Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > The Peterson Type L. Why Anglo-Saxon? Reply to topic
This is a standard topic Go to page 1, 2  Next 
Author Message
Darrin Hughes




Location: England
Joined: 22 Jun 2007
Reading list: 20 books

Posts: 228

PostPosted: Mon 08 Sep, 2008 11:23 am    Post subject: The Peterson Type L. Why Anglo-Saxon?         Reply with quote

Hello all.

I've been thinking about this for some time now, and seeing Kirk Spencer's post, with the pommel types and dateline all nicely laid out, made me think that it might be a good time to ask for some opinions.

Basically, the question is, why do we continue to regard the Peterson type L as an Anglo-Saxon sword type, when the evidence seems to indicate a Scandinavian origin?

In Swords of the Viking Age, Pierce mentions that more of these swords have been found in Norway than in the British Isles, and that maybe we should consider the sword to be a firmly Scandinavian type, albeit one that was popular in England.

When the sword type first appears in the archeaological record the Anglo-Saxons were at a low point after a particularly heavy period of invasions from across the North Sea. Resistance was centred on Alfred's secret base in the Athelney marshes, where what was left of the Wessex royal family and their household were attempting to regroup. Although the Vikings hadn't completely conquered the South and East of the country, they still had a degree of control, and any large scale production of weapons, especially swords, amongst the general population, would not have gone unnoticed. This means that Alfred was trying to re-arm a fairly large number of men, quickly, and in secret, with limited resources. I would argue that this would mean the large scale production of items which make the best use of the available materials, and also fit in with what we know of Saxon shield wall combat, ie, spears, and possibly axe-heads, rather than swords, which are heavy on the time and raw materials. It is also interesting to note that this is the time when we see the appearance of a type of Langseax which seems to be unique to the Anglo-Saxons. An alternative to the sword, which would be cheaper and faster to produce, and arguably of more use in a shield wall.

It is also interesting from the point of view of who introduced these swords, that all of the finds in the British Isles, and England in particular, seem to be in areas that were under direct Viking control, with the number of finds decreasing the further West we look. Is it possible that some authors have, for whatever reasons, attempted to attribute at least one type of sword to the Anglo-Saxons, at a time when they do not seem to have had a sword based culture, either because of their own preferences, or simply the economic circumstances? I wouldn't try to argue that Anglo-Saxon leaders didn't take to carrying swords, as their successes drove the Vikings back and their own situation improved. There are records of Alfred giving gifts of swords and highly decorated scabbards to family members. But I would argue that this was more a case of adoption, rather than invention.

Thanks for reading this. I've been interested in this question ever since I bought a Thegn from Albion, and then started researching with a mind to getting a scabbard made. The more I read, the more suspicious I became about the designation of this type as Anglo-Saxon, as I have outlined here, and so I would now like to ask if anybody here has any thoughts about this, in particular whether or not we should just accept that the Saxon fightback was based on the Spear, Axe, and Langseax, and that any Peterson type L swords in use in England at the time were probably in the hands of Vikings.

Cheers,
Darrin.
View user's profile Send private message
Russ Ellis
Industry Professional




Joined: 20 Aug 2003
Reading list: 42 books

Posts: 2,607

PostPosted: Mon 08 Sep, 2008 2:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think the short answer is "it probably shouldn't be." I think initially it was given that designation because the preponderance of finds suggested that it was unique to Anglo - Saxon England and some of the finest examples were also found there. However, I think over the years that preponderance of finds metric has shifted away from England and I think I even read something to that effect somewhere that the "Anglo-Saxon" designator was probably a misnomer. Wish I could remember where for you.
TRITONWORKS Custom Scabbards
View user's profile Send private message
Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
Joined: 10 Feb 2005
Likes: 1 page

Spotlight topics: 3
Posts: 1,532

PostPosted: Mon 08 Sep, 2008 3:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I speculate that the answer could lie in the suspected origins of manufacture, and lack of evidence of Danish manufacture of much of the "Viking era" typology. I do not doubt their capabilities, but really question why such successful traders would replicate established centers of manufacture that appear to have existed (based on art, prohibitions of sale to Northern Germanic tribes, etc.) since late Merovingian / Carolingian eras... Southern Germany thru mainland Saxon England.

