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T. E. Holmes




Location: Bellingham, Washington
Joined: 28 Dec 2005

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PostPosted: Thu 29 Dec, 2005 3:58 pm    Post subject: Viking Era Long Swords?         Reply with quote

Hello,

I'm new to this forum and don't know if this subject has been touched upon yet or not, but I have always been curious about a certain subject. Every time I look through a book depicting the "Viking" era and view pictures /art of their swords it is always of the version commonly referred to as a "Viking Sword".
My question is this: is there any documentation of the Vikings using two-hand long swords?
And if so, what did these swords look like (are there any sources, on-line or otherwise, depicting them)?
I'm really curious & appreciate any thoughts on this subject.

Thank you.

Aye.

T. E. Holmes

The far corner of the Pacific NW
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Jim Adelsen
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PostPosted: Thu 29 Dec, 2005 4:11 pm    Post subject: Re: Viking Era Long Swords?         Reply with quote

I study the Viking Age quite a bit and there is no documentation of a two handed Viking sword. I have not read about one in any of the sagas nor have I seen one from any of the digs. If they existed they were extremely rare. Vikings typically fought with a shield.

T. E. Holmes wrote:
Hello,

I'm new to this forum and don't know if this subject has been touched upon yet or not, but I have always been curious about a certain subject. Every time I look through a book depicting the "Viking" era and view pictures /art of their swords it is always of the version commonly referred to as a "Viking Sword".
My question is this: is there any documentation of the Vikings using two-hand long swords?
And if so, what did these swords look like (are there any sources, on-line or otherwise, depicting them)?
I'm really curious & appreciate any thoughts on this subject.

Thank you.

Aye.
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Chuck Russell




Location: WV
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PostPosted: Thu 29 Dec, 2005 4:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

commonly? no. most are 1 handed.
there is i believe, help me here guys 1 find of a hand and a half sword?
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Chuck Russell




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PostPosted: Thu 29 Dec, 2005 4:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote



http://forums.armourarchive.org/phpBB2/viewto...half+sword

there is a hot debate on if this sword is real or not by the profs i think that found it. i dont subscribe to the viking heritage, but i think theres an article in there about it
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Joshua Reptsik




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PostPosted: Thu 29 Dec, 2005 4:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's pic of what would questionably be called a reproduction.

http://www.odinblades.com/Pages/VikingHand&aHalf.html

" You little fool who wanted to be the best, see what happened." -MS 3227a
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Eric McHugh
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PostPosted: Thu 29 Dec, 2005 8:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chuck Russell wrote:


http://forums.armourarchive.org/phpBB2/viewto...half+sword

there is a hot debate on if this sword is real or not by the profs i think that found it. i dont subscribe to the viking heritage, but i think theres an article in there about it


I am far from an expert, but I think we are not looking at this sword correctly: I don't believe that this sword has a complete pommel. It is lacking a lower portion. So, one must ask why is there a guard and a upper portion of a pommel present but no lower guard. Well, and this is my opinion, I think the lower part of that pommel was made of an organic material, perhaps bone or wood or even ivory? In addition, I have seen a number of very narrow viking sword blades. Since measurements are not provided for this sword, people are estimating the length of the grip based on a basic wide viking blade. But what if this is one of those narrow swords, and there was a bone or ivory lower portion of that pommel, and if the lower portion was at least as thick as the guard or even the upper portion of the pommel (which they often were), then it is definitely not a hand and half Viking sword but a narrow-bladed, single hand Viking sword with a grip that is on the long side of the range. Just a thought.

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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Thu 29 Dec, 2005 8:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That was my thought, too, Eric. For me, and this is only my opinion, that pommel is quite obviously incomplete.

Lacking measurements and a sense of proportion, I've also heard it said this this is a dagger. That would be just as unusual as a Viking longsword, however. I've ruled this out, for myself.

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T. E. Holmes




Location: Bellingham, Washington
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PostPosted: Thu 29 Dec, 2005 9:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chuck Russell wrote:
commonly? no. most are 1 handed.


That's what I meant by "commonly", thanks Chuck for clearing up what I meant Wink
And thank you for everyone's thoughts & opinions on the subject thus far as well, I do greatly appreciate it.

T. E. Holmes

The far corner of the Pacific NW
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Fri 30 Dec, 2005 6:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is at least one sword of Great Sword proportions discovered in Viking-era graves. The discovery was made by (pardon my spelling) Dr. Jorma Lepaaho. Oakeshott mentions it, but I haven't seen much more info than that.
Happy

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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Dec, 2005 6:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The answer is for all intents and purposes no.
There are rumours, but rumour also has it the US government has space aliens frozen down on Area 51.

Remeber that for all the fuzz, two handed swords do not appear to any great extent outside Japan and 14th to 16th century europe, and that in both places they have been secondary, back up weapons to armoured warriors.

As such they are not a "natural step forward" in the evolution of weapons; A viking warrior with a longsword would find himself pretty dead pretty soon, as he lacks a shield or heavy armour to protect himself.

One posible explanation to the one or two reputed long hilted viking swords could be a attempt at counterbalancing; moving the CoP backwards simply by making the handle longer. Some "quick n dirty" swordsmiths still do this; I have a cheap reenactment viking sword balanced like this.
As far as I gather, it is quite posible that the 12th-13th greatswords came into beeing in much the same way; long cavalry blades balanced by long handles.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Gavin Kisebach




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Dec, 2005 6:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eric, you're in good company: we're no experts either. Big Grin twenty of us combined might make an expert though. Like Voltron, but without the sweet lasers.

I'm trying to mentally superimpose a lower pommel as I am perusing Petersen's "De Norske Vikingsverd", and on think I've not seen is a pommel significantly wider than the gaurd. If we extend the line of that pommel to form a type D (I think?) big enough to make it a single hander, it would be rather wider than the guard, which would be odd (and ugly). If smaller, it just doesn't eat up enough handle, it still seems like a lot of room. Based on the handshake grip (which I think works rather well with this pommel type) and picturing a smaller lower pommel, a smaller man might easily get a second hand above the first. Or not. Oh, this is maddening. WTF?!

Where does this pic come from, and how can we get a sense of scale? Someone must know.

There are only two kinds of scholars; those who love ideas and those who hate them. ~ Emile Chartier
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Gavin Kisebach




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Dec, 2005 7:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

After further consideration, disregard everything I just said. I'm beggining to hate this sword.

Ellis, your armor arguement makes sense to me but for one exception, cavalry. Even if I was lightly armored, but on horseback, I just might want a slightly longer sword. Not nesescarily a longsword, just a longer sword than average. If I had the wealth to own a sword, I just might own a horse as well. Complete conjecture and inductive logic - the progenitors of false conclusion.

There are only two kinds of scholars; those who love ideas and those who hate them. ~ Emile Chartier
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Eric McHugh
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PostPosted: Fri 30 Dec, 2005 8:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gavin Kisebach wrote:
Eric, you're in good company: we're no experts either. Big Grin twenty of us combined might make an expert though. Like Voltron, but without the sweet lasers.

I'm trying to mentally superimpose a lower pommel as I am perusing Petersen's "De Norske Vikingsverd", and on think I've not seen is a pommel significantly wider than the gaurd. If we extend the line of that pommel to form a type D (I think?) big enough to make it a single hander, it would be rather wider than the guard, which would be odd (and ugly). If smaller, it just doesn't eat up enough handle, it still seems like a lot of room. Based on the handshake grip (which I think works rather well with this pommel type) and picturing a smaller lower pommel, a smaller man might easily get a second hand above the first. Or not. Oh, this is maddening. WTF?!

Where does this pic come from, and how can we get a sense of scale? Someone must know.


LOL...this is so difficult. I do this stuff with Peter Johnsson all the time. Happy Trying to describe portions of a sword over the phone will drive someone insane, let alone put it in print...LOL. I was speaking of the height. If you take the height of the pommel piece that is visible and put a piece the same height below it (basically make it double the height it is now) and make it in character with the guard, then you would have what I am referring to in the post above. This would be one possible solution. I guess to say it another way... the piece that is the pommel in the picture "now" looks like the upper portion of a "two-part" pommel. So, if you make a lower portion but use bone, ivory or wood, then it will effectively make the pommel twice it's size, thus the grip that the sword would have had would be shorter. Then you make this sword one of those narrow bladed swords, and you have a sword that is definately not a two-hander, but a single handed sword with a grip that is on the long size for a viking sword...say 12-13cm?


This picture of the Jarl will help illustrate what I'm talking about:



The pommel on the sword in question is like the top portion of the Jarl picture (not exactly but you get the general idea). So, if the bottom part was organic instead of metal, it would not be present on the sword now. But when it was present it would have taken up a good portion of the tang, especially if they carved on it like one example I've seen...in that case it could actually be taller than the guard, which would make the grip even smaller.

I guess my problem with this idea of "two-handed" Viking swords is the same as Elling's. There are probably more Viking swords in the world than any other iron/steel European sword. They litter the place (almost every year, someone finds another one in their field), and I think it is fair to say that the museums have the majority of them in the warehouse. So what you see on display and in books is a small fraction of the whole. With such a huge sample of swords to draw from, it is clear that you just do not see "two-handed" Viking swords. If they existed, they were so much of an exception that you couldn't really use them as an example of Viking weapon development. I know this just crushes the 13th Warrior fans. :-)

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Eric McHugh
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PostPosted: Sat 31 Dec, 2005 8:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I was bored so I decided to look at this sword even closer. I used a photo program to scale that photo based on a narrow viking sword I documented in Uppsala. Using 5 cm as a blade width, I scaled everything according to that measurement. I then superimposed a lower guard modeled after the guard. I then narrowed it to be in character with the pommel and flipped it so that the arc would conform to the arc of the pommel (which incidentally fits very closely to the arc on the pommel). I then measured the distance between the guard and superimposed lower pommel piece and the measurement was 13.6 cm. While this is certainly on the longer side for a Viking sword, it is hardly a two-handed sword. I also think that the blades is much narrower than 5 cm. So, combine that with the possibility of a thicker lower pommel section and the grip on the sword could be closer to 11 cm.

Many of these narrow Viking swords seem to be of the Geibig 1 catagory. They have no fuller or a very shallow fuller. Whether they had a fuller of not, the ones I've handed were quite substantial, so Elling's theory of moving the pommel back to help with the mass of the blades seems quite plausible to me.

This photo has caused a lot of discussion mostly because they do not provide the measurements. Go figure.

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Chuck Russell




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PostPosted: Sat 31 Dec, 2005 8:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

hahah u did that too eh? i tried to move the guard and pommel around on paint shop. i think they go together too
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Chuck Russell




Location: WV
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PostPosted: Sat 31 Dec, 2005 8:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote


http://www.geocities.com/midnightwolf.geo/SWORDHIL.gif

not the best view, cause i cant turn the guard to match the pommel. but its an almost exact match.
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C. Stackhouse




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PostPosted: Mon 02 Jan, 2006 12:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A two handed viking sword would have made little sense, you could imagine how much a normal length sword would cost to make, the cost of the extra metal needed would not only make it more expensive but also harder to forge which would in turn make it more expensive. Even if you have that much extra money laying around, without your shield you would be the prime target for any spear weilding farmer looking for some 'Fat Loots' (RPG/gaming term)

But, I'm an advocate for unique weaponry/armor, and a two handed viking sword would be a fun fantasy design.
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Mon 02 Jan, 2006 6:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Swords where not THAT expensive/exclusive in scandinavia; Quite a lot of places produce iron; smelting from marshes where quite common, most decent size farms had their own smithy for making nails, hoseshoes, and so on.
Quite a lot of swords could be made by local smiths. Remember that the second most common kind of norwegian viking sword is the Type M, wich is extremely simple.


Later on, even muskets where made locally; the schnaphause lock was simple enough to manefacture in a village forge.

This is also a reason why some odd weapons appear; Most of them are home made, and someone might just have goten a bright idea. Not every anticent weapon is a masterpiece.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Patrik Erik Lars Lindblom




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PostPosted: Mon 02 Jan, 2006 10:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great work guy's Big Grin
sometime can shit happen when the parts are loose, like this one, Dybäck sword Razz
I have that book "Follow the Vikings" if you guy's want to have a bigger scan of it "Grobina viking sword" Happy


Dybäck sword wrong assembled, upper guard are wrong way


this is how it should look like

Frid o Fröjd!
Patrik


Last edited by Patrik Erik Lars Lindblom on Wed 04 Jan, 2006 8:18 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Patrick Fitzmartin





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PostPosted: Mon 02 Jan, 2006 3:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling Polden wrote:
Swords where not THAT expensive/exclusive in scandinavia; Quite a lot of places produce iron; smelting from marshes where quite common, most decent size farms had their own smithy for making nails, hoseshoes, and so on.
Quite a lot of swords could be made by local smiths. Remember that the second most common kind of norwegian viking sword is the Type M, wich is extremely simple.


Later on, even muskets where made locally; the schnaphause lock was simple enough to manefacture in a village forge.

This is also a reason why some odd weapons appear; Most of them are home made, and someone might just have goten a bright idea. Not every anticent weapon is a masterpiece.

Greetings Elling Polden, I have read the same thing in "Swords of the Viking Age" that the type M is second after the type H I think. I really love the simplistic design but hardly see that many of them pictured. Thank you for the pic. I have a bare DT Viking blade wanting a hilt in my garage "shop" and the type M may be just the thing for my "amateur" abilities. Eek! Sincerely, Patrick Fitzmartin
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