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Dean Whitlock




Location: Thetford, Vermont
Joined: 24 Apr 2009

Posts: 26

PostPosted: Wed 29 Apr, 2009 10:05 am    Post subject: Native British arms post-Roman era?         Reply with quote

Hello,

This is a topic related to my question about the form of the seax around 500 AD. I would like to know if there is any evidence about the arms and armor of the native Britons who were fighting against the Anglo-Saxons at that time. I found the wonderful topic on Celtic swords, but it appears to be for an older period. I'm concerned primarily with Northern England/Southern Scotland (the Votadini, who became the Gododdin). Was the sword more common than the spear? Did they usually carry shields? What form did these weapons take at that time? Were helmets common? Mail? Leather armor? Any and all information will be very helpful.

Thank you,
Dean
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Artis Aboltins




PostPosted: Wed 29 Apr, 2009 2:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One thing you can be sure of - sowrd was NOT more common than a spear. Spear and shield seems to be what majority of the warriors would have carried into battle - helmets, and even more, mail armour would be a rarity.
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Matthew Amt




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

Posts: 1,395

PostPosted: Wed 29 Apr, 2009 7:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yup, what Artis said. Unfortunately, from what I know it's a pretty obscure era, with precious little evidence. The Romans had officially bugged out several generations before that, but whatever had evolved in that time would have come from Late Roman gear. There would be nothing recognizably "Celtic" about any of it--all military gear had been Roman-dominated for 400 years by that point. However, Late Roman gear had Germanic influence as well, so that's one place to start.

Very generally, yes, spears and shields were the rule. Shields round, probably dished, with conical bosses (though I'm not certain if that's a tall rounded "sugarloaf" cone or a flatter cone with a vertical base, etc...), with a single handgrip. Helmets either spangenhelm types or ridge helmets (somewhere between the Roman Intercissa and the later Vendel types?). Mailshirts for the upper crust. I started researching this several years ago, but didn't get very far, unfortunately! I'm sure there are others around with better details. Actually, the one conclusion I reached was that there is a reason they call it "the Dark Ages"...

Fascinating era, but good luck!

Matthew
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Dean Whitlock




Location: Thetford, Vermont
Joined: 24 Apr 2009

Posts: 26

PostPosted: Thu 30 Apr, 2009 12:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Artis and Matthew, thank you. Your answers confirm the little bit that I've read so far. The Dark Ages were indeed dark as far as reportage went, both written and drawn. One book I've read (not weapon-specific, more of a general archaeological/historical history of Northumbria) said that there were probably periods of co-mingling between the Britons and the Ango-Saxons between waves of expansion by the Anglo-Saxons. We know for a fact, for example, that the castle/town of Banburgh was renamed by the Anglo-Saxon rule for his Brythonic wife, Bebba. The same author suggested that the Anglo-Saxons and Britons might have been very similarly armed, with the Brythonic weaponry having devolved in the generations after the Roman pull-out. In some ways that makes my job easier, as long as I can be reasonably certain it's correct!

Thanks again,
Dean
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