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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Tue 06 Mar, 2007 8:27 am    Post subject: Rare 15th C Scottish Claymore         Reply with quote

I wanted to share a few photos of a claymore that I had a chance to photograph while visiting Dunvegan Castle in Scotland. I referred to the sword as "rare" in the title of this thread because apparently it is one of three known surviving Scottish claymores; all others are antique German copies. As such, it represents a relatively rare and special example of a Scottish sword.

You'll notice from the photos that the blade of the sword has a thickened ricasso. Surprisingly, it does not have a fuller of any type. Note also the ball pommel, which is not necessarily the sort of pommel seen on other period examples and in artwork. The last portion of the blade is missing, but otherwise it is a rather remarkable piece. It is thought to have belonged to William Longsword who was alive during the latter half of the 15th century and who fought in a battle around 1480.







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Thomas McDonald
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PostPosted: Tue 06 Mar, 2007 1:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That style of two-hand claymore guard, & pommel, are typical 16th century .... I've not seen any dated to the 15th century ?

Do you have any clearer shots of that hilt, Craig ?

Thanks, Mac

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Thomas McDonald
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PostPosted: Tue 06 Mar, 2007 2:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
"apparently it is one of three known surviving Scottish claymores; all others are antique German copies."


Hi Craig

Did information at the castle state the above quote ?
Are they, or you, referring to the blades as being German copies, or the whole of the sword, as I'm pretty sure there are more than just 3 that are Scottish in origin ?

Curious, Mac

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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Mar, 2007 2:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thomas...

There are definitely more than three Scottish claymores in existence. I am sitting here with a couple of reference books that picture nine different swords - none of them this one - dating from the early 16th century, which I think is the same time frame as the Dunvegan sword, by its appearance.

How long has that sword been there? I visited Dunvegan some time ago and did not see it. I do remember seeing a lot of two handed swords while visiting other locales in Scotland. Most of these were "parade swords" or "swords of state", or whatever Oakeshott called them. They were certainly too big to be used as weapons.

Lin Robinson

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Thomas McDonald
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PostPosted: Tue 06 Mar, 2007 2:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lin Robinson wrote:
Thomas...

There are definitely more than three Scottish claymores in existence. I am sitting here with a couple of reference books that picture nine different swords - none of them this one - dating from the early 16th century, which I think is the same time frame as the Dunvegan sword, by its appearance.


Hi Lin

Yup, I'm sure I've posted photos of most of them at one time or another, here, and handled at least 3 originals while in Scotland (all of Scottish origin), and viewed several others up close that are not pictured in any books that I'm aware of !

Mac

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PostPosted: Tue 06 Mar, 2007 4:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hasn't Dunvegan Castle undergone a major renovation recently? Just wondering if the display (reference Lin Robinson's comment) is new of a piece that's been in storage.

I really appreciate you sharing the photos of this piece... it's a bit of a surprise in that it doesn't conform to my mental picture of a claymore.

Have 11 swords, 2 dirks, half a dozen tomahawks and 2 Jeeps - seem to be a magnet for more of all.
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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Mar, 2007 6:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dunvegan is undergoing extensive repairs and some renovation as well. The MacLeod chief was forced to consider selling the Cuillins to pay for it but I think some group may have stepped in to help in that regard. It is unfortunate that the economic and tax structure in Scotland forces so many owners of historic structures to turn them over to the National Trust whenever a situation like that arises. Fortunately the Trust does a good job of maintaining and preserving what they find in their care.
Lin Robinson

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Thomas McDonald
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PostPosted: Wed 07 Mar, 2007 5:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thoughout the course of this thread: Arms & Armor Claymore I posted up quite a few images of original Scottish two-hand claymores, along with some bits of information about them !

Long thread, but worth a read thru if you like Scottish claymores !

Mac

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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Wed 07 Mar, 2007 8:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thomas McDonald wrote:
That style of two-hand claymore guard, & pommel, are typical 16th century .... I've not seen any dated to the 15th century ?

Do you have any clearer shots of that hilt, Craig ?

