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Matthew Bunker




Location: Somerset UK
Joined: 02 Apr 2009

Posts: 483

PostPosted: Mon 13 Feb, 2012 7:27 am    Post subject: A scabbard fit for King Raedwald?         Reply with quote

I hope so.
This is the scabbard that I've just finished working on. It's for Paul Mortimer's new Sutton HooMound 1 sword and was a bit of a challenge. As it's for such a fine weapon (which Paul will, no doubt, show off once it's complete), I decided to eschew my normal construction method of chiselling the wooden core down from solid pieces in favour of the method employed for early medieval scabbards, which was to form two thin lathes (usually between 2mm-3mm thick)of green wood around the blade.

I was lucky enough to get hold of some 2mm thick poplar from a veneer cutter in Cornwall to make the core and some beaver fur to line it with, as this is what the site report indicated had been used.
Unusally, the find report also showed that the hairs on the fur were layed perpendicular to the length of the scabbard, not parallel to it, so that's what I've done. This doesn't seem to increase or decrease the friction of the blade in the scabbard.

As the SH scabbard had no remaining decoration, Paul chose the twin serpent design from the Valsgarde 6 scabbard. I made leather risers for this and the other raised work and then covered the whole thing in 1.5mm veg tan, worked the leather over the design and left it to dry.

The colour comes from kermes, wood ash and water which I've then sealed with a wax/oil mix to make it water resistant.

There's also a bone insert in the throat to make it easier for the old boy to put his sword away.

Obviously this is just the bare beast and my work will fade into the background once all of the fine gold and garnet adornments are applied, but I think it's the closest I've come to making a truly authentic scabbard in terms of techniques and materials and, overall, I'm pleased with the final result.



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"If a Greek can do it, two Englishman certainly can !"


Last edited by Matthew Bunker on Wed 15 Feb, 2012 2:37 am; edited 1 time in total
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F. Portman




Location: USA
Joined: 22 Jan 2012

Posts: 28

PostPosted: Mon 13 Feb, 2012 7:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Indeed. Truly kingly. Amazing work.
Thou needest not to look at it. 'Tis even as thou seest, the leg is off.
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Tim Lison




Location: Chicago, Illinois
Joined: 05 Aug 2004
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PostPosted: Mon 13 Feb, 2012 10:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is truly a fine scabbrd. I love the twin serpents design. It's been executed beautifully! I'd love the see a picture of the bone insert in the throat if you have one...
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Julien M




Location: Austin TX
Joined: 14 Sep 2005

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PostPosted: Mon 13 Feb, 2012 11:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Holy cow Matthew this is beautifull work, really inspiring! It' s technically impressive and i really like the overall design, elaborate but not overdone. Great that you are experimenting on period dye too, that's an extra step not many would care to take. Regarding the serpents, are you saying the design is raised from underneath the leather or carved/embossed the usual way? Looking forward to see the finished piece, as you are off to a great start. Btw, can we see the sword as well?
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William Swiger




Location: Reston, VA
Joined: 23 Feb 2011
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PostPosted: Mon 13 Feb, 2012 11:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very well done Sir.
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Gregory J. Liebau




Location: Dinuba, CA
Joined: 27 Nov 2004

Posts: 669

PostPosted: Mon 13 Feb, 2012 12:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It looks exquisite, Matthew. I truly look forward to seeing the finishing product! Of course, don't forget to show off the sword as well!

I've always been curious about the use of risers on so many fine modern scabbards. Is there any evidence of their use in period, at almost any time?

-Gregory
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Paul Hansen




Location: The Netherlands
Joined: 17 Mar 2005
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PostPosted: Mon 13 Feb, 2012 1:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Fantastic work!

My hat is off to you, Sir!
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Matthew Bunker




Location: Somerset UK
Joined: 02 Apr 2009

Posts: 483

PostPosted: Tue 14 Feb, 2012 12:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you all.

Julien M wrote:
Regarding the serpents, are you saying the design is raised from underneath the leather or carved/embossed the usual way? Looking forward to see the finished piece, as you are off to a great start. Btw, can we see the sword as well?


The serpents are a combination of raised work and carving. I cut out the shapes and stuck them onto the wooden core and then covered it with leather, then worked the leather down over the shapes and THEN carved and embossed the detail into it. Paul wanted the design to really stand out.

Julien M wrote:
Looking forward to see the finished piece, as you are off to a great start. Btw, can we see the sword as well?


Well, like I say, that's my bit completed. Paul has all of the buckles, bosses, pyramids etc to add to it now and I'm sure he'll put pics up once the scabbard is fully adorned. As for the sword, I've had the bare blade (which is one of the finest pieces of pattern welding I've ever seen) over the winter; the hilt fittings are a work in progress (with the obscenely talented Mr Roper I believe). Again, I'm sure Paul will post pics of the completed work.

"If a Greek can do it, two Englishman certainly can !"
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Matthew Bunker




Location: Somerset UK
Joined: 02 Apr 2009

Posts: 483

PostPosted: Tue 14 Feb, 2012 1:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gregory J. Liebau wrote:

I've always been curious about the use of risers on so many fine modern scabbards. Is there any evidence of their use in period, at almost any time?

-Gregory


One of those rare times when a question concerning this period can be answered with something other than a maybe.

Some Scandinavian scabbards of the early migration period were very intricately decorated , but this was achieved by carving directly into the face of the wooden core. In some cases, this carving is so detailed that I'd imagine that the covering must have been very thin, transparent skin rather than tanned hide.
This level of complexity seems to decline after the 5th century but there are early English scabbards that still feature carved designs, even though the designs themselves are much simpler than the Scandinavian examples.

There are lots of examples of later migration/early medieval scabbard leathers from England which show the legacy marks of some sort of simple raised designs (usually single or small numbers of straight lines, although more complex patterns do exist) under the leather and a few scabbard remains still have traces of the cordwork used for this foundation moulding. The most complex of these that I can think of is the diamond pattern found on the Brushfield/Lapwing Hill scabbard.

Carving, rather than cordwork seems to be the norm for the Vendel/Valsgarde scabbards (certainly in the the Vendel 7 and Valsgarde 6 examples I've reproduced) but I went with cordwork and leather risers for this one to show how a similar design might be executed in the 'English' tradition.
It had nothing to do with the fact that I'm rubbish at wood carving.

Honest.
Wink

"If a Greek can do it, two Englishman certainly can !"


Last edited by Matthew Bunker on Wed 15 Feb, 2012 2:40 am; edited 1 time in total
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Wilhelm S.





Joined: 09 Jun 2011

Posts: 47

PostPosted: Tue 14 Feb, 2012 7:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mathew you wouldn't happen to have pics of the Brushfield/Lapwing Hill scabbard? I Googled that and found no pictures.
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Matthew Bunker




Location: Somerset UK
Joined: 02 Apr 2009

Posts: 483

PostPosted: Tue 14 Feb, 2012 8:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wilhelm S. wrote:
Mathew you wouldn't happen to have pics of the Brushfield/Lapwing Hill scabbard? I Googled that and found no pictures.


I'm not surprised. The only record of it is the watercolour painting made by Llewellynn Jewitt after it was excavated by Bateman in 1850.

All traces of the wooden elements of this important scabbard, and it's decoration, have been lost.



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"If a Greek can do it, two Englishman certainly can !"
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Bruce Tordoff
Industry Professional




Joined: 13 Aug 2007

Posts: 120

PostPosted: Tue 14 Feb, 2012 12:26 pm    Post subject: King raedwalds new scabbard         Reply with quote

Hi Matt,
Mmm, Gorgeous, Its a right beasty isn't it, mind you so is the blade so its a perfect match. I wonder if Mr R can get it knocked up for the weekend so we can all drool at its beauty in York. As always you continue to inspire the rest of your wolf brothers. I know the King will be very proud of your work, expect a ringsword for your loyalty.


I'll post the one I've just done for Alex for his Paul Holwell sword. Inspired by your style, I feel.

later,

Bruce
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Wilhelm S.





Joined: 09 Jun 2011

Posts: 47

PostPosted: Wed 15 Feb, 2012 7:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you for the picture.
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