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Fergus Holmes-Stanley




Location: England
Joined: 19 Aug 2016

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Sun 21 Aug, 2016 1:46 am    Post subject: Post-Roman Celtic Arms         Reply with quote

Hello, I was wondering if anyone could tell me about or give me links to information about what the Britons, Picts and Gaels used after the Romans in around the 7th Century and up to the 9th century. I can't seem to find any information of Welsh swords or weapons from this time period and the only Gaelic or Goidelic weapons I can find come from the Brythenwalda and Viking Conquest expansions of M&B: Warband. I've seen more on the picts such as the H ans Square Shields and their axes and crossbows as well as a chape from a scannard but nothing more. If anyone could tell me more about the topic and possiby sellers or just reproductions of these peoples' weapons and armour it would be much apprecitated.
Thank you.

Wyrd bi ful ard
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Matthew Bunker




Location: Somerset UK
Joined: 02 Apr 2009

Posts: 483

PostPosted: Wed 24 Aug, 2016 1:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Short answer, the reason that you can't find much is there isn't much to find.
From Wales and Scotland there is an almost total absence of known examples of weapons from this period.
From Wales, I've seen a dagger and a spearhead from Coygan Camp, and a couple of spears from Four Crosses in Powys.
Nothing at all from Scotland apart from a pommel and a gold and garnet scabbard boss (the so called chapes from St Ninian's may not be chapes at all). Obviously there's the Pictish stones, particularly the Aberlemno stone which depicts a battle scene.


From the South West of Britain, there's a spearhead from Trethurgy and a dagger from Gwithian
There's also a spearhead and dagger from Cornwall.

There are some surviving swords/long knives from pre-Viking Ireland. If you search this forum for 'Lagore' you'll find some posts which give you details.

For more info, I suggest contacting my friend Benjamin Frankaert, leader of the Letavia re-enactment group in Britanny. He's made a study of post-Roman/early medeival British (as distinct from Englis/English) weapons.

"If a Greek can do it, two Englishman certainly can !"
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Jeffrey Faulk




Location: Georgia
Joined: 01 Jan 2011

Posts: 578

PostPosted: Wed 24 Aug, 2016 2:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

'Celtic' may not be the correct appellation for the British people post-Roman occupation anyway. As a catch-all term though, I suppose it works. Between the end of the Roman period and the start of the medieval with the Norman Conquest, you're looking at a fairly narrow window before the Migrations begin--in fact it's possible that they overlapped to some degree. So one major reason why there wouldn't have been many arms buried during this time is that the end of the Romano-British era had quite a bit of struggle back and forth, both internecine between the various tribal groups of Britain and the Germanic Migration Period invaders. In such a situation, arms are more valuable above the ground than in it...
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J. Nicolaysen




Location: Wyoming
Joined: 03 Feb 2014
Likes: 31 pages

Posts: 677

PostPosted: Wed 24 Aug, 2016 5:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Bunker said:
Quote:
Nothing at all from Scotland apart from a pommel and a gold and garnet scabbard boss (the so called chapes from St Ninian's may not be chapes at all).


I hadn't heard that the so-called chapes may not be chapes at all. Is this new theory? Do you have some more information? I'm about to embark on a reproduction on some of those pieces with a great maker, so would like to have the best idea.

There's a couple of "pyramids" or cones really in the St. Ninian's treasure as well, one of which seems a close match to the pommel. But if they are scabbard fittings or not is hard to say for sure. They seem to be close in function though. Anyhow, seems that the treasure is more closely dated to 7th century, not exactly post roman, though I do think they have more of a native pictish or gael design than Anglo Saxon on an Anglo-Saxon influenced fitting. Perhaps a kingly gift from Bernicia to Dalriada or some such thing. I'm hardly an expert though.

The Pictish H and square shields are only found once in the same carving, no actual remains. A Czech outfit offers a reproduction, but you might as well make your own. They are pretty neat and distinctive though.


Matthew Bunker had earlier alerted me to some of the strange sub-roman swords found in Ireland. See here for one of the "Lagore" types: http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=16016

The classification and description of these is found in Ettienne Rynne's monograph "A Classification of Pre-Viking Irish Iron Swords"

There is a hilt find off the cost of Wales, but I'm pretty sure it's Scandinavian influenced. Just forgot the name though.
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Matthew Bunker




Location: Somerset UK
Joined: 02 Apr 2009

Posts: 483

PostPosted: Thu 25 Aug, 2016 7:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeffrey Faulk wrote:
'So one major reason why there wouldn't have been many arms buried during this time is that the end of the Romano-British era had quite a bit of struggle back and forth, both internecine between the various tribal groups of Britain and the Germanic Migration Period invaders. In such a situation, arms are more valuable above the ground than in it...


Didn't stop the Germanic immigrants from burying weapons at the same time.

The most commonly accepted reason is that inhumation with weapons, or indeed with any form of grave goods, was not the norm amongst the predominantly Christian native population of late and post-Roman Britain. Where you do find grave goods in late Roman cemeteries (eg the late 4th century cemetery at Lankhills, Winchester), the dead are from other cultures (in the case of Lankhills, they're from the Danube basin -possibly Pannonian).

"If a Greek can do it, two Englishman certainly can !"
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Matthew Bunker




Location: Somerset UK
Joined: 02 Apr 2009

Posts: 483

PostPosted: Thu 25 Aug, 2016 8:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J. Nicolaysen wrote:


I hadn't heard that the so-called chapes may not be chapes at all. Is this new theory? Do you have some more information? I'm about to embark on a reproduction on some of those pieces with a great maker, so would like to have the best idea.


It's not a new observation, no. If you read "THE ECCLESIASTICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE
ST NINIAN'S ISLE TREASURE" by David McRoberts published in 1960 (available online from the ADS), he makes the point which others have observed that the slots in the chapes are very narrow, possibly too narrow to allow them to be mounted on a the usual form of scabbard from the period with a wooden core.
He suggests that they're the ends of an ecclesiastical stole or girdle.


J. Nicolaysen wrote:
There's a couple of "pyramids" or cones really in the St. Ninian's treasure as well, one of which seems a close match to the pommel. But if they are scabbard fittings or not is hard to say for sure.


They're very large compared to the scabbard related pyramids of the 6th/7th century. And of course we know that the pyramids had a variety of uses. I think that the St Ninian's ones are more likely to be mounts from a horse bridle than a scabbard.



J. Nicolaysen wrote:
There is a hilt find off the cost of Wales, but I'm pretty sure it's Scandinavian influenced. Just forgot the name though.

That's the one from the Smalls Reef. Definitely Scandinavian 11th century.

"If a Greek can do it, two Englishman certainly can !"
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Michael Wiethop




Location: St. Louis
Joined: 27 May 2012

Posts: 63

PostPosted: Thu 25 Aug, 2016 4:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Bunker wrote:

For more info, I suggest contacting my friend Benjamin Frankaert, leader of the Letavia re-enactment group in Britanny. He's made a study of post-Roman/early medeival British (as distinct from Englis/English) weapons.
Would you happen to know whether he and his group know anything about early medieval Brittany? I'm interested in learning more about what the Bretons were like around the time of Nevenoe/Nominoe.
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J. Nicolaysen




Location: Wyoming
Joined: 03 Feb 2014
Likes: 31 pages

Posts: 677

PostPosted: Thu 25 Aug, 2016 7:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
That's the one from the Smalls Reef. Definitely Scandinavian 11th century.
Yeppers, Smalls Reef. Could not remember it thanks. Seemed pretty late, but the location find around Wales was the reminder. It's a lovely piece, but not applicable here.

Quote:
It's not a new observation, no. If you read "THE ECCLESIASTICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE
ST NINIAN'S ISLE TREASURE" by David McRoberts published in 1960 (available online from the ADS), he makes the point which others have observed that the slots in the chapes are very narrow, possibly too narrow to allow them to be mounted on a the usual form of scabbard from the period with a wooden core.
He suggests that they're the ends of an ecclesiastical stole or girdle.


Alrighty thanks. Looks like a very interesting read. I do what I can being far away from Scotland. I might be visiting Mr. Evans this November as I'm going to Hawaii at that time, so maybe we can do some thinking on it. I'm leaving the project in his expert hands anyhow. Obviously with the queue it's all some time away, but he's agreed to the project in a general sort of way. Cheers.
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Matthew Bunker




Location: Somerset UK
Joined: 02 Apr 2009

Posts: 483

PostPosted: Fri 26 Aug, 2016 1:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Wiethop wrote:
Matthew Bunker wrote:

For more info, I suggest contacting my friend Benjamin Frankaert, leader of the Letavia re-enactment group in Britanny. He's made a study of post-Roman/early medeival British (as distinct from Englis/English) weapons.
Would you happen to know whether he and his group know anything about early medieval Brittany? I'm interested in learning more about what the Bretons were like around the time of Nevenoe/Nominoe.


He knows a great deal about early medieval Brittany. Easiest way to contact him is via the Letavia Facebook page.

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