales and then again in the early 5th century in parts of Scotland. The resulting style is then refered to as Sub-Roman which consist of both shorter Irish versions of the gladius and spatha. No true Roman sword has been found in Ireland that I know of though, just the Irish versions. Then later in the seventh century they get interesting when they start doing the expanded ends and "Crannog" swords. Etienne Rynne has an essay titled A Classification of Pre-Viking Irish Iron Swords which would be a great starting point for you. There is also Early Irish Ironworking which is great for the La Tene period, but I don't remember right off hand how late it goes.

Shane
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Brian Ellis Cassity




Location: Queen Creek, Arizona
Joined: 08 Nov 2006

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PostPosted: Mon 29 Oct, 2007 1:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Found this on the internet. I don't know the original source, unfortunately. Maybe from the article already mentioned?


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Ally Rice-Finlayson





Joined: 27 Oct 2007

Posts: 2

PostPosted: Mon 29 Oct, 2007 6:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I already have 2 spears ( I love fighting with spears though I do need a sword.)

I'll have a look at that essay someone suggested. I curse my Irish heritage sometimes...it would have been so much easier to do a Viking culture! I do intend on making a later century Irish kit too...something aroung the age of Brian Boru. I like that area of Irish history more. The only real reason I am doing a 5th Century Irish kit at the moment is that my helmet is 5th C and I don't have the choice to change right now.

Thanks a lot for all the input. By all means keep going. I'm not going to stop you now.

Ally.
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Merv Cannon




Location: Brisbane, Australia
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PostPosted: Mon 29 Oct, 2007 8:12 pm    Post subject: Swords - Irish         Reply with quote

Brian Ellis Cassity wrote:
Found this on the internet. I don't know the original source, unfortunately. Maybe from the article already mentioned?


Wow, Brian.....Can I ask where that page is from ? Mabye ' College of Cork's' - Documents of Ireland ? As my fellow Aussie Ally will find out...finding any info on Early Irish gear ( or ANY Irish gear for that matter) is like finding a proverbial Leprachaun !! I am especially amazed by the Swords no. G and H ....I've never seen any reference to swords like this before. And this is often the case.......I find that all thre interresting stuff on Irish gear is locked away in some obscure Journal and not in any book that I can curently find !
Cheers,
Merv

Merv ....... KOLR
http://www.lionrampant.com.au/

"Then let slip the dogs of war ! "......Woof !
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Shane Allee
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Location: South Bend, IN
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PostPosted: Mon 29 Oct, 2007 10:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The page Brian posted is and isn't from the article I mentioned. I am almost certain what he posted is from The Osprey series, I want to say the Arthurian one. It is for the most part a copy from the article and the caption mentions "from Rynne." The "G" and "H" are the expanded end and crannog types from the seventh century. These should be in the National Museum of Ireland if I'm not mistaken, still looking for pictures.

As far as some of the combat styles and how the Irish fit into things... While the Romans are known for the short sword and large shield, the continental celts moved to longer swords as the La Tene went on. The celtic people in Ireland during the La Tene had a much different perspective on things. The spear seems to have had as high or higher status associated with it as the sword did. They also didn't have a war in their backyard with this ever growing threat that the others had at this time. I've had people when talking about their combat at this time describe it more on the level of an extreme sporting competition. This really does follow other examples we have if we look to the combat of other small isolated tribal societies. They can't sustain themselves if there is a high mortality rate as a result of the way they fight, so it develops to something that will work. Problems happen for societies like this when another group of people comes along who don't play by the same rules or if they start handing out advanced technologies.

I know that some have talked about the use of the sword in Ireland at this time might even have been something for finishing blows, execusions, and thing more of that nature.

Shane
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Brian Ellis Cassity




Location: Queen Creek, Arizona
Joined: 08 Nov 2006

Posts: 26

PostPosted: Tue 30 Oct, 2007 2:38 pm    Post subject: Re: Swords - Irish         Reply with quote

Merv Cannon wrote:
Brian Ellis Cassity wrote:
Found this on the internet. I don't know the original source, unfortunately. Maybe from the article already mentioned?


Wow, Brian.....Can I ask where that page is from ? Mabye ' College of Cork's' - Documents of Ireland ? As my fellow Aussie Ally will find out...finding any info on Early Irish gear ( or ANY Irish gear for that matter) is like finding a proverbial Leprachaun !! I am especially amazed by the Swords no. G and H ....I've never seen any reference to swords like this before. And this is often the case.......I find that all thre interresting stuff on Irish gear is locked away in some obscure Journal and not in any book that I can curently find !
Cheers,
Merv


Shane is probably right. It is probably from an Osprey book, as there is something familiar about either the artwork, the captioning, the design of the image, or all of above that reminds of me other images I've seen in Osprey books. I found it after googling the article author's name. Someone on a different forum had posted the image there without attributing it to a source. I had never seen the image before and also wondered often what a pre-Viking Irish sword might look like.
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Brian Ellis Cassity




Location: Queen Creek, Arizona
Joined: 08 Nov 2006

Posts: 26

PostPosted: Tue 30 Oct, 2007 2:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ally Rice-Finlayson wrote:
I already have 2 spears ( I love fighting with spears though I do need a sword.)

I'll have a look at that essay someone suggested. I curse my Irish heritage sometimes...it would have been so much easier to do a Viking culture! I do intend on making a later century Irish kit too...something aroung the age of Brian Boru. I like that area of Irish history more. The only real reason I am doing a 5th Century Irish kit at the moment is that my helmet is 5th C and I don't have the choice to change right now.

Thanks a lot for all the input. By all means keep going. I'm not going to stop you now.

Ally.


Ally, just out of curiosity, what kind of helmet are you using? Do you have an image? Also, one never knows about Viking heritage in Ireland. Many Irishmen and descendants of Irish belong to the DNA haplogroup associated with Scandinavia.
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Litvinenko Y. Natalia





Joined: 11 Sep 2019

Posts: 5

PostPosted: Thu 19 Sep, 2019 6:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Does anyone know where to find the book "A Classification of Pre-Viking Irish Iron Swords" electronically? Thanks in advance
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Mark Millman





Joined: 10 Feb 2005

Posts: 256

PostPosted: Fri 20 Sep, 2019 3:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dear Ms. Litvinenko,

On Thursday 19 September 2019, you wrote:
Does anyone know where to find the book "A Classification of Pre-Viking Irish Iron Swords" electronically? Thanks in advance

E. Rynne's "A Classification of Pre-Viking Irish Iron Swords" is an article in this book:
. Scott, B. G., ed. Studies on early Ireland. Essays in honour of M. V. Duignan. Belfast. 1982.
Regrettably, it doesn't seem to be available on line, although you may be able to get a copy through interlibrary loan.

However, an article that cites and responds to Rynne is available on Academia.edu:
Hughes, S. "'In my Sword I trust'. A Reassessment of Irish Iron Age Swords With a Focus on Their Potential Use in Battle". 2016.
It was originally published in International Journal of Student Research in Archaeology (IJSRA), Vol. 1, No. 1 March 2016, pp. 159–177.

You should be able to read the article on Academia.edu, or download a PDF.

I hope that this proves at least somewhat helpful.

Best,

Mark Millman
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Litvinenko Y. Natalia





Joined: 11 Sep 2019

Posts: 5

PostPosted: Mon 23 Sep, 2019 12:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark Millman wrote:
Dear Ms. Litvinenko,
Regrettably, it doesn't seem to be available on line, although you may be able to get a copy through interlibrary loan.

Thanks for the answer. But I am almost on the other side of the globe, near the border of Russia and Ukraine. It will not work to order :-(
Mark Millman wrote:

However, an article that cites and responds to Rynne is available on Academia.edu:
Hughes, S. "'In my Sword I trust'. A Reassessment of Irish Iron Age Swords With a Focus on Their Potential Use in Battle". 2016.
It was originally published in International Journal of Student Research in Archaeology (IJSRA), Vol. 1, No. 1 March 2016, pp. 159–177.

Thank! I already found this book before.
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Mark Millman





Joined: 10 Feb 2005

Posts: 256

PostPosted: Mon 23 Sep, 2019 1:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dear Ms. Litvinenko.

On Monday 23 September 2019, you wrote:
I wrote:
. . . you may be able to get a copy through interlibrary loan.

Thanks for the answer. But I am almost on the other side of the globe, near the border of Russia and Ukraine. It will not work to order :-(

No, that would be a problem. I'd hoped you might be able to get it by way of a university affiliation from a European source.

However, I can obtain it locally and send you the information you need, although it will take a couple of weeks. I'll PM you when I have it in hand.

And you also wrote:
I wrote:
However, an article that cites and responds to Rynne is available on Academia.edu:
Hughes, S. "'In my Sword I trust'. . ." . 2016. . . .

Thank! I already found this book before.

I was afraid that might be the case, although it seemed worth mentioning.

Best,

Mark Millman
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Litvinenko Y. Natalia





Joined: 11 Sep 2019

Posts: 5

PostPosted: Mon 23 Sep, 2019 11:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark Millman wrote:

However, I can obtain it locally and send you the information you need, although it will take a couple of weeks. I'll PM you when I have it in hand.

Best,

Mark Millman


If someone had scanned this article and posted it on the Internet, many would have been happy about it. In community
  vk.com/medievalirsih guys have been looking for this book for several years :-(
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Spenser T.




Location: West coast, Canada
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PostPosted: Wed 25 Sep, 2019 12:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not sure which article this is from, but I wanted to share this here in case this is the sort of thing people may be looking for and can't access. It's quite an interesting sword, having a very rounded point and yet being so short.


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Dangan Lower La Tene Sword.png


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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Thu 26 Sep, 2019 1:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well the rounded point on such a short sword makes sense to me. An acute point wouldn't be needed in a society that didn't have access to much (if any) body armour. While at the same time the rounded point would make cuts near the tip more effective than they would be with a more acute point, which on such a short blade would be fairly useful.
Éirinn go Brách
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

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PostPosted: Thu 26 Sep, 2019 6:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Stephen Curtin wrote:
...An acute point wouldn't be needed in a society that didn't have access to much (if any) body armour....


Isn't it generally accepted that swords were rarely designed or intended to penetrate armor? To me, that's just a sword with a rounded point, just a fashion. Though it *could* have been cut down from a longer blade...

Matthew
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