There are extremely few excavations of actual Viking cutlerer/smithing sites. You can speculate that they traded and plundered many of the swords found within Danish excavations. I have not cataloged actual Viking cutlerer excavations, but have read a few researchers commenting on them preferring more solid (not stacked hollow components) pommel and hilt construction. The linked example is a fair example as it is judged to be solid, Viking, and very atypical of immediately adjacent areas just to the South at exactly the same time. http://www.bbc.co.uk/cumbria/content/articles...ture.shtml It would fit the general shape and style of the typology, but is unique as a find believed to be "Viking" in terms of origin as far as I know.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
View user's profile Send private message
Darrin Hughes




Location: England
Joined: 22 Jun 2007
Reading list: 20 books

Posts: 228

PostPosted: Tue 09 Sep, 2008 8:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks guys.

I think what we could be looking at here is an example of something which is very common, ie, that the people working in the field have already made the shift in their thinking, and it is taking a while for the public perception to come into line. The Cumbrian find is a good example of this. It is very similar to the Abingdon sword which features on the cover of The Sword in Anglo-Saxon England, and I bet that if it had been uncovered 50 years ago somebody would have tried to find some Saxon connection. Now they seem quite happy to say "area of Viking activity, therefore, probably Viking sword."

Cheers,
D.
View user's profile Send private message
Russ Ellis
Industry Professional




Joined: 20 Aug 2003
Reading list: 42 books

Posts: 2,607

PostPosted: Tue 09 Sep, 2008 8:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Darrin Hughes wrote:
Thanks guys.

I think what we could be looking at here is an example of something which is very common, ie, that the people working in the field have already made the shift in their thinking, and it is taking a while for the public perception to come into line. The Cumbrian find is a good example of this. It is very similar to the Abingdon sword which features on the cover of The Sword in Anglo-Saxon England, and I bet that if it had been uncovered 50 years ago somebody would have tried to find some Saxon connection. Now they seem quite happy to say "area of Viking activity, therefore, probably Viking sword."

Cheers,
D.


I think that is a pretty good observation!

TRITONWORKS Custom Scabbards
View user's profile Send private message
Richard Hare




Location: Alberta, canada
Joined: 15 Mar 2008

Posts: 135

PostPosted: Wed 10 Sep, 2008 11:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting subject.

The curved guard/ pommel could I suppose have originated anywhere where Frankish.or Saxon-Anglo-Saxon swords were produced, but here I must draw attention to the decoration on these hilts .

In "The sword in Anglo-Saxon England", on Page 56 Wheeler is quoted as believing these swords originated in England,......
."since the fine Abingdon hilt appears from the decoration to be Anglo-Saxon work; it may be noted that some hilts of this type found in Norway have ornament that is not scandinavian in style, but in the Trewhiddle manner, resembling that on Anglo-Saxon metal objects of the second half of the ninth century.".......

This is only one of several referals to hilts decorated in the trewhiddle style, which apart from not being Scandanavian, is also somewhat earlier, and quite plainly Anglo-saxon.

See also P 69, where, refering to the Abingdon sword again, (My book's an early one, with no reference to the Gilling-West sword with same decorative style)
Hilda states; ..."...Abingdon hilt.....Is decorated with silver mounts inlaid with niello work in a style reminicent of late ninth -century ornament in Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, This style to which Kendrick gave the name of "West Saxon baroque"....found on metalwork from theTrewhiddle hoard"....

Also, P 71, again quoting;
..." But we now have several groups of hilts, each showing definite and individual characteristics.
Those decorated in the trewhiddle style for instance,are found in England and Norway,but are typically Anglo-Saxon in choice of motif and ornament treatment, and probably came from one workshop"

And lastly, P 109 and 110;

In 855 King Aethelwulf and his son Alfred payed a visit to Rome and took gifs for the Pope, Benedict 3rd.
".....Including a splendid sword" " bound with purest gold"..(More details given).............................."It is ineresting to find a sword of Anglo-Saxon workmanship in so early a source, since it was in the ninth century that the rich hilts of gold, silver and niello work, with panels of ornament in the Trewhiddle style, were made in Anglo-Saxon England"

One more point if I may;
On the lists of sword "types" this is one of the earilest types, yet is also the most ( in my opinion!) "User friendly" why if it was a " Viking" sword type, would one go back over, to types harder on the hand, and not half as nice to wield?

