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Tyler C.




Location: Canada
Joined: 20 Aug 2019
Reading list: 2 books

Posts: 135

PostPosted: Tue 16 Mar, 2021 10:30 pm    Post subject: 11th Century Scabbards and Suspension         Reply with quote

Hi All,

I'm looking for some help & hoping to spark some discussion. I am in the process of making a scabbard for a sword with a brazil nut pommel (Geibig Type 16 Var I.) and have been searching high and low for information on scabbards from the 11th century. It seems to be a bit of a dark age for scabbards. On either side of this time there seems to be much more information, but for the 11th century specifically there is very little.

My questions are as follows:
Can anyone add any sources to this search?
Are there any extant fragmentary examples hiding away that I have not come across? (pretty sure there are no complete examples)
How do you interpret the evidence available in manuscripts etc.?
What do you think of my ideas below? Comments? Corrections?
What are your thoughts on leather vs linen for this period?
Can you point me to any examples of 11th century leatherwork?

To me it seems like one of the best sources during this period is the Bayeux Tapestry which unfortunately doesn't provide much detail. There are however a few bits of important information that can be gleaned from it.

1. Sword belts were attached to the scabbard.


2. Sword belts are fastened with buckles.

3. Sword belts are wider than Viking era belting, but more narrow than later integrated belts or even many of the later 12th century vertical hanging sword belts. I would estimate about 1-1.5" wide.

4. There is some sort of feature at the top of the scabbard. These almost appear to be throat hangers because of the pixilated nature of the embroidery. All that can be drawn from this is there is something going on here that takes up a few inches near the top of the scabbard.


5. Sword belts are worn tight around the waist and swords do not hang straight down. This is in contrast to the 12th century scabbards talked about in the topic linked below which are often shown worn 'gun slinger low' with a second belt above at the waist. This angle implies some type of offset belt to accomplish it which I will touch on below.


6. This one may be a stretch, but it appears that the scabbard colors vary quite a bit. I'm not sure this can be trusted as the colors of other items such as the unsheathed swords are multi colored as well.

Based on these points and the images from the Bayeux Tapestry I have been able to find some early 12the century miniatures that have features that seem to match. Here are a couple of examples.

https://manuscriptminiatures.com/4524/11342
https://manuscriptminiatures.com/4111/12073
https://manuscriptminiatures.com/5812/22555
https://manuscriptminiatures.com/4814/11894
https://manuscriptminiatures.com/4112/12074

Based on what I am seeing in these depictions there are a few additional conclusions that can be drawn:

7. The belt can come from the front side of the scabbard.

8. The cross appears to made of the same piece of material as the belt.

9. it appears to me that many scabbards retains an almost vestigial slider which the belt is laced through and then crossed around the scabbard. This would make sense given that scabbard belting styles in the preceding centuries included a slider. (perhaps in cases were the slider is not shown on the front and the belt comes from the back side it is worn with the slider on the inside)

If I am correct about what this appears to be, perhaps this lacing method came directly from simply lacing a scabbard with a slider in a new way and doing away with the second attachment/distributor. (see my basic examples below. The duct tape is representing a slider)

Regarding the angle of the scabbard / offset belt, based on my simple tests it appears that just having the belt wrapped around the scabbard with the forward end laced on top as it goes through the slider, and the rear on the bottom combined with wearing the belt tight, it will give an appropriate angle to the sword/scabbard. It's hard to fully test this without actually making it, but it seems like it would have the right effect.

This is pretty much were I am with this at the moment. Would love to hear your comments and answers to the above questions.


Here are some other related topics:
For 12th century scabbards and suspension this topic has some great discussion and examples but it doesn't appear that these same styles & conclusions can be fully applied to the 11th century.
http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=304...y+scabbard
Thread on suspension, but with more focus on 12th century:
http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.29745.html



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Possible cross variation

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Possible cross variation

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With the slider on the back.

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When pulled tight the scabbard rests at an angle.
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Tyler C.




