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Marc Ridgeway

Location: Atlanta , Gawga
Joined: 24 May 2006
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PostPosted: Tue 07 Feb, 2012 5:39 pm    Post subject: Castle Keep :Isle of Skye Type-H Viking by Rob Miller         Reply with quote

Castle Keep:Isle of Skye Type-H Viking by Rob Miller
Marc Kaden Ridgeway
6 Feb 2012
Atlanta , GA

Some of you may know that I am a very lucky man. My lovely lady, Stacy, bought me a wonderful Christmas present several years ago, Laird by John Lundemo. This last year or two has been pretty hard on us , and I have had to sell dozens of swords in order to pay bills. Through hard work and sacrifice and the paitience and charity of others, I am grateful to say that we are coming out the other side I hope , with brighter skies on the horizon.

Somehow, in the midst of all this, the ever-resourceful spouse-o-mine managed to find the money to order me a Father's Day Present. A type -H Viking sword by custom smith Rob Miller.

Damn, she gives the best gifts.

Rob has a bit of a queue , and my Father's day gift became a belated New Year's gift... still not bad turnaround on a custom.

I want to apologize in advance , on a Japanese sword review I know exactly how many pictures to take... too many Big Grin , but Euros always confound me... anyway I end up taking 4 to 5 times the necessary photos , and then fall in love with them and can't delete them.


Prepare for tons of redundant photos !

Historical Overview

Smith : Rob Miller was the vocalist and bassist for a hardcore/crust punk band named Amebix from 1978 to 1987. The band helped create the crust punk sound, and recorded an album on Jello Biafra's (of Dead Kennedys fame) Alternative Tentacles Records. Well, I didn't find this out until recently , but being a former bassist , and a huge Punk fan... and having Dead Kennedys songs on many of my cutting videos it seemed rather serendipidous to me. (My otherfavorite custom maker , John Lundemo , is also a rocker )

Amebix reformed in 2008 and has released a couple of albums. Their latest, Sonic Mass is availiable on iTunes and is an epic tale set to music , that is well worth checking out.

Sword : The pommel configuration is a Peteresen Type H, perhaps the most common configuration on Viking swords. The blade could maybe be classied as a Geibig Type 3 , with a bit shorter than the norm fuller. Both these types saw use in the 8th to 10th century , so I'd say the sword has a plausable claim to histrocity. I don't know why , but I searched for something to quantitavely say was historically inaccurate on this sword. I thought perhaps the fuller and taper... but one only has to look to the original Cawood sword to see a similar taper and fuller length from a similar time period. Then I thought perhaps the pommel size, or the fact that it was one piece , but then I found this information on a Viking history site:

Not only did the size and shape of the hilt components vary in Viking-age swords, but also the construction details. Sword hilts typically had a pommel and an upper guard, although in some instances, the two were formed as a single piece.

The truth is, I don't know why I searched so hard to find an a historic detail on this sword... I don't even care about historical accuracy... maybe I was just looking for something not to love about it. I didn't succeed.

My friend , DoHo of Yorkshire (aka Dammit Dog Buttdragger aka Sir Humpinstuff) volunteered to help me with the review.


Blade : 31.25 in
Grip : 3 .62 in
Width at Cross : 2.125 in
Width 2 in. from tip : .75 in
Fuller : 19 in. / 1.5 in wide at base
Guard : 3.25 in
Pommel : 2.25 x 1.5
COG : 7 in. from guard
COP : 21.75 in.
Weight: 2lbs. 4 oz.

Marc Kaden Ridgeway
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Marc Ridgeway

Location: Atlanta , Gawga
Joined: 24 May 2006
Likes: 3 pages

Posts: 133

PostPosted: Tue 07 Feb, 2012 5:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aesthetics; Fit & Finish

Rob Miller makes his swords the old fashioned way, with fire , hammer and anvil , out of modern en45 steel.The 31.25 inch blade is slightly tapered and has a broad fuller traversing 19 inches, right at 2/3 of the length. After the fuller, the blade transits to the most beautifully done example of a lenticular crossection I have seen. The blade is highly polished to a flawless near-mirror finish.

The sword is hilted in the type H fashion, featuring polished steel fittings. The pommel is about 2.25 inches wide and 1.5 inches tall. The elliptical guard is 3.25 inches.

The 3.62 inch grip is hourglass shaped and consists of highly polished masur birch and black horn. The center of the grip is adorned with a exquisitely carved sterling silver ring that has a dragon motif.

The pommel is a single piece and is hot peened. The guard and pommel are keyed and attached to the tang before the grip is applied. The pommel has a gap which simulates the appearance of the two -part pommel seen on many (but not all) of these swords historically, and Rob was nice enough to hammer some twisted copper wire in there for me... I have a weird affinity for copper.