Thanks, Mac


Sorry, that's all of the photos that I have of the sword. The lighting wasn't exactly the best, and I didn't want to take any photos with the flash on since I know it can damage artifacts. As it was, I discovered afterwards that there was a sign at the entrance hall of the castle stating that photography is forbidden, but I had not seen it on the way in.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Wed 07 Mar, 2007 8:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thomas McDonald wrote:
Quote:
"apparently it is one of three known surviving Scottish claymores; all others are antique German copies."


Hi Craig

Did information at the castle state the above quote ?
Are they, or you, referring to the blades as being German copies, or the whole of the sword, as I'm pretty sure there are more than just 3 that are Scottish in origin ?

Curious, Mac


The information from the above quote was indeed from text in the castle. It could be mistaken- I assumed they'd probably have a better idea than I would, which is why I included it in my initial post. The text in the display at the castle is almost verbatim of what I wrote above, so I cannot say whether they were referring to the whole sword or to part of it.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Wed 07 Mar, 2007 8:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lin Robinson wrote:
Thomas...

There are definitely more than three Scottish claymores in existence. I am sitting here with a couple of reference books that picture nine different swords - none of them this one - dating from the early 16th century, which I think is the same time frame as the Dunvegan sword, by its appearance.

How long has that sword been there? I visited Dunvegan some time ago and did not see it. I do remember seeing a lot of two handed swords while visiting other locales in Scotland. Most of these were "parade swords" or "swords of state", or whatever Oakeshott called them. They were certainly too big to be used as weapons.


Lin,

I cannot say how long the sword has been on display. However, it wouldn't be too difficult to miss it. If you recall the interior of Dunvegan Castle, you'll know that you take a short flight of stairs down to a long hallway in the lower portions of the castle, which eventually has a passage leading back to the front exit of the castle. Shortly after you get to the bottom of the stairs, there's a little corridor that leads into a sidechamber on your left hand side. Within the chamber are a few artifacts, including the sword.
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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Mar, 2007 11:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter...

I was at Dunvegan last nearly 16 years ago. I was 44 then and could remember stuff! However, I do remember going down the hallway you mention but do not recall a room or alcove with artifacts. But then I think I visited ten museums on that one trip and after awhile they all ran together.

That is an interesting sword, but the placard does seem to have some erroneous information. German, Flemish and French made sword blades were being used in Scotland from very early times. So the idea of “German copies of claymores” if that is what the author of the information really meant, is a misstatement. There was never a big sword blade manufacturing industry in Scotland, consequently there were few Scottish blades “to copy”. In addition, continental swords made it to Scotland on occasion.

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Thu 08 Mar, 2007 2:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lin Robinson wrote:
Peter...

I was at Dunvegan last nearly 16 years ago. I was 44 then and could remember stuff! However, I do remember going down the hallway you mention but do not recall a room or alcove with artifacts. But then I think I visited ten museums on that one trip and after awhile they all ran together.

That is an interesting sword, but the placard does seem to have some erroneous information. German, Flemish and French made sword blades were being used in Scotland from very early times. So the idea of “German copies of claymores” if that is what the author of the information really meant, is a misstatement. There was never a big sword blade manufacturing industry in Scotland, consequently there were few Scottish blades “to copy”. In addition, continental swords made it to Scotland on occasion.


Perhaps the author meant to imply that there are only three known blades and hilts that were completely manufactured within Scotland that have survived, and that the rest were made by foreigners, even if they were used in Scotland.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Thu 08 Mar, 2007 2:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thomas McDonald wrote:
That style of two-hand claymore guard, & pommel, are typical 16th century .... I've not seen any dated to the 15th century?


I too was under the impression that claymores are a 16th century sword, so it was a bit of a surprise to read that this one was believed to have been made in the 15th century. Again though, I'm not an expert on them, so I did not want to presume that I knew more than whomever had wrote the article.

Out of curiousity, does anyone have an idea what sort of dating technique would have been used to arrive at the conclusion that this sword was the 15th century? I assumed that dating swords was largely by context, i.e. swords are dated by the period their blade types and hilt furniture was known to have been used in. So, if the claymore is considered a 16th century weapon, what would have lead someone to believe this one is from an earlier date? I am sure that ignorance is a possibility, though it seems strange to specifically link the sword with William Longsword without some reason for it.
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