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Myles Mulkey





Joined: 31 Jul 2008

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PostPosted: Thu 23 Oct, 2008 2:52 pm    Post subject: Illerup Sword Hilt         Reply with quote

Hey everyone,

I came across this picture of a sword hilt from Illerup Ådal and I was wondering what the wire-looking stuff was near the upper guard. Also, does anyone have any idea what this could have looked like with the organic pieces? Seen any repros? I'd appreciate any advice, as I'm thinking of making my own lower-end version. Also feel free to post any pics of other swords from Illerup so I can get a better idea of what the general look of them was.



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0079.jpg
picture from illerup.dk
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Kirk Lee Spencer




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PostPosted: Thu 23 Oct, 2008 9:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Myles...

Here is a closer image from "Illerup Adal: Archaeology as a Magic Mirror" by Jorgen Ilkjaer

ks



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IllerupSpathaSilverGrip..jpg


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IllerupSpathaSilverGrip.1.jpg


Two swords
Lit in Eden’s flame
One of iron and one of ink
To place within a bloody hand
One of God or one of man
Our souls to one of
Two eternities
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Antonio Lamadrid





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PostPosted: Fri 24 Oct, 2008 12:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This may be of interest to you:

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...mp;start=0
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Fri 24 Oct, 2008 2:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Those wriggly things crawling over the surface is probably silver embellishments (now blackened).
I do not have the text at hand right now, but I remember from browsing through the volumes on sword hilts and sword belts, that several of the hilts of this type had decoration of silver wire fastened into the organic upper and lower guard of the hilt. A common theme was rows of repeated S-shapes, fastened down in to the guard as staples.

The upper and lower guards were flat and very slightly oval, with a reinforcing ring of silver or bronze around the "equator". Visualize flat hamburgers.
Rivets going through the thickness of the organic material hints at a construction of several layers. Perhaps horn or bone.
I faintly remember horse hair being mentioned in this context, but never got a clear idea of how this was achieved. Maybe as some sort of early micarta with horse hair and glue mixed together.

These swords are very elegant and have light and nimble blades sometimes with rather exotic asymmetrical cross section (like two fullers on one side, three on the other).
Pattern welding seems to have been predominant method of blade construction.

A theory I have is that it was pretty common to see leather covered organic hilt components. Cut groves and domed tacks are perfect for holding down thin leather. Experiments with shields have shown that they were probably covered with gut. Nothing remains of this thin layer of gut today, but sometimes there is paint on the wood. The color shows through the gut. Such a layer makes a great difference in resiliency of the shield.

For a sword hilt it provides some reinforcement, but also water proofing and the option to color the wood under a thin layer of gut.

It may be with noting that the silver grip looks like it mimics the look of a leather covered grip with cord risers underneath.
Most hilts of this type had both guards and grip made out of organic material.
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Myles Mulkey





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PostPosted: Sun 26 Oct, 2008 11:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you all for your replies. This has all been very helpful, especially those close-ups, Kirk. Does anyone have any suggestions for the shape of the organic parts? Perhaps a picture? Big Grin
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Kirk Lee Spencer




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PostPosted: Mon 27 Oct, 2008 10:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Myles Mulkey wrote:
Does anyone have any suggestions for the shape of the organic parts? Perhaps a picture? Big Grin



Hi Myles...

Here is one possible reconstruction. I have included the "S" shaped silver wire Peter mentioned. The design is pieced together from a section of the silver wire in the find that seems to have an "S" shaped curve to it.

ks



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IllerupFindReconst.jpg


Two swords
Lit in Eden’s flame
One of iron and one of ink
To place within a bloody hand
One of God or one of man
Our souls to one of
Two eternities
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Myles Mulkey





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PostPosted: Mon 27 Oct, 2008 1:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kirk Lee Spencer wrote:
Myles Mulkey wrote:
Does anyone have any suggestions for the shape of the organic parts? Perhaps a picture? Big Grin



Hi Myles...

Here is one possible reconstruction. I have included the "S" shaped silver wire Peter mentioned. The design is pieced together from a section of the silver wire in the find that seems to have an "S" shaped curve to it.

ks

I love this! You can really see the Nordic craftsmanship in this! Very much reminds me of the Migration D sword by Albion, only much more ornate. Thanks for this, really.
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Myles Mulkey





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PostPosted: Wed 19 Nov, 2008 10:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sorry to revive this but I really felt I had to share this. Probably old news, but I was looking on templ.net the other day and I came across this. I know it's a little bit different than the sword we were talking about, but I still think it's gorgeous. Here you go:


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Felix Kunze




Location: Bonn, Germany
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PostPosted: Thu 27 Nov, 2008 5:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Miles,

there is a reconstruction of these hilts in the catalogue from Ilkjaer and Carnap-Bornheim dealing with the finds of Illerup.
And there was also found a similar sword hilt with a large portion of the organic pommel with these S-wires still embedded in the wood.
I will post both pictures and hope you can make good use of them.



