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Josh Wilson




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PostPosted: Wed 28 Aug, 2013 3:12 pm    Post subject: Bridges on Viking Sword Scabbards         Reply with quote

I recently acquired a new Viking sword and I would like to re-do the scabbard. I've not had any experience with the scabbards that have the bridges on them. Would you folks, who own or have made scabbards in that manner, post pictures of your Viking sword scabbards with the bridges and the dimensions of the bridge so I can get some inspiration and figure out how to make one for myself? Thanks!
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Shahril Dzulkifli




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Aug, 2013 7:42 am    Post subject: Re: Bridges on Viking Sword Scabbards         Reply with quote

That's a good idea, Josh.
There are forumers here who collect Viking swords but I don't know their names.
But I think you can search for photos of Viking swords posted by their owners here in this forum as models for your sword's scabbard.

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Matthew Bunker




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Aug, 2013 10:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What period are you aiming for as 'Viking' covers a few hundred years?
At the beginning of the period, surface mounted sliders may have been common, a hangover from the Migration and Vendel periods when they were often highly decorated works of art in their own rights.

However, what evidence there is from surviving scabbards and scabbard leathers, points towards a move to either covered sliders (ie undecorated ones mounted onto the wooden core beneath any leather/textile cover or carved directly into the wooden core) or suspension methods that do not utilise sliders at all (like the Cronk Moar scabbard).

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




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Aug, 2013 12:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Google "sword scabbard makers' and look at what they have in their gallery. There are plenty of pictures there to get a good idea from. Or purchase one from them, though I know that is not your intention.
Have a good one.
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Josh Wilson




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Aug, 2013 1:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've got one of the Hanwei Godfred swords, so I'm looking at about 8th C.
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Robin Smith




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Aug, 2013 1:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Greg E wrote:
Google "sword scabbard makers' and look at what they have in their gallery. There are plenty of pictures there to get a good idea from. Or purchase one from them, though I know that is not your intention.
Have a good one.
That is a bad idea if accuracy is what you are going for... The majority of scabbard makers still tend towards sliders on the outside of the leather. While this is very nice looking, and allows for artistic expression, its an anachronism.

I would go with what Matt Bunker says. If you want accurate, the slider needs to be hidden under the leather or left off all together.

A furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine
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Greg E




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Aug, 2013 2:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If he was looking at 8th century that would be early viking age, would a surface mounted slider be out of the question?
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Robin Smith




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PostPosted: Sun 01 Sep, 2013 5:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Greg E wrote:
If he was looking at 8th century that would be early viking age, would a surface mounted slider be out of the question?

I cannot answer the 8th C very well. In all the sources I have seen, the 8th C is a somewhat of a black hole. However, by the early 9th C the hidden bridge is ubiquitous, so I would assume that trend goes back well into the 8th if not earlier.

Some early 9th C illustrations showing covered bridges






The scabbards shown in these illustrations match up very closely with the viking age scabbards covered in Geibig's work.

A furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine
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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Mon 02 Sep, 2013 5:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great sources there Robin.

Even though the exposed bridges do look cool I don't care for them as far as accuracy goes.
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Russ Ellis
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PostPosted: Sat 14 Sep, 2013 12:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Robin Smith wrote:
That is a bad idea if accuracy is what you are going for... The majority of scabbard makers still tend towards sliders on the outside of the leather. While this is very nice looking, and allows for artistic expression, its an anachronism.

I would go with what Matt Bunker says. If you want accurate, the slider needs to be hidden under the leather or left off all together.


Well, I have to admit that post had me scratching my head a bit. I'm certainly one of the guilty partys in this regard as to date every single one of my scabbards that has a slider has it exposed. However, I can be taught so I went back and had a look at my Cowgill and Cameron books to see what they say on the subject. As it turns out, I would say that the evidence suggests that Robin is materially correct for the period in question. The references that Cameron has especially suggests that the sliders were covered, often with leather of complex braiding. Later periods with metal sliders are a bit more of a mystery at least according to Cameron's books since only the impressions left from sliders have been found. The suggestion being that later metal sliders would have been reused. That combined with some fairly decorative metal sliders that have been found suggests that perhaps later non-wooden sliders might have been left uncovered.

I really want to thank you guys for bringing this to my attention. I don't know how many times I've read both Cameron and Cowgill but still managed to overlook this tid bit. In the future for scabbards of this period, I'll be covering those sliders.