Here I think we all know that "Viking" swords are mainly Frankish work, and Franks came from what is now Germany, and so did the Saxons.....
( not sure where this takes us, but it's Still interesting!)

Richard.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Darrin Hughes




Location: England
Joined: 22 Jun 2007
Reading list: 20 books

Posts: 228

PostPosted: Thu 11 Sep, 2008 9:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello Richard.

The Davidson book is one of the reasons that I started to wonder about the designation of the type L as Anglo-Saxon. Don't forget, this is a book that was written nearly 50 years ago, and can hardly be considered cutting edge, good though it is. Quite a bit of the reasoning to support the type L as Anglo-Saxon seems somewhat circular, ie, we know this is Anglo-Saxon, therefore if we find one it must be because of an Anglo-Saxon connection, regardless of context. This I find particularly problematic given that quite a few type L swords have been found in graves which are without doubt those of Vikings.

The quote that you provide about Aethelwulf and Alfred's trip to Rome is an interesting one. I mentioned in my first post the record of Alfred giving a sword as a gift to a family member. The fact is that it tells us nothing about the sword itself, except that it was one. It could have been an heirloom, it could have been plunder, we don't know because there is no description. Now to be fair the sword presented to the Pope does at least have some description, but to try make out that it was somehow exceptional for the time is a little unusual. The Fetter Lane hilt is an example of something which is much more likely to be Anglo-Saxon, given that it is pre-viking invasion, and is very elaborate featuring Silver,Gold, and black Niello in it's construction. That is 8th century, the century before Aethelwulf's trip to Rome, and quite easily the sort of thing that Aethelwulf, as king, could have had in his possession.

Also, you talk of Viking's going back to the 'harder' Frankish types, but there is at least one type L in Peirce's book that came out of the Thames in London, and which is dated to the start of the eleventh century, a time of Scandinavian resurgence in English politics through the efforts of Cnut and his descendants. Somebody was still using a sword of this type in the early 11th century, and they could quite easily have been Danish.

I think that a large part of the problem is that when these swords were first classified, it was done without too much reference to the political situation at the time. It is a simple fact that almost all of the swords of this type have been found in areas that were either under Viking control, or were strongly under their influence. Interestingly, a type L variant is listed in Swords of the Viking Age as being from County Kildare, Ireland. I also found an article about two swords of this type that have been found in the Ukraine. Rather strangely, the author of the article about the Ukrainian finds still insisted on refering to the swords as Anglo-Saxon. It is this sort of reaching to try and make the evidence fit the perceived facts that made me even more suspicious about the accepted designation. Surely if there is one thing that links Ireland and the Ukraine at this time in history it is the Vikings, not the Saxons.

The reference to the Trewhiddle hoard is something which I would like to address, but I need to get my thoughts a bit more lined up before I tackle that one, so I'll leave it at that for the time being, before this starts to turn into an essay.

Cheers,
D.
View user's profile Send private message
Peter Johnsson
Industry Professional



Location: Storvreta, Sweden
Joined: 27 Aug 2003
Reading list: 1 book

Spotlight topics: 3
Posts: 1,757

PostPosted: Thu 11 Sep, 2008 11:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Many of the swords we think of as Viking swords are in fact *Viking Age* swords.
(This holds true from even earlier times, as the danish bog offerings show us: the double edged swords were all, or at least to a large extent made in areas belonging to the roman empire.)

The vikings used swords made by craftsmen who originated and worked in many different areas of europe.
Some hilt types were adopted and sometimes subtly changed by scandinavian craftsmen and were also adorned with decorative styles that were according to the local tradition.
It is quite possible that blades were imported and given hilts by local craftsmen in scandinavia. But I am shure complete swords were manufactured as well. These craftsmen worked according to local taste and tradition. There is nothing to suggest they worked like a contemporary custom smith who may make a renaissance rapier one month, a frankish sword the next and after that a roman sword.
I do not think they jumped around between different cultural styles, but that they worked according to their own tradition (= the tradition of the man who had been/were their master).

I have yet to see a type L hilt with scandinavian decoration.
When they are decorated, the style is not scandinavian. To me that is a pretty clear evidence of origin.
There are type L swords found in scandinavia. That should not surprise anyone.

In viking context you find many weapons from other cultural areas. There re eastern axes and swords, frankish weapons but also swords of Anglo-Saxon origin.
All these weapons can be called viking weapons, if you like, but only in the meaning and understanding that they were made by craftsmen outside scandinavia but used by scandinavian warriors.

There is a spread and mutual influence of design and artistic style through out the viking age, but you can still identify local traditions. This is one of the most sure ways we have to denote origin of an object.
There is still a possibility that an individual craftsman might have emigrated to a new location (or been forced to move there) but I do not think it is possible to believe there are long lived pockets of "foreign" artistic styles surviving in scandinavian manufacture.
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Richard Hare




Location: Alberta, canada
Joined: 15 Mar 2008

Posts: 135

PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2008 8:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very well put, Peter, and I agree entirely.

As we know, "Viking " is not a name the population of Scandanavia would use referring to themselves, (pirate or similar)
So it should not come as a surprise that the raiders / merchants/ pirates from this area of the world would collect all manner of booty from their area of operation.
as an exapmle, quite a lot of Arabic silver coinage is found in Scandanavia, but though it is found there, does not mean it is "Viking"
(I am not trying to insult anyone's intelligence, only make a point)
If aquired swords were good and usable, they would of course be brought into service, and could wander around the world with the new owner, to be found possibly at a later date..in a far off land, to add to our confusion!

In my old, out of date books, I think about 37 type "L"s had been found in mainly Norway, and only half that number in England.
Two (of the ) possibe reasons for this;
1, the "raiders" coming to England were very effective at their job (!)

2, Many of the raiders / traders weren't at this time Christian, in the broad sense of the word.
I think this Might be an important point.
Simply put, "Christians" didn't bury their dead with goods for the after-life. Pagans did.
By the time of the Viking raids on England, the population (of England) was nominally Christian, so swords would not normally be buried, whereas the raiders (quite often "Pagan") would on their deaths, be buried With goods. This could account for more finds outside of England, and even some of the type "L"s found in graves In England could have been buried along with a "new" Scandanavian owner.


.
Please pardon the long post!...very interesting thread!

Best wishes,
R.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Darrin Hughes




Location: England
Joined: 22 Jun 2007
Reading list: 20 books

Posts: 228

PostPosted: Sun 14 Sep, 2008 12:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Some good points which I'd like to address. First though I'd like to draw attention to a passage from The Sword in Anglo-Saxon England which illustrates one of the problems that I have with the way swords are written about with regards to Anglo-Saxon society. In the passage which describes Alfred giving gifts to his grandson Aethelstan there is a quote which describes said gifts as

"... a scarlet cloak, a jewelled belt, and a Saxon sword with a golden scabbard."

This is followed by this passage by the author. "The exact significance of Saxon here is not easy to establish, but in the light of the earlier account it seems likely that this, like the gifts taken to the Pope, was of native 'Saxon' workmanship, and was a sword with a rich hilt made by craftsmen of Wessex."

This seems like a serious leap to me especially as there is a footnote which reads; "There is a possibilty of a mistranslation of OE seax, as has been suggested in the case of the phrase ensis teutonicus in Saxo, but this seems on the whole unlikely."

Personally I don't see why this is so unlikely, especially as the original passage goes out of it's way to specify the sword as Saxon. After all a sword is a sword, but for quite a few researchers a Saxon sword is a Seax. Is this another example of circular reasoning?

It has been pointed out that there is little evidence of widescale sword manufacture in Scandinavia. Could it be that this should be extended to Britain as well? Part of the point that I'm trying to make is that apart from Peterson's designation of the Type L as an Anglo-Saxon sword there seems to be very little evidence of the sword having any real significance in Anglo-Saxon society. Even in pagan burials in England swords are extremely rare, and I don't think it is a coincidence that most, if not all, of the burials that have contained swords have been either Kentish or East Anglian, areas which maintained strong ties with the continent. In an excavation carried out in Gloucestershire back in the '80s, 199 graves were excavated, of those 30 contained weapons, none of which were swords. almost all of the 30 contained spears, with 4 containing saexes. It is significant to my mind that in the report the Seaxes are described as "a type of single edged sword." This is also true of a particularly rich burial found by Tees Archeaology where there is no sword, despite the apparent high status of the individual, there was however a spear-head and a Saex. In the report describing the find on the TeesArchaeology web-site the word Seax is followed by the word sword in brackets and elsewhere is described as 'a type of Saxon sword'.