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Illerup Schwertgriff rekon..jpg


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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Thu 27 Nov, 2008 8:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In the photo of the archaeological find, it looks like there could well be remains of leather surviving!
A dark thin material surviving where the tacks are still in place.

Exiting.
I did not know of this hilt. Is it also from the Illerup-Ådal find?
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Felix Kunze




Location: Bonn, Germany
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PostPosted: Thu 27 Nov, 2008 9:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, the better preserved hilt is also from Illerup-Adal.
I would doubt a leather covering for pommel and guard, sometimes wood can flake quite thin when being in the muddy ground for a long time. Another possibillity for the "leather-Look" may be matwerials used in the conservation. But the normal pommels and guards from this period and other finds from Illerup or Thorsberg are composed of polished wood.

But there could be some lether on the grip itself, I think there was some on a grip from another find but I can´t remember the exact location now.
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Kirk Lee Spencer




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PostPosted: Thu 27 Nov, 2008 2:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Myles Mulkey wrote:
Sorry to revive this but I really felt I had to share this. Probably old news, but I was looking on templ.net the other day and I came across this. I know it's a little bit different than the sword we were talking about, but I still think it's gorgeous. Here you go:


Hi Myles...

Here are a few more Illerup-Adal sword finds. The one on the bottom is the one Patrick recreated.

Images are from "Illerup-Adal: Archaeology as a Magic Mirror" by Jorgen Ilkjaer

(Patrick told me that Vol. 11 of the monograph series on Illerup-Adal finds is finally in print. It is in German, but I am trying to find a copy.)

take care

ks



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IilerupSpathas2-300AD.jpg
from "Illerup-Adal: Archaeology as a Magic Mirror" by Jorgen Ilkjaer

Two swords
Lit in Eden’s flame
One of iron and one of ink
To place within a bloody hand
One of God or one of man
Our souls to one of
Two eternities
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Felix Kunze




Location: Bonn, Germany
Joined: 28 Feb 2007

Posts: 49

PostPosted: Fri 09 Jan, 2009 3:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Myles,
I found some more reconstruction of the Illerup sword hilts with wire inlay.



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Michael Pikula
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PostPosted: Sat 10 Jan, 2009 9:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Felix, The hilts that you posted drawing from, and several of the ones for the Illerup finds seem to have more disk shaped hilt components rather then the "Spherical" shaped ones. Are these more of the later Roman fittings, perhaps a later stage of evolution prior to the migration hilts that refined the disks to elongated ovals? Also it seems like the middle section remains with rivets, is this a sign that there was organic material on the top and bottom? Was it most likely wood, bone, or something else?

Also some of the grips show a rather thin ring sticking out from the grip. I have no first hand knowledge about holding a grip like this but it would seem that this would be more of a chaffing point then anything else... Since this was used I must be wrong, wondering what other thoughts on this might be...
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Felix Kunze




Location: Bonn, Germany
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PostPosted: Tue 13 Jan, 2009 3:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Michael.
The hilts are still spherical but are flattened to a certain degree. I also think that they show of stage of evolution before the flattened migration period hilts (which the late Romans did also use) became dominant.
The organic materials can be bone, ivory or horn - examples for all these materials do exist - but in this case the most probable material is wood. The other sword grips in this find are of polished wood and wood is the best material (soft enough, but also though and easy to work) to hammer in these wire inlays.

I´m sorry, but I can`t figure out what you mean with the small rings on the grip, can you explain that?

P.S. The reconstruction shows the lower end of the guard (where it sits on the blade) with rounded corners, so the whole guard forms a flattened ball. Personally I would reconstruct them rather hemisspherical, like the better preserved guards with the decoration of big rivets.
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Michael Pikula
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PostPosted: Tue 13 Jan, 2009 4:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Felix,
I suffer from really liking the Spatha blades, but there is something about the ball/spherical hilts that doesn't tickle me, So I am looking for the later evolution of spatha hilts where it starts to become more of a disk, or a flattened sphere only because that fits my aesthetic better, almost like what you posted in the diagram in your reply to Myles.

On page 162 of volume 11, I personally am more attracted to type 4,5,6. I have also been day dreaming over the hilts on page 41, 74, 255, particularly the one on page 41 since it corresponds to the blade style that I am eyeing... I wish I would have had these books when I was an apprentice in Germany, I could have paid the guys with beer to translate some for me!