There is a sturdiness to the build, and a flow to the aesthetic that I appreciate more and more the longer I have the sword.

Handling Characteristics

I don't mind telling you , that the handling of this sword has got me scratching my head. Rob Miller has pulled off a paradox . This is a hard-hitting , yet light and nimble sword. The point of balance is at 7 inches from the guard , actually pretty good for a powerful cutting sword like a viking , yet the weight is only 2 lbs 4 ounces.

The way he pulled off this paradox is obvious , the blade, while wide and thick , has a wide deep fuller. The handle is a historically accurate length , not " longer for big American hands" :roll: The pommel is pretty small, which allows the POB to get to 7 inches . In fact , I thought the pommel was surprisingly small at first... but the longer I had it the aesthetic really seemed right... but whats more the handling was an enlightening experience.

The only vikings I have used have had a slightly longer than historic handle , and slightly bigger pommels. On all of these Vikings the pommel was a nasty wrist-biter, which made it absolutely no fun to handle.

I know I am not alone in this .... as their are umpteen forum threads about handshake vs hammergrip.

The proper length grip and the pommel size completely eliminates this issue. Gripping the sword the grip is locked inplace by the short pommel , and when swung the pommel itself slips neatlt into the little pocket formed in the heel of my hand.

Wow... no wrist-biter.

I am now convinced that this is how this type sword is meant to be.


This is really the difficult section for me to complete... as many of you know , I am very poor at one-hander cutting. I have even less experience with Vikings.

I have cut a few bottles , and I had 3 or 4 bamboo lengths.

My observations on cutting are this: The thick , but perfectly done lenticular COP forms a nice, stout appleseed edge , that is durable and rewards good form with clean cuts. Bad form is rewarded with devasting blows...either would really put a hurting on an opponent.

Marc Kaden Ridgeway

Last edited by Marc Ridgeway on Tue 07 Feb, 2012 6:19 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Marc Ridgeway

Location: Atlanta , Gawga
Joined: 24 May 2006
Likes: 3 pages

Posts: 133

PostPosted: Tue 07 Feb, 2012 5:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote


What happened to The Good, The Bad & The Ugly? Well theres no bad or ugly. Theres not any flaw of any kind that I can see. The only thing at all that is less than perfect is that the copper wire got a tad smooshed while be hammered into the crevice. I just can't complain about this , though, as :
1) It is minor
2) It was extra , and free
3) I love copper , I'd rather have it than not.

So what Ican I conclude from this sword and this experience?

Rob was a terrific craftsman to work with. The wait in the queue was a bit longer than quoted, but our craftsmen being busy is a good thing. Once the place in queue came up, Rob finished the order with blinding speed ... less than two weeks.

The sword is polished. I don't just mean the steel, or the wood ... I mean the fit and finish itself ... the final product , it is polished and precise. In fact, John Lundemo has a style all his own, one I have come to sum up in one word ... organic. Rob Miller also has a style his own... if I had to some it up in one word it would be "precise" ... or "polished" . Okay then... two words.

The experience was awesome. Rob is a custom smith , who offers standard models. This is one of those models. An email suffices to get on the list... another email when the wait is over gets the work started , and no money exchanged hands until the work was done. Once Rob was paid , the sword was here in 5 days. It was made that much sweeter that I wasn't the one paying Wink

This particular sword lists for 675 GBP or around $1100 . For the price of an Albion , it is a hand forged work of art with sole authorship by a Western artist , Rob Miller. If you are in the position to do so, I highly reccomend giving Castle Keep a try.

Thanks for reading.

Marc Kaden Ridgeway
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Tim Lison

Location: Chicago, Illinois
Joined: 05 Aug 2004
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PostPosted: Tue 07 Feb, 2012 6:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Looks great! Nice to see such a fine sword. I especially enjoyed the "in hand" photos! Congratulations on your gift.
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Marc Ridgeway

Location: Atlanta , Gawga
Joined: 24 May 2006
Likes: 3 pages

Posts: 133

PostPosted: Tue 07 Feb, 2012 6:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tim Lison wrote:
Looks great! Nice to see such a fine sword. I especially enjoyed the "in hand" photos! Congratulations on your gift.

Thank you !! I am chuffed with it.

Marc Kaden Ridgeway
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Doug Landers

Location: Buffalo, NY
Joined: 09 Dec 2011

Posts: 8

PostPosted: Tue 07 Feb, 2012 7:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I love his work and need to get one of his this year for sure...better order soon I guess if I have a chance to get one in 2012. But I don't mind waiting, gives me something to look forward to.

His work has always caught my eye and your pictures confirm what I always thought I was seeing in the pics on his website...I am a sucker for a mirror polish and his is incredibly well done.

And, I found out about his musical career, I never knew that about him. I will have to check out Amebix on Youtube. Thanks Marc, great review.
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