I thought that I should edit this for those who are unfamiliar with the geography, to point out that Teeside is in the North, the find in question was near Redcar, North Yorkshire. Gloucestershire is in the West of the country, what would have been Mercia at the time the pagan burials took place.

Cheers,
Darrin.
View user's profile Send private message
Darrin Hughes




Location: England
Joined: 22 Jun 2007
Reading list: 20 books

Posts: 228

PostPosted: Mon 15 Sep, 2008 10:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I had been meaning to follow on from the previous post sooner but time didn't allow. However, I would like to ask Peter, or anyone else who is familiar with the Scandinavian finds, what sort of proportion of the hilts are undecorated compared to the decorated ones? I think it is interesting that Peter mentions the possibilty of a foreign craftsman influencing local traditions, but that this would be unlikely, and I would probably agree that this would be more obvious in the archaeological records if it had occured in any major way. However, a lot of the Viking raiders weren't living in Scandinavia at the time, but had settled in England, in close proximity to local Saxon craftsmen. What was to stop some newly rich Norseman deciding that he would like to show off some of his newly found wealth by having his previously plain weapon re-worked by a Saxon Silversmith?

I would also add that I could have worded my original post better with regards to the origins of this sword/hilt type. Rather than saying that the sword type was of Scandinavian origin, maybe it would be more appropriate to ask if they were introduced through Scandinavia into England when the Vikings settled, as I wouldn't be surprised if, like a lot of swords at the time, they didn't originate on the continent. I still think that this is the most likely situation for the cultural reasons that I have tried to outline above. Simply put, we know that the Vikings held the sword in high regard from their grave goods and other finds. The same just doesn't seem to extend to the Saxons once they had settled in England, where even the pagan burials show a distinct lack of swords, except for a small number of really exceptional, possibly imported, examples such as the Sutton Hoo burial, and the Kentish ring swords.

Cheers,
Darrin.
View user's profile Send private message
Richard Hare




Location: Alberta, canada
Joined: 15 Mar 2008

Posts: 135

PostPosted: Mon 15 Sep, 2008 11:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Darrin,
Your new post came up whilst I was writing this one. hope this doesn't cause any confusion!
Don't have long to write at the mo, so'll keep it short.
Agree,
Not much evidence for sword manufacture in Scananavia....... Or England.
Most would be produced on continent, and possibly hilted up at a more local level.
The Anglo-Saxon swords (hilts) of type "L" could possibly all come from one workshop. (Even if some were found far from home!)

Anglo-Saxon not a "sword-based culture"? Not sure what a sword-based culture is, but still,
Beg to differ. Many swords have been found in Angl-Saxon graves. (Not talking about saxes)
Though less than one in 20 men were buried with a sword. This is still significant as some A-S cemetaries had a rate as high as nearly 50 % men with swords. ...and as you quite rightly stated, one graveyard didn't yield Any! (Davidson 9)

Also, one Must remember the very fine ring-hilted swords found in England, from a somewhat earlier (But still Anglo-Saxon) period. these people new what a fine sword was, and would have one if affordable.
In your first post, You appear to give the impression that these people wandered around in a mental backwater, only taking to using swords after the Norse had been beating them over the heads with them.( Please forgive the very bad paraphrasing of your 2nd to last paragraph!))
swords were not an afterthought, Fine swords were a part of the culture, and whilst only the wealthy may have had them, the status of the sword permeated throughout society. ...as in, swearing oaths on the sword, etc. etc.

These swords were the normal longswords, not saxes, langseaxes or anything else. they were the normal pattern two-edged long-sword.
They are on average from 34-37" long, and the one found at Acklam is 39.5"

Re. the "langseax" It is Rare, V. few found in Britain. (Davidson, but lost the reference!)

Anglo-Saxon wills also mention swords, as many as 12 being left.
From the graves also, it has been determined that a sax was often worn in conjunction with the sword, in a sheath on the belt., (Davidson,40) but never replaced the long 2-edged sword.

Lastly,(For now!) we still have the decoration of the type L, being Anglo-Saxon, and the same as in 9th century Anglo-Saxon manuscripts.
All in all,I think the Type "L" must remain firmly where it is, as Anglo-Saxon.

Thanks Darrin for the edit with the geography, for those unfamiliar.
Tho' I'm now in Canada, I lived on Teesside and Scarborough area for 30 yrs. so am a bit familiar.