I am trying to get my hands on some modeling clay that isn't a $9 child play-dough since I have an idea on how to try to go about getting some of the blade patterns and I am trying to conceptualize the entire piece prior to starting any forge work.

I am attaching an image if one of the hilts posted here with some arrows drawn in to show what I mean by the rings. I suppose risers would be a better term to use then rings...



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Felix Kunze




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PostPosted: Thu 15 Jan, 2009 9:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I checked the library once more and found some new information.
First I have to pay my respect to Peter who identified leather in the phot I posted earlier. In Illerup leather, wool and other animal fibres normally didn´t survive, but wood was quite well preserved. So my earlier statement that the organic parts were probably made of wood seems unlikely. At closer examination, the guard of the swords seem to have been made from a package of leather disks that were held together by the rivets inside. The S-staples were not just crap material but especially produced for these grips, partly of pure tin. They did not only serve as decoration, but did also help holding the layers of leather together from the outside.

The hilt itself seems to have been made from horsehair instead of the more well known bone or hollowed wood. The horsehair was probably glued together, and the metall bands around them helped to hold everything in place and provide a good rest for the four fingers holding the sword.

(To Michael: I don´t know how much such protruding rings would be chafing, but I guess that was only a minor problem, if it was one at all.)
Outside Illerup, there seems to have been only one grave find of a sword with a similar hilt design, but the organic parts were also totally desintegrated.

And some more for Michael: I am really sorry, but I couldn´t find a Volume 11 of the Illerup finds. But I found a book by Christian Miks: Studien zur römischen Schwertbewaffnung in der Kaiserzeit (Studies to roman sword armaments in the imperial age). This book includes most of the known roman swords - spathae and gladii - that are known today and I will post another diagram showing the different roman grip styles during the roman empire. By the way, I don´t like beer, but if you have certain questions for a translations from a german book, or more pictures from Illerup or later spatha blades, I will try my best to help you.



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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Thu 15 Jan, 2009 10:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael:
Go for it! It will be a magnificent sword, I´m certain, and a worthy project. Looking forward to seeing the result(s).
I have been subject of a severe spatha virus attack for some time, but not had any opportunity to medicate or scratch the itch. I will however. I must! ...But later.

Felix:
That book (Christian Miks: Studien zur römischen Schwertbewaffnung in der Kaiserzeit) is one I would very much like to incorporate into my library. I met the author briefly at the ROMEC conference in Xanten the other year. His book was just about to be published then and I have looked for it without being able to locate it ever since. Now I found a copy for sale at a pretty intimidating price. I wonder if you know of a good source/bookseller?

On Illerup sword hilts and the use of leather: I have a sneaking suspicion that leather was used to cover many of the spathae hilts made in barbaricum: those we see in the Danish bog finds do not have any surving leather but instead metal reinforcements suggesting that something may have been attached on top of the wood.
I would not be surprised if the silver grips that are made in barbaricum, mimic the look of cord bound leather covered grips (including risers, embossed decoration and all).
Some further speculation: we know of metal covered gladius hilts. Perhaps some were also leather covered?
This is only a hypothesis of course. I am not aware of any research or reports detailing this. In many cases a thin layer of leather would not survive, only sometimes the wood core/base. Also in the construction of gladius hilts are elements that would work well in securing a thin leather cover, glued down over the wood.
Ah, well...
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Carl W.




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PostPosted: Fri 16 Jan, 2009 2:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Maybe spatha fever is going around Happy . I got my first sword (Allectus gladius) 4 weeks ago & soon occurred to me that if a 2nd, "logically should be" spatha rather than viking.

But most searches were not too exciting, for this very reason - hilts. So fwiw I'd encourage more more interesting spatha hilts, using finds or minor extensions ("easily could have been done"). Hard to see me getting another hilt basically just like my gladius.

It appears to me that pre-Viking arms are under represented in typical myArmoury collections. Perhaps due to hilts? Would be interesting if those with larger, later collections would comment. Clearly there is historical interest.

ps. May be dumb idea, especially if glue would make a mess, but how about trying a leather wrap over a still nice grip? Could remove wrap someday if want a change, or it wears, or owner just likes it better due to lack of proof or preference? Before I talked myself into Allectus $, I was going to get a gladius blade, make rest, & was thinking of trying such leather wrap on it.
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Dave A.





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PostPosted: Sat 17 Jan, 2009 4:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very interesting information. Does anyone have pictures and, information they would share about the swords from the last two deposits Illerup C and, Illerup D ?
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