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Owen Bush
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PostPosted: Tue 01 Dec, 2009 9:26 am    Post subject: large european 'Langseax"         Reply with quote

I am looking for information on large european Seax (as oposed to saxon broken back seax).
What are the biggest ones ?
If anybody has any dimensions I would be most greatfull .
All the best Owen

forging soul into steel .

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Kirk Lee Spencer




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PostPosted: Tue 01 Dec, 2009 10:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Owen...

Here is the largest I have seen which gives dimensions...

It is a Type 1/3 from Beigaben Germany.

Total length is 84cm, maximum blade width is 46mm and maximum blade thickness is 7mm

Image is from "Die Alamannen im Zollernalbkreis" by Georg Schmitt, Dissertation 2005


take care


ks



 Attachment: 33.81 KB
LSAX.L84w46t7.BeigabenGermany.GS.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


Last edited by Kirk Lee Spencer on Tue 01 Dec, 2009 3:14 pm; edited 1 time in total
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G Ezell
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PostPosted: Tue 01 Dec, 2009 10:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/download.php?id=1261
That second one from the top has fascinated me since I first saw it, it is the largest I've seen. Supposedly it is from Little Bealings, and has a 30" blade. I would love to see some close-ups of it, it appears to have fullers and possibly inlay. It makes the swords next to it look small in comparison...

She's a brokeback, however, not what you are looking for.

Jeroen has some images of a 'breitsax of langsax proportions' somewhere, basically a very wide langsax or a very long breitsax...

Of course, though not really classified as saxes by some (I think of them as just another type of sax), the is the single-edged Norwegian swords of the viking era, they were often longer than the double-edged swords of the time.

" I have found that it is very often the case that if you state some absolute rule of history, there will be an example, however extremely unusual, to break it."
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Owen Bush
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PostPosted: Tue 01 Dec, 2009 11:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks G Ezell and Kirk .
those are great the broken back seax is quite a nasty (in a good way) kind of beast ,it is quite interesting how just subtle changes in the form of broken back seax can completely change the whole look of the blade ,they are some of the most ugly and also compelling blades around . I found them very blocky when I first started making them but the more I see and the more I make, the more I like them .It is amazing how the way you view something is so completely influenced by your relationship with it.....The observer influences the observed...............

seeing the seaxes along side swords does bring up questions about there role along side or instead of a sword .

Kirk that is just what I am looking for thanks .

forging soul into steel .

www.owenbush.co.uk the home of bushfire forge school of smithing .
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Eric Hejdström




Location: Visby, Sweden
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PostPosted: Tue 01 Dec, 2009 1:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I found some interesting ones when I was at our local museum storage. There's a broken back seax wich is ca 90cm long, 7cm wide and almost 1cm thick on the back. there's also one example that has a straight back ans curved edge towards thepoint with about the same dimensions, just slightly wider ca 8cm if I'm not mistaken. I don't have the sketches in my computer otherwise I'd gladly share it with you. The variety in blades from the viking age swords here on Gotland, Sweden is quite stunning... Wish I could publish some of it but the museum doesn't allow privately taken pictures to be published online without their consent. I'll work on that for the future...

/Eric
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Owen Bush
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PostPosted: Tue 01 Dec, 2009 3:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eric,
That sounds like one hell of a Seax.If there are more details I would love to know .

forging soul into steel .

www.owenbush.co.uk the home of bushfire forge school of smithing .
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G Ezell
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PostPosted: Tue 01 Dec, 2009 4:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Owen Bush wrote:
Thanks G Ezell and Kirk .
those are great the broken back seax is quite a nasty (in a good way) kind of beast ,it is quite interesting how just subtle changes in the form of broken back seax can completely change the whole look of the blade ,they are some of the most ugly and also compelling blades around . I found them very blocky when I first started making them but the more I see and the more I make, the more I like them .It is amazing how the way you view something is so completely influenced by your relationship with it.....The observer influences the observed...............

seeing the seaxes along side swords does bring up questions about there role along side or instead of a sword .

Well said, Owen... they grow on one like the taste of spinach, or turnips, unpleasant and awkward at first, until one finally starts to enjoy the subtleties of the flavor ( I still do not entirely like the taste of turnips to this day, but love spinach). The Little Bealings seax may be the one that won me over... it has a finer point, a longer, meatier tang, and with a single-edged, flat-ground blade, likely has a better cutting geometry than any of the swords shown along side it in that photo. The only one I've seen with it intact has a handle that is 235mm in length, of wood, with 5 gilded silver bands, suggesting that langsaxes had inherited the long handle of the earlier broadsaxes. This hilt length, and lack of metal fittings compared to swords suggests a weapon very different from the double-edged swords, the Norwegian single-edged swords of the period, or even the single-edged swords that followed later. It was a different breed of cat altogether, if one could call it a cat in the first place...

If anyone has more images of that nasty beast, I'd love to see them. I will make one like it if I live long enough... Evil

" I have found that it is very often the case that if you state some absolute rule of history, there will be an example, however extremely unusual, to break it."
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Eric Hejdström




Location: Visby, Sweden
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PostPosted: Tue 01 Dec, 2009 5:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Owen Bush wrote:
Eric,
That sounds like one hell of a Seax.If there are more details I would love to know .


It is! It's quite heavy. I still have the database number somwhere, I can try and take some measurements next time I'm at the museum. Been thinking of making a compilation of "blueprints" of large knives and swords from the viking age. If you send me an email I can give you some of the pictures, however I'm not allowed to publish... I'll se what I can do in the future.

I have also seen a seax-blade with almost 25cm long tang... That's a mighty big one too.

/Eric
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Maurizio D'Angelo




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PostPosted: Tue 01 Dec, 2009 5:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eric Hejdström wrote:
I found some interesting ones when I was at our local museum storage. There's a broken back seax wich is ca 90cm long, 7cm wide and almost 1cm thick on the back. there's also one example that has a straight back ans curved edge towards thepoint with about the same dimensions, just slightly wider ca 8cm if I'm not mistaken. I don't have the sketches in my computer otherwise I'd gladly share it with you. The variety in blades from the viking age swords here on Gotland, Sweden is quite stunning... Wish I could publish some of it but the museum doesn't allow privately taken pictures to be published online without their consent. I'll work on that for the future...

/Eric


Very interesting. I'd like to know the weight. Sword much authority...
Ciao
Maurizio
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Wed 02 Dec, 2009 1:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey Owen!
I know what you mean with initial reservations that later turns to an appreciation and then on to a passion!
I´ve experienced this as well. Both with saxes and with roman swords.

I know the sax Eric is talking about. I got photos of it when I visited Visby for some documentation work. It is a monster. I would not call it a broken back sax, though. It is of the same general type as the large weapon knives/single edged swords/saxes found in the Vendel graves. Some of these are pretty big. The point can be aligned towards the back or towards the edge, or somewhere in between. Often the back curves and the edge is more straight. Never completely straight, however. There is always curves involved.

There are many lose finds of saxes from the area of Sweden where I live: Uppland. The country around Uppsala have many ancient sites and places of political importance where small "kings" or big Chieftains had their seats. Weapon finds are numerous. A number of these weapons are pretty big. I think these big ones are mostly rather late: early viking age, 8th C? Contrary to popular belief, the sax was not a very common weapon among vikings. We have the single edged Norwegian swords of course, but I think those are true swords and not saxes. The long weapon knives found in high status graves in Sweden and the eastern part of the Baltic, are not really true saxes either, rather a later development, or a type of weapon that grew from some other influences.
The again, we do not know how these weapons were called back in the time they were used.

I have documented seaxes in the Historical museum of Stockholm and the storage of the collection of the Uppsala University. Some of these are very big. Similar in size to those two monsters in Visby.
The largest sax I´ve ever seen is kept in storage in Stockholm. This may be a find from Uppland or Gotland (I think perhaps Gotland), not sure which. It has a straight back (and this back is really quite straight!). The blade grows in width towards the point. It is about 5.8 cm wide at the base, growing to about 6.8 cm at the widest place, where it begin to curve towards the point. Blade length is 85 cm. Tang is broken so only 7.5 cm remains. There is no knowing ow long the tang was originally. A stab in the dark, I would guess at 25 or 30 cm. In present state the sax weighs 1.168 Kilos. Cross section is triangular: flat sides but a healthy and strong apple seed edge that start about 1 cm in from the cutting sharpness. The section of the edge is that of a fine axe! I could see no traces of decorative lines on this one. It is quite rusty, so there may have been groves cut in along the back originally. It is fairly common to see two lines that meet in a pointed arch some distance behind the point. These look like the outlines of a fuller. Sometimes there is an actual fuller between these groves. Sometimes the blade is just flat.
It has inventory number 17906. (I just made a search on this find number, but could not locate it in the database of the museum, sorry)
A sax from Uppland, a find without context, has a total length of 91 cm, a blade of 66.5 cm, base width of 4.1 cm, greatest width 49.4 cm, greatest thickness of 0.8 cm and a total weight of 830 grams. Very gentle distal taper: at the widest part it is 0.63 cm. A big one. With a tang of 24 cm it is of three hand size ;-). Interestingly the end of the tang protruded through the end of the grip and was simply bent over and hammered down. No fancy rivet washer, peen block or even a nicely formed peen: just hammered down like a nail to secure it firmly.

G Ezell, I documented the broken back seax from Little Bealings when I visited the British Museum a few years back. It is my absolute favorite among the broken back seaxes! It has more activity in its lines than any other I´ve seen. It reminds me somehow of those re-polished naginatas, that were converted into katanas...
The edge has a gentle curve to it, as well as the back. The curvature is so gentle you gen an initial impression of a striaight blade, but the curvature makes the blade come alive. It is like a big predator tensing up before the pounce.
It has three zones of different material. A coarser piled structure along the back, a much finer piled steel in the edge and between these a single twisted rod that undulates a little as it snakes from base to clip point. Along the back are two narrow groves and one that is a little broader, but no inlay. I was told that the reason this seax is rather un known and has not been published is the fact it has no rune inlays. It is more humble and utilitarian than it´s more famous cousins. I think it is the best of the lot! This seax will be reproduced with only minimal changes as a Next Generation blade. Only two groves, instead of three, but otherwise very much the same dimensions and lines. Those small changes are made to meet with the wishes of the museum that do not want an exact reproduction on the market, but they do not change the character of the weapon in regards to function, heft or presence. The NG version also will not be pattern welded, naturally ;-)
Apart from the NG version, I shall have to forge this blade, making a homage version. It s really a blade worthy of study!
G Ezell, could you please tell me more about the intact grip with silver bands?! I wold be very interested to learn more!

These large seaxes cross a line becoming something else than their smaller cousins. Their mass and heft are impressive. They give an impression of weight, although most are still pretty agile weapons. I have really no idea of what that monster sax with straight back would have behaved with full tang, when mounted. It would probably have been a two handed weapon, perhaps even something like a short pole arm: an early Glaive?
In general, their length is not that great and the weight is still manageable. The design concept of shape of blade and tang is not too different to that of japanese blades. No bamboo peg, though ;-) Only cutlers pitch or glue to fix the tang in the grip.
To me it seems reasonable to view these large weapons as alternatives to double edged swords, rather than complements. The Vendel and Valsgärde graves have many examples where these saxes (slightly smaller than the really big ones, but still pretty large blades) have scabbard and grip embellishment, marking them out as the same status object as the priced swords. Granted there would have been plenty more humble versions around as well.
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Jeroen Zuiderwijk
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PostPosted: Wed 02 Dec, 2009 2:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Johnsson wrote:
G Ezell, could you please tell me more about the intact grip with silver bands?! I wold be very interested to learn more!

This is the one:


Quote:
These large seaxes cross a line becoming something else than their smaller cousins. Their mass and heft are impressive. They give an impression of weight, although most are still pretty agile weapons. I have really no idea of what that monster sax with straight back would have behaved with full tang, when mounted. It would probably have been a two handed weapon, perhaps even something like a short pole arm: an early Glaive?
In general, their length is not that great and the weight is still manageable. The design concept of shape of blade and tang is not too different to that of japanese blades. No bamboo peg, though ;-) Only cutlers pitch or glue to fix the tang in the grip.
To me it seems reasonable to view these large weapons as alternatives to double edged swords, rather than complements.
Yeah, this seems to be the case. In the case of continental saxes, you frequently see broadsaxes next to double edged swords in graves. When they turn into langsaxes, there's usually just the langsax in graves. Also interestingly is that at that point, the saxes take over patternwelding from double edged swords, whereas all previous saxes weren't patternwelded. So it looks like the langsax took over the broadsax & double edged sword combo. At least in certain cases, as the double edged sword did obviously stay in existance. I don't have a clue yet why you get the separation, but suspect it may be due to different kinds of warriors, one that needed the langsax, other the double edged sword for some reason.

Thanks again for the wealth of information b.t.w.! It's always great to have someone around that just happens to have all the measurements and descriptions at hand:)

Jeroen Zuiderwijk
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Wed 02 Dec, 2009 5:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Jeroen!

Ah, that is the one with silver bands on the grip. I´ve seen it posted before on discussions on saxes.
I would be very interested to see it in real life.
Do you know where it is kept? In München?

I visited the archaeological museum in Munich a number of years ago. Perhaps I did not see this one displayed? It would be frustrating to know it was there, but that I missed it!
Perhaps it is in storage somewhere...
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G Ezell
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PostPosted: Wed 02 Dec, 2009 10:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Peter!
It may have no runic inlay, but it seems to lack humility and utility in my eyes, only grim purpose...
Nice to know it is patternwelded. I look forward to seeing the NG version. I also look forward to seeing what Owen comes up with...

" I have found that it is very often the case that if you state some absolute rule of history, there will be an example, however extremely unusual, to break it."
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M. Livermore





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PostPosted: Wed 02 Dec, 2009 10:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Does anyone know what date the British Museum attributes to the little bealings seax?
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Jeroen Zuiderwijk
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PostPosted: Wed 02 Dec, 2009 1:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Johnsson wrote:
Thanks Jeroen!

Ah, that is the one with silver bands on the grip. I´ve seen it posted before on discussions on saxes.
I would be very interested to see it in real life.
Do you know where it is kept? In München?
Yep, in the Prahistorische Staatssammlung. The image is from "Franken oder Sachsen? Untersuchungen an fruhmittelalterlichen waffen" by Herbert Westphal (ISBN 3-89598-875-8). Very interesting document, I highly recommend it.

Quote:
I visited the archaeological museum in Munich a number of years ago. Perhaps I did not see this one displayed? It would be frustrating to know it was there, but that I missed it!
Perhaps it is in storage somewhere...
I was in Munchen a few weeks back, but sadly no time to visit the museum (didn't even realize I was staying just a few km away from this sax!Happy)
Jeroen Zuiderwijk
- Bronze age living history in the Netherlands
- Barbarian metalworking
- Museum photos
- Zip-file with information about saxes
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