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Robin Smith




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PostPosted: Sat 14 Sep, 2013 2:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Russ Ellis wrote:
Robin Smith wrote:
That is a bad idea if accuracy is what you are going for... The majority of scabbard makers still tend towards sliders on the outside of the leather. While this is very nice looking, and allows for artistic expression, its an anachronism.

I would go with what Matt Bunker says. If you want accurate, the slider needs to be hidden under the leather or left off all together.


Well, I have to admit that post had me scratching my head a bit. I'm certainly one of the guilty partys in this regard as to date every single one of my scabbards that has a slider has it exposed. However, I can be taught so I went back and had a look at my Cowgill and Cameron books to see what they say on the subject. As it turns out, I would say that the evidence suggests that Robin is materially correct for the period in question. The references that Cameron has especially suggests that the sliders were covered, often with leather of complex braiding. Later periods with metal sliders are a bit more of a mystery at least according to Cameron's books since only the impressions left from sliders have been found. The suggestion being that later metal sliders would have been reused. That combined with some fairly decorative metal sliders that have been found suggests that perhaps later non-wooden sliders might have been left uncovered.

I really want to thank you guys for bringing this to my attention. I don't know how many times I've read both Cameron and Cowgill but still managed to overlook this tid bit. In the future for scabbards of this period, I'll be covering those sliders.

Glad to help...

As you mention there have been a number of scabbard leathers found with only an impression of where a slider was underneath, Often the leather is quite plain, with just two slits cut and stretch marks from being shaped over the slider. Here is a good illustration from an Archeological journal which illustrates the various types found in England.



The journal does mention the retrieval of metal slides, though these too appear to be under the leather. The leathers often show cuts consistent with the scabbard being cut open to retrieve the metal slide from beneath the leather.

A furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine
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Russ Ellis
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PostPosted: Mon 16 Sep, 2013 6:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Robin Smith wrote:
Glad to help...

As you mention there have been a number of scabbard leathers found with only an impression of where a slider was underneath, Often the leather is quite plain, with just two slits cut and stretch marks from being shaped over the slider. Here is a good illustration from an Archeological journal which illustrates the various types found in England.



The journal does mention the retrieval of metal slides, though these too appear to be under the leather. The leathers often show cuts consistent with the scabbard being cut open to retrieve the metal slide from beneath the leather.


Hey Robin,

Can you tell me which journal that illustration came from by chance? As you can imagine I collect such things and would be happy to find more source material.

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Robin Smith




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PostPosted: Mon 16 Sep, 2013 7:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Russ Ellis wrote:
Hey Robin,

Can you tell me which journal that illustration came from by chance? As you can imagine I collect such things and would be happy to find more source material.
I'll send you a PM about it...
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Matthew Bunker




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PostPosted: Mon 16 Sep, 2013 12:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Russ Ellis wrote:
The references that Cameron has especially suggests that the sliders were covered, often with leather of complex braiding.



Cameron doesn't mention any sliders being covered by leather braiding, complex or otherwise does she?
She does discuss the well known evidence that some 5-8th century (ie pre-Viking age etc) slides were bound at either end to scabbards using woven textiles or fibre cord.
When Robin talks of sliders being under leather, he means that they were mounted onto the wooden slat, under the leather cover, not mounted on the leather surface and then covered in additional leather.
All scabbards of the later Anglo Saxon/Viking period that bear any traces of using a slider suspension system that we have evidence for were made in this way, the evidence being the slits in the leather itself, sometimes accompanied by legacy marks of the slider on the INSIDE of the leather cover.
Where no such evidence exists, it might be safer to assume that a different suspension method (such as that used on the Cronk Moar scabbard) was utilised rather than assume that the slide was surface mounted.

Quote:
some fairly decorative metal sliders that have been found suggests that perhaps later non-wooden sliders might have been left uncovered.


Can you give some examples Russ?
I study scabbards of this period (and have been lucky enough to examine surviving leathers and other elements in detail) and can't think of any Western European decorated sliders, metal or otherwise, from the later part of the early medieval period. There are examples of highly decorated suspension metalwork from the Vendel period but not from post 8th century.

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




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PostPosted: Mon 16 Sep, 2013 1:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Robin, don't forget to plan what type of belting is to be used, since this will affect some of the choices in bridges and placement and may require extra buckles and other things.

Anyway, some bridges were carved out of the same Wood as the scabbard and on the back side toward the body of the wearer. These are unassuming and plain-looking to most but quite functional and historically accurate (if done right).

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge
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Russ Ellis
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PostPosted: Mon 16 Sep, 2013 7:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Bunker wrote:
Cameron doesn't mention any sliders being covered by leather braiding, complex or otherwise does she?


Well, it's certainly possible that I misinterpreted, but in Sheaths and Scabbards in England AD400-1100 she states: "The second slide, from Wickhambreux, occupies a position on the scabbard similar to the Broomfield example. Although incomplete, this one is more rectangular, and it seems to have been covered by a braid binding which extended from the scabbard mouth, over the slide, to a point well below it.

Matthew Bunker wrote:

All scabbards of the later Anglo Saxon/Viking period that bear any traces of using a slider suspension system that we have evidence for were made in this way, the evidence being the slits in the leather itself, sometimes accompanied by legacy marks of the slider on the INSIDE of the leather cover.
Where no such evidence exists, it might be safer to assume that a different suspension method (such as that used on the Cronk Moar scabbard) was utilised rather than assume that the slide was surface mounted.


Can you give some examples Russ?
I study scabbards of this period (and have been lucky enough to examine surviving leathers and other elements in detail) and can't think of any Western European decorated sliders, metal or otherwise, from the later part of the early medieval period. There are examples of highly decorated suspension metalwork from the Vendel period but not from post 8th century.


I think you are correct, I misremembered. In this case I was thinking of this passage:

Again from Sheaths and Scabbards in England AD400-1100: "Metal strap slides were in some cases bi-partite, consisting of a pair of short rods positioned side by side with their ends secured beneath the leather or rawhide cover of the scabbard, possibly bound with a thong.

Suggesting that in this case at least the metal sliders were left exposed.

The there is this:

Another form of metal slide, excavated from Nydam, Denmark and found in situ upon it's scabbard, is a rectangular plate of silver, decorated with spirals with its center raised for the passage of a strap.

So I think that is what I was thinking of, but this slider and another of similar situation are attributed by Cameron not to a later period as I had in mind but rather to the 5th or 6th centuries.

So, what does all this tell me? It's not enough to do it one way, because as with many other aspects of scabbards as one is made aware of different aspects from different time periods one needs to adjust accordingly.

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Matthew Bunker




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PostPosted: Tue 17 Sep, 2013 9:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Russ Ellis wrote:


Well, it's certainly possible that I misinterpreted, but in Sheaths and Scabbards in England AD400-1100 she states: "The second slide, from Wickhambreux, occupies a position on the scabbard similar to the Broomfield example. Although incomplete, this one is more rectangular, and it seems to have been covered by a braid binding which extended from the scabbard mouth, over the slide, to a point well below it.

That refers to a textile binding which, like other 7th century examples, begins at the mouth, is wrapped around the scabard and over the upper part of the slider, wraps around the back of the scabbard and then over the lower part of the slider and continues for a few more turns, securing it to the leather but not actually covering it totally (as that would make it tricky to get the belt through the gap). I've put up a picture of an example I made last using, using "bi-partite" sliders. The textile braid (a herringbone weave in linen) runs diagonally across the back of the scabbard between the upper and lower windings.


Quote:
I think you are correct, I misremembered. In this case I was thinking of this passage:

Again from Sheaths and Scabbards in England AD400-1100: "Metal strap slides were in some cases bi-partite, consisting of a pair of short rods positioned side by side with their ends secured beneath the leather or rawhide cover of the scabbard, possibly bound with a thong.

Suggesting that in this case at least the metal sliders were left exposed.

The there is this:

Another form of metal slide, excavated from Nydam, Denmark and found in situ upon it's scabbard, is a rectangular plate of silver, decorated with spirals with its center raised for the passage of a strap.


The bi-partite slides (although they're not really, they're just in matched pairs, not two parts) are in use until the end of the 6th century (Menghin's group C).
The Nydam one she describes is early 5th century, no later than that.



Quote:
So, what does all this tell me? It's not enough to do it one way, because as with many other aspects of scabbards as one is made aware of different aspects from different time periods one needs to adjust accordingly.


Exactly.
Of course ultimately the customer gets what the customer wants but the idea that there were surface mounted visible sliders, regardless of material, on scabbards in a post 8th-century Western European context (and I'm being deliberately specific there as I've heard of, but not actually seen, an Eastern European example...although as I'm told it's a stray find it would have to be dated stylistically) is one which is, as far as I know, without foundation and is contradicted by both archaeological and pictorial evidence.

Perhaps because, as swords got heavier with all those gold and garnet pommels, the damned things couldn't take the weight anymore. It's no surprise that as the size and weight of hilt fittings increased in the 6th and 7th century, people tried new suspension methods or looked for ways to make the existing ones more robust.



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