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Kirk A. Johnson

Joined: 20 Jan 2010

Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sun 11 Jul, 2010 1:45 pm    Post subject: Del Tin Roman Cavalry Spatha         Reply with quote

Greetings to all,

I'm new to the forum but, I've been reading your posts and find myself impressed by the knowledge of the members. I am an enthusiast with a small collection of my own. A takouba and kaskara from Oriental Arms, a qama from KOA, and put a down payment on Albion's Decurio Roman Spatha. Big Grin

So, I thought it best to seek help from the learned gentlemen of myArmoury about Del Tin's Roman Cavalry Spatha. I'm thinking about purchasing it through KOA and was wondering if anyone can share any info about its, handling and balance. Any and all information will be appreciated.
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David Sutton

Location: Bolton, UK
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PostPosted: Sun 11 Jul, 2010 2:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Kirk and welcome to the forums.

I haven't handled this sword but from looking at the stats it has a point of balance at around 8 inches, which might be a little far down the blade. This would seem to make it fairly blade heavy, even for a cut orientated sword. However at an ounce over 2lbs it may get away with it being quite light. The Decurio has a POB of around 7 inches and is 1lb 10 ounces, and considering the amount of ressearch Albion has put in to the newer Roman Next Gen swords it would not make the Del Tin look drastically far out, if a little on the heavy side which is usual for Del Tin.

Like most Del Tin pieces it certainly looks the part though AFAIK the metal plate on the guard should be made of a copper alloy rather than steel and be inset into the guard rather than sitting flush with it.

The Decurio looks like a very attractive sword with that broad double fullered blade. It has an agressive look to it too, if I was an auxilia posted on the German Limes I think its the kind of sword I'd like to have by my side! I think you made a cool choice.

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David Wilson

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PostPosted: Sun 11 Jul, 2010 6:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The DT is definitely blade-biased, with a CoG at about 8 inches as mentioned. However I can't say that this is entirely a bad thing, as most reproduction spathae I've had experience with have forward centers of balance, and I imagine that most "real" Roman spathae would have a similar bias. This does not necessarily make a poor-handling sword; with some experience it is easily mastered. In any event, I also imagine that a forward CoG is actually advantageous for a slashing sword, especially one meant for cavalry use. "Lively" or "fast" it is not; neither is it unmanageable.

In terms of accuracy issues, the steel gaurd plate has been mentioned; also, the hilt (made of wood, no problem there) is artificially colored (Painted? Lacquered?) and I'm not sure that the Romans ever did that to sword hilts (plated, yes; painted, no....). I think this was done to match up with the original sword this was based upon (the Koln spatha) with a hilt was made entirely of bone. In any event, I believe DT also makes a plain, un-colored wood hilted version.

The grip itself may seem smallish to some, but I think this may be accurate. I don't find it too restrictive, myself.

David K. Wilson, Jr.
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Jerzy Miklaszewski

Location: The Castle of Krak
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PostPosted: Mon 12 Jul, 2010 3:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As the user of both heavy weapons (intended for both cavalry and foot) and light ones (for fencing) I am quite sure they didn't miss the proper statistics.
8 inches of PoB is quite enough for a weapon of this blade length, nevertheless the other thing is the fact, that in those times blades were made of Iron, not from steel. Iron has a little bit different behaviour during battles - It is not recommended to be very sharp - that is why it must have both - bludgeoning and slashing abilities. big PoB is very important here.

I am only unsure of the grip, I mean the length of it - I myself have quite big palms of my hands - considering the bulkiness (which is historically accurate) the grip should be a little big longer if intended for modern human use. We are much bigger than our ancient predecessors , and so it will easily overload our wrists and fall out of our hands.

The aspects of painting - I fully agree with David W. Nevertheless, there are examples of resin saturation, to ensure the change of colours, but I don't know any spatha with such Happy

I am quite unsure of the weights that Albion armourers use - they seem much too light. 500 gram of the blade (as they state in their research article) seems strangely lacking weight, but even if we add the hilt, there is no way to add less than 200 gram (if we want any balance here) - so the weapon weights now exactly the decurio weight and is fairly unbalanced (up to 10 inches of PoB). But decurio has a far lower PoB, so the blade weights less than they state in their own articles - or there are some design changes Happy

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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Tue 13 Jul, 2010 6:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I will not comment on the sword made by Del Tin, but i feel compelled to write something regards the Decurio.
It is not a generic "Roman" sword but is a recreation of a specific type of blade: Buch-Podlodˇw sub typ 1.
It follows in detail specifications on size, form and weight of preserved originals. Original blades (unmounted) span a weight range of 455 grams to 705 grams. Average is 562 grams. The Decurio represents very well a typical sword of this group in both size, weight and heft.

Geroge, when you speculate about Albion┤s Decurio you make mistakes in guessing both the weight of blade and hilt of the Decurio (the blade is more heavy than you think and the hit is lghter). You also underestimate the effect of adding a properly shaped grip on a properly proportioned blade: it is all about the proportions and changes in cross section and the ergonomic properties of the hilt. The balance of a sword (any sword) is less about the weight of the pommel and more about the shaping of the blade (although the pommel does play a role in certain types of swords, naturally!).

It is a mistake to think a spatha needs to be hefty and blade heavy to provide intended function. It is also a flawed assumption that the roman sword needs a heavy hilt for balance. The hilt of roman sword did not have a heavy pommel acting as counter weight. The hilt will have a distribution of weight where the guard is just about as heavy as the pommel. Sometimes a heavy material is used for the hilt (dense ivory or plating of silver or bronze) and in these cases the hilt may weigh some 30 % of the blade weight. In these cases we are talking about rather light blades however. It is reasonable to expect that the hilt may weight between 12% and 20% of blade weight when we look at the earlier forms of the spatha.

Talking about balance we must take note of mass distribution along the blade. Only knowing total weight and point of balance will not give a reliable impression of what a sword feels like when swung. Roman swords are as a rule made to be self balancing in the blade. They work with total length, mass distribution and weight to arrive at an efficient fighting weapon. The hilt is shaped to be an ergonomic "interface" between swordsman and blade. They are designed to provide a tight grip. This will allow a better control and more secure hold of the weapon. The popular notion that modern swords need a more roomy grip is a response to how sparing swords as used today in safe bouts rather than what is needed for killing tools on the battle field.

There are many, many different forms of the roman spatha. In later times we see longer and heavier forms. Some blades are as heavy as 1 kilo. These are very beefy blades indeed and far from the norm in the family of spatha blades as it evolved over the centuries.
Weight ranges for spathae blades according to Ilkjaer are:
I. <500 grams - very light
II. 501 - 600 grams - light
III. 601 - 700 grams - relatively light
IV. 701- 800 grams
V. 801-900 - heavy - relatively heavy
VI. 901-1000 grams - heavy
VII. >1001 grams - very heavy
Different types of spathae blades are found within a more or less narrow range of these weight classes. The type Buch - Podlˇdow sub type 1 (=being the basis for the "Decurio") are all very light to relatively light blades.

I am not sure what type of blade the Del Tin spatha is intended to represent (if any) but the K°ln spatha is of type Nydam-Kragehul sub type 3. Those swords of this type found in Illerup all weigh between 503 and 712 grams.

I is ill advised to base ideas on the nature of original swords from experience in contemporary swordsmanship.
If we are interested in learning the nature of ancient swords we have to study the originals. These will tell us much about how they were intended to be used. It does not work the other way around. Contemporary sparring swords are as a rule made to suit the taste and ideas of modern reenactors rather than to reflect historical swords. They may *sometimes* look somewhat like original swords, but mass distribution, weight and ergonomics are as a norm very far from what the actual swords were like back in the day.

Finally a comment on the material these swords were made of: it would have varied naturally. Some were of lower quality iron, but many were certainly made of steel and had hardened edges. This I have seen myself when documenting original swords and it is also testified in metallurgical analyzes.
The spatha does not primarily rely on percussive force as a weapon. It relies on a sharp edge and a good point for slashing, cleaving cuts and penetrating thrusts. It is a sword, not a club.
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Kirk A. Johnson

Joined: 20 Jan 2010

Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sat 21 Aug, 2010 8:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sorry for taking so long to respond.

Thanks Dave. I real excited about it. i actually began budgeting my finances just for this.

And Thanks for the info.

I just recently purchased the Hanwei Tinker 9th Cent. Sword. And I got say, it feels good in the hand. I see it more as a Frankish sword then a viking sword.

Hey Peter, will Albion ever market a Carolingian sword for sale? Like "the Roland" or "the Scola"(just name ideas for those swords)

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