All the best,

Richard.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Albert Steiner





Joined: 16 Sep 2008

Posts: 10

PostPosted: Tue 23 Sep, 2008 1:47 pm    Post subject: Anglo-Saxon "L" type         Reply with quote

I have Pierce's book as well as Davidson's. Pierce offers absolutely no evidence that The "L" hilt is Norse, other than the fact "L" type weapons have been found in Scandinavia. I have seen Irish croziers in the Nordic Museet in Stockholm, but that does not make the pieces in question Norse. They were taken in raid, or trade, after being lifted from the original owners. The fact the the "L" hilt is found in Norway, or near Paris, France, or one I have had Christian Fletcher replicate from a find in the Netherlands, means only one of 3 things. They were bought, (or traded), stolen, or copies. Weapons like clothing, or hair styles are subject to fashion. It is popular to collect Viking kits these days, and proclaim how great the achievments of the Normans are, but much less so to say one admires Anglo-Saxon England, or fault a great King like Harold Godwinson because he was killed at Hastings, and therefore a loser. The bulk of the "L" type hilts, I have come across, are in the Trewhiddle style. The Threwhiddle type is English. The Mammen, and Jelling are but two examples of Old Norse. The English and Norse are members of the same culture who fought, traded, and bred with each other. It should not be surprising that one side would influence the other. Before the Bastard of Normandy set foot on English soil, an estimated 1/3 of the English language (in the later Anglo-Saxon-Viking age) had Old Norse loan words. Words such as husband (husbondi), window (windauge), sky, ship, ski, he, she, it and so forth. I don't see a need for the revisionist hubbub about whether Petersen, or Wheeler were correct in selecting the "L", or type "V" as Anglo-Saxon. I believe, as they did, the "L" is English, because the Anglo-Saxon were entirely capable of independent thought, and creativity. They are a collection of peoples (Saxon, Angle, Rhenish Jute, Frank, and Frisian) who deserve to be admired. I might quote Erwin Rommel when a student of his, asked what Clausewitz thought? To which he replied, "Never mind what Clausewitz thought, what do you think?"
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Albert Steiner





Joined: 16 Sep 2008

Posts: 10

PostPosted: Tue 23 Sep, 2008 2:00 pm    Post subject: The "L" types         Reply with quote

I forgot to mention that the finest blades made in Europe during the Viking Age were Rhenish Franconian. Local smiths in Scandinavia, and England would then produce hilts which were popular that the time. These sort of blades and hilt work were very expensive and only affordable to high-end clients. The spear was always the main weapon, with swords, axe and seax secondary, regardless of the social class. Please note swords, whether found in a pagan grave site, or dredged from a river bank, is no more an indication of how many were produced, that the fact that there are only 4 recovered Anglo-Saxon helms. We just don't know.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Albert Steiner





Joined: 16 Sep 2008

Posts: 10

PostPosted: Tue 23 Sep, 2008 2:34 pm    Post subject: David M. Wilson         Reply with quote

Please see David M. Wilson's article on "Some Neglected Anglo-Saxon Swords". He has something to say about the late Hilda Ellis-Davidson's analysis as well. Check out this site, as this Anglo-Saxon "L" type is the basis of the one Christian made for me. It is auf Deutsch for those who can read it. Albert https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/dspace/bitstream/1887/11878/1/1_953_075.pdf
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Darrin Hughes




Location: England
Joined: 22 Jun 2007
Reading list: 20 books

Posts: 228

PostPosted: Wed 24 Sep, 2008 8:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've been away from this for a little while because I've been trying to track down information on documents/manuscripts that would be relevant to this period in Northern Europe, as much of the 'evidence' for placing the type L seems to come from the nature of the decorative styles. Personally I think that this might be putting the cart before the horse. As has been pointed out bare blades were quite likely hilted up at local centres in local styles, and there are a number of variants of the type L which could be seen as local interpretations of the basic pattern. What I'm asking is where did the design originate? That is why I'm trying to look at the cultural background at the time when these first appeared. I'm not asking whether Anglo-Saxon craftsmen could have come up with this, but rather would they have been so inclined.

First though I would like to respond to an apparent misinterpretation of what I have written with regards to the Anglo-Saxons as a people. There seems to be some idea that because I don't think the Anglo-Saxons of the 9th century regarded the sword in the same way as there 6th century ancestors that this is somehow an attack on their good character. Nothing could be further from the truth. Albert, you mention the current veneration of the Vikings and the Normans at the expense of the Saxons, and this is something that I have complained about in almost exactly the same terms. For every person who mentions Hastings, I'm more than happy to let them know about Edington, Brunanburh, and Stamford Bridge. As the bulk of my family are from the South-West it pleases me no end that it was the House of Wessex which pretty much defined England as we know it. Although it is a shame that more people aren't familiar with the name Aethelstan. And of course Harold was also a Wessex lad, though it may be a bit of a stretch to call him great. Alfred was great, Harold never had the chance to be Sad

Richard's 'mental backwater' comment is also not something that I would have said, but it does lead into some interesting points about art and culture. The nature of Anglo-Saxon culture changed quite markedly between the 6th and 9th centuries, in part because of the adoption of Christianity, but also because once they had spread out and settled they had to be able to work the land and defend it with what was still a fairly small population. This seems to have led to a far more egalitarian sysem than the one that was developing on the continent, with less emphasis on individual heroics (although this was obviously still seen as praiseworthy and something the poets liked to highlight), and more emphasis on the idea of team-work, whether it was in the fields, or in battle. This seems fairly obvious from the development of the fyrd, and in battle the adoption of the shield wall.

This is what I think led to the diminishing of the sword in importance. After all the sword seems to be most highly venerated in societies where individual prowess and heroism is celebrated. This is what I was trying to describe earlier when I used the term 'sword-based culture'. Looking back I realise that is a bit rubbish and doesn't really say anything useful for which I apologise, hopefully this will be more illuminating. If we look at the the poetry associated with the migration era, such as Beowulf, the sword gets far more lines of prose dedicated to it than it does in something like the poem about the Battle of Maldon, where the only sword to get any sort of description seems to be that of Brithnoth himself, and even that is described as "brown-edged" and "fallow hilted". To me this sounds more like an heirloom or something that's been dug out of a barrow, than something that Brithnoth might have had from new. Even the champion Wulfstan, who is set to guard the bridge and kills the first Dane, does so with a spear. I get the impression that the spear, rather than being just a cheap and handy alternative, had actually become something highly regarded in it's own right

I mentioned burials earlier and Richard countered that in some cemeteries the rates of burials with swords was as high as 50%. The thing here is that as we move forward in time, and also further North and West, the number of burials with swords decreases and it seems that this was happening even before the widespread adoption of christian burial practices. Again I think that this can be seen as a reflection of the society as a whole. As an agricultural society much of the available iron would have been used to make farming implements, and as I've mentioned before smaller weapons such as spears, arrow heads, axes, and knives. Items which are far more economical in their use of the available materials, and, of course, fulfil more than one function. A sword represents a serious expenditure of time and resources for smiths who would already have been pretty busy with their day to day business. Even at Alfred's base in Athelney the only large metal object that I know of that has come out of the ground to date was not even a weapon, strictly speaking, but the head of a scythe. As I mentioned earlier in this thread I personally think that swords held by the royal families are far more likely, from the descriptions, to be heirlooms rather than new weapons. The mention of gold in relation to weapons given as gifts by Alfred and his father, and also the hilt of Brithnoth's sword in the poem, seems to evoke the earlier migration era swords rather than the later Viking age ones.

Cheers,
Darrin.

ps I'll get back on to the influence of Manuscripts and art on sword decoration when I've done a bit more reading. Thanks for sticking with this so far.
View user's profile Send private message
Albert Steiner





Joined: 16 Sep 2008

Posts: 10

PostPosted: Wed 24 Sep, 2008 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply to Darrin         Reply with quote

