Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Evidence of high quality Viking pattern welding? Reply to topic
This is a standard topic Go to page 1, 2  Next 
Author Message
Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
Joined: 10 Feb 2005
Likes: 1 page

Spotlight topics: 3
Posts: 1,532

PostPosted: Mon 08 Jan, 2007 7:34 pm    Post subject: Evidence of high quality Viking pattern welding?         Reply with quote

When someone says “pattern welded sword”, “vikings” and their heroic saga’s just comes to my mind. I was looking for a good example of a premium Viking made pattern welded sword and ran into a JUSTOR article abstract (mid 1960’s vintage article) claiming that they most likely imported the more premium blades and re-fitted them with their own furniture.

I am wondering if there are any good archeological examples of high quality (relatively free of sand, slag, non beneficial inclusions) pattern welding being done by Vikings or Saxon –Norman region. I figure that there are, but I have just not yet stumbled into the photos of actual historical blades and articles describing one of premium quality per the above qualifications in a surviving sword credited to Western Europe manufacture.

During the 3rd through 10th centuries, there are examples of very good composite welded swords of Italian, Merovingian, and Eastern origin wootz swords (sometimes also folded, notched, and worked to produce deliberate patterns.) South Burgandy and Germany also are associated with premium pattern welding. I like to think of the Norman-Saxon-Vikings as having produced premium quality swords and am hoping that somebody with a primary interest in this subject will astound me with good photos and examples of premium “Viking” pattern welding!

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
View user's profile Send private message
Sean Belair
Industry Professional




Joined: 08 Aug 2006

Posts: 147

PostPosted: Mon 08 Jan, 2007 9:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

it sounds to me like he is underestimating the vikings abilities. they were marvelous craftsmen fully capable of producing their own weapons. it is only within the last decade we have become aware that the vikings were far more than raiding barbarians.
View user's profile Send private message
Peter Johnsson
Industry Professional



Location: Storvreta, Sweden
Joined: 27 Aug 2003
Reading list: 1 book

Spotlight topics: 3
Posts: 1,757

PostPosted: Mon 08 Jan, 2007 11:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The thing is it is very difficult to detemine what swords are made locally ad what swordsa are imported.

+Ulfberht+swords were of course imported (those that are correctly spelled) those that are not spelled correclty are thought to be locally made "fakes".

In the case of the single edged blades in Norway, we know pretty certain that they were of local manufacture, because of their unique style and type. Some of these were patternwelded and of clearly good craftsmanship. They make a sizeale minority of the finds. Perhaps half the blades used were made locally?
There is no way to know for certain without a large scale analysis of trace elements in blades found both in scandinavia and on the continent. Such an investigation has never been made, and will probably never be made.

We can look at patternwelding of other objects such as spear heads and seaxes.
Tylecote and Gilmour found that the Anglo saon materail have higher quality in the seaxes than in the double edged blades. Higher quality meaning btter heat treat and larger amount of steel in the edge. Visually both types look the same, but they would probably preform differently. Note: this is Anglosaxon materil and might or might not show what the situation was in Scandinavia.

We have no archaeological finds of large scale weapon production. No known sites of sword manufacture. We can only guess that weapons would have been made in places like Birka and Hedeby. Another logical site for manufacture is at the homesteads of the local king. Such a place was like a large farm with many outhoues were craftsmen of different kinds weree kept busy.
Perhaps swordblades were made in the larger centres and weapons like spears and axes made more locally?
We can only speculate, as an imported frankish patternwelded sword looks the same as one possibly made in scandinavia. It isthe same type of knowledge and craft tradition all over Europe: swordblades from this period tend to look much the same, with clues of origin only when there is writing in runes or latin letters or unique blade types tht are rare to find in other places.

We do know that there is a variation in quality.
If this reflects a lack of skill by the craftsmen working in scandinavia is up to the interpreter of the archaeological material to speculate on.
I would think you could find skilled smiths locally as well as some that was less skilled. I also think quite a few blades were imported, but the quality of the axes and spear heads made by scandinavian smiths show us no general lack in skill what so ever.
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Elling Polden




Location: Bergen, Norway
Joined: 19 Feb 2004
Likes: 1 page

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,576

PostPosted: Tue 09 Jan, 2007 6:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Forging swordblades where listed among the tasks of the free man, in a viking poem describing the tasks of thralls and freemen.

Since making sword baldes is a highly priced craft, it is likely that it is something a wealthy man might occupy himself with, especially during the winter months. (after all, he has People to do all the important farmwork...) If the man is gifted, and has someone to teach him, he might become very good in deed.

It also seems that blades would be frequently rehilted. In the sagas, people preparing for war are often described as "hilting their swords". It is posible that a blade might start out with a simple hilt (Like the bare bones Pettersen type M) and be upgraded to a more ornamented hilt later.

"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
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website MSN Messenger
Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
Joined: 10 Feb 2005
Likes: 1 page

Spotlight topics: 3
Posts: 1,532

PostPosted: Tue 04 Aug, 2009 5:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I ran across an interesting article (Viking's Bleeding Edge Tech came from Afghanistan) discussing examination of some viking swords. This particular study concluded that some of the swords in the Wallace Collection did include imported crucible steel. Unfortunately, it is not specific about which regions of the blades the imported material was located at.

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://ww...p;ct=image

http://www.physorg.com/news150373962.html

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!


Last edited by Jared Smith on Fri 14 Aug, 2009 6:07 pm; edited 1 time in total
View user's profile Send private message
Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
Joined: 10 Feb 2005
Likes: 1 page

Spotlight topics: 3
Posts: 1,532

PostPosted: Fri 14 Aug, 2009 5:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The above story seems to be spreading with more details emerging. I wonder how conclusive William's research really is? The comments about quenching leaving a blade brittle sounds as if made by someone not familiar with subsequent tempering and general heat treat. At the least, it's a puzzling conclusion about swords that were buried (I would expect heirlooms not wall hangers) versus the river finds.

http://dismanibus156.wordpress.com/2009/01/05...-revealed/

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
View user's profile Send private message
Justin King
Industry Professional



Location: flagstaff,arizona
Joined: 12 Apr 2004
Reading list: 20 books

Posts: 551

PostPosted: Fri 14 Aug, 2009 6:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
The above story seems to be spreading with more details emerging. I wonder how conclusive William's research really is? The comments about quenching leaving a blade brittle sounds as if made by someone not familiar with subsequent tempering and general heat treat. At the least, it's a puzzling conclusion about swords that were buried (I would expect heirlooms not wall hangers) versus the river finds.

http://dismanibus156.wordpress.com/2009/01/05...-revealed/


Without some hard data this stuff about the brittle swords sounds like assumptions based on assumptions. How many smiths do you know who don't test their blades at least a little before finishing and hilting them? Would a blade as brittle as glass make it out the door of your shop? It sounds kind of preposterous to me, but if I see some actual data I'll reconsider.
View user's profile Send private message
Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
Joined: 10 Feb 2005
Likes: 1 page

Spotlight topics: 3
Posts: 1,532

PostPosted: Fri 14 Aug, 2009 7:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Justin King wrote:


Without some hard data this stuff about the brittle swords sounds like assumptions based on assumptions.


These are similar to my own thoughts.

I have always theorized the Viking related groups should have (based on great resourcefulness in other areas where we have facts) observed and incorporated "good" foreign materials and methods into their own works after traveling through those areas. I was hoping to believe this account of cruicible steel being used. It would make sense with pattern welding since the same type of work would have been required to utilize exported cakes of foreign material. Also, the production of the crucible steel in regions around Turkmenistan happened to blossom and wither around the time frame of "Viking Era."

Some archeologists explain the noticeable reduction of crucible steel production as probably as likely due to exhausting the local ores. I would guess that the availability of increasingly good monosteel tool/blade steel from German regions at about the same time the crucible production tapered off may have simply replaced it with a lower cost/ more easily worked demand preference.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
View user's profile Send private message
Justin King
Industry Professional



Location: flagstaff,arizona
Joined: 12 Apr 2004
Reading list: 20 books

Posts: 551

PostPosted: Sat 15 Aug, 2009 7:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I hate to say it but the more I read the less faith I have in some of the assertions made by Dr. Williams. If you read closely you may note the that the samples obtained for testing were approx. 1mm. diameter. Multiple samples from each specimen are not mentioned. Given what we know of the varying carbon/impurity content in ancient steel, this does not inspire confidence that a single sample is representative of the sword blade as a whole. There is no mention that the samples were compared for other other alloys or trace elements. There is even an allusion that they were not directly compared with a sample of period-made crucible steel from the Middle East.

