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Eijse J





Joined: 12 Dec 2012

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PostPosted: Wed 12 Dec, 2012 8:01 pm    Post subject: How did people carry their axes, maces and war hammers?         Reply with quote

I can't find the answer to this question anywhere.

Historically speaking, people had sheathes for their knives and swords, but what did they do with their axes and other weapons when they weren't using them? Put them on the ground? Hand them to a friend? Shove the handles through their belts? Suspend them from something?

Thanks in advance to anyone who has an answer. Hopefully someone can enlighten the rest of us...
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Thu 13 Dec, 2012 12:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well Eijse that depends, if you were an infantryman then you would tuck it into your belt, whereas a cavalryman could hang it from his saddle or leave it with one of his attendants.
Éirinn go Brách
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Thu 13 Dec, 2012 4:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The most practical way is to shove the weapon under the belt on your back, and turn it so that it hangs horisontaly. In this fashion, it does not interfere with your legs and stays put (for a while) even when running. Javelins or arrows where also carried in this fashion.

If you carry a kite or heater shield (medevial shields with handstraps) you can also hold the weapon in your left hand behind the shield.



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Long hafted viking axe, back crossdraw

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Jon R wears his short club front crossdraw. Me behind, mace barely visible.

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My long hafted mace, Back crossdraw

"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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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Thu 13 Dec, 2012 6:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Some maces and such had hooks attached which enabled them to be hung on any strap/belt.
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Roberto Banfi




Location: Near Milan - Italy
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PostPosted: Thu 13 Dec, 2012 7:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd point something like:



if the heavy part of the axe/hammer is someway near the hips, it won't dangle around your knees as if kept upside down
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Eijse J





Joined: 12 Dec 2012

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PostPosted: Sun 16 Dec, 2012 7:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Stephen Curtin wrote:
Well Eijse that depends, if you were an infantryman then you would tuck it into your belt, whereas a cavalryman could hang it from his saddle or leave it with one of his attendants.


Thank you, Stephen, for your reply.

For infantry, it seems logical to tuck a weapon into a belt and that seems to be what some re-enactors do. The only 'problem' (if you can call it that) is that the historical sources seem to be silent on the topic. Certain Viking sagas, for example, mention that people working on farms lay their weapons down nearby, including planting their spears point first in the ground. I wouldn't like to do that to a spear myself, but it seems historically accurate.
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Eijse J





Joined: 12 Dec 2012

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PostPosted: Sun 16 Dec, 2012 7:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling Polden wrote:
The most practical way is to shove the weapon under the belt on your back, and turn it so that it hangs horisontaly. In this fashion, it does not interfere with your legs and stays put (for a while) even when running. Javelins or arrows where also carried in this fashion.

If you carry a kite or heater shield (medevial shields with handstraps) you can also hold the weapon in your left hand behind the shield.


Thanks for the reply!

Yes, there's historical evidence for holding axes and other weapons in the shield hand. I'd love to find similar for shoving a weapon through the belt, too. I'm not saying that it's not accurate, I'm just on a search for truth here...
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Eijse J





Joined: 12 Dec 2012

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PostPosted: Sun 16 Dec, 2012 7:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
Some maces and such had hooks attached which enabled them to be hung on any strap/belt.


Thanks for the reply!

It sounds interesting. Do you have a source for this? I'd like to see how they work.
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Sun 16 Dec, 2012 7:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eijse J wrote:
Chad Arnow wrote:
Some maces and such had hooks attached which enabled them to be hung on any strap/belt.


Thanks for the reply!

It sounds interesting. Do you have a source for this? I'd like to see how they work.


The axes in this topic have hooks on them: http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=2833

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Eijse J





Joined: 12 Dec 2012

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PostPosted: Sun 16 Dec, 2012 7:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Roberto Banfi wrote:
I'd point something like:



if the heavy part of the axe/hammer is someway near the hips, it won't dangle around your knees as if kept upside down


Roberto, thanks for that.

I like this solution, and it seems a more practical way to carry a weapon than other methods. I mean, if you tuck it into your belt, you find yourself adjusting it all day and/or picking it up off the ground when it falls out. If you suspend it from your belt by the handle, the thing slaps you in the legs when you run (and totally ruins your day-glo fluoro spandex tights, if worn).

The only 'problem' (for want of a better word) is that I haven't found anything like in your picture in the historical record. Do you know of specific examples in history when soldiers carried weapons in this way?
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Eijse J





Joined: 12 Dec 2012

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PostPosted: Sun 16 Dec, 2012 8:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:
Eijse J wrote:
Chad Arnow wrote:
Some maces and such had hooks attached which enabled them to be hung on any strap/belt.


Thanks for the reply!

It sounds interesting. Do you have a source for this? I'd like to see how they work.


The axes in this topic have hooks on them: http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=2833


Many thanks.
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Mart Shearer




Location: Jackson, MS, USA
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PostPosted: Sun 16 Dec, 2012 8:36 pm    Post subject: Re: How did people carry their axes, maces and war hammers?         Reply with quote

Eijse J wrote:
Historically speaking, people had sheathes for their knives and swords, but what did they do with their axes and other weapons when they weren't using them?


Hold them in their hands?
http://molcat1.bl.uk/IllImages/Kslides/big/K055/K055936.jpg

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Matthew Bunker




Location: Somerset UK
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PostPosted: Sun 16 Dec, 2012 8:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eijse J wrote:


The only 'problem' (for want of a better word) is that I haven't found anything like in your picture in the historical record. Do you know of specific examples in history when soldiers carried weapons in this way?


I don't think you'll find any. 'Axe-rings' are, as far as we know, a reenactorism with no basis in fact. And for good reason. It has no advantages over keeping an axe pushed into your belt in exactly the same way.

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




Location: Near Milan - Italy
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PostPosted: Sun 16 Dec, 2012 11:53 pm    Post subject: Re: How did people carry their axes, maces and war hammers?         Reply with quote

Mart Shearer wrote:
http://molcat1.bl.uk/IllImages/Kslides/big/K055/K055936.jpg


whoah, this is a nice one! what about date? I guess... first half 14 century ?
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Roberto Banfi




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PostPosted: Sun 16 Dec, 2012 11:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Bunker wrote:
I don't think you'll find any. 'Axe-rings' are, as far as we know, a reenactorism with no basis in fact.


up to now I have to agree

I never applied myself to a specific research though, I'll give that a chance
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David Huggins




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PostPosted: Mon 17 Dec, 2012 12:04 am    Post subject: Carrying axes         Reply with quote

I would have to echo Matt's comment on the so-called axe-ring, no basis for this in any grave finds to the best of my knowledge, but certainly a cheap money-maker for sellers to the gullible!
and he who stands and sheds blood with us, shall be as a brother.
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Gregory J. Liebau




Location: Dinuba, CA
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PostPosted: Mon 17 Dec, 2012 12:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Some forty years ago a crafty Renaissance Faire merchant said "Hey, why not make a belt that just has a ring instead of a buckle?" Thus the ring belt was invented.

Some time later, another sly merchant said "People don't like wearing things in their ring belts, so why not make a ring holder to go on your belt with a ring to hold your thing?" And so it was, and that rather ridiculous contraption came into our good world of reenactors.

I can see it now, and I even know some people who could have been a part of such conspiracies, if they had a bit more of their marbles about them, in any case...
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Eijse J





Joined: 12 Dec 2012

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PostPosted: Mon 17 Dec, 2012 5:21 am    Post subject: Re: How did people carry their axes, maces and war hammers?         Reply with quote

Mart Shearer wrote:
Eijse J wrote:
Historically speaking, people had sheathes for their knives and swords, but what did they do with their axes and other weapons when they weren't using them?


Hold them in their hands?
http://molcat1.bl.uk/IllImages/Kslides/big/K055/K055936.jpg


Yes, we seem to be more concerned with keeping our hands free than our ancestors were.
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
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PostPosted: Mon 17 Dec, 2012 5:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

By the American Revolution the bayonet and/or sword were carried in a leather "frog" on a waistbelt or shoulder strap. Some were specifically made with two loops/tubes, one for the bayonet and one for a sword, and it appears that some of these were adopted by infantry who lacked a sword but stuck a tomahawk through that loop instead. This gets way overdone by reenactors, of course! In general I agree that there isn't any medieval equivalent for axes and such. Naturally I made one myself when I was new at the game, but I have long since ditched it!

Matthew
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Eijse J





Joined: 12 Dec 2012

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PostPosted: Mon 17 Dec, 2012 5:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gregory J. Liebau wrote:
Some forty years ago a crafty Renaissance Faire merchant said "Hey, why not make a belt that just has a ring instead of a buckle?" Thus the ring belt was invented.

Some time later, another sly merchant said "People don't like wearing things in their ring belts, so why not make a ring holder to go on your belt with a ring to hold your thing?" And so it was, and that rather ridiculous contraption came into our good world of reenactors.

I can see it now, and I even know some people who could have been a part of such conspiracies, if they had a bit more of their marbles about them, in any case...


You're right, it's not historically accurate. That aside, and at the risk of getting off topic, is it a reliable and practical way of carrying an axe or a mace? If we suddenly lost all our modern weapons and had to go back to killing each other with morning stars and whatnot, would we start lugging them around in a belt ring? It looks to me like it has potential, but I've never tried it out.
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