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Matt Easton




Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK.
Joined: 30 Jun 2004

Posts: 238

PostPosted: Sun 15 Mar, 2015 2:46 am    Post subject: Seax hilts         Reply with quote

Hi folks,
I recently picked up a pattern welded seax blade from Paul Binns and am intending to hilt it myself (or perhaps have a friend do it for me). I've been searching through threads on this forum and elsewhere, but am really surprised by how little I'm managing to turn up by way of historical examples of seax hilts - either archaeological or in art. What are the most fancy seax hilts we know about, either surviving or in art? (specifically largish seas, rather than the small eating type)

Thanks for your help,
Matt



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Matthew Bunker




Location: Somerset UK
Joined: 02 Apr 2009

Posts: 483

PostPosted: Sun 15 Mar, 2015 3:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So few survive as anything other than just legacy marks on the tang that we don't really have a big enough corpus of material to make an absolute judgement on either shape or decoration.
Unfortunately, those which do survive are (with the exception of the Swedish Vendel period ones) overwhelmingly plain.
There are some nice examples of carved, decorated smaller knife handles, but not for seaxes in either art or archaeology.

You've taken a trawl through Jeroen's library of seax pics?

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




Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK.
Joined: 30 Jun 2004

Posts: 238

PostPosted: Sun 15 Mar, 2015 11:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks - where can I find Jeroen's seax photos please?

Matt

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G Ezell
Industry Professional



Location: North Alabama
Joined: 22 Dec 2003

Posts: 232

PostPosted: Sun 15 Mar, 2015 1:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Seaxes were popular for around 500 years, and have been found from Italy to Norway, so there are a wide variety of types and styles. Your blade is of the brokeback type (type IV in wheeler's classification), and unfortunately there is only one I know of that has the handle intact, the Aachen seax, aka. the hunting knife of Charlemagne:

Going by memory, the handle is bovine horn, the end-cap/wrap is either bronze or silver, and the handle is around 8 1/2 inches in length.

In addition to this, we have some period illustrations:


Earlier styles of continental saxes (langsax, breitsax) had long handles. The only exception to this are the Nordic saxes, which had handles in the 4" to 5" range. The are many type IV seax sheaths remaining even when the knife is long gone, and they also indicate long, straight handles. As far as I know not a single type IV seax blade has been found with a cross-guard or pommel, nor do they have them in period illustrations. Based on the scant evidence, I think a long, simple one-piece wooden or horn handle is our best bet for a historically correct handle for this type of blade, possibly with ferrules.

" I have found that it is very often the case that if you state some absolute rule of history, there will be an example, however extremely unusual, to break it."
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G Ezell
Industry Professional



Location: North Alabama
Joined: 22 Dec 2003

Posts: 232

PostPosted: Sun 15 Mar, 2015 1:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeroen's seax files: http://1501bc.com/files/information_about_saxes.zip
" I have found that it is very often the case that if you state some absolute rule of history, there will be an example, however extremely unusual, to break it."
Gabriel Lebec

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Matt Easton




Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK.
Joined: 30 Jun 2004

Posts: 238

PostPosted: Sun 15 Mar, 2015 2:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Fantastic, many thanks. I hadn't seen most of Jeroen's examples before, only really the UK ones. I have actually excavated seax myself, as an ex-archaeologist (in Normandy on a Merovingian site which had loads of weapons). However i have never seen one with any hilt elements remaining personally. From a functional point of view I find the smooth straight grip a little problematic, as it doesn't seem to offer a very secure grip. Though I suppose with a long enough hilt, as most of these seem to have had, perhaps it doesn't matter - if the hand slips a bit then it has space to slipů like the shaft of a spear or axe. I suppose it might be reasonable with an Anglo-Saxon seax grip to go for something simple like circles and dots decoration or incised lines?
Thanks,
Matt

Schola Gladiatoria - www.fioredeiliberi.org
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Ron Reimer




Location: Australia
Joined: 16 Aug 2010

Posts: 54

PostPosted: Sun 15 Mar, 2015 2:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi , there was a complete(?) set of hilt fittings found in the Staffordshire Saxon Gold Hoard. You want ornate? Try gold and garnets!! In the documentaries they show a reconstruction of what it probably looked like .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSjd6pjM0w8 ( about 7.30 mins in) .
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHjh8kL0d78 (about 20.40 mins in).

I can also recommend Woden's Warriors it has a chapter specifically on the seax.
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Matt Easton




Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK.
Joined: 30 Jun 2004

Posts: 238

PostPosted: Sun 15 Mar, 2015 2:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Ron - these are certainly bling! Though too early for what I'm aiming for - my primary interest is more in the 9th century.
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