Greetings and Ta for the lengthy and most courteous reply. As you may have guessed I am devoted to King Harold as he was the last of English kings to sit on the throne, albeit the fact that he was half Dane. Which brings me to another point, prehaps my great interest lies with the Anglo-Danish 11th century, rather than the 5th to the 10th. The reason I would call King Harold great was not only his military prowness, and courage, which were both in considerable abundance, but the fact of his most able administration as subregelus for 10 years (Dux Anglorum), his sacrificing his brother's Tosti interests, over that of the country, and not to mention, he was indeed able to mint his own coinage. Harold was able to learn from his father Godwine's mistakes in how to handle the petty, vindictive, and mercurical King Edward. Although Tosti was Edward's favorite, it was Harold whose was elected King as per English, not Norman procedures. The English people never revolted against Harold, as they did against the Bastard of Normandy and his ilk. Harold was accepted by the English NORTH AND SOUTH OF THE HUMBER. He ravaged Wales in AD 1063 and brought the head of Gruffydd ap Llwellyn to his King. Gruffydd was a champion in his own right, and certainly not an easy mark. Harold, as we know, defeated the foremost Viking warrior of the age at Stamford Bridge in a battle which is nearly as neglected as Gate Fulford. One could also note how Hastings was such a near run. It was only by bad luck King Harold lost. I consider Harold to be the Rommel of his day. And the Anglo-Danish Huscarles were indeed the finest infantry in Europe! By the way Darrin, I referred to, as a teen, those whom I found distasteful, as "Normans".
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Richard Hare




Location: Alberta, canada
Joined: 15 Mar 2008

Posts: 135

PostPosted: Tue 30 Sep, 2008 8:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Darrin,

The link below may be of help in understanding the why's and wherefores of Anglo-Saxon swords..

The link is in regard to the Frankish Vlfberht swords., and written by Anne Stalsberg.

While her paper does not address Anglo-Saxon swords, it does answer some of your questions very well.

(For instance Vlfberht blades have been found in 23 countries, yet they are obviously Still Vlfbreht blades,...Yet only 16-19 have been found in the Frankish realm where they were made., whilst 144-147 have been found in pagan Europe.)

Anne goes on to explain this in a very clear manner, and I think you will find it, as I did, very enlightening.

Here's the link;

http://jenny-rita.org/Annestamanus.pdf

Best wishes,

Richard.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Russ Ellis
Industry Professional




Joined: 20 Aug 2003
Reading list: 42 books

Posts: 2,607

PostPosted: Wed 01 Oct, 2008 9:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Richard Hare wrote:
Darrin,

The link below may be of help in understanding the why's and wherefores of Anglo-Saxon swords..

The link is in regard to the Frankish Vlfberht swords., and written by Anne Stalsberg.

While her paper does not address Anglo-Saxon swords, it does answer some of your questions very well.

(For instance Vlfberht blades have been found in 23 countries, yet they are obviously Still Vlfbreht blades,...Yet only 16-19 have been found in the Frankish realm where they were made., whilst 144-147 have been found in pagan Europe.)

Anne goes on to explain this in a very clear manner, and I think you will find it, as I did, very enlightening.

Here's the link;

http://jenny-rita.org/Annestamanus.pdf

Best wishes,

Richard.


Thanks for posting that Richard, I've skimmed through it just now and it's a very interesting read. One thing I find odd is that the author postulates thatUlfberht or Vlfbreht was not a sword smith but rather a sword manufacturer or overseer possibly connected to the arms production at an abbey based on the use of a cross in the "signature." The author also talks about the distribution of Ulfbreht swords not just in countries but throughout the Viking age.

The thing I find puzzling is that the author persists in suggesting that the "signature" stands for a single person rather then a firm of sword makers (or perhaps an abbey involved in arms production) despite the distribution of the swords over a time period longer then a single person's life span.

It's entirely possible that I missed something in my quick read, but it would seem to me more reasonable to assume that Ulfbreht was a "corporate name" (possibly with imitators) then a person.

TRITONWORKS Custom Scabbards
View user's profile Send private message
Richard Hare




Location: Alberta, canada
Joined: 15 Mar 2008

Posts: 135

PostPosted: Wed 01 Oct, 2008 8:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Russ,

Re. the long time period for the Vlfberht name, all I can offer is to draw a parallel;( I thought of this when reading Anne's paper, the parallel is the Scottish broadswords marked Andrea Ferrara.
It seems most 18th c. Scottish broadswords in the great houses are marked as such. yet Andrea Ferrara was working in I believe Italy in the 1500's.
With this in mind it seems quite plausable, that a mark of quality could be used for a long period of time.

But now you have me wondering,

Anne does seem to have the evidence for these blades being produced over a long period.

I'm going to have another read!

Best,

Richard.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > The Peterson Type L. Why Anglo-Saxon?
Page 1 of 2 Reply to topic
Go to page 1, 2  Next All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2018 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum