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Mark Lewis





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PostPosted: Sun 23 Nov, 2014 8:47 am    Post subject: Bennomefecit inscriptions on swords, tokens, and coins         Reply with quote

The sword shown below was found in Stade, Northern Germany and bears the inscriptions "+BENNOMEFECI" and "+INOMINE DNI" [Marek, 2005]. The sword was published in "Krieger und Reiter im Spiegel früh- und hochmittelalterlicher Funde Schleswig-Holsteins" by Michael Muller-Wille, which doesn't seem to be available online. Apart from that article, the sword hasn't received much attention... it is mentioned only in passing in "Swords of the Viking Age" and I have found only the single following photo.


A sword in the National Museum in Helsinki may also have a Bennomefecit inscription (below, top left) but I haven't found any closeups of the inscription.

there seems to be some confusion over the inventory number... the correct number may be 17208:561.
https://www.finna.fi/Record/musketti.M012%3AKM17208%3A588
https://www.finna.fi/Record/musketti.M012%3AKM17208%3A561

A similar inscription appears on a number of coin-like brooches or tokens which depict the face of Emperor Henry III (ruled 1046-56). There are at least 24 known examples of Benno-tokens, mostly from Northern Europe, but found as far south as Austria:

and Albania: http://books.google.ca/books?id=q3x-AwAAQBAJ&...mp;f=false

The key article on the tokens seems to be "Die sogenannten Benno-Jetons, Münzähnliche Broschen des 11. Jahrhunderts" by Hubert Emmerig, which I have also not been able to find online. Emmerig documents several garbled variations of the inscription (like those on the Austrian and Albanian examples).

A catalogue from the Künker auction house mentions coins with "me fecit" inscriptions, bearing the names Benno, Hroza, and Luteger. Names on coins can be understood to refer to either the die-cutter or the lord who minted the coin, but the distinction is not always clear... In particular, Luteger is believed to have been a highly skilled travelling die-cutter who designed coins for a number of German lords in the 12th century.
http://books.google.ca/books?id=O5xn6T-TZIcC&...mp;f=false

With the name appearing on swords, tokens, and coins, it is tempting to attribute the name Benno to a lord overseeing forges and mints rather than an artisan. 11th c. Bishops like Benno II of Osnabruck had both military and administrative duties:
Quote:
On account of his skill in architecture he was made imperial architect by Emperor Henry III... supervised the construction of numerous castles and churches in the empire... In 1051 he accompanied Azelin, bishop of Hildesheim, on the emperor's Hungarian campaign
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benno_II_of_Osnabr%C3%BCck

Anne Stalsberg has suggested the possibility that even the name Ulfberht be attributed to a supervising bishop or abbot, rather than a smith. She notes that to this day, Catholic bishops sign their names preceded by a cross.
http://www.jenny-rita.org/Annestamanus.pdf

I hope this has been of interest... any additional thoughts, sources, or photos are very welcome!
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Shahril Dzulkifli




Location: Malaysia
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PostPosted: Thu 27 Nov, 2014 10:26 am    Post subject: Benno Me Fecit inscriptions on swords, tokens, and coins         Reply with quote

Benno Me Fecit literally means Benno made me in Latin but I think the sword kept at Helsinki's National Museum wasn't made by the same person named Benno or not just like the 1st photo despite having the same inscription on the blade. It's hard to theorize, though.
“You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength”

- Marcus Aurelius


Last edited by Shahril Dzulkifli on Thu 27 Nov, 2014 5:13 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Mark Lewis





Joined: 19 Apr 2014

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PostPosted: Thu 27 Nov, 2014 3:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, linking blade inscriptions with any particular source or person will probably never be more than speculation. I thought it was interesting to see parallel inscriptions appearing on entirely separate types of artifacts however... and it's fun to speculate!

I'm still curious know precisely what inscription appears on the Finnish sword... my best guess from this single photo would be "+BENOMEFECI..."
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Niels Just Rasmussen




Location: Nykøbing Falster, Denmark
Joined: 03 Sep 2014

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PostPosted: Wed 17 Feb, 2016 5:15 am    Post subject: Re: Bennomefecit inscriptions on swords, tokens, and coins         Reply with quote

Mark Lewis wrote:
The sword shown below was found in Stade, Northern Germany and bears the inscriptions "+BENNOMEFECI" and "+INOMINE DNI" [Marek, 2005]. The sword was published in "Krieger und Reiter im Spiegel früh- und hochmittelalterlicher Funde Schleswig-Holsteins" by Michael Muller-Wille, which doesn't seem to be available online. Apart from that article, the sword hasn't received much attention... it is mentioned only in passing in "Swords of the Viking Age" and I have found only the single following photo.


A sword in the National Museum in Helsinki may also have a Bennomefecit inscription (below, top left) but I haven't found any closeups of the inscription.

there seems to be some confusion over the inventory number... the correct number may be 17208:561.
https://www.finna.fi/Record/musketti.M012%3AKM17208%3A588
https://www.finna.fi/Record/musketti.M012%3AKM17208%3A561

A similar inscription appears on a number of coin-like brooches or tokens which depict the face of Emperor Henry III (ruled 1046-56). There are at least 24 known examples of Benno-tokens, mostly from Northern Europe, but found as far south as Austria:

and Albania: http://books.google.ca/books?id=q3x-AwAAQBAJ&...mp;f=false

The key article on the tokens seems to be "Die sogenannten Benno-Jetons, Münzähnliche Broschen des 11. Jahrhunderts" by Hubert Emmerig, which I have also not been able to find online. Emmerig documents several garbled variations of the inscription (like those on the Austrian and Albanian examples).

A catalogue from the Künker auction house mentions coins with "me fecit" inscriptions, bearing the names Benno, Hroza, and Luteger. Names on coins can be understood to refer to either the die-cutter or the lord who minted the coin, but the distinction is not always clear... In particular, Luteger is believed to have been a highly skilled travelling die-cutter who designed coins for a number of German lords in the 12th century.
http://books.google.ca/books?id=O5xn6T-TZIcC&...mp;f=false

With the name appearing on swords, tokens, and coins, it is tempting to attribute the name Benno to a lord overseeing forges and mints rather than an artisan. 11th c. Bishops like Benno II of Osnabruck had both military and administrative duties:
Quote:
On account of his skill in architecture he was made imperial architect by Emperor Henry III... supervised the construction of numerous castles and churches in the empire... In 1051 he accompanied Azelin, bishop of Hildesheim, on the emperor's Hungarian campaign
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benno_II_of_Osnabr%C3%BCck

Anne Stalsberg has suggested the possibility that even the name Ulfberht be attributed to a supervising bishop or abbot, rather than a smith. She notes that to this day, Catholic bishops sign their names preceded by a cross.
http://www.jenny-rita.org/Annestamanus.pdf

I hope this has been of interest... any additional thoughts, sources, or photos are very welcome!


When you find a name on the coin it seems obvious that it is the patron behind the coin-making and not the actual die-cutter/"stamper", that are mentioned? Yet it seems with the Luteger example it could be a professional die-cutter (likely though of so much fame and trusted he might have been patron as well?).

Interesting though on a Sword, where you would "a priori" expect the smith's name - though this really makes me re-think.
But if you had a patron ordering a smith to make many sword-blades maybe the name of the patron could be inscribed? Then the gift-giver would be read on the blade. That hypothesis on the Ulfberht swords is really interesting!
It seems though that "+" crosses could be used to frame sentences (to encompass them in holiness maybe - a magical protective frame of the inscription?).
So that makes the +Ulfberh+t examples extremely interesting as it can be broken up into +Ulfberh+ t.
So if "t" stands for an abbreviation you have this interesting fact.

On Iron age runes-inscriptions you have the word "tawido" [I made]
Danish Gallehus horns: "ek hlewagastiR holtijaR horna tawido". [I FamousGuest "of Holt"/"the Holting" (the) horn made]
Tawido would be in Middle Low German "touwen" (also cognate with Gothic "taujan" and Old Norse "tæja").
"Ulfberh touwen" could be the intended inscription with the name framed by +...+ crosses. That name could be indicated as Christian (or here the person with the name being Christian) when flanked by crosses, while the touwen word is not as it is profane!
As you in rune inscriptions avoid gemination (use of long consonants compared to short consonants, so in modern germanic languages you would write the long consonant as a double) you would avoid using the same consonant twice, even if the second consonant was within a new word [new word would thus be spelled "neword" and cannot would be "canot"].
So +VVLFBERHT+T(ouwen) could be written based on the old runic rules "+VLFBEHR+T". If this is the case Runic Rules are followed even if the inscription is with latin letters.
NB: Bit unclear to me if the rule always follows semi-vowels like V/U, but I would think so.

ME FECIT is just a latin translation of old Germanic "tawido"....the person who made the item. On rune stone inscriptions there is clearly a difference between patron and maker, but it might have been blurred later?

So when it comes to the Sword it could be a Smith called BENNO, it could be Bishop Benno II of Osnabrück (1020-1088) or Saint Benno I, Bishop of Meissen (1010-1106). The two Bishops you could see as patron for coins, but very unlikely as active smiths.
So BENNO thus is very interesting as it breaks with the "Runic Gemination Rule" of not having identical consonants after each other in Writing. Were you writing in the latin alphabet, but still followed Runic rules it would be "BENO".


Last edited by Niels Just Rasmussen on Wed 17 Feb, 2016 6:36 am; edited 1 time in total
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Niels Just Rasmussen




Location: Nykøbing Falster, Denmark
Joined: 03 Sep 2014

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PostPosted: Wed 17 Feb, 2016 6:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark Lewis wrote:
Yes, linking blade inscriptions with any particular source or person will probably never be more than speculation. I thought it was interesting to see parallel inscriptions appearing on entirely separate types of artifacts however... and it's fun to speculate!

I'm still curious know precisely what inscription appears on the Finnish sword... my best guess from this single photo would be "+BENOMEFECI..."


The inscription on the Finnish sword seems to actually follow Runic Gemination Rules if the intended name is "BENNO".
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Mark Lewis





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PostPosted: Thu 18 Feb, 2016 6:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey Niels, thanks for replying!

To answer some of my own questions: I know now that the inscription on sword no. 17208:588 reads ☩BENOMEFECIT, with INNOMIEDMI on the other side. The final T is curved and shaped more like a Greek letter Tau and no closing cross is visible. The crosses potent on the other side are diagonal, which is unusual but not unknown. DMI is either an unusual abbreviation for Domini or a misread/miswritten DNI. On the museum webpage there is some confusion with sword no. 17208:561 which has a nearly identical hilt, but a much different inscription.

Niels Just Rasmussen wrote:
Interesting though on a Sword, where you would "a priori" expect the smith's name - though this really makes me re-think. But if you had a patron ordering a smith to make many sword-blades maybe the name of the patron could be inscribed? Then the gift-giver would be read on the blade. That hypothesis on the Ulfberht swords is really interesting!

Ulfberht, Ingelrii, Benno, etc. being the names of smiths still seems the most natural interpretation to me, but I also think that the alternative hypothesis cannot be disregarded.

Niels Just Rasmussen wrote:
When you find a name on the coin it seems obvious that it is the patron behind the coin-making and not the actual die-cutter/"stamper", that are mentioned? Yet it seems with the Luteger example it could be a professional die-cutter

For comparison, a common layout on Anglo-Saxon coins (continued by Viking rulers who gained control of English mints) is the ruler's name on one side, and the minter's name on the other, usually with the word moneta - "Farman moneta", "Herolf mon", "Heriger mo", etc.

Benno II's name came up coincidentally because of his connection with the emperor Henry III. Linking him to the swords and tokens was more of a thought experiment based on the double assumption that both inscriptions refer to the patron and not the craftsman... which seems a lot to assume!

That is interesting regarding Benno/Beno and Runic spelling rules... Does this name occur in Scandinavia as well as Germany?
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Niels Just Rasmussen




Location: Nykøbing Falster, Denmark
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PostPosted: Sat 20 Feb, 2016 10:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark Lewis wrote:
Hey Niels, thanks for replying!

To answer some of my own questions: I know now that the inscription on sword no. 17208:588 reads ☩BENOMEFECIT, with INNOMIEDMI on the other side. The final T is curved and shaped more like a Greek letter Tau and no closing cross is visible. The crosses potent on the other side are diagonal, which is unusual but not unknown. DMI is either an unusual abbreviation for Domini or a misread/miswritten DNI. On the museum webpage there is some confusion with sword no. 17208:561 which has a nearly identical hilt, but a much different inscription.

Niels Just Rasmussen wrote:
Interesting though on a Sword, where you would "a priori" expect the smith's name - though this really makes me re-think. But if you had a patron ordering a smith to make many sword-blades maybe the name of the patron could be inscribed? Then the gift-giver would be read on the blade. That hypothesis on the Ulfberht swords is really interesting!

Ulfberht, Ingelrii, Benno, etc. being the names of smiths still seems the most natural interpretation to me, but I also think that the alternative hypothesis cannot be disregarded.

Niels Just Rasmussen wrote:
When you find a name on the coin it seems obvious that it is the patron behind the coin-making and not the actual die-cutter/"stamper", that are mentioned? Yet it seems with the Luteger example it could be a professional die-cutter

For comparison, a common layout on Anglo-Saxon coins (continued by Viking rulers who gained control of English mints) is the ruler's name on one side, and the minter's name on the other, usually with the word moneta - "Farman moneta", "Herolf mon", "Heriger mo", etc.

Benno II's name came up coincidentally because of his connection with the emperor Henry III. Linking him to the swords and tokens was more of a thought experiment based on the double assumption that both inscriptions refer to the patron and not the craftsman... which seems a lot to assume!

That is interesting regarding Benno/Beno and Runic spelling rules... Does this name occur in Scandinavia as well as Germany?


The IN NOMIE DMI is clearly "In Nomine Domini" and I think its best to assume that DMI is an abbreviation variant, rather than a misspelling.
The "non-closing" of the ☩BENOMEFECIT seems to indicate that some of the text could be missing - strengthened that the opposing side has an "end cross"!

Without being an expert on coins, do anyone know, what was normal in the Holy Roman Empire?
I assume it was not the same as in England with ruler/patron on one side and minter on the other, but rather unclear so we don't know if Benno was patron or minter?

So while the alternative sword inscription information is very interested I also think for the most cases we have the smith's workshop rather than a "patron". But it is good to have in mind!

Benno is clearly NOT a Scandinavian name, since it is only attested in modern times (from 1900's).
It is a shortened form of Benedictus and apparently occurs with English, Frisian and Low German names (the two Benno-bishops shows here a low german origins).
In Scandinavia we see "Benedikt" from the middle ages. [but not anything with Beno-]

So the sword from Finland could have been made by a Saxon sword smith, that knew about runic inscription rules and so only inscribed one N. [Maybe Scandinavian buyers had initially complained he was "illiterate" if he had tried to sell a sword with ...NN... -> "can't you spell or something" Laughing Out Loud ]
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