Quote:
The results showed that the swords were made of imperfectly melted steel - consisting of a mixture of iron and carbonaceous materials heated together to give high-carbon steel. NPL's results match descriptions of ancient sword making in Herat (now in Afghanistan) described by ninth century Arab philosopher and writer Al-Kindi.


Combine this with some of his other comments and assumptions, and weigh his words as you see fit. Again, if the articles contained more data and less conjecture, they might be more credible. The proof of these claims may exist but they have not presented it to us. When the claim is presented without the evidence, well....
View user's profile Send private message
Chad Arnow
myArmoury Team


myArmoury Team

PostPosted: Sat 15 Aug, 2009 11:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dr. Williams has been doing metallurgical tests on arms and armour for decades. He is pretty widely published, including the book The Knight and the Blast Furnace, as well as articles in the Journal of the Arms & Armour Society and other a variety of other books and journals.

By all accounts, he's very well-respected and quite knowledgable. I have read some of his works and he seems extraordinarily credible to me.

He's a member of this forum, too, I believe. Maybe he'll address some of these concerns people have.

Happy

ChadA

http://chadarnow.com/
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Chad Arnow
myArmoury Team


myArmoury Team

PostPosted: Sat 15 Aug, 2009 1:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Justin King wrote:
I hate to say it but the more I read the less faith I have in some of the assertions made by Dr. Williams. If you read closely you may note the that the samples obtained for testing were approx. 1mm. diameter. Multiple samples from each specimen are not mentioned. Given what we know of the varying carbon/impurity content in ancient steel, this does not inspire confidence that a single sample is representative of the sword blade as a whole.


I can see what you're saying, but many museums and collectors might feel that a 1mm sample destructively taken from a blade is more than enough. Happy It would be great to full analyze every part of every blade, but that involves taking samples of the blade. Analyzing the whole blade would involve severe damage/destruction. I'd imagine it took serious arm-twisting to get the museums to even let 1 mm be taken.

The two posted articles are very brief. Neither is by Dr. Williams; he's just quoted in both articles and is cited as the photo credit in one of them. I'm not sure it's wise to judge a man's opus by a few quotes in non-scholarly articles.

Happy

ChadA

http://chadarnow.com/
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
Joined: 10 Feb 2005
Likes: 1 page

Spotlight topics: 3
Posts: 1,532

PostPosted: Sat 15 Aug, 2009 2:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:


I can see what you're saying, but many museums and collectors might feel that a 1mm sample destructively taken from a blade is more than enough. Happy


I should think there were several of these samples, from several swords. Also, the premium material should have been used at the cutting edges (at a minimum) if they understood its advantages. I don't remember the specific article, but period crucible smelting sites within what would at that time have been Turkmenistan have been studied in large numbers. (On the order of 100 or more.) The Himalayan range seemed to have a distinctively wide range of small amounts of desireable trace elements (chromium, vanadium, nickle, etc.) such that the chemical composition is almost a finger print for identifying their ores. These ores were transported long distances in both India and Turkmenistan to regions where the charcoal production favored the smelting processes. I would not think that multiple samples would simply be mistaken for ore from such a specific region. Anyway, I still have some hopes for credible proof.

The comparative conclusion about the burial swords is puzzling. It would seem like they would have had to find excessive and large grained martensite in the burial swords or something.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
View user's profile Send private message
Justin King
Industry Professional



Location: flagstaff,arizona
Joined: 12 Apr 2004
Reading list: 20 books

Posts: 551

PostPosted: Sat 15 Aug, 2009 2:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's quite possible that broken context has taken a lot from his statements and findings. I was aware of his qualifications but the quotes about the brittle sword blades and that this would be unkown until it was used in battle is pretty hard to swallow from where I'm sitting. If a blade is that brittle then there are certainly ways to discover this before one's life is at stake.
As I said, I am more than willing to accept any supportable data. Accepting such statements at face value without such data can be quite misleading, regardless of the qualifications of the person who is making the statement.
Again, without the full context the percieved meaning of his statements and the facts obtained from his research may be misconstrued. My criticism would have been more accurately directed at the article rather than at Dr. Williams himself and I apologize if I have ruffled any feathers, but will say again, that presenting such claims without some supporting data invites one to question the claims. If the actual data of this research are availible then I am somewhat remiss for not having attempted to find it first. To be fair, though, Jared's comments and questions were concerning the articles he linked, and my comments are based on those.
View user's profile Send private message
J.T. Aliaga




Location: SATX
Joined: 19 Aug 2007
Likes: 1 page
Reading list: 4 books

Posts: 52

PostPosted: Sat 15 Aug, 2009 3:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

i guess Viking axes also shattered like glass since they were also made using "best northern metal working technique".

I suspect there is alot of shoddy reporting at work here. I love this quote though

The genuine Ulfberhts have mostly been found in rivers. Williams said: I don’t think these were ritual offerings. They are mostly from rivers near settlement sites, and I think what you have almost certainly is some poor chap staggering home drunk, falling into the river and losing his sword. An expensive mistake.
View user's profile Send private message
Jeff Pringle
Industry Professional



Location: Oakland, CA
Joined: 19 Nov 2005

Posts: 145

PostPosted: Sun 16 Aug, 2009 9:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The original article is 'Crucible Steel in Medieval Swords', which is in "Metals and Mines: Studies in Archaeometallurgy " (London, 2007). It is mainly a strong argument for importation of crucible steel into the European Viking Age swordmaking centers, the whole 'fake' 'brittle' etc. is a sideline argument, much played up in the press.
View user's profile Send private message
Kirk Lee Spencer




Location: Texas
Joined: 24 Oct 2003

Spotlight topics: 6
Posts: 820

PostPosted: Sun 16 Aug, 2009 11:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

[quote="J.T. Aliaga"]i guess Viking axes also shattered like glass since they were also made using "best northern metal working technique".

I suspect there is alot of shoddy reporting at work here. I love this quote though

The genuine Ulfberhts have mostly been found in rivers. Williams said: I don’t think these were ritual offerings. They are mostly from rivers near settlement sites, and I think what you have almost certainly is some poor chap staggering home drunk, falling into the river and losing his sword. An expensive mistake.[/quote]


Just a note about rivers.... They migrate across their river valleys and sometimes they even change course into older river valleys. Where the river channel is today may or maynot be where it was in the Iron Age. Even if is where it was in the Iron Age it may have been across its river valley once or twice sense then. So if a sword is dredged from a river channel or is found washed up on the shore, that really does not mean that it was thrown in or mistakenly dropped in. It is possible that a person could have been buried with his sword in the river valley and as the channel migrated it cut into the grave (along the cutbank), the poor chaps bones with his grave goods fell into the river while no one was looking (which is most of the time for rivers.) The river would then spread them down stream, buring them in the mud of the river bottom or flushed them out on a pointbar somewhere down stream.

ks

Two swords
Lit in Eden’s flame
One of iron and one of ink
To place within a bloody hand
One of God or one of man
Our souls to one of
Two eternities
View user's profile Send private message
Xan Stepp




Location: Ithaca, NY
Joined: 19 Dec 2008

Posts: 54

PostPosted: Sun 16 Aug, 2009 4:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared,

Would you mind posting the citation for the original JSTOR article?

Deyr fé, deyja frćndur
deyr sjálfur iđ sama;
en orđstír deyr aldregi
hveim er sér góđan getur.
View user's profile Send private message
Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
Joined: 10 Feb 2005
Likes: 1 page

Spotlight topics: 3
Posts: 1,532

PostPosted: Sun 16 Aug, 2009 5:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Xan Stepp wrote:
Would you mind posting the citation for the original JSTOR article?


I am not sure that i have a copy of a JSTOR one. There are quite a few directly related articles circulating now. Which article are you interested in?

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
View user's profile Send private message
Xan Stepp




Location: Ithaca, NY
Joined: 19 Dec 2008

Posts: 54

PostPosted: Sun 16 Aug, 2009 6:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
I was looking for a good example of a premium Viking made pattern welded sword and ran into a JUSTOR article abstract (mid 1960’s vintage article) claiming that they most likely imported the more premium blades and re-fitted them with their own furniture.


That's the one I'm looking for (I've already checked out the others). But if you don't have a link, no big deal.

Deyr fé, deyja frćndur
deyr sjálfur iđ sama;
en orđstír deyr aldregi
hveim er sér góđan getur.
View user's profile Send private message
Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
Joined: 10 Feb 2005
Likes: 1 page

Spotlight topics: 3
Posts: 1,532

PostPosted: Sun 16 Aug, 2009 7:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I will look around for the original article. It has been a couple of years, so , no book mark I am afraid...
Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
View user's profile Send private message


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Evidence of high quality Viking pattern welding?
Page 1 of 2 Reply to topic
Go to page 1, 2  Next All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2020 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum