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Andreas Becht




Location: Germany
Joined: 13 Feb 2010
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Posts: 102

PostPosted: Tue 16 Mar, 2010 9:29 am    Post subject: My new sax         Reply with quote

I'd like to show you a few pics of my new sax I got just yesterday. It's a replica of a sax that was found in the grave of a saxon warrior ( Sarstedt burial ground) who was killed in the Süntel battle in 782.
The sax is unusually large and heavy, actually it's nearly as big as a sword.

I'm quite happy with it. Happy



 Attachment: 31.74 KB
Sarstedt_Sax_1_400x199.jpg
Sarstedt 1

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Sarstedt_Sax_2_400x139.jpg
Sarstedt 2


Last edited by Andreas Becht on Tue 16 Mar, 2010 9:34 am; edited 1 time in total
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Bartek Strojek




Location: Poland
Joined: 05 Aug 2008
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PostPosted: Tue 16 Mar, 2010 9:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Looks pretty, especially with scabbard!

How long and heavy it approximately is, BTW?
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Nikodem Czechowski




Location: Torun, PL
Joined: 25 May 2008

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Wed 17 Mar, 2010 12:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Could you please post the original? Photos or drawing would be sufficient, but I would be glad if you could post more data about that grave (maybe some publication?).
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Andreas Becht




Location: Germany
Joined: 13 Feb 2010
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PostPosted: Wed 17 Mar, 2010 3:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The sax is all in all 84cm long, the blade length is 58cm and the weight is approx 2 kilo. Much too heavy for proper fighting.
The theory is, that it was made by a local blacksmith, who maybe just wasn't very good at his job.
It actually looks like the knife of a giant, if you hold it in your hands. Happy
I have a drawing of the original and a drawing form the excavation report, but it's on paper.
I haven't got the technical possibilities to post it at the moment.
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Artis Aboltins




PostPosted: Wed 17 Mar, 2010 4:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Intriguing, does the report said if it had any signs of use? As, perharps, it was made specifically for beeing placed in the grave and then the weight would have been less of an issue?
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Peter Johnsson
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Location: Storvreta, Sweden
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PostPosted: Wed 17 Mar, 2010 7:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Size and form is like a rather typical lang sax. The weight is much heavier, however.

It is not uncommon that iron swells as it corrodes. This has been known to have a misleading effect on the interpretation of thickness and weight of ancient weapons. What is the reason for the interpretation of the weight in this case?

As the size and form is pretty typical for a lang sax, is there any other elements that would suggest that this weapon was out of the ordinary?
It would be very interesting to learn more about the original find.

Your sax looks very nice, by the way!
Who made it? It looks like good work.
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Jeroen Zuiderwijk
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Location: Netherlands
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PostPosted: Wed 17 Mar, 2010 9:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Andreas Becht wrote:
The sax is all in all 84cm long, the blade length is 58cm and the weight is approx 2 kilo. Much too heavy for proper fighting.
The theory is, that it was made by a local blacksmith, who maybe just wasn't very good at his job.

I'd really doubt that, as if it's too thick you simply keep on forging. Speaking from personal experience forging blades ending up too thick is never an issue, too thin or too narrow are signs of inexperience, as is lack of straightness, variation in thickness along the length, hammer marks etc. Plus I'm convinced that any smith from the period, local or otherwise were much more skilled in working iron then we tend to believe. Just have a look at this video:
http://svtplay.se/v/1371061/oppet_arkiv/spik-...1,f,103007
Those are local smiths from nearly a century ago, working in ways that are practically unchanged since the medieval period.

2kg is definately too heavy, and has to be too thick to be able to cut, aside from it's weigth. The length, width and side profile seem typical for a long sax of the time. What kind of cross-section did you use to get to that kind of weight? Even with the maximum thickness of 10mm (that's pretty extreme, most are thinner), this would give a maximum weight of at most 1kg. What kind of thickness did you apply and did you use a triangular cross-section?

Keep in mind, cross-section drawings are often very inaccurate. If you're lucky, the drawer measured the maximum thickness, and loosely drew the cross-section by sight, making them usually much too thick at the thinner parts (frequently drawing edges with angles that can't even be considered cutting edges). The cross-section drawing will be particularly inaccurate when there is still a lot of rust adhering to the blade. Long saxes had either triangular cross-sections or very slighly convex cross-sections, with the emphasis on very slightly.

