Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Which bronze for sword hilt ca. 7th century Reply to topic
This is a standard topic  
Author Message
Brian Nelson




Location: Houghton, MI
Joined: 17 Mar 2012

Posts: 43

PostPosted: Wed 18 Jul, 2012 4:09 pm    Post subject: Which bronze for sword hilt ca. 7th century         Reply with quote

I'm wondering what would be the best bronze alloy to use for an Anglo Saxon sword hilt project. I'm leaning towards the sandwich style, so it would brace a plate of horn or antler or wood.

I'm thinking a tin bronze would be the first option for historical accuracy, but I have heard suggestions elsewhere to use a phosphor (tin-ish) bronze such as C510.

What is the consensus here?
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Matthew Bunker




Location: Somerset UK
Joined: 02 Apr 2009

Posts: 483

PostPosted: Thu 19 Jul, 2012 1:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Copper alloy, not bronze; bronze IS an alloy (why some manufacturers refer to 'bronze alloys' is a bit of a mystery to me).
Are you interested in which one to use based on the compositon of the copper alloys of the time?

If so, then take your pick as a variety of studies made of Anglo Saxon objects (I can cite you the references if you're really interested) all point towards a steady reduction in the purity of alloy content of cast copper alloys from the 5th to 8th century and that no great care seems to have been taken in mixing up scrap copper alloys from different sources when recasting. The composition of these alloys can be so diverse that archaeologists stopped referring to them as bronze and stick to the safer term 'copper alloy'. In many cases, zinc is present in higher concentrations than tin, making it closer to brass than bronze.
So, from a historical point of view, either brass or a 'proper' bronze rather than phosphor bronze would suit. As most surviving examples of these fittings that are cast copper alloy are either tinned or plated with precious metal, the overall appearence of the copper alloy used would probably have been deemed unimportant. There certainly doesn't seem to be any discimination made in the surviving objects that have been submitted to XRF analysis.

However, if this is for a reenactment weapon where strikes to the guard plates are a possibility then the durability of phospher bronze might be preffered, as these guard plates tended to be very thin (c. 2mm on the thickest plates on the blade side of the lower guard and less than that on the hilt side of the lower guard).
They sometimes appear to be thicker when surviving examples are seen in photos but that's because they often have a raised edge, so that the organic guards sit inside them rather than sitting flat (as you can see in the two pictures below of a classic example from Buckland, which shows this feature and the thinness of the upper plates very clearly).

Hope this helps.



 Attachment: 74.71 KB
british museum 118.jpg


 Attachment: 67.86 KB
DB guard detail.jpg


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


Last edited by Matthew Bunker on Thu 19 Jul, 2012 2:19 am; edited 1 time in total
View user's profile Send private message
Matthew Bunker




Location: Somerset UK
Joined: 02 Apr 2009

Posts: 483

PostPosted: Thu 19 Jul, 2012 1:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A link to Catherine Mortimer's excellent paper on the subject of copper alloy composition in Anglo Saxon non-ferrous metalwork.

http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/catalogue...04_107.pdf

Sorry if this taking you into areas of research that you're not really interested in.

"If a Greek can do it, two Englishman certainly can !"
View user's profile Send private message
Brian Nelson




Location: Houghton, MI
Joined: 17 Mar 2012

Posts: 43

PostPosted: Thu 19 Jul, 2012 7:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Spectacular information, guys. Thanks a bunch.

Strange how it's never been brought to my attention that the plats have lips and aren't just a thick plate. Good to know.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Bruce Tordoff
Industry Professional




Joined: 13 Aug 2007

Posts: 120

PostPosted: Fri 20 Jul, 2012 10:06 am    Post subject: Which bronze for sword hilt ca. 7th century         Reply with quote

Brian,
If I may add to what Matt has said,

IF, this intended for re enactment, particularly combat, then I would plum for solid lower crossguard plates, like on the example pic I've attached. This one is made from brass, which is from new stock, (So we know its brass)
However, using the logic that Matt has suggested, most of my stuff, and indeed that of other members of my group, is either made from modern brass or some type of bronze. Which all fall into the category, Copper Alloy as mentioned by Matt.
Some of the stock I use for making stuff is from scrap and it is often relatively easy to make an educated guess at the type of metal, given its original use and in most cases the colour and general feel. However, this isn't always the case. But it all depends on the levels you wish to go to, to achieve authenticity nirvana,
Working by Torch light, eating grit laden food and sleeping with your pigs, might be stretching it too far.

(and no Matt, I'm not speaking from personal experience, (thought I'd head that one off at the pass!)).

Bruce



 Attachment: 248.23 KB
small_2_ii_307.jpg

View user's profile Send private message


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Which bronze for sword hilt ca. 7th century
Page 1 of 1 Reply to topic
All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2018 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum