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Sam Arwas




Location: Australia
Joined: 02 Dec 2015

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PostPosted: Tue 25 Oct, 2016 4:20 am    Post subject: Mystery type XII         Reply with quote

This baffling sword features on this websites page describing type XII swords with the text stating:

"XII.1 From the Zweizerisches National Museum, Zurich
By the shape of its 30" long blade, this sword is undoubtedly a Type XII. However, the hilt is definitely of Viking form. Oakeshott states that there is no value in using the type as a means of establishing a date. It must be assumed that this is indeed a late Viking sword. Perhaps it is the earliest example of the type?"

This one example seems to condradict the otherwise consistent evidence that this type of blade originated in the high middle ages in response to a rise in demand for blades to have increased thrusting capability.

I think it's perfectly plausible that various blade designers would independently come up with this method of gaining a more effective thrust without sacrificing cutting performance. Increase the blade's taper to produce a more serviceable point then compensate for the reduced mass at the tip by shortening the fuller which will also add rigidity in the thrust.

That being said it's bizzare that there is seemingly such a large gap in time between when this sword seems to be from and when this blades reappear and come into vogue.
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Mike Ruhala




Location: Stuart, Florida
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PostPosted: Wed 26 Oct, 2016 10:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have noticed that there's actually a lot of arms and armor that persisted well past their commonly recognized era of greatest popularity. For example 14th c. artwork shows a lot of what appear to be Xa's or XI's among the expected XVI's. Similarly I've found examples of 11th c.-style haubergeons as late as the 14th c. and Dane Axes into the 17th c. It wouldn't surprise me at all if XII's had their origins rather early but didn't reach the height of their popularity till much later and then persisted with a greatly diminished market share a long time after their heyday.
Historical fencing on Florida's Treasure Coast!
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Sam Arwas




Location: Australia
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Posts: 81

PostPosted: Wed 26 Oct, 2016 9:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike Ruhala wrote:
I have noticed that there's actually a lot of arms and armor that persisted well past their commonly recognized era of greatest popularity. For example 14th c. artwork shows a lot of what appear to be Xa's or XI's among the expected XVI's. Similarly I've found examples of 11th c.-style haubergeons as late as the 14th c. and Dane Axes into the 17th c. It wouldn't surprise me at all if XII's had their origins rather early but didn't reach the height of their popularity till much later and then persisted with a greatly diminished market share a long time after their heyday.
True, I've seen quite a few swords with 15th century hilt fittings but with 12/13th century style blades, although it's often hard to tell if it's an older blade that was refitted with a contemporary hilt or if these types of blades were still being produced at the time.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Thu 27 Oct, 2016 2:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Another explanation for this sword is that a cutler from the Viking age tried a design that was somewhat atypical of blades of the period. There might have been a small batch or even several small batches of these swords made, of which one specimen, XII.1, has survived. Other smiths did not come up with it because the broader Viking points were more than sufficient, especially since so many of their opponents would have had no armour. If this is so, should we credit the Vikings as inventing the Type XII? Or is it more accurate to say that this blade type might have been a Viking experiment rather than the emergence of a fully-developed form?

I also suspect Oakeshott’s Typology, being based mostly upon visual distinctions in sword blades, is less precise and useful than say Alfred Geibig’s typology for classifying Viking era swords. I would be curious to see how Geibig would classify XII.1.
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Sam Arwas




Location: Australia
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PostPosted: Thu 27 Oct, 2016 4:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:
should we credit the Vikings as inventing the Type XII? Or is it more accurate to say that this blade type might have been a Viking experiment rather than the emergence of a fully-developed form?
Ugh, please don't use the term Vikings like that. Vikings were specifically the seafaring explorers/marauders/slave traders, not any Scandinavian at the time.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Thu 27 Oct, 2016 5:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm using "Viking age" as a synecdoche for the time period, and "Viking" as a synecdoche for Scandinavians at the time. Relax.
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Luka Borscak




Location: Croatia
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PostPosted: Thu 27 Oct, 2016 5:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What if that sword isn't pointy at all, but just resharpened and repaired so many times it got this shape? It would still have unusually short fuller...
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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Thu 27 Oct, 2016 7:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Luka Borscak wrote:
What if that sword isn't pointy at all, but just resharpened and repaired so many times it got this shape? It would still have unusually short fuller...


Going by the continuous profile taper and the way this mates to the length of the fuller, the design looks intentional to me.

Whether that design was driven by the weaponsmith or by the customer, who can say?

If Oakeshott and other 20th century sword enthusiasts had not created classification systems, we would likely just say 'hey, that sword has a shorter fuller and more tapered profile than most swords of that age' and perhaps end the discussion there. However, I think the case is worth deeper examination because, as the expression goes, 'the exception makes the rule'. Why did this proto-XII design not take off? Why was the type X so popular for so long? Was type X the optimal design against the defenses of the time? Or was it linked to style of fighting that reflected a certain cultural ethos in a highly conservative society?
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Sam Arwas




Location: Australia
Joined: 02 Dec 2015

Posts: 81

PostPosted: Thu 27 Oct, 2016 8:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J.D. Crawford wrote:
Luka Borscak wrote:
What if that sword isn't pointy at all, but just resharpened and repaired so many times it got this shape? It would still have unusually short fuller...


Going by the continuous profile taper and the way this mates to the length of the fuller, the design looks intentional to me.

Whether that design was driven by the weaponsmith or by the customer, who can say?

If Oakeshott and other 20th century sword enthusiasts had not created classification systems, we would likely just say 'hey, that sword has a shorter fuller and more tapered profile than most swords of that age' and perhaps end the discussion there. However, I think the case is worth deeper examination because, as the expression goes, 'the exception makes the rule'. Why did this proto-XII design not take off? Why was the type X so popular for so long? Was type X the optimal design against the defenses of the time? Or was it linked to style of fighting that reflected a certain cultural ethos in a highly conservative society?
Nah, it could be a modification of a classic type X. Check this out http://sword-site.com/thread/911/oakeshott-sw...d-history. Quote: "The blade has been slightly shortened and reprofiled to a tapering point, the original Viking profile ending with a rounded point. The fuller on each side has been partially filled towards the tip by molten iron to shorten the groove in proportion to the tapering tip."
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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Fri 28 Oct, 2016 10:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting possibility, but this is a well documented sword. I think someone would have noticed if the blade had been tampered with.

Take a closer look: http://myArmoury.com/feature_spotxii.html

There doesn't appear to be any alterations to the blade, at lease from what one can see in the picture. Not only is the fuller short, it narrows rapidly like the blade - that is not typical of a type X. And why would a later medieval craftsman go to all this trouble to modify a blade and then leave an archaic hilt that nobody would like? Its much easier to change a pommel and guard.

No, I think this is original.

And whether or not it is, there are are several other well documented cases of even more acutely pointed swords from the Viking Era (and well before that, e.g. Roman cavalry spatha). So the question remains, why did this design take so long to catch on?
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Fri 28 Oct, 2016 8:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J.D. Crawford wrote:

No, I think this is original.

And whether or not it is, there are are several other well documented cases of even more acutely pointed swords from the Viking Era (and well before that, e.g. Roman cavalry spatha). So the question remains, why did this design take so long to catch on?


It's almost certainly because a broader sword can carve more deeply with greater ease. Since mail armour was relatively rare at this time, the great majority of combatants would have worn no armour and only carried shields. A sword like this one might have had a relative advantage against mail with a more acute point, but the narrowness means that it is unlikely to inflict hewing wounds with the same efficacy as a Type X blade that is wider near the point.

Centuries later, George Silver observed that thrusts with a sword were not always as deadly as one might expect. Someone who has received even a lethal thrust might still be able to retaliate or kill his opponent; I think some of the Viking sagas attest to this. By contrast, a good hewing blow is often immediately debilitating, effectively ending the fight. Given that this is so, it would be preferable to have a wider blade that is capable of cutting to a greater depth a bit more easily than a blade that sacrifices a bit of its hewing to thrust more effectively. Besides, although Viking-era swords are often significantly less acute than later swords, a wide and somewhat spatulate blade would still cause a horrendous wound when thrust into an unarmoured opponent. While the blade might not penetrate as deeply, any extra width at the point might cause the wound to be more grievous than it might have otherwise been.

All of this, of course, depends upon the particular dimensions of a sword. If there are numerous Viking-era swords that have a similarly narrow blade as XII.1, but lack its acuteness near the point, then my explanation becomes far more problematic.
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Sam Arwas




Location: Australia
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PostPosted: Fri 28 Oct, 2016 9:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:
J.D. Crawford wrote:

No, I think this is original.

And whether or not it is, there are are several other well documented cases of even more acutely pointed swords from the Viking Era (and well before that, e.g. Roman cavalry spatha). So the question remains, why did this design take so long to catch on?


It's almost certainly because a broader sword can carve more deeply with greater ease. Since mail armour was relatively rare at this time, the great majority of combatants would have worn no armour and only carried shields. A sword like this one might have had a relative advantage against mail with a more acute point, but the narrowness means that it is unlikely to inflict hewing wounds with the same efficacy as a Type X blade that is wider near the point.

Centuries later, George Silver observed that thrusts with a sword were not always as deadly as one might expect. Someone who has received even a lethal thrust might still be able to retaliate or kill his opponent; I think some of the Viking sagas attest to this. By contrast, a good hewing blow is often immediately debilitating, effectively ending the fight. Given that this is so, it would be preferable to have a wider blade that is capable of cutting to a greater depth a bit more easily than a blade that sacrifices a bit of its hewing to thrust more effectively. Besides, although Viking-era swords are often significantly less acute than later swords, a wide and somewhat spatulate blade would still cause a horrendous wound when thrust into an unarmoured opponent. While the blade might not penetrate as deeply, any extra width at the point might cause the wound to be more grievous than it might have otherwise been.

All of this, of course, depends upon the particular dimensions of a sword. If there are numerous Viking-era swords that have a similarly narrow blade as XII.1, but lack its acuteness near the point, then my explanation becomes far more problematic.
Is there a reason why a comparatively broad-tipped blade with a long fuller would cut more effectively than a tapered blade with the fuller shortened to make it balance similarly? (Assuming they have similar blade thickness and edge geometry)
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sat 29 Oct, 2016 12:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I do not know enough about blade geometry to answer this question. I assume that you are alluding to the fact that there are blades from this time period that are similarly narrow to XII.1, with the only difference being that these other blades will have fullers extending nearly to the point, while XII.1's fuller terminates earlier. It would be helpful, though, to have exact measurements as photos can be unreliable indicators of size. For instance, XI.3 from Records of the Medieval Sword (given on myArmoury.com as XI.1) is considerably more massive than one might realize from looking at photos alone.

That having been said, there is a good chance that there are other Viking-era blades of similar slenderness to XII.1 where the only difference (besides the point) is where the fuller terminates. Hopefully, someone with better knowledge of blade geometry can chime in.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sat 29 Oct, 2016 12:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Looking at the article on Geibig's typology, the shortness of the blade on XII.1 at 30 inches or so suggests that it could not be classified as being later than a Geibig Type 4. Further, the width of the cross would suggest it probably dates to the time period of Geibig Type 3 or 4 swords. Geibig Type 2 blades and their variants sometimes have a tea-cozy pommel like XII.1, but seem to usually have a narrower, more classically "Viking"-style cross. Although XII.1's blade does not seem to fit into Geibig's typology, the drastic tapering of the fuller is closer to a Geibig Type 4 than a Geibig Type 3.Given all of these details, I would guess that XII.1 was an experimental blade made roughly during the time period corresponding with Geibig Type 4 swords, giving it a dating of between the mid 10th to mid 11th century.

Edit: The width of the blade looks more consistent with a Type 3 than a Type 4, so perhaps it was made a time of overlap between the two types, around the mid to late 10th century? This is all just speculation, so who knows for certain.
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Sam Arwas




Location: Australia
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PostPosted: Sat 29 Oct, 2016 12:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:
I do not know enough about blade geometry to answer this question. I assume that you are alluding to the fact that there are blades from this time period that are similarly narrow to XII.1, with the only difference being that these other blades will have fullers extending nearly to the point, while XII.1's fuller terminates earlier. It would be helpful, though, to have exact measurements as photos can be unreliable indicators of size. For instance, XI.3 from Records of the Medieval Sword (given on myArmoury.com as XI.1) is considerably more massive than one might realize from looking at photos alone.

That having been said, there is a good chance that there are other Viking-era blades of similar slenderness to XII.1 where the only difference (besides the point) is where the fuller terminates. Hopefully, someone with better knowledge of blade geometry can chime in.
In your response to JD Crawford's question about why these swords took so long to gain popularity you seemed to suggest it was because the standard blades of the time were better for cutting. I had thought the purpose of the increased taper-shortend fuller combination was that it enhances the thrust without sacrificing cutting performance.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sat 29 Oct, 2016 3:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In my experience when cutting with sharp swords, broader blades can cut more deeply, typically, than one that is narrower. It might be a difference of a few inches or even less depending upon the cutting medium, but that difference could be crucial in a life-and-death encounter. A curved edge, as you may already know, will also hew deeply, even with less mass, than a lenticular blade, hence the existence of Geibig Type 14 blades, like the Albion Berserkr Viking Sword. So narrowing a point should improve thrusting, but at the cost of maximized efficacy with a cut.

Please keep in mind that my view is informed by my experience cutting with various Albions against different media. I have cut with only a moderate proportion of all the cutting blades in existence (even less when we realize the immense variations in blades of the same Oakeshott types). My experience consists of cutting with the Vinland, the Senlac, the Templar, the Knight, the Tritonia, and Soldat along with the Steward, Duke and Crecy if we count long swords (and excluding the later thrusting-oriented swords I have cut with). However, someone with superior knowledge of blade cross-sections and physics may well be able to provide inadequacies with my argument or exceptions to it.
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Mark Lewis





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PostPosted: Sat 29 Oct, 2016 8:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is another example from Norway, of classic 10th or early 11th century form (Petersen's type S, with missing pommel cap) with a noticeably short fuller. I think there is no reason to suspect this sword of having been altered, re-profiled, re-hilted, etc.

Very little is truly unique - whether these blades are an experiment that came before its time, or the preference of one or a few eccentric smiths, or a subtype that existed for centuries before gaining popularity, there will surely be more examples to be found. It reminds me in a way of a similar pattern with double-fullered blades, that likewise occur sporadically on Viking age and early medieval swords, until a (minor) spike in popularity particularly in Eastern Europe, and in late Medieval blade forms.

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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Sun 30 Oct, 2016 6:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark, this is very interesting sword. Do you have any more pictures or info?
Btw, we have to keep in mind that all these swords are late viking age swords when new types appear... Geibig type 4 is also quite tapered design of blade, but still with long fuller. Early type XI blades also start to appear in this period... The fittings on that Oakeshott type XII could be as late as early 11th century.
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Mark Lewis





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PostPosted: Sun 30 Oct, 2016 9:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Luka Borscak wrote:
Mark, this is very interesting sword. Do you have any more pictures or info?

Hi Luka,
This is actually one of Petersen's original exemplars for type S - item no. C22138 in the museum in Oslo. It's illustrated on page 145 of De Norske Vikingesverd... I don't think Petersen makes any mention of the unusual fuller, but it's not so surprising since his classification is based only on the hilt. It comes from a burial in Hedmark county, but I don't know if the site is dated any more specifically than the general time frame we can infer from the sword's type.



There are high-res images in the museum's photo archive. Wink

http://www.unimus.no/foto/#/search?q=c22138
http://www.unimus.no/arkeologi/#/detailsView?search=C22138a
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Niels Just Rasmussen




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PostPosted: Mon 31 Oct, 2016 8:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark Lewis wrote:
Luka Borscak wrote:
Mark, this is very interesting sword. Do you have any more pictures or info?

Hi Luka,
This is actually one of Petersen's original exemplars for type S - item no. C22138 in the museum in Oslo. It's illustrated on page 145 of De Norske Vikingesverd... I don't think Petersen makes any mention of the unusual fuller, but it's not so surprising since his classification is based only on the hilt. It comes from a burial in Hedmark county, but I don't know if the site is dated any more specifically than the general time frame we can infer from the sword's type.



There are high-res images in the museum's photo archive. Wink

http://www.unimus.no/foto/#/search?q=c22138
http://www.unimus.no/arkeologi/#/detailsView?search=C22138a


Hi Mark.
Found a short Norwegian article about the sword find at Vesterhaug - the images you included above are the same as the one in this article.
Source: http://www.loten.kommune.no/getfile.php/Bilde...nalder.pdf

You had farm Norderhov which contained a big burial mound called Vesterhaug.
Norderhov means the "hov" of Njord. While a "hof" in modern Scandinavian languages means a "court" of kings and nobility it probably meant a "small house for a god" in the Viking age -> today specified as "Gudehov" in the literature (like the one found recently at Tissø, Denmark). So the place name shows a pagan origin for the farm.

It was examined in 1918 and the burial mound actually held two different burials - so a reused mound, which is quite common in Scandinavia.
Oldest was a burial from the Iron Age (Merovingian Period) and the younger burial was from the early viking age (750-850 AD).
The viking age burial was a typical "ryttergrav" where artifacts connected with horse riding was found with the sword (as well as a spear and a shield boss).

PS: I would personally think that the similarity with the chamber graves found in Denmark from the Jelling Dynasty period (before Christianity was introduced) ~925-975 AD seems more likely as S-types swords are very typical for the Danish graves of this time period as described by Anne Pedersen in "Dead Warriors in Living Memory - A Study of Weapon and Equestrian Burials in Viking-Age Denmark, AD 800-1000" (2014).
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