Now I have to say though, that aside from the thickness, you did make a pretty nice long sax. I hope you don't mind the criticism:) It just irks me when I see poor craftmanship by ancient smiths is being seen as the cause why a reconstruction doesn't seem very functional. Having studied ancient artifacts, and looked at traditional craftsmen in more recent times, the one thing that has always stood out is they're immens level of skill, and that anyone trying to master these crafts in modern times will rarely ever get close to being able to develope that level of skill (there are exceptions, but they are few).

Jeroen Zuiderwijk
- Bronze age living history in the Netherlands
- Barbarian metalworking
- Museum photos
- Zip-file with information about saxes
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Mikko Kuusirati




Location: Finland
Joined: 16 Nov 2004
Reading list: 13 books

Posts: 960

PostPosted: Sat 06 Apr, 2013 4:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Rise, thread! By the power invested in me as the new owner of this seax, I resurrect thee! Happy

Having just taken some measurements, the seax on its own weighs 1520g; I didn't weigh the sheath but wouldn't be surprised if it's just about another half a kilo, so the seax and sheath together likely weigh in at right around 2kg. The thickness of the blade varies somewhat non-linearly from 9.65mm to 8.7mm, until the final taper into the point along the last third of its length.

I actually don't think it's necessarily unsuited for fighting. Sure, it's very heavy, but based on a few days of dry handling I'd say it moves passably well even with my mediocre at best strength, and for a particularly brawny man with large hands it should be a very effective shield (mail, helmet, skull, whatever) splitter. For me personally, it almost feels like a hand-and-a-half weapon of sorts, especially with the very bokken-like ovoid cross-section of the handle that kinda makes me want to grip it like a katana...

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Scott Woodruff





Joined: 30 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Sat 06 Apr, 2013 10:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mikko, thanks for the measurements, I have long been a little curious about this reproduction. Would you mind giving a few more measurements, like blade width? Also, can you tell how the coloring on the sheath and grip was done. From the pics, it appears to have paint in the depressed parts of the scabbard design and a cloth wrap on the grip, is that correct? A fascinating piece, and I would very much like to hear more about it.
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Mikko Kuusirati




Location: Finland
Joined: 16 Nov 2004
Reading list: 13 books

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PostPosted: Sat 06 Apr, 2013 11:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm away from home until Monday night, but I'll post full stats and some photos once I get back.

Yes, the scabbard is embossed and dyed with two colors, and the grip wrapped with partially painted cloth, with a leather bolster of sorts at the bottom end.

PS. If anyone happens to know of archaeological publications about the Sarstedt burials and where to obtain them, I'd be very grateful for any pointers!

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Mikko Kuusirati




Location: Finland
Joined: 16 Nov 2004
Reading list: 13 books

Posts: 960

PostPosted: Tue 09 Apr, 2013 6:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here we go!

Sax weight: 1520g
Sheath weight: 490g (Ha! Am I good or what? Big Grin)

Overall length: 84cm

Grip length: 25.5cm
Grip width: core 4.1cm, riser and bolster 4.5cm
Grip thickness: core 2.6cm, riser and bolster 3cm

Blade length: 58.5cm
Blade width: 4.3cm at shoulders, 4.7cm at widest point (32cm from grip)
Blade thickness: 8.8mm at base, 9.65mm at thickest point (23cm from grip)

Center of gravity: 15.5cm from grip

The grip is made up of two halves, glued and wrapped with a spiral of what I guess is linen cloth? Andreas might know for sure. There's a 2cm wide leather bolster to reinforce the bottom end of the grip and give a tactile warning before your hand slips onto the blade, glued and pinned in place, and a single riser of what I would guess is the same leather under the cloth, 11cm from the bolster. The riser also serves to seat the sax very snugly in its sheath.

And here's photos! Do note, these were taken in pretty harsh daylight, which is good for capturing textures and small details but also makes especially the sheath look much more worn that it actually is. There's patina on the blade (I tried to capture it in a couple of pictures) and wear on the furniture, but in person they're much subtler and more attractive than it looks here, just enough to give the impression of a working weapon rather than a sheltered showpiece. On the whole, it's not perfect by any measure, but the imperfections are largely cosmetic and this is definitely one case where I think the flaws merely add character. It's a very charismatic piece. Happy

First the sheath:




















The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Mikko Kuusirati




Location: Finland
Joined: 16 Nov 2004
Reading list: 13 books

Posts: 960

PostPosted: Tue 09 Apr, 2013 6:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

And now, the naked beast itself:


















The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Scott Woodruff





Joined: 30 Nov 2005
Likes: 8 pages

Posts: 601

PostPosted: Tue 09 Apr, 2013 7:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Awesome, Mikko, you made my day. This seax is really starting to grow on me. Now if we can just manage to find some more info on the original...
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