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Lewis A.




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PostPosted: Sun 18 Jul, 2010 3:50 pm    Post subject: What style Scottish sword to display with full suit of armor         Reply with quote

I've always wanted a full suit of armor for decorative purposes as a display in my home, and over the last few months I have been assembling one a few pieces at a time (as the cost of purchasing an entire suit at once is a bit steep for my budget). So far I have the upper body pieces assembled and hope to purchase the legs next as my budget allows. When it is complete, I thought it might be nice to display it with a sword, and having a prejudicial preference towards Scottish edged weapons, I'd like some opinions as to what type of Scottish sword would be most appropriate to display with the armor. At the moment I am leaning toward the halflang Scottish broadsword by John Barnett seen here: http://www.medieval-weaponry.co.uk/acatalog/j...sword.html as it seems to be about the right length and is within my means; however I would be interested in hearing opinions form others as to what they think would be the most suitable type of sword to use.
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Sun 18 Jul, 2010 3:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You told us nothing about the armour. What type of armour is it? What era? What region inspires it? The Scots didn't wear much armour so a Scottish sword would likely not be appropriate.
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Lewis A.




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PostPosted: Sun 18 Jul, 2010 4:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:
You told us nothing about the armour. What type of armour is it? What era? What region inspires it? The Scots didn't wear much armour so a Scottish sword would likely not be appropriate.


Good questions, I'm not that knowledgable about armor, so I will post a photo to give you an idea of the style. It is very similar to the suit shown in this photo:



Now, I'm fully aware that this style of armor wasn't something strongly associated with Scotland, although that is not to say that similar armor was never worn in Scotland - who knows - Scotland was full of Norman aristocrats and others who made their way into northern Britain from the Continent, many of whom went on to found several of the clans that we think of today as being very much "Scottish" (Grants, Frasers,Bruces, Sinclairs, etc.). That being said, I'm just looking for a Scottish sword that would be from roughly the same time period as the style of armor.
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Sun 18 Jul, 2010 4:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lewis A. wrote:
Now, I'm fully aware that this style of armor wasn't something strongly associated with Scotland, although that is not to say that similar armor was never worn in Scotland - who knows


Given the goals of this site, I feel compelled to add this for other readers who will read this topic: This is just bad science. The absence of evidence is not evidence. The burden of proof is to show something did exist, not to postulate that it might have due to nothing explicitly stating that it does not.

Your original question kind of threw me because you asked what would be an appropriate match -- this made me believe you were looking for a degree of historical authenticity.

There is little evidence that such armour existed in Scotland. Having said that, it's best to just state that your goal isn't to be historically accurate. That gives you the freedom to do whatever you want and whatever makes you happy. You don't really need to be constrained by history if you don't want to be.

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Lewis A.




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PostPosted: Sun 18 Jul, 2010 4:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:


Given the goals of this site, I feel compelled to add this for other readers who will read this topic: This is just bad science. The absence of evidence is not evidence. The burden of proof is to show something did exist, not to postulate that it might have due to nothing explicitly stating that it does not.

Your original question kind of threw me because you asked what would be an appropriate match -- this made me believe you were looking for a degree of historical authenticity.

There is little evidence that such armour existed in Scotland. Having said that, it's best to just state that your goal isn't to be historically accurate. That gives you the freedom to do whatever you want and whatever makes you happy. You don't really need to be constrained by history if you don't want to be.


Well, I'm fairly certain that there were Scottish aristocrats who wore suit armor, here are some examples that I have come across:

The Marquis of Montrose (chief of the Grahams):


The same bloke rendered in bronze (brandishing a baskethilt):
]

Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel:


The bonnie Prince himself:


The Prince's younger brother, Henry Stuart:


So there does seem to be some precedence for the wearing of suits of armor by Scottish noblemen at least...


Last edited by Lewis A. on Sun 18 Jul, 2010 4:41 pm; edited 1 time in total
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JG Elmslie
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PostPosted: Sun 18 Jul, 2010 4:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

eesh.

ok, well, where to begin.

erm. well.
*searches for polite phrases*

oh, sodit.

that harness is grim, there's no other way to put it. half of it is 16th century, half of it is 15th C. and the third half is just plain Wrong Century.

The shaping on the gauntlets, arm assembly, and helmet are all relatively characteristic of the mid to late 16th C as a starting point, though potentially later still with detailing. The wider pauldron plate with attached lames, rather than a spaulder, the gauntlets with finger-lames. the close hemet with deep broad gorget plate, all relatively similar in style and date. the arm assembly as a whole is far closer to german fashion than scots, furthermore, though I do have illustrations in a 1650's copy of the Black Book of Taymouth Castle that have similar arm structures. I'll go dig the book out.

the breastplate with the pointed placket, fauld and tasset are characteristically mid 15th C.

To give a suitable summary of the anachronism there, putting them together is akin to re-creating the Gulf war with US marines in full Molle chest rigs, digital camo... and wearing a World war 1 M-1917 kettle helmet, and carrying M1903 Springfield bolt action rifle with bayonet.

and as for the legs. erm. you like scots, I'd guess, so I hope you'll appreciate a scots turn of phrase for them. They're right gobshite, they are. Really. those are bits of metal guttering and a trainwreck of a poleyn. the sabatons are a mess, and dont even get me started on the greaves. they're absolutely terrible. I would'nt say the armourer should be shot for doing that, but I'd like to have words with him if he tried to say they're accurate...
and then shoot the lummox. Happy

as a general whole however, they're closer to early 15th C armour, with an ugly representation of an early 16th C sabaton slapped over the feet.

Now, linking that to the sword which you've photographed....

remember that analogy I just used of the US Marine in the Gulf war? take off the M1903 Springfield from that kit, and replace it with a muzzle-loading Kentucky Rifle from the US war of independance.

that's how far that sword is off, in chronological terms to the armour...

So, I'm sorry, I've just shot your dreams down like a total and utter bastard. I apologise wholeheartedly.
so I'm going to try to help rebuild your dream in turn. but to do so, I'm going to ask a few questions.

What date would you like to represent, for the kit as a whole?
(I have a fairly decent reference library, and am happy to throw some pics over to help you out)

Are you willing to look at adjustments to that armour, to get rid of the screaming inaccuracies?

what sort of scot are you looking to depict - a lowland landowner, a clan cheif etc? Lowland, upland, highland... rich, poor.

Are you willing to burn every last shred of tartan you may be tempted to attach to this, while repeating the holy mantra: "I must not wear tartan. Tartan is the mind-killer. tartan is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face the tartan. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the tartan has gone there will be nothing. Only historical reality will remain." Big Grin

and in light of those (somewhat cynical) thoughts, the more practical one: what budget for the sword?

Hope that's not ruined your hopes too badly. I'll add more in a bit once I go digging for images in the library here Happy


Last edited by JG Elmslie on Sun 18 Jul, 2010 4:42 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Sun 18 Jul, 2010 4:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lewis A. wrote:
Well, I'm fairly certain that there were Scottish aristocrats who wore suit armor, here are some examples


Those examples are quite a bit later than any of the other parts of what you're considering. (100-200 years apart)

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Lewis A.




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PostPosted: Sun 18 Jul, 2010 4:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

JG Elmslie wrote:
eesh.

ok, well, where to begin.

erm. well.
*searches for polite phrases*

oh, sodit.

that harness is grim, there's no other way to put it. half of it is 16th century, half of it is 15th C. and the third half is just plain Wrong Century.

The shaping on the gauntlets, arm assembly, and helmet are all relatively characteristic of the mid to late 16th C as a starting point, though potentially later still with detailing. The wider pauldron plate with attached lames, rather than a spaulder, the gauntlets with finger-lames. the close hemet with deep broad gorget plate, all relatively similar in style and date. the arm assembly as a whole is far closer to german fashion than scots, furthermore, though I do have illustrations in a 1650's copy of the Black Book of Taymouth Castle that have similar arm structures. I'll go dig the book out.

the breastplate with the pointed placket, fauld and tasset are characteristically mid 15th C.

