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Jonathan Hodge




Location: East Tennessee
Joined: 18 Sep 2015

Posts: 110

PostPosted: Wed 15 Nov, 2017 12:00 pm    Post subject: Dane Axe and Spear Hafts in the Bayeux Tapestry         Reply with quote

So Iíve been looking through medieval art in search of historical representations of Dane axes. The Bayeux Tapestry has several representations and as Iíve studied I noticed that spear hafts are represented as significantly thinner than axe hafts throughout. Both mounted and on foot, spears appear to have very thin hafts. Did early medieval spears have thinner hafts, or is there evidence to show that weapons of this kind were used with thinner hafts? I know using one source can be problematic in extrapolating theories, but itís one of the only contemporary works of art readily accessible to feature Dane axe. Iíve found another period piece - the painted work - from the 1130ís depicting the martyrdom of St. Edmund and it seems to show both axe and spear as having similar sized hafts. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?


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Jason O C





Joined: 20 Oct 2012

Posts: 114

PostPosted: Wed 15 Nov, 2017 12:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think that instead of using artwork to determine the thinknesses to spear shafts, you should look to the archaeological evidence. There are hundreds of surviving spear heads whose sockets can give us a good idea of the typical shaft thickness. I don't have that information on me at the moment, but I doubt it would be hard to find with a quick Google search.

Jason
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Philip Dyer





Joined: 25 Jul 2013

Posts: 493

PostPosted: Wed 15 Nov, 2017 6:54 pm    Post subject: Re: Dane Axe and Spear Hafts in the Bayeux Tapestry         Reply with quote

Jonathan Hodge wrote:
So Iíve been looking through medieval art in search of historical representations of Dane axes. The Bayeux Tapestry has several representations and as Iíve studied I noticed that spear hafts are represented as significantly thinner than axe hafts throughout. Both mounted and on foot, spears appear to have very thin hafts. Did early medieval spears have thinner hafts, or is there evidence to show that weapons of this kind were used with thinner hafts? I know using one source can be problematic in extrapolating theories, but itís one of the only contemporary works of art readily accessible to feature Dane axe. Iíve found another period piece - the painted work - from the 1130ís depicting the martyrdom of St. Edmund and it seems to show both axe and spear as having similar sized hafts. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

Stabbing things relies less of mass to be effective and put less stress on a weapon than chopping and cutting things. I wouldn't be surprised if the shafts where a little bit thinner.
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Philip C. Ryan




Location: Omaha, NE
Joined: 04 Nov 2005
Likes: 1 page

Posts: 83

PostPosted: Mon 20 Nov, 2017 7:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As Jason O C said, the most reliable source are your primary sources, the actual spearheads themselves. I cannot locate my document making comparisons, but do know that the typical spear socket on a large thrusting spear was 2.5 - 3 cm. in diameter. Throwing spears/javelins had even thinner diameters.
Skjaldborg Viking Age Living History and Martial Combat
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