Location: Canada
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Posts: 135

PostPosted: Wed 17 Mar, 2021 8:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Got a few better pictures of the scabbards of the Bayeux Tapestry (attached below).

I'm not sure about what to make of what is going on at the top of scabbards 1, 2 , & 5. I have interpreted it as the slider showing up between the wrapped belt as I mentioned above. There also appears to be a section of white covering at the top of the scabbard under the wrap. Perhaps this is similar to some of the decoration that is seen at the top of scabbards depicted in the 12th c. Here are some examples of what I mean:
https://manuscriptminiatures.com/4087/12054
https://manuscriptminiatures.com/4087/12056
https://manuscriptminiatures.com/4087/12055 (guy at the bottom)

Scabbards 1 & 2 also show the buckles nicely. Again I'm not totally sure what to make of it. It almost looks like there is a similar buckle on each end of the belt (especially #2), and they appear too short. Perhaps they attach to another belt. Anyone seen anything that could match this in other art or archaeology?

I also threw in another wrap option that makes a shape similar to what scabbards 1, 2, and 5 look like, but it's just a complete stab in the dark.

Feel free to disagree with any of my idea/assumptions. Happy to hear any other possibilities of what could be going on with these scabbards or with any others from the 11th c..



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Wrap stab in the dark

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Scabbard 8 [ Download ]
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Harry Marinakis




PostPosted: Thu 18 Mar, 2021 6:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Fascinating work.

I agree with your conclusions, with one exception. I don't think that there is a vestigial slider. The belt is probably woven through the leather scabbard cover.
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Kai Lawson





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PostPosted: Thu 18 Mar, 2021 8:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I also agree by and large with your work, and appreciate your scabbard wraps and variations. However, while I agree with your analysis of belt widths for this time period, earlier Continental Ottonian manuscripts of the Reichenau tradition (c. 990-1020/1030) seem to show holdovers for the narrower belts along side wider, non-buckle pale belts, which could well be cloth or tanned leather. Indeed, there is some chance that the belts in question could be fabric--including tablet woven examples--or leather, or fabric-and-leather combo belts.

Additionally, how would you reconcile the narrower strip work of your scabbard wrap examples with wider belts for around the person? Do you suppose that the belt ends are separate for each side, weaving together in some way, similar to later integrated suspension systems, or do you think that the belt was extra long with a narrower section that forms the scabbard wrap portion? Or neither, and the belt is just wider throughout the whole thing?

Curious to hear your opinions.

EDIT: I agree that the slider is likely not present later in the 11th century, especially on the Continent or in places of strong Continental influence, where they may have disappeared as early as the first quarter of the 11th century. Areas of Scandinavia or northern England/Scotland/Orkneys might show slides as late as mid 11th century, but by 1066, I think it would be unlikely in a general sense.

"And they crossed swords."
--William Goldman, alias S. Morgenstern
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Tyler C.




Location: Canada
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Reading list: 2 books

Posts: 135

PostPosted: Thu 18 Mar, 2021 9:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Harry Marinakis wrote:
Fascinating work.

I agree with your conclusions, with one exception. I don't think that there is a vestigial slider. The belt is probably woven through the leather scabbard cover.


Thanks for the comment. I'm curious, what makes you lean to that conclusion?



Kai Lawson wrote:
I also agree by and large with your work, and appreciate your scabbard wraps and variations. However, while I agree with your analysis of belt widths for this time period, earlier Continental Ottonian manuscripts of the Reichenau tradition (c. 990-1020/1030) seem to show holdovers for the narrower belts along side wider, non-buckle pale belts, which could well be cloth or tanned leather. Indeed, there is some chance that the belts in question could be fabric--including tablet woven examples--or leather, or fabric-and-leather combo belts.

Additionally, how would you reconcile the narrower strip work of your scabbard wrap examples with wider belts for around the person? Do you suppose that the belt ends are separate for each side, weaving together in some way, similar to later integrated suspension systems, or do you think that the belt was extra long with a narrower section that forms the scabbard wrap portion? Or neither, and the belt is just wider throughout the whole thing?

Curious to hear your opinions.

EDIT: I agree that the slider is likely not present later in the 11th century, especially on the Continent or in places of strong Continental influence, where they may have disappeared as early as the first quarter of the 11th century. Areas of Scandinavia or northern England/Scotland/Orkneys might show slides as late as mid 11th century, but by 1066, I think it would be unlikely in a general sense.


I'm glad you brought up the belt width because I was just rethinking that original estimate. My original number was based on relative size in the Bayeux Tapestry, but I think this may be more to do with the limitations of the medium as many of the similar manuscript example show much narrower belts. My thinking now is closer to ~0.625 width.


Regarding the slider, same question as for Harry. I agree that the use of the slider as a slider was gone by this point, but is there anything to suggest that a similar feature of the scabbard (i.e. a hard structure of wood/bone/metal) was not used under the cover material to help keep the belt wrap in place. I'm not saying I have evidence to support that it was still present, but I would like to see any evidence in either direction.


Last edited by Tyler C. on Thu 18 Mar, 2021 9:57 am; edited 1 time in total
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Harry Marinakis




PostPosted: Thu 18 Mar, 2021 9:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tyler C. wrote:
Thanks for the comment. I'm curious, what makes you lean to that conclusion?


The slider was long gone by this period. It's also way too high for a slider to be present.
https://manuscriptminiatures.com/4688/12045

Of course, good luck proving that I'm right, or proving that I'm wrong.
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Greyson Brown




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PostPosted: Sun 21 Mar, 2021 12:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

At least a couple of those "slider" pictures look more like slits in the leather to me. A slit in the leather would serve a very similar function to a slider, and be in keeping with the attachment of integrated belts that we see in only slightly later periods, so I am inclined to think that is what is being depicted, but I don't have any hard proof for that.
"So long as I can keep the path of honor I am well content."
-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The White Company
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Kai Lawson





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PostPosted: Mon 22 Mar, 2021 6:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just to throw a wrench in the pot, so to speak:

The vast majority of illustrations of finds and reproductions I've seen, especially concerning the York leather fragment and fragments like it DO NOT show stressing, stretching or deformation of the leather near the top of the slits, which strongly implies a solid block or slider arrangement to relieve pressure from the belt system, regardless of scabbard angle.

However, remaining scabbard leathers from later than the 11th century (which isn't super helpful, but especially later in the 11th century, the scabbard leathers that remain tend to show lots of similarities to 12th century scabbards), there aren't impressions of single blocks or sliders, but there are sometimes gentle impressions of risers, which would help keep integrated belts from stretching the slits in the covering.

That's also assuming that most of the scabbard coverings were leather, which is another argument entirely. Cloth would behave somewhat similarly concerning wear and tear at weight bearing points, but depending on find conditions might not last at all, and a cloth/leather combo in either arrangement could have notable strengthening effects and might just show less deformation in general on whatever pieces survive. Plus, we have lots of artistic indications that scabbarded swords were carried around in the hand...

Honestly, my takeaway from the 11th through the early 12th century is that there are a large variety of suspension 'styles' to chose from, but it would be important to reference manuscripts, detailed sculpture or actual finds for setups that would deviate from a slider, simple belt integration with/without a slider, and relatively simple integrated belt setups as the century progresses. You want something cool? Do it--but definitely show what you sourced from, and mix and match from different regions and decades is not a good idea.

"And they crossed swords."
--William Goldman, alias S. Morgenstern
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Tyler C.




Location: Canada
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Reading list: 2 books

Posts: 135

PostPosted: Mon 22 Mar, 2021 8:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kai,
Your comments on stressing in the leather are exactly what lead me to interpret these images as sliders instead of simple slits. In cases like I have suggested, the entire weight of the sword/scabbard is carried by the slit/slider which would put a high load on the edge of the slit. Later woven scabbards that are more securely woven are able to spread the load out. Also, if the belt is slightly offset as I suggested, when the belt is tensioned around the waist and the sword is angled, the top/front belt will pull on the top left edge of the slit and the bottom/rear belt would put stress on the bottom right edge of the slit. With this stress on the leather I think that it would quickly tear or stretch and wear out. Instead, if a solid structure was beneath the leather to provide support it would prevent these issues.