To give a suitable summary of the anachronism there, putting them together is akin to re-creating the Gulf war with US marines in full Molle chest rigs, digital camo... and wearing a World war 1 M-1917 kettle helmet, and carrying M1903 Springfield bolt action rifle with bayonet.

and as for the legs. erm. you like scots, I'd guess, so I hope you'll appreciate a scots turn of phrase for them. They're right gobshite, they are. Really. those are bits of metal guttering and a trainwreck of a poleyn. the sabatons are a mess, and dont even get me started on the greaves. they're absolutely terrible. I would'nt say the armourer should be shot for doing that, but I'd like to have words with him if he tried to say they're accurate...
and then shoot the lummox. Happy

as a general whole however, they're closer to early 15th C armour, with an ugly representation of an early 16th C sabaton slapped over the feet.

Now, linking that to the sword which you've photographed....

remember that analogy I just used of the US Marine in the Gulf war? take off the M1903 Springfield from that kit, and replace it with a muzzle-loading Kentucky Rifle from the US war of independance.

that's how far that sword is off, in chronological terms to the armour...

So, I'm sorry, I've just shot your dreams down like a total and utter bastard. I apologise wholeheartedly.
so I'm going to try to help rebuild your dream in turn. but to do so, I'm going to ask a few questions.

What date would you like to represent, for the kit as a whole?
(I have a fairly decent reference library, and am happy to throw some pics over to help you out)

Are you willing to look at adjustments to that armour, to get rid of the screaming inaccuracies?

what sort of scot are you looking to depict - a lowland landowner, a clan cheif etc? Lowland, upland, highland... rich, poor.

Are you willing to burn every last shred of tartan you may be tempted to attach to this, while repeating the holy mantra: "I must not wear tartan. Tartan is the mind-killer. tartan is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face the tartan. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the tartan has gone there will be nothing. Only historical reality will remain." Big Grin

and in light of those (somewhat cynical) thoughts, the more practical one: what budget for the sword?

Hope that's not ruined your hopes too badly. I'll add more in a bit once I go digging for images in the library here Happy


Ah well, I'm not attempting complete historical accuracy here as my budget doesn't allow that. The armor pictured is not my armor, just a suit that is similar in style to the one I am putting together. I'm guessing that the armor I will end up with would be something resembling (to an untrained eye) 15th century armor, perhaps somewhat later (again, I'm no expert).

So you think the halflang broadsword would be a bit too early for armor of this general style? So, what type of characteristically Scottish sword would you suggest for this general period? The statue of Montrose in armor has the auld chiel weilding a baskethilt, would a two-handed claymore be more appropriate? Or should I forget the sword and go for a Lochaber Axe?
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JG Elmslie
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PostPosted: Sun 18 Jul, 2010 5:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

that there were aristocrats/knights/soldiers wearing armour is absolutely undoubted. we have evidence in the form of funerial effigies from the very end of the 12th Century through to portraiture in the 18th. but there is equally a vast range of difference in the harnesses worn through that half milennium, and a vast range of contrasting styles worn in the country. the lowland nobility were, after all, quite different to the highland lairds who in many ways were rather spectacularly backward compared to civilised parts of europe.

(and before anyone gets uppity at me saying that the scots were a bunch of sheepshagging backwards yokels, I suggest you look at my nationality... and know of the fact I grew up in the highlands. They're MY backwards yokels... )

the question of what armour is pertinent to getting a representation that looks right.

Quote:
Ah well, I'm not attempting complete historical accuracy here as my budget doesn't allow that.


Bollocks!
An unlimited budget might help get it accurate, by paying others to do the effort... but you can get it accurate with a bit of effort, and a load of reasearch yourself, for nothing more expensive than your time, and a bit of work. (and your internet provider, thankyou, modern technology!) Please, dont abandon the hope of accuracy, just because it is a budget. I know historical reenactors who've managed to get absolutely *amazing* kits put together on tiny budgets eked from their savings while students, because they've been willing to make the effort of researching and making sure that every penny spent is going on stuff that's appropriate and looks right.

not least, if you do get it right, it will be much more satisfying for you to be able to say "I researched the history to make this representation of...", and also if this is somethig you're interested in, you will learn more over time. and when you do, you'll start spotting the errors you made, there in front of you, laughing at you and asking to be thrown away and replaced with more accurate stuff.... or at least, it will if you're anything like I am. Happy

Quote:
I'm guessing that the armor I will end up with would be something resembling (to an untrained eye) 15th century armor, perhaps somewhat later (again, I'm no expert).


Ok, first question there is, are you the one making the armour, or have you got a contact doing that, etc? For that I would normally reccommend taking a peek at the Armour Archive, as its a good site to talk to people who make armour - everyone from the cheap stuff, to the absolute best...
but their website's been really flakey recently, so, erm, patience, and good luck catching it when its up... :/

Quote:
So, what type of characteristically Scottish sword would you suggest for this general period?


15th C, you'd need to be looking at a lot of changes to the helmet and arms of that harness. Assuming that were done, then you're in a really tricky position, in that 15th C scots weapons are a bit of a blank area. 13th-14th C, there's that halflang style. 16th-17th there's the early forms of the two handed sword with distincitvely scots hilts. the bit inbetween... they're not particularly different from the weapons that were around in england or europe at the time, that I can think of offhand. I'm probably missing something obvious though, so will have a think about that,

which is a bit sucky, I think you'll agree, for something distinctive.

I'd personally say the Lochaber axe is'nt fully approriate, as it really was a poorer footman's weapon for the sort of people who did'nt have the income for such armour. (though not exclusively so - there are references to a few nobles, particularly earlier than the 15th C using it.)

I'll try to do some digging, if you can say what your target date for the harness and associated bits should be. Happy
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David Wilson




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PostPosted: Sun 18 Jul, 2010 5:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, if accuracy doesn't matter, then just give it a two-hand "Claymore" and call it good. Or, better yet, split the difference and give it a Lowland-style two-hander (like the Hanwei Lowlander). Full-plate would have been more common in the lowlands anyway. Plus, the Lowlander sword is big and mean looking, which I suppose is the cheese.

Still.... I'd prefer give it a more continental-style sword anyway.... just sayin' is all.....

Do not give it a Lochaber axe! This is a weapon more associated with common infantry, not mounted knights (then again, so are two-handed swords, especially the "Claymore". Oh well. Like I said, a more continental style would be better....). Besides, a good one is hard to find....

Karolus; I had some plastic toy knights, when I was a kid. One of them was a knight in a classic high Gothic suit of armor, weilding a Highland two-hand "Claymore", believe it or not! No, one should not take plastic toys as an indicator of historical accuracy....

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Lewis A.




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PostPosted: Sun 18 Jul, 2010 5:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Okay, here is a pic of the actual harness that I am putting together. So far I have invested $235.00 for the combination curaiss & arms with pauldrons, $35.00 for the gauntlets and $39.00 for the helmet, so as I said this is more the results of a limited budget than a quest for authenticity:

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JG Elmslie
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PostPosted: Sun 18 Jul, 2010 6:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lewis A. wrote:
Okay, here is a pic of the actual harness that I am putting together.


ok, that's a bit less of a trainwreck than the one you'd posted up earlier. the breast and fauld are much closer to those appropriate for mid-late 16th C stuff. bottom lame on the tassets could be better, but... that's me being picky. And the close helm's a bit on the odd side. a burgeonet would be more approprate for on foo-*gets slapped and shuts up with picking holes Happy *

swords appropriate, well, either a nice rapier, or a two-handed sword would be the obvious choices for that sort of look.

lowlands sword styles for that era were pretty distinctive - much easier to get a suitable sword than a century earlier.
a clamshell hilted two handed sword like this pic I've attached would be perfect. but I'm not sure if anyone makes cheap versions. :/
if you have the budget, then I know Armourclass in glasgow do a 17th C clamshell hilted one. but I'm biased as to how good armourclass are...


and failing that, rapier/arming sword type single handed weapons with a complex hilt would suit the era too, but are less erm, ethnically clichéd, shall I say... in either case, with a budget purchase, be warned you'll likely need to invest in a good belt/hangar that can be put on the armour to suspend the sword scabbarded, unless you're plotting some sort of unsheathed peice.



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Lewis A.




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PostPosted: Sun 18 Jul, 2010 6:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David Wilson wrote:
Well, if accuracy doesn't matter, then just give it a two-hand "Claymore" and call it good. Or, better yet, split the difference and give it a Lowland-style two-hander (like the Hanwei Lowlander). Full-plate would have been more common in the lowlands anyway. Plus, the Lowlander sword is big and mean looking, which I suppose is the cheese.

Still.... I'd prefer give it a more continental-style sword anyway.... just sayin' is all.....

Do not give it a Lochaber axe! This is a weapon more associated with common infantry, not mounted knights (then again, so are two-handed swords, especially the "Claymore". Oh well. Like I said, a more continental style would be better....). Besides, a good one is hard to find....

Karolus; I had some plastic toy knights, when I was a kid. One of them was a knight in a classic high Gothic suit of armor, weilding a Highland two-hand "Claymore", believe it or not! No, one should not take plastic toys as an indicator of historical accuracy....


Well, I do like claymores, the problem with using one might be that most of them would probably be too tall for the gauntlets to rest on the crossguard. I did find one claymore-style sword made by Darksword Armory that is the right size (37.5" blade, 48" overall length - kinda short for a claymore) but something about it doesn't look right to me - it's missing the langets that normally run down the blade on most claymores I have seen. Anyway here is a photo of this particular sword, what do you guys think?

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PostPosted: Sun 18 Jul, 2010 7:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is an interesting piece on armor in 17th c. Scottish portraits which is found in Scottish Weapons and Fortifications by David Caldwell. The essence of the piece, as I read it, was that many of the armed portraits, i.e. those in which the subject is wearing armor, were not taken directly from life. That is to say that the artist painted the head of the subject and added an armor clad body to it. Apparently during that era the ownership of armor was more of a prestige thing than a practical matter. If this idea is correct, then any period portrait clad in armor should be taken with a grain of salt.
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Lewis A.




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PostPosted: Sun 18 Jul, 2010 7:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alternately, I have considered purchasing one of Windlass' "Scottish cutlass" for its basketguard hilt and remounting that onto a straight double-edge sword blade, such as a broadsword, or perhaps a rapier blade? :



However I'm not certain how well this would work with the harness as the gauntlets might not be able to hold it adequately.
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Lewis A.




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PostPosted: Sun 18 Jul, 2010 7:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lin Robinson wrote:
There is an interesting piece on armor in 17th c. Scottish portraits which is found in Scottish Weapons and Fortifications by David Caldwell. The essence of the piece, as I read it, was that many of the armed portraits, i.e. those in which the subject is wearing armor, were not taken directly from life. That is to say that the artist painted the head of the subject and added an armor clad body to it. Apparently during that era the ownership of armor was more of a prestige thing than a practical matter. If this idea is correct, then any period portrait clad in armor should be taken with a grain of salt.


You know, I have read something similar regarding portraits of Highland gentlemen painted wearing the kilt. There is a famous portrait of Sir William Gordon of Fyvie painted by Pompeo Batoni in 1766 which may have been done in this manner - the body painted first with only the face painted from a live sitting. Sort of like the "face in the hole" pictures taken at carnivals.

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PostPosted: Sun 18 Jul, 2010 11:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, when you see these portraits of Scots generals and nobles from the Covenanter times wearing armour, it's pretty safe to say they were probably not riding around in full cuirassier's armour with a close helmet and fully articulated pauldrons and tassets, etc, especially after 1640. The armour is generally symbolic. Note that the use of armour in portraiture rises as the actual use of armour in battles declines. There aren't even any portraits of Henry VIII in armour. There are about 10 portraits of William III and Louis XIV in full armour even though I am pretty sure they never wore anything other than a breast-and-backplate into a battle, if that.

This portrait of Scots Royalist general Thomas Dalyell is from 1670...great painting, but the armour he's wearing was probably the product of the painter's imagination.


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Lewis A.




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PostPosted: Mon 19 Jul, 2010 2:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Adam D. Kent-Isaac wrote:
Yes, when you see these portraits of Scots generals and nobles from the Covenanter times wearing armour, it's pretty safe to say they were probably not riding around in full cuirassier's armour with a close helmet and fully articulated pauldrons and tassets, etc, especially after 1640. The armour is generally symbolic. Note that the use of armour in portraiture rises as the actual use of armour in battles declines. There aren't even any portraits of Henry VIII in armour. There are about 10 portraits of William III and Louis XIV in full armour even though I am pretty sure they never wore anything other than a breast-and-backplate into a battle, if that.

This portrait of Scots Royalist general Thomas Dalyell is from 1670...great painting, but the armour he's wearing was probably the product of the painter's imagination.



That's the trouble with paintings, they're not photographs; and even if they were photographs there would always be the argument that they were staged and that the subject never dressed in real life the way they were dressed for the photo. Still, it's somehow easier to imagine the Marquis of Montrose or Cameron of Lochiel wearing a harness of full plate armor than say, this fellow:



Of course whether the armor in portraits was symbolic or not is of little consequence in my instance. I'm not going to be using it for historical re-enactment purposes. I've simply always been visually drawn to suit armor for its aesthetic qualities, just as I find beauty in certain swords or other works of art. I'd love to own an antique original, but that is far outside my reach. I simply want to find out what type of Scottish sword would be contemporary with the style of armor that I like.
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PostPosted: Mon 19 Jul, 2010 5:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David Wilson wrote:
Well, if accuracy doesn't matter, then just give it a two-hand "Claymore" and call it good. Or, better yet, split the difference and give it a Lowland-style two-hander (like the Hanwei Lowlander). Full-plate would have been more common in the lowlands anyway. Plus, the Lowlander sword is big and mean looking, which I suppose is the cheese.

Still.... I'd prefer give it a more continental-style sword anyway.... just sayin' is all.....


That's good advice David. Lewis look up the Battle of Flodden in 1513. Plenty of the Scots nobility wielded two hand swords after their French pikes were trashed by English bills. And died to a man, sadly. Get a better image of the type of armours they might have had available from the Continent. (remember all this stuff was imported) Tweak your display to reflect that.

Good hunting!
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Lewis A.




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PostPosted: Mon 19 Jul, 2010 6:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kel Rekuta wrote:


That's good advice David. Lewis look up the Battle of Flodden in 1513. Plenty of the Scots nobility wielded two hand swords after their French pikes were trashed by English bills. And died to a man, sadly. Get a better image of the type of armours they might have had available from the Continent. (remember all this stuff was imported) Tweak your display to reflect that.

Good hunting!


Hmm, well, I'm not sure how accurate any of these are, but here are some of the images that came up doing a brief search for the Battle of Flodden:







So is the general consensus that a two handed sword - either a claymore or a Lowlander sword - the most typical type of Scottish sword from the period when this style of harness was in vogue?

Oh, and does anyone have any idea if there were claymores that were made without langets running down the blade, like the one made by Darksword Armory? Is this a mistake on their part, or is it historically accurate?
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