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Owen Fentimen




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Jan, 2010 6:38 am    Post subject: Bladesmith marks on irish swords         Reply with quote

Hello to all myArmoury forumites!

I have just finished writing a masters dissertation on the evolution of swords in Ireland. There is a point I have had some difficulty researching, and I thought some of the knowledgeable folk on this forum might be able to help me.

Many of the blades found on later medieval irish swords have smith's marks on them. There are several different kinds:

1- Groups of small paired lines - usually along the ricasso.

2- A mark formed of a geometrical pattern of curved lines and groups of three dots - usually after the ricasso and around the short central fuller(s) [which are often thin grooves rather than proper fullers]

3- A cross-type mark - found just after the short fuller/groove. This mark is particularly interesting: it is found on four of the five excavated examples of one-handed ring-pommel swords. The mark is the same on the four blades, it really unites them as a group.

I've attached a drawing of the Townparks sword. Its blade displays all three kinds of mark.

Does anyone know of european swords bearing these marks or very similar ones?
Do they have any significance?
Can they help date the blade more precisely than "c.16th century"?
Could they give a clue as to where the blade was made? (they are usually considered to be "probably german")

Looking forward to your answers!
All the best,



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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Thu 21 Jan, 2010 8:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Welcome, Owen!

I would lean more toward Italian, maybe second half of the 16th c. It's an Oakeshott Type XIX variant, and that's a common blade for Italian swords from the late 15th c. through the 16th. I think those crescent-and-dot marks are pretty common on Continental swords and polearms, too. Just decorative, as far as I know.

See this article:

http://www.myArmoury.com/feature_spotxix.html

See, also, the markings on this Venetian blade of ca. 1570 (look at the bottom of the photo to see marks identical to those on the Townparks sword):

http://pics.myArmoury.com/view.html?armibianche470a.jpg

Albion's "Condottiere," Machiavelli" and "Kern" swords use the same Type XIX blade:
http://www.albion-swords.com/swords/albion/ne...re-xix.htm
http://www.albion-swords.com/swords/albion/ne...rn-xix.htm
http://www.albion-swords.com/swords/albion/ne...li-xix.htm

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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PostPosted: Thu 21 Jan, 2010 9:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Cannot help you much but I would be very interested in seeing this dissertation! Good luck!
Maxime Chouinard

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Thom R.




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Jan, 2010 11:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I agree with Sean that the first two groups of markings are most likely generic/decorative or if they have meaning, especially group 1 - it would be some kind of designation for a batch or who was purchasing them or acceptance marks or something. it is the third marking that may indicate origin, that being Passau, although every time I try to run down where that is documented, it just seems to be attributed to Laking and why he believed that to be a Passau mark I do not know. maybe Peter Johnsson will comment. would love to read your thesis........ tr
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Owen Fentimen




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Jan, 2010 1:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for your insights!

The scholars who studied the ring-pommel swords group before me fixed the dates to c.1500-c.1600, and considered them to be german imports like their scottish counterparts - probably acquired via scotland. These dates are mainly based on representational evidence: the anonymous Oxford woodcut and Durer's drawing basically prove the type was around in the 1520s.

I'm interested by Sean's quick response - I had a feeling that these blades could just as well be italian myself. Judging by their blades, the swords could in fact have had a considerably broader time frame: c.1400-c.1600. The flared and horizontally curved quillons aren't really a counter-argument, as to my knowledge comparable examples appear in Italy as early as 1380.

Could the blades have been supplied by Italian cities such as Venice, Florece or Genoa? This idea makes sense from an historical perspective, especially in the 16th c. From the end of the 15th c, religion came to play a major role in determining european geopolitics. In the late 16th c, it is known that catholic irish forces received financial backing by the vatican, Spain and France. Tyrone bought unspecified weapons from Spain and Poland in 1580. That year,the vatican sent 600 Italian and Spanish soldiers to Ireland.
It seems logical that the catholic irish acquired their sword blades from catholic powers who would have been very willing to provide them rather than from protestant powers. Furthermore, cities such as Venice and Genoa traded far and wide, selling blades in southern india as early as the late 15th c.
Remarks and counter-arguments to this idea are very welcome!

I thought the Running Wolf was Passau's symbol, later used by Solingen too. It would be great if someone had a pic of the cross mark on a provenanced sword, or a reference to Laking (or anyone else) that might help.
If you look closely at the drawing I attached, you will notice that the cross has got bulbous ends - it isn't plain.

Looking through myArmoury articles, I found a reference to a 1593 Irish cavalry flag. (Features-Renaissance Armies-The Irish) The shape of the cross on the flag is reminiscent of the marks on the blades.
Just a coincidence or could there be something to it?

PS: Thanks for your interest in my work! Unfortunately, the dissertation is 167 pages long but written in french...
I'm actually working on a translation!

O.Fentimen
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PostPosted: Fri 22 Jan, 2010 2:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Owen,

This is all very intersting!

I may have a few observations to add.
The marks you see on the ricasso are very typical for this kind of blade. They come in a few different shapes, but all have in common that they look like commas or small half moons that "grow" from the blunt edge of the ricasso into the face of the blade.
Sometimes there are more than just one pair of them (as on the sword you posted as an example). My impression of these marks is that they are both a decoration, but also a help for the blade grinder: they show where the plunge cut from ricasso to edge is to be made.

The bigger half moons with dots at the end that decorate the blade on each side of the fuller are blade more of a decorative nature than smith marks or marks of origin, I think.
Actual identification marks were also copied by other makers from other regions. Solingen swords were forged in Toledo and Toledo swords were forged in Germany. I am pretty sure you would find "Italian" swords made in other parts of europe as well.
I know I have seen both German and Italian blades with the "crescent-and-dots" marks on the blade. I do not think it can be used to identify location of manufacture.
I shall look for this specific mark in my material and return with examples, if I find any.

Saying all this, I think the italian connection is strong. I have always accepted the notion of a 16th C german origin of the blades of these Irish swords, but now I feel this is not the most plausible theory.
The blade type is very popular in Italy and Spain. Blade of this type may of course have been copied/made by smiths from other regions, but it is in Italy that these blades have their strongest and most widespread use (possibly Spain is equally partial to these blades, I cannot say for sure). We have several blades of this type with a rather certain dating. One of the most popular has been preserved in the Alexandria arsenal. Oakeshott published it in his "Records" on p 204. It is one of the early ones from around 1400-1420. The type may have been in use even in the late 14th C. It can be noted that even among the early ones many have slim proportions that perhaps makes one prone to put a much later date on them: there is a 16th C "feel" to them, so it is easy to "play it safe" and date such blades to the 16th C rather than early 15th C (that may be equally possible).
I also see nothing in the shape of the hilts of these Irish swords that absolutely preclude an earlier date of manufacture. Perhaps even the langet in the middle of the guard is a hint of Italian influence? A long drawn out langet is a common and very typical feature on italian swords of the late 15th C. I am not saying the hilts on the Irish swords were made in Italy. They seem to be local manufacture, but there may perhaps have been some kind of influence? A study trip by an Irish cutler/businessman, a visiting foreign craftsman that came along with a batch of swords?

The cross at the end of the fuller is also a mark of decorative nature, rather than one put there for identification purposes. With a stroke of luck, it may still be used to identify a possible origin if another sword with the exact same mark is found. A more detailed image of mark on the Irish sword is needed and the search might be a long and laborious one....
These crosses can at times be rather specific in shape. They were made with a special tool or a combination of chisels. For some blades or workshops there was a normal practice of how these crosses were done.
On a group of Swedish army swords the shaping of this cross is popularly known today as the "shitting seagull" as it really looks quite like a flying bird that drops something...

So if you could find a better image of the cross on the Townparks sword (or some other Irish sword) the hunt is on in finding a sibling to that mark :-)



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You may get an idea of the slimness of that famous early XIX from this picture.
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Owen Fentimen




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Jan, 2010 7:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for your post, Mr Johnsson. This forum really is a great tool for research.

During my research, the possibility that the ring-pommel swords could actually be "mediterranean" imports came to mind. However, strong typological similarity with the V-guard (straight quillons angled towards the guard and central languet, stemming from a hexagonal centrepiece) seem to indicate irish manufacture. Except if they were italian but made for the irish market. I favor the idea that they are of Irish manufacture, influenced by renaissance styling.

I'll order a high-resolution photo from the National Museum of Ireland to get closer to the cross mark, but it will take a few weeks to arrive. The drawing I posted is actually clearer than the photos I have, It is the best I can do so far.

Here are two swords that display marks I did not mention in my first post:

-The Lough Neagh sword is the only single handed ring-pommel type not to possess a blade like the Townparks example. This one has an unfullered ricasso part then two broad fullers, but two thirds of the blade are missing. It sports two "wheel" marks.
-The impressive Ballylin sword is covered with marks that remind me of 16th c. rapier blades. I guess this would have been a pretty high-quality blade. A ceremonial sword?

Cheers!

PS: I'm off for the week-end, I'll be offline until sunday evening and won't be able to answer until then!



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Thom R.




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Jan, 2010 11:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, well it all comes back to the five golden research questions, who, where, when how and why. I have some thoughts on the matter but please don't take anything as definitive and I am typing "off the top of my head so to speak. Aussi, en francais n'est pas un probleme......

Who.
There is an inherent problem dating and ascribing the ring hilted swords found in Ireland. To my knowledge, none of the effigies in Ireland show them (I am open to correction on this), and there are (to my knowledge) no written records of said swords in surviving documents such as wills, testimonies etc. As McCoy originally stated when he first published his work in the 70s, there were clearly three distinct military cultures in Ireland in the late 15th and early 16th c.: English (pale), Anglo-Irish outside of the pale, and Scots-Irish. . Each seems to have had distinctive weapon and armour preferences although, as this was a poorer fringe of Europe in the 16th c. one would expect a bit of mixing. So we have the old argument again of what do we mean when we use the term "Irish" in this context. Where the ring-hilted swords fit in culturally, is as far as I know, still a matter of debate. I would suggest the most likely affiliation is outside of the Pale.

When
Given the lack of any supporting documentation or cultural evidence, it seems odd and rather counter intuitive to me that these ring hilted swords (for which there is evidence that some had plates covering the ring) would have a long running cultural affiliation. that is, that they would represent a long running style over many decades let alone multiple centuries. I think the minimal supporting cultural documentation seems to this layman, to indicate the exact opposite, that these swords may have all originated in a rather narrow time window. The fact that the majority of surviving blades with ring hilts seem to have ricassos, are multi-fullered, have styles of cross that are indicative of late 15th and early 16th c., and have blade cross sections similar to Oakeshott types XIX and XX, again indicate to me that they may have been manufactured within a relatively small window in time. When, however, is still rather perplexing. The Durer woodcut does give us one point in time, 1521, although interestingly, it is of Irish mercenaries outside of Ireland. Yet it is really the only reliable dated piece of evidence we have for ring hilts. I would also like to point out that none of the artwork of the Elizabethan Wars show them. I think the most logical conclusion is therefore that this style of sword dates to the early 16th c.

Where
As to the question of where, the finds all seem limited to Ireland and the one or two drawings we have of ring hilted swords are of Irish Mercenaries, which is I think a pretty strong argument that the hilts are of Irish manufacture. Dublin, Waterford, Limerick? who knows? The source of the blades as discussed above, is problematic but would have been imported from somewhere on the continent

How
We know that there was much sea-going trade going on between Ireland and mainland Europe via Limerick, Waterford, Kinsale, Cork etc, that was beyond the control of Dublin in the 16th c.

Why
One of the many interesting aspects of these swords is that they are not crude - quite the opposite - the hilts are rather finely made and well crafted and have a somewhat individual character to them. This imho, points to manufacture by a limited number of craftsmen, possibly even just one shop. but that is just my theory.

In summary, I am just a layman, but have also had this as an area of primary interest spanning two decades.+

I believe the evidence supports a rather narrow time frame of manufacture, using imported blades (I like the idea of Italian or Spanish manufacture but leave that portion of the story to those far more knowledgeable than me), hilted in a shop somewhere outside of Dublin, commissioned by Noble(s) outside of the Pale, probably in the first few decades of the 16th c.

And I don't think we can rule out the possibility, its just a possibility mind you, that nearly all of these swords were put together in a very small time period, literally a period of a year or two or less, by a Noble outfitting a mercenary army prior to embarking for mainland Europe.

Slainte, TR


Last edited by Thom R. on Tue 26 Jan, 2010 1:12 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Kevin P Molloy




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PostPosted: Sat 23 Jan, 2010 2:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thom R. wrote:


Who.
There is an inherent problem dating and ascribing the ring hilted swords found in Ireland. To my knowledge, none of the effigies in Ireland show them (I am open to correction on this), and there are (to my knowledge) no written records of said swords in surviving documents such as wills, testimonies etc. As McCoy originally stated when he first published his work in the 70s, there were clearly three distinct military cultures in Ireland in the late 15th and early 16th c.: English (pale), Anglo-Irish outside of the pale, and Scots-Irish. . Each seems to have had distinctive weapon and armour preferences although, as this was a poorer fringe of Europe in the 16th c. one would expect a bit of mixing. So we have the old argument again of what do we mean when we use the term "Irish" in this context. Where the ring-hilted swords fit in culturally, is as far as I know, still a matter of debate. I would suggest the most likely affiliation is Anglo Irish outside of the Pale.


And I don't think we can rule out the possibility, its just a possibility mind you, that nearly all of these swords were put together in a very small time period, literally a period of a year or two or less, by an Anglo-Irish Noble outfitting a mercenary army prior to embarking for mainland Europe.

Slainte, TR



All evidence points to a Gaelic Irish origin for the ring hilt. This is the first time I have seen anyone attribute it to the Anglo Irish. What debate do you refer to, perhaps I missed it? The drawings from the period all show native irish with the ring hilt. Many of the Gaelic chieftans of the time were just as rich and powerful as their Anglo Irish neighbors and the Anglo Irish had been imitating the Gaels for centuries not the other way round. They also traded extensively with Europe independently of England or the Anglo Irish. Also all the surviving examples were found in various locations in Ireland suggesting widespread use. And as your quote from McCoy states they all had their own distinctive weapons and armour preferences. There is not one drawing or picture depicting any Anglo-Irish with this type of sword. One explanation I have seen for the gaelic irish using it is the long history of circles being significant to the Gaels. Makes sense to me.

Also the term Irish in this context refers to the native gaelic irish customs and culture. Obviously no one would use the term for the "english" of the pale. Although there is the possibility of using it for the Anglo Irish who had adopted gaelic irish ways thus becoming "more irish than the irish" according to none other than the "english". So it seems they knew what the term Irish meant in this context at that time so I don't see any argument.



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The de Heere water colors depict Native Irish in the reign of Henry VIII approx 1537 although de Heere copied them around 1575. All show the ringhilt in use.

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Thom R.




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PostPosted: Sun 24 Jan, 2010 9:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Kevin! I don't know you or your background so please don't think I am being critical in anyway. however it is a public forum so bear with me....... when I used the term Anglo Irish I was using it in the traditional academic sense - the descendents of the Normans -(e.g. Burkes, Fitzpatricks, Fitzhuberts, Fitzeustaces Fitzgeralds etc etc) who for the most part - controlled nearly everything outside of the Ossory Pale and Ulster in the 14th-16th c. Ireland, in the early 16th c. was feudal. I'll just use the term feudal lords to avoid politics and confusion.

Now, the few pieces of artwork which we have showing ring hilted swords is rather limited and stylized. some would say...... not necessarily accurate. yet there are other pieces of historical evidence too. for example, at Knockdoe - which in 1504 fits into this period which we think may coincide with these ring hilted swords - we have a written chronicle of the battle. both sides had a mix of troops, Ulick Burke had quite a few of the Feudal nobles allied to him, as well as many of the Gael chieftains of western Ireland, most notably the O'Briens, as well as a fair number of gallowglass. the Earl of Kildare similarly had a militia formed from the Pale, many of the southern and eastern nobles, and many gaels and gallowglass. Quoting Hayes-McCoy "It was a remarkable hosting. It was as far as we know the most varied if not the greatest muster of the Gaelic Irish Lords and their forces that ever took place, a rally comparable for Ireland with those of Bannockburn or Flodden in Scotland" As an interesting side note - the MacSwiney's felt contractual obligation to both sides in the conflict and therefore split their gallowglass into two groups just prior to the battle and fought on both sides to protect their honor!

Back to the swords. The chronicle of St Lawrence of Howth states that when the Gael chieftains came to swear their allegiance to the Earl they stood before the Earl with their sparths at their side and swore allegiance by flourishing their sparths (large two handed axes). There is no mention of swearing upon swords as the Feudal Nobles notably did at the ceremony (Butler, Preston, St Lawrence, Plunkett, Viscount of Gormanstown, Darcy, Devlin etc). There is also specific mention that the gaels primarily were armed with spears and sparths and a few fletchets (which is commonly assumed to be large daggers or skeins or short simply hilted swords) but no mention of swords of war. It may have been due to the rather poor state of arms, that the Earl put his gaels on the far right of his battle line, we just don't know but we do know that he kept them separate from his main battle line. Knockdoe seems, like Flodden, to have been a victory of axes and bills and longbows over darts and spears.

None of this precludes the more prominent Irish Chieftains having swords like the sword at the top of this thread, but it doesn't preclude these swords being primarily made for the Feudal nobles either. Upon further re-reading of Hunt today - "The ring pommel if not actually a German feature, certainly appears on German swords of the first quarter of the 16th c. and is frequently depicted by Durer." (my note - I am not sure I can show these ring hilted swords in Durer's work, maybe Sean Flynt , our resident 16th c art expert, has references for this?). Again from John Hunt - "They (the ring hilt) are also to be seen on the three principle swords of the old English Regalia of Ireland - Curtana, and the swords of Spiritual and Temporal Justice which were made in 1660 in imitation of the old swords that were destroyed in 1649"

Also there is mention by both Hunt, Daniel MacCarthy , and Hayes-McCoy of a ring hilted sword that is known as the "Sword of deCourcy" and is the talismanic/bearing sword of the family of the Marquis of Waterford. However, I have never seen this sword depicted anywhere nor do I know where or if it exists. It's certainly not at the National Museum. Maybe it is in private hands even today?
cheers, tr
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Thom R.




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PostPosted: Sun 24 Jan, 2010 10:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

oops. Owen I mis-spoke. I found the reference to the "cross pommee" mark that is on the Tullylough and Galway swords and which are similar to the one on the end of the ricasso of the sword you posted - it is not from Laking but from Hayes-McCoy:

"The cross pommee mark may have been Italian or perhaps more likely a German mark"

ref. 16th Century Irish Swords in The National Museum of Ireland by G.A. Hayes-McCoy 1959. page 25.

Sorry, I know that doesn't help much and you probably already have that reference..... tr

Also can you confirm we are talking about less than 10 extent survivors with rings that have been found in Ireland, correct? Have you developed an updated list since Halpin? I realize there are more swords, but not necessarily with rings - e.g. the Ballylin sword which Albion used as an inspiration for their Gallowglass sword - it is without pommel and we really just don't know what kind of pommel it would have had.

Portglenone
Tullylough
Galway
Townspark
River Bann (British Museum)
Monasterevin

I realize the last has a dual pommel and the ring has brazed covers over the ring but it is in many respects a "ring hilt" nonetheless.
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Owen Fentimen




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PostPosted: Sun 24 Jan, 2010 2:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pleased to see this topic sparked off a discussion!

There are two groups of distinctly insular swords found in Ireland and belonging to the c.1200-c.1600 time frame.

+ V-guard family characteristics: (by typological importance)
Cross (guard) is based around a hexagonal or octogonal central part, from which stems:
Straight quillons angled towards the blade (angle varies from o to 32).
A languet - 2 to 8cm long.
Pommel can be of several shapes, some are very peculiar.

+ Ring-pommel family characteristics: (by typological importance)
Ring pommel, diameter varies between 4,5 and 7cm.
Flared quillon-ends, often curved into an S shape.
A languet - 1 to 6cm long. (see pic, I drew them to scale to show you)

+ The Old Head of Kinsale sword is outside typologies.

There's 13 V-guard swords, all from water-finds. All can be considered hand&a halfs. Blades vary. (Ballylin sword is in this category)

I have analysed 7 ring pommel swords, 6 from water-finds (absence of archeological context).
6 are single handers, one is near two-hander proportions.
None are identical. The blades are very similar.
None of this type have been found outside Ireland

These swords are unique by their guard and pommels, not their blades.

For the ring pommel swords, the very small numbers found, absence of arch.context, absence of monumental evidence, absence of literary evidence and the untrustworthy evidence of contemporary art mean that we can only speculate on their dating and origin.

If someone suggests they were all made within the space of a year, it isn't possible to prove them wrong.
If someone suggest they were a common type used between 145 and 1600, it isn't possible to prove them wrong.

I'm off to bed for now, bye!



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Thom R.




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PostPosted: Sun 24 Jan, 2010 8:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

wow - thats really neat to see them all on one diagram like that- thanks for sharing. much appreciated.

here is why I find this so maddening at times.

look at the Monasterevin sword. Once upon a time I had the good fortune to be able to examine it closely in Dublin. if the sword had survived in better condition it would be an incredible national treasure and would probably rank in the top 10 if not top 5 of all late medieval or early rennaissance western european swords. the craftsmanship on the surviving sword hilt is nothing short of mind boggling, the double pommel, the brazed plates, the handle covered completely in hand forged and hand ground socketed plates, the grip rings alone are just amazing detailed work as well as the faceted socket/ecusson, the langets, and the cross ends with their brazed decoration. not to mention the complex fullered blade itself. it is an amazing piece, and Vince Evans recently had the good fortune to examine it in detail and put together a replica. if you have not seen the Evan's replica you should definitely take a look. when I examined it, I definitely got the impression that this sword must have had some kind of political or civic function - not that it couldn't be used as a sword of war, but it seems to call out to one as being something extra. like a bearing sword of some political import.

but here is the rub - we know so little about the sword - where it was made, for whom, when etc. how could we not know more? it is just another example of how, between the late 1500s and late 1600s, we somehow lost much continuity within the cultural of Ireland during that period where the old feudal order was destroyed and replaced by the British system of governance. somehow between the Elizabethan Wars, the civil wars that followed, Cromwell, and finally the WIlliamite War we lost a lot of the historical threads within our culture. not to blame, theres plenty of that to go all around, but its rather sad really, frustrating too. which is why I commend you for trying to put the pieces back together as best as can be done. bon chance, tr
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Owen Fentimen




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PostPosted: Mon 25 Jan, 2010 1:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I agree, the Monasterevin and Ballylin swords must have been impressive! Certainly high-status swords, and quite possibly ceremonial. I've seen the Vince Evans replica, drool... He ought to make a replica of the Ballylin beast, preferably without a ring-pommel...
I would really like to know why these swords were deposited in rivers in the first place. Seriously, you don't absent-mindedly drop your Monasterevin sword in a river by mistake then not be bothered to fish it out, do you? I'd like to hear people's opinions on that subject.

Do you guys know the Kinsale sword? It was found eleven years ago but hasn't received much attention. I've included a pic of that sword and a pic of the Piers Butler effigy for comparison. Enjoy!

Actually, Thom, I reckon it's worse than you think. It isn't only the 16th c. that is shrouded in mystery... it's basically all periods.
The best we can hope for is new archaeological evidence like the Kinsale sword.

ERRATA: in my third post I wrote "the Lough Neagh sword". I meant the Portglenone sword, as indicated on the drawing.



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Owen Fentimen




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PostPosted: Mon 25 Jan, 2010 1:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kinsale sword.


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O.Fentimen
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Kevin P Molloy




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jan, 2010 12:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello Thom,
Don't worry I won't take offense to anything you write and will always keep this civil. I know who we are referring to when we use the term "Anglo-Irish". One of my hobbies is Irish history from the gaelic irish perspective. As I'm sure you know there is a lot of anti irish propaganda written by the english during this time period so not everything written by them is accurate, the victors write the history as they say. One of the reasons that many of the Annals were written is because the Gaelic Irish realized even at that time what was happening. Your comment about the Anglo-Irish/Normans controlling everything outside the pale and ulster is a bit of an overstatement to say the least. Just ask the the O'Briens, Mac Carthy's, MacMurrough/Kavanuaghs, O'Byrnes, O'Tooles, O'Mores, O'Carrolls, O'Connor Faly and the Midland Septs O'Molloy, MacGeoghans and O'Maolachlans etc,etc to name a few, all who remained powerful and unconquered by the normans.

Now to your alleged evidence, based on your quote from the Lord of Howth your not seriously suggesting that the Gaelic Irish did not have swords are you? I couldn't imagine that you are so therefore if this is what you are basing your hypothesis on it is not very persuasive. And speaking of Knokdoe did you know that the O'Briens and Clanrickarde defeated the Earl 6 years later at Monabraher you don't hear much about that one.

If you want to look at a serious study of the subject lets take a look at Andrew Halpins work in Irish Medieval swords 1170 to 1600. Let me quote him; (I added the ringhilts in parenthesis and the Capitalization)

page 216
"The third group(ringhilts) comprises 6 swords with a characteristic hilt form UNIQUE to Ireland. Representational evidence establishes a sixteenth century date for this type which appears to be a weapon of the GAELIC IRISH. The development of distinctive sword forms in the later middle ages by the Scots and by the Irish is thus a feature of this material"
Further down the page;
"ALL EVIDENCE indicates that groups 2 and 3 were weapons of the GAELIC IRISH and their Scottish allies and were NOT used by the ANGLO-IRISH"

"the emergence in the later middle ages of distinctive Hiberno-Scottish and Irish sword types is perhaps the outstanding feature of this survey"

Page 209
"Group 3 swords are not represented on any Irish medieval sculpture but the drawings mentioned above together with the FACT that this type is unknown outside of Ireland seem to indicate a GAELIC IRISH CULTURAL background for the type. This is CONFIRMED by the distribution(fig 32) which is confined to the Lough Neagh River Ban area in the north and the Galway Roscommon area in the west both GAELIC STRONGHOLDS in the 16th century with no. 31 occurring between the 2 concentrations but still very much a GAELIC area."

All the sword finds were discovered in Gaelic territories more proof that they were gaelic. I will try to post the map showing were they were found. Also a picture is worth a thousand words, this woodcut is of Irish Chieftans not mercenaries and it shows Gaelic Irish with distinct ringhilts, accuracy of proportions or blades don't really matter in this case since it clearly shows the ringhilts in the hands of the Gaelic Irish, there is no evidence for it being used by the Anglo-Irish. In the face of all this information I don't know how anyone could cling to a notion that they were Anglo-Irish.



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Kevin Patrick Molloy
"The Prince of Firceall of the Ancient Sword is O'Molloy of the Freeborn Name"... O'Dugain(d.1372AD)
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Thom R.




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jan, 2010 12:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I surrender! Big Grin

I think you are missing my point - I am not saying that the gaelic speaking Irish of the 16th c did not have and use ring hilted swords. weapons disseminate easily and quickly. I am sure there are AR-15s in Russia just as there are AK47s here in the states. There is a misunderstanding here.

lets flip it around a minute

The Kinsale sword has a hilt that matches the predominant sword type shown in the surviving 16th c Irish effigies and tomb surrounds (ref John Hunt). But... that same type of sword hilt is also shown in Derrick's Images of Ireland in the hands of gaels. So........... can we say that the Kinsale sword type is gaelic? or Anglo-Irish? No. There is no particular cultural association with the weapon type or hilt style. Owen's thesis is on sword typology as I understand it. My point is I don't think you can ascribe a sword type or a hilt style to a particular culture. Its far more likely to be ascribed to an economic station or a geographic region. Thats my point. Maybe I should re-read and edit my post.

(which I have now done to remove three particular words in one sentance)
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Kevin P Molloy




Location: USA
Joined: 17 Feb 2006

Posts: 105

PostPosted: Tue 26 Jan, 2010 8:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thom R. wrote:
I surrender! Big Grin

I think you are missing my point - I am not saying that the gaelic speaking Irish of the 16th c did not have and use ring hilted swords. weapons disseminate easily and quickly. I am sure there are AR-15s in Russia just as there are AK47s here in the states. There is a misunderstanding here.

lets flip it around a minute

The Kinsale sword has a hilt that matches the predominant sword type shown in the surviving 16th c Irish effigies and tomb surrounds (ref John Hunt). But... that same type of sword hilt is also shown in Derrick's Images of Ireland in the hands of gaels. So........... can we say that the Kinsale sword type is gaelic? or Anglo-Irish? No. There is no particular cultural association with the weapon type or hilt style. Owen's thesis is on sword typology as I understand it. My point is I don't think you can ascribe a sword type or a hilt style to a particular culture. Its far more likely to be ascribed to an economic station or a geographic region. Thats my point. Maybe I should re-read and edit my post.

(which I have now done to remove three particular words in one sentance)


Your surrender appears to be with terms, we will only accept unconditional surrender since your position is untenable. Cool

Kevin Patrick Molloy
"The Prince of Firceall of the Ancient Sword is O'Molloy of the Freeborn Name"... O'Dugain(d.1372AD)
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Max Chouinard




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PostPosted: Wed 10 Mar, 2010 12:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello Owen, sent you a PM.
Maxime Chouinard

Antrim Bata

Quebec City Kenjutsu

I don't do longsword
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Ben Mudd





Joined: 23 Jan 2010

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PostPosted: Thu 11 Mar, 2010 2:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sounds great, Owen, and congrats on the Masters!

Any chance that it'll be published or that you'd be able to make it publicly available? That'd be a great resource to have available.
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