Kai Lawson wrote:

That's also assuming that most of the scabbard coverings were leather, which is another argument entirely. Cloth would behave somewhat similarly concerning wear and tear at weight bearing points, but depending on find conditions might not last at all, and a cloth/leather combo in either arrangement could have notable strengthening effects and might just show less deformation in general on whatever pieces survive


The discussion of cloth vs leather is something I was hoping would come up in the course of this discussion. I am not aware of any evidence to support either within this time period. I have pre-ordered "Covering the Blade" and looking forward to receiving it in April I hope. Perhaps it will have some examples.

Kai Lawson wrote:
Plus, we have lots of artistic indications that scabbarded swords were carried around in the hand...


It's true that there are a lot of depictions of scabbarded swords in the hand, but based on what I have seen, they do not outnumber the depictions of scabbards worn around the waist. The Bayeux is a good illustration of this. There are quite a few depictions of scabbarded swords being hand carried, but the vast majority are still worn.

Kai Lawson wrote:

Honestly, my takeaway from the 11th through the early 12th century is that there are a large variety of suspension 'styles' to chose from, but it would be important to reference manuscripts, detailed sculpture or actual finds for setups that would deviate from a slider, simple belt integration with/without a slider, and relatively simple integrated belt setups as the century progresses. You want something cool? Do it--but definitely show what you sourced from, and mix and match from different regions and decades is not a good idea.


Right now I am definitely referencing across decades and regions, but this is only because of a lack of evidence. I'm trying to find any evidence that I can that will help with the mystery of this period. There certainly are a number of styles shown. I think it would be great if we could narrow down any of the styles to a region or decade, but I don't have enough data to go of yet. Do you know of any other manuscripts, detailed sculptures or actual finds that could add some more info?

I'm no very concern about something cool, or at least cool to me is something that is historically plausible. If I have to I will eventually break down and make some assumptions so that I can get a scabbard done, but the fewer assumptions I have to make the better.

Iíve been wanting to make some better mock ups of the slider idea but life has gotten in the way. I will have them soon to illustrate these ideas and see if my theories carry any weight (pun intended). When I do Iíll be sure to post pictures and impressions.

In the meantime more thoughts or data is welcome as always. I would also love to hear some comments on the other questions I posed in the original post if there are any. I would love to get some discussion going on decoration or leatherworking motifs of the period.
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Tyler C.




Location: Canada
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PostPosted: Mon 22 Mar, 2021 8:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Harry Marinakis wrote:

The slider was long gone by this period. It's also way too high for a slider to be present.



Yes, I agree that the slider used as a slider was gone by the 11th, but I still wondered if a similar structure beneath the cover was in use. To me it seems like a logical progression/evolution to start wrapping your belt in a way that eliminated the distributor and second strap. Perhaps this elimination was beneficial for a new fashion in armor or belt positions etc. which would make it a logical and simple alteration. I had almost starting moving forward with my slider theory, but I am rethinking the cover slit now thanks to everyoneís input and hoping for some more data before I proceed.
Regarding the position, in the depictions that I have seen, they appear to be in nearly the same location (about 2-3 fingers down from the mouth). Here is one example. Have you seen others that are lower?
https://manuscriptminiatures.com/4868/13182
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Kai Lawson





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PostPosted: Mon 22 Mar, 2021 11:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are a few depictions from the first quarter or half of the 12th century that show some lower belt-into-scabbard images, though the one you posted is 150-200 years older than the later ones, I'm afraid. Also, the Bayeux Tapestry is very region and time period specific, which is good, but also means that extrapolating evidence from it to neighboring regions should only be done (in my opinion) by corroborating with other evidence for the region in question. Swords, scabbards and mounting systems for the Baltic states from the 10th-12th centuries look notably different from those in Denmark and southern Sweden, which are again a little different from those in central Germany or France. None of these places are particularly far away from each other, and all had cultural influence to a greater or lesser degree on the others, but regional 'flavors' are still a big deal.

I also ordered Covering the Blade, and will be curious to see what it shows. I do not have access to Geibig's works, though I understand that he does note quite a number of finds with external fabric coverings. These may be fabric on wood, fabric on fabric or fabric on leather/parchment--I just don't know. His work is limited mostly to Germany and its surroundings, so there may be other preferences in other lands in Europe. Manuscripts and sculptural art tend to show a plain smooth scabbard without decoration, save for markings near the scabbard mouth that could be cord risers, woven belts or just differently colored cloth or leather strips for bling (think Haithabu/Hedeby scabbard).

I'm planning a new scabbard for a sword firmly within this time period, and I'm a bit back and forth on what I want to cover it with, and how best to integrate the belt, so I'm really glad for this fairly targeted exchange. I'll admit, I've seen enough early 12th century manuscripts from mainland Europe that look like they could have something to begin to think that there may have been a small slider like thing on some scabbards, but would hesitate to reconstruct this as there could be other options. The integrated woven belt scabbard I have shows little to no distortion of the facing at the slits, and it's too heavy, with oversized leather belts. I've worn it for hours, and I don't see any signs of wear. That said, I think it's overbuilt, and and the facing could be too thick compared to originals--again, I don't have data. I wonder if there were slits in a fabric underlayer and in the leather, helping to mitigate sag??

"And they crossed swords."
--William Goldman, alias S. Morgenstern
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Harry Marinakis




PostPosted: Mon 22 Mar, 2021 12:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eventually I intend to make a scabbard with the belt fed through slits in the cover. I'll post the results of the experiment to see whether or this a truly a viable suspension method.
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Tyler C.




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PostPosted: Mon 29 Mar, 2021 9:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Harry Marinakis wrote:
Eventually I intend to make a scabbard with the belt fed through slits in the cover. I'll post the results of the experiment to see whether or this a truly a viable suspension method.


Yes please do. Very interested to see what you find.

Kai Lawson wrote:

Manuscripts and sculptural art tend to show a plain smooth scabbard without decoration, save for markings near the scabbard mouth that could be cord risers, woven belts or just differently colored cloth or leather strips for bling (think Haithabu/Hedeby scabbard).


I still find this hard to believe because the aesthetic of the time seems to be lots of dense decoration, but there is basically no evidence for anything but simple decoration on the scabbard except, as you said, just below the mouth. This decoration in the top few inches appears to be very common. I would really like to explore this more. I read a post on here a while back that suggested it could be a woven ribbon. Perhaps it is a strip of tablet weaving. I have a few ideas of what this could be but nothing solid. Anyone have any ideas? More importantly, does anyone have any data on what this could be. Here is one more example of this type of decoration to add to what I have already posted:

1025-1050 from British Library, MS Cotton Tiberius B V f85v: http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=..._v!1_f074r

Kai Lawson wrote:

The integrated woven belt scabbard I have shows little to no distortion of the facing at the slits, and it's too heavy, with oversized leather belts. I've worn it for hours, and I don't see any signs of wear. That said, I think it's overbuilt, and and the facing could be too thick compared to originals--again, I don't have data. I wonder if there were slits in a fabric underlayer and in the leather, helping to mitigate sag??


This is interesting. Is it a later style integrated belt with more slits to distribute the load, or is it something similar to what we have been discussing with just a single pair of slits carrying all the load? I imagine that will make a big difference.

I was just reading in ďLeather and Leatherworking in Anglo-Scandinavian and Medieval YorkĒ by Q. Mould, I. Carlisle, and E. Cameron. In this report they discuss a few interesting scabbards. Here is a short excerpt describing a couple:

ď15837 comes from a late 11th- to early 13th-century context (2050) and is chronologically the earliest. This find represents two scabbards, both of which have features in common with pre-Conquest examples including convex shaped mouths edges with binding stitch, a strap-slide impression bordered by slits, and linear decoration raised in relief."


One of these scabbards is described as having "abraded marks suggest two lines radiating downward.". This could possibly support the idea of having the belt crossing the front like some of the possibilities I have shown. I wish that a picture of this fragment was included. Later in the document they stated the the dating of these two examples was changed to pre-conquest (I believe this means early 11th in this case).

There are also a few other examples from early 11th century contexts with sliders. One fragment also had evidence of a slider and a raised central ridge running down the entire length of the front. There appears to be at least some evidence that sliders were still present on scabbards into the 11th century in the York area.

One common feature of these finds that I canít figure out is the convex upper edges. I canít recall seeing that anywhere in scabbard depictions of this period. It appears a lot in later scabbards that have edges that rise above the mouth and cover the sides of the guard, but not so much in 11th century and before as far as I have seen. In the document, it is attributed to the curvature of the guard, but I donít buy it. The curvature is much too steep to match the curve of guards at the time, and there are a few that even have right angled points. These especially are not matching the curve of a guard. Bit of a mystery to me at the moment. Any ideas?

Also, If anyone has any more sources or theories in anything related to 11th century scabbards and suspension, please do not hesitate to post it even if it does not flow with the discussion. Would love to hear your thoughts.
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Kai Lawson





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PostPosted: Wed 31 Mar, 2021 7:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'll add a photo of my old scabbard (unused now for some time) to illustrate what I meant. I did not make it, but there are only 2-3 risers and laced belt straps holding the whole thing up. It was made for my Albion Gaddhjalt, which isn't particularly heavy, but has quite a bit of blade, and that moving back and forth would put some decent stress on the leather, I should think. Still no obvious stress marks. Just some staining.

I'm very curious to know how the analysts verified that there was a possible slider impression and possible diagonal impressions (belts, as you said?). Would love to see an image of that, and get an idea as to the leather thickness.

As to the sliders on scabbards in York in the 11th century: if you look at an image of the York scabbard (drawing or actual photos of the find), you'll see both a slide impression and a gently curved top section, with what could easily be described as holes or perforations for lacing. I've attached another scabbard leather image that shows the same thing.

I still say that slides could be found all over Northern and Western Europe until 1030 or so, and like longer in some places where the tradition held out. Based on what I've seen so far, I would hesitate to ascribe them a 'common' status past 1050 or so, in a general sense, though I'll concede that they could have existed into the first quarter of the 12th century, though I feel that they would have come across as a bit old fashioned and 'backwater,' even if they were modified to be small and were covered with an integrated belt. For the sake of erring on the side of caution, I would make belts after 1050 laced for Continental contexts, unless you are citing a specific find with strong evidence of a slider.

That said, if you feel that you'd like the extra security of a small metal piece for security reasons, as long as it isn't really visible, go for it. I put a thin brass ribbon cut into a 'chape' at the end of my scabbards before I cover them. It isn't visible on the finished piece, but it helps stop the thin slats I use from splitting over time when the sword is sat upright on hard surfaces.



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"And they crossed swords."
--William Goldman, alias S. Morgenstern
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Tyler C.




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PostPosted: Wed 31 Mar, 2021 4:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kai Lawson wrote:

I'm very curious to know how the analysts verified that there was a possible slider impression and possible diagonal impressions (belts, as you said?). Would love to see an image of that, and get an idea as to the leather thickness.


I don't know for sure, but I would assume visually. In the fragments that I have seen pictures of it is actually quite obvious where the slider is and what shape it is by the impression left. It was also easy to see where the wear had happened on the outside surface. Not sure if there were more technical processes used to confirm these observations.

Kai Lawson wrote:

As to the sliders on scabbards in York in the 11th century: if you look at an image of the York scabbard (drawing or actual photos of the find), you'll see both a slide impression and a gently curved top section, with what could easily be described as holes or perforations for lacing. I've attached another scabbard leather image that shows the same thing.


Are you suggesting there that the holes in the top could be lacing for suspension? I have always assumed that these are for attaching the mouth/lining of the scabbard or finishing the top edge. Not sure I've seen evidence that this could be for suspension.

Kai Lawson wrote:

I still say that slides could be found all over Northern and Western Europe until 1030 or so, and like longer in some places where the tradition held out. Based on what I've seen so far, I would hesitate to ascribe them a 'common' status past 1050 or so, in a general sense, though I'll concede that they could have existed into the first quarter of the 12th century, though I feel that they would have come across as a bit old fashioned and 'backwater,' even if they were modified to be small and were covered with an integrated belt. For the sake of erring on the side of caution, I would make belts after 1050 laced for Continental contexts, unless you are citing a specific find with strong evidence of a slider.


I haven't found much evidence for integrated laced belts until about the last half of the 12th which is exactly the reason for this topic. There is a gap between the time where sliders and a second low strap with distributer were used and the time when integrated belts came into the picture. Basically between 1000-1150. If an integrated belt was not anachronistic for the sword I am trying to sheath, I would definitely go for that. I quite like the look of them.

Kai Lawson wrote:

That said, if you feel that you'd like the extra security of a small metal piece for security reasons, as long as it isn't really visible, go for it. I put a thin brass ribbon cut into a 'chape' at the end of my scabbards before I cover them. It isn't visible on the finished piece, but it helps stop the thin slats I use from splitting over time when the sword is sat upright on hard surfaces.


Regarding the visibility, even sliders of the 10th century would not have been very visible. They were all concealed under the scabbard cover according to the evidence. Below are some examples from art, and you can see that they look just like slits in the cover, but we know from the archaeological evidence that there was something more to give structure and support. Perhaps it goes without saying, but the sliders we often see strapped to the outside of modern "Viking age scabbards" are actually incorrect for Viking age scabbards. They do look great though Happy.

https://manuscriptminiatures.com/4868/13197
https://manuscriptminiatures.com/4868/13198
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Tyler C.




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PostPosted: Thu 01 Apr, 2021 5:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I forgot to mention that the thickness of the leather in the York finds ranges between 1-2mm with 1.5mm being the most common by far and also being the average.

Thanks all for the discussion so far. I really appreciate the opinions, data, and contradictory theories. Keep it coming!
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Kai Lawson





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PostPosted: Thu 01 Apr, 2021 9:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To respond to your responses:

I wanted to get more information for the strap impression analysis because I have seen artifacts mis-labeled or mis-identified a number of times, and didn't want to assume that the fragments had been correctly analyzed without question.

Secondly, I think that the upper edge of the scabbard cover fragment drawings I showed would be sewed to a liner, in my opinion. I agree with what you said, but included them as you mentioned in a previous post that you were having trouble picturing a convex scabbard 'mouth,' and I assumed the authors were referencing the scabbard covering and not the wood beneath.

I would personally describe an 'integrally laced belts' as something that can work with and without sliders, and I'll admit that most of the art/sculpture I have seen shows ambitious attachment methods, including the possibility of sliders (see the image linked from Spain, listed as being from 1050--1100. Based on the style, I would lean earlier, but it would still likely be around or after 1050, and the scabbard lower right sure looks like it has a slider).

I am quite aware of the 'hidden-ness' of sliders from the Migration era through to the end of slider use in Europe. The external visibility of sliders is a separate but potentially related issue. That being said, though I dislike citing evidence for X using material of 100+ years off in either direction, I do want to point out the scabbard of the sword of Sancho IV of Castile, as well as Fernando de la Cerda, both of which could admittedly be burial items. The actual leather belt of Sancho's sword was cut off but the suspension around the scabbard was left in place, and does not show strong stress marks related to holding the sizable sword (aside from the little bit of bend for that central Z strap. I'm specifically looking for stress on corners or edges). A non-integrated suspension option is absolutely possible for the period in question, and is likely attested in some of the Ottonian manuscripts. Fernando de la Cerda's sword is a little worse for wear, but again, not many obvious stress marks on the scabbard for a minimally integrated belt. These are royalty items, so how much use they saw and their treatment for burial is questionable, but their status doesn't automatically preclude them from being somewhat representative of lower-status swords as well.

