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David Clark





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PostPosted: Tue 09 Nov, 2010 3:58 pm    Post subject: Shortest Viking Sword?         Reply with quote

I am wondering what the shortest sword, in overall length, was in Dark Ages Europe, specifically those of England and Scandinavia. It seems that the average length was around 35-37", but were they shorter on occasion? I am hoping that someone can produce evidence of a sword say, 30-32" overall... Blush I am aware of some of the later langseaxes, so I know that they did have 'sword-like' blades of around 27-30", but I am looking for double-edged ones.
Thanks!
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Tim Lison




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PostPosted: Tue 09 Nov, 2010 5:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Check "Swords of the Viking Age" by Ian Pierce. Many swords with type M hilts are short. There are pics of some very short double edged blades...I would post them but I'm away from home so don't have my books.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Tue 09 Nov, 2010 7:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Don't remember the source, probably a post read here on " myArmoury " Question , that said that Irish swords tended to be on the short side maybe a longtime tradition starting as early as the bronze age swords.
You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Wed 10 Nov, 2010 4:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you put together what Jean and Tim said above, there are Irish examples of Petersen type M that are particularly short. I'll have to look for it again, but I remember seeing an example found in Lough Gur, Co. Limerick, that was pretty short.
Éirinn go Brách
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Wed 10 Nov, 2010 4:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

While the wast majority where around 30 in, there where a few shorter ones. Pettersen gives the following lenght distribution for the blades he measured:

Less than 70 cm (27 in) 9
70-75 cm (27-29,5 in) 37
75-81 cm(29,6-32 in) 136
81-86 cm (32-34 in) 36

Total; 218

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Wed 10 Nov, 2010 5:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Among the many viking swords I have come across in store rooms just about all conform to the regular blade lengths that Elling posted above.
I have seen perhaps two swords of viking type/style that could be described as "short swords".

One is single edged and was made to have a short blade of around 50 cm or so (I do not have the exact measurement here with me). The other is a sword kept in the Uppsala university collection store room, that may have been a reworked broken sword with a new point ground in. It *could* possible have been made to be short. Also about 50 cm blade length if I remember correctly.

These are the only two exceptions in the many swords I have come across. If you want to use one for personal preference, there are historical support, but it is good to know this is exceedingly rare. We do not know who used such short swords and why. The two I have seen were not swords for children. They were full grown weapons, but made to be short.
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David Clark





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PostPosted: Wed 10 Nov, 2010 8:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you all for the info! I knew that such swords would be quite rare when I posted the topic, as I had not been able to find much on them on my own! ;p

I just never enjoyed using a sword over 32" in length, yet Dark Ages Europe is my favorite period in military history by far. I was just trying to reconcile (never a great thing to do regarding historical accuracy, but ah wells) my use of a shorter sword for SCA heavy combat and the custom Saxon sword I would like to eventually have made.
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Paul Hansen




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PostPosted: Wed 10 Nov, 2010 8:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The sword from Lough Gur, Co. Limerick, Ireland is a nice one:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/unforth/2686715941/
But I've read the idea that this was made for a child somewhere. Who knows...
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Anders Backlund




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PostPosted: Wed 10 Nov, 2010 11:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Johnsson wrote:

I have seen perhaps two swords of viking type/style that could be described as "short swords".

One is single edged and was made to have a short blade of around 50 cm or so.


...That's more or less the same as that single-edged viking style short sword I made years ago.

And here I didn't think it had any historical basis whatsoever. Big Grin

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Nathan Beal





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PostPosted: Wed 10 Nov, 2010 4:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is a sword in the royal armouries described as a bpy's sword (brazil nut, so C11/12th as likely as not) from memory it is about 60-70% of the size of a typical sword of the period.

HTH
N.

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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Thu 11 Nov, 2010 5:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Keep in mind that swords where commonly custom jobs. Ever so often, someone (pettersen's numbers sugests about 4%) finds out that they want a short sword. At this point, the smith will shrug and go "Hey, you are the customer...", rather than go "uhm, dude, we are in the 10th century... Haven't you read Pettersen?".
However, the idea obviously does not catch on.

There can be a number of reasons for this, from fashion to pure evolution.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Paul Hansen




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PostPosted: Thu 11 Nov, 2010 11:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling Polden wrote:
Keep in mind that swords where commonly custom jobs.
Were they? It's my understanding that most "Viking" blades were more or less mass-produced in Frankish territory, and only hilted in Scandinavia.

In that case, the end user may have had an influence in the hilt, but not so much in the blade.
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Scott Woodruff





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PostPosted: Sun 28 Nov, 2010 6:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My humble opinion is that if you are doing living history, go for the historical norm, if you are doing SCA, go for it! The whole idea of the SCA is to not worry too much about accuracy and have fun!
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Sun 28 Nov, 2010 6:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Paul Hansen wrote:
Elling Polden wrote:
Keep in mind that swords where commonly custom jobs.
Were they? It's my understanding that most "Viking" blades were more or less mass-produced in Frankish territory, and only hilted in Scandinavia.

In that case, the end user may have had an influence in the hilt, but not so much in the blade.


Imported blades where common, but some where made locally as well. For instance, the single edged swords that make up a fair portion of preserved blades from the early/mid viking ages where not frankish. Also, there are a lot of very simple types in addition to the high status ones.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Ron Reimer




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PostPosted: Tue 30 Nov, 2010 12:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi,
Try looking in Records of the Medieval Sword.For example, pages 26 (type X 29"),27(type X 30 5/8 "), 31(typeX 26")33(type X 23") ,35 (type X 30 1/2 "), 63 (type XIa 29"),81 (type XII 28"). These are just some of the 'shorter ' blades in here.I hope this helps.
Ron
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Paul Mullins





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PostPosted: Tue 30 Nov, 2010 10:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Could they have possibly been made for someone who was shorter than the average?
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Ken Nelson




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PostPosted: Tue 30 Nov, 2010 2:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If I remember my sagas correctly, Grettir the Strong, a warrior-poet, stated that he carried his family sword for occasions, but preferred a short blade for serious fighting.

With some of the blade lengths listed, you should be pretty close to both what you are looking for and historical accuracy. The 26" blade will probably finish off at 30.5-31.5" OA depending on the hilt style.

Peter, I must say that 50 cm does sound quite short, but interesting. For a special request, I have made one with a 60 cm blade, and while it was definitely a functional sword, it almost felt toy-like compared to a more "standard" length of 75 cm I made at about the same time based on an original I had inspected.

"Live and learn, or you don't live long" L. Long
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