Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Information and dating of a sword Reply to topic
This is a standard topic  
Author Message
Jˇhann Malmquist




Location: Akureyri
Joined: 19 Oct 2011

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Tue 03 Dec, 2013 2:53 pm    Post subject: Information and dating of a sword         Reply with quote

I am writing a paper on some post viking age swords from Iceland and I am having trouble dating one of the swords.
The museum dates it as mid 16. century but does not mention anything else, I contacted the museum and several Archaeologists but nothing has been written about this subject in Iceland and I can't find any reason for this dating.

If anyone could also give me a plausible place of production I would be very happy.

I know that the sword was found without any context some 30-40 years ago.



View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Luka Borscak




Location: Croatia
Joined: 11 Jun 2007
Likes: 7 pages

Posts: 2,239

PostPosted: Tue 03 Dec, 2013 3:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mid to late 16th century sounds reasonable. Place of manufacture, Germany I guess. Compare with similar examples from this album: http://www.myArmoury.com/albums/thumbnails.php?album=15
View user's profile Send private message
Nathan Robinson
myArmoury Admin


myArmoury Admin

PostPosted: Tue 03 Dec, 2013 6:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Luka Borscak wrote:
Mid to late 16th century


I agree, but leaning towards South German, late 16th to very early 17th century.

.:. Visit my Collection Gallery :: View my Reading List :: View my Wish List :: See Pages I Like :: Find me on Facebook .:.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Jˇhann Malmquist




Location: Akureyri
Joined: 19 Oct 2011

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Tue 03 Dec, 2013 6:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you for your replies.

After having seen the sword in person it surprises me how large it is, I also think the grip is a later addition as the sword was found outside in a lava field. it also seems too large to grip comfortably.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
J. Hargis




Location: Pacific Palisades, California
Joined: 06 Feb 2012
Likes: 22 pages

Posts: 339

PostPosted: Tue 03 Dec, 2013 8:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:
Luka Borscak wrote:
Mid to late 16th century


I agree, but leaning towards South German, late 16th to very early 17th century.

I concur. Early 17th century seems most likely, AFAIK.

Prost, Jon

A poorly maintained weapon is likely to belong to an unsafe and careless fighter.
View user's profile Send private message
E.B. Erickson
Industry Professional



Location: Thailand
Joined: 23 Aug 2003

Posts: 437

PostPosted: Wed 04 Dec, 2013 2:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think I lean to the early 1600s as well.
What a unique and attractive hilt: when I first glanced at it I thought "English, mid to late 1500s", but then after examining the hilt and its construction, I have to go along with the Germanic attribution.

--ElJay
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Jˇhann Malmquist




Location: Akureyri
Joined: 19 Oct 2011

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Wed 04 Dec, 2013 6:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Since I got my answer so quickly I want to trouble you a little more.

There are three blades I want to date properly. The National Museum dates these as 12th to 15th century. I want to narrow the dating if I can and am looking at several sources but wanted to get some opinions from here as well. In the museums catalog they are either called just swords or seax. But they remind me most of Messer swords.

With one of the weapons there was a chape that had been pushed up to the hilt but no remains of scabbard are preserved or documented.

Nothing has been written about these weapons and I can get no answer on what the dating on the swords are based. But I know the context they were found in is either not documented or they were stray finds.

Museum number: A-120/B-1864-78


Museum number: A-5185/B-1905-11


Museum number: A-2982/B-1887-101


Chape belonging to sword: A-2982
Museum number: A-2904/B-1887-16
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Peter Johnsson
Industry Professional



Location: Storvreta, Sweden
Joined: 27 Aug 2003
Reading list: 1 book

Spotlight topics: 3
Posts: 1,757

PostPosted: Wed 04 Dec, 2013 7:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello Jˇhann,

When I visited Reykjavik in 2010 it was a surprise to find so many fine messers on display.
They all seem to belong to the second half of the 15th century or possibly the early 16th century.
I would say they all are contemporary to each other.
All the messers on display are of the same size and general type. This may simply be a coincidence. Messers otherwise come in various sizes and blade types.

Never expected to find this weapon type so well represented on Iceland.

It was also interesting that there was no swords or weapons of "knightly" status on display: a complete lack of such weapons belonging to the 12th - 16th century. This is a reflection of the political situation on Iceland during this period, I assume: no feudal nobility or military elite class.
The only weapons on display that date after the 11th century seemed to me rather typical of professional men at arms or mercenaries: messers and halberds (the ones on display belonging to the 15th century or later).

A nice ballock dagger might have been late 14th century, even if a 15th century dating is also possible.

The later periods seems to be somewhat a contrast to the war like and bloody picture the sagas portray of feuds and violent earlier times.


Last edited by Peter Johnsson on Wed 04 Dec, 2013 8:08 am; edited 2 times in total
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Jˇhann Malmquist




Location: Akureyri
Joined: 19 Oct 2011

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Wed 04 Dec, 2013 7:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There may be more messers and late medieval swords but most swords on the museum files that are not viking age are only listed as "sword" with no more description or photo.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Jeffrey Faulk




Location: Georgia
Joined: 01 Jan 2011

Posts: 578

PostPosted: Wed 04 Dec, 2013 10:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is a quick off-the-cuff bit of theorizing on the high representation of messer in Iceland:

A brief overview on Wikipedia notes that there were a number of mercenary forces from Denmark in Iceland throughout the 16th century; Landsknechte are specifically mentioned. This along with the Norwegian and Danish colonization of Iceland would have contributed to a decent presence of this fairly common Germanic weapon. I am not aware of whether the messer was also common in Scandinavia, but it seems logical enough that there would have been some at least as they were a common sidearm among the Landsknechte AFAIK.

It also fits the situation of Iceland as a middle-class, not necessarily prosperous and somewhat isolated demesne of the Norwegian and Danish kingdoms-- any nobility would likely have been expatriates from the mainland and probably eager to return once they had finished whatever reason they were there for, bringing their own goods for the most part. As such, there would have been no professional sword-cutlers on the island. This means that the majority of weapons were either imported or crafted upon the island. Messer would have fit both categories, being reasonably priced enough that they would fit the market upon Iceland and be profitable enough to be worth importing, and simple enough that they could be made by a knife-maker (something I cannot imagine NOT existing upon an island where the primary resources are agriculture and fishing).

I welcome comments and correction, I know I'm just making deductions based on what little I could gather from 'wiki-walking' here but I do hope I can be of help here!
View user's profile Send private message


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Information and dating of a sword
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