The point being, sliders could well be present, but it can be difficult to identify them in art or sculpture. However, non-integrated or minimally integrated belts are also a possibility, and could possibly hold and retain a sword well enough with non-obvious stress indicators, and could also appear similar to a hidden slider in some of the art. Mix-and-match suspensions with lots of variation and parts of multiple systems could also be present.

Fernando's sword:
https://c8.alamy.com/comp/P4R0D9/espada-del-infante-don-fernando-de-la-cerda-location-monasterio-de-las-huelgas-interior-burgos-spain-P4R0D9.jpg

Spanish manuscripts:
https://manuscriptminiatures.com/4358/13466
https://manuscriptminiatures.com/4358/13468

Ottonian belt:
https://cdn.kastatic.org/ka-perseus-images/c2db1f3db9fda4cc7e0d4e6b3b0371e5fc03da99.jpg

--I can't find it, but there is another Ottonian era manuscript (Henry II, perhaps? dated 1030ish) that shows a soldier with what appears to be a cloth belt tied or wrapped around the scabbard, with the ends wider than the rest of the strap. The whole assembly is very pale, and the belt ends are symmetrical, looking similar to some 13th century fabric belts that can be seen on manuscriptminiatures.com. They also could be akin to the pale buckskin seen in Germany 150+ years later, but as other belts like that DONíT show up this early, I find it unlikely.

Just to throw another thing in the ointment: Iíve also attached an image of non-integrated belts that look like integrated systems, which is also a system we could be seeing (out of period? Yep. Did I just notice the suspension system today? Also yep). How likely is this? No idea. Possible? Yeah. Reasonable? Perhaps. We have numerous images and finds from around 1000 AD that show either slider traces or fairly clear non-integrated systems. Would elements of each have carried on for 100 years? Likely depends on the place. Art and sculpture is tough, because often there is no visible suspension detected, as you know, so we have to ask if it was left out, or truly not visible to the viewer? It could be a single slider on the back, but maybe not. There is enough variety during this period depending on decade or location, and enough of a paucity of evidence that itís hard to draw solid conclusions. Based on what Iíve seen over the years, and functional notes of reproductions and my own experience (not the best data, but itís what I have), I feel that partially integrated belts or non-integrated belts are likely the Ďnorm,í such as it is, for most of Continental Europe from about 1050 onwards. I donít feel that the slider is required to have a belt pass through the covering bordered by risers and wrapped around once, but I donít have a specific thing I can print to and say "see? this is a real thing from X place at X time and shows what I mean.Ē



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"And they crossed swords."
--William Goldman, alias S. Morgenstern
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Tyler C.




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PostPosted: Thu 01 Apr, 2021 1:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My confusion surrounding the curved upper edge of the scabbard is because the depictions of scabbards of the time that I have seen don't show extensions that cover the side of the guard. In ďLeather and Leatherworking in Anglo-Scandinavian and Medieval YorkĒ they suggest that the curve is cut to match the curvature of the guard, but this didn't seem right to me because the curvature seems too tight to match the guards of the time. Perhaps some are within the range of curvature for highly curved Anglo-Saxon swords, but some are definitely too sharp to fit under the guard properly. I may be reading into this one too much. It could just be the hem that would bring it down enough to fit properly with the guard.

It seems like we are so close to being able to put a finger solidly on at least one construction style but there isn't enough data to nail it down just yet. I'm cautiously optimistic that there will be a tidbit in "Covering the blade" that will solve another part of the mystery.

On the laced/integrated vs slider discussion I appreciate your examples from later periods. They are good points of reference, but I'm not sure that the stress marks in these integrated systems are transferrable to a single slit system. There would be much more force on a single slit with an unsupported belt passing through it. This may come down to some experimentation to answer the question. Perhaps I will mock this up and walk around in my house for the next week wearing my sword... not sure how much my wife will appreciate that Big Grin.

Would really love to see that Ottonian era manuscript miniature you mentioned, Please do post it if you find it.

I like the integrated looking but non integrated idea. I'm going to ponder on that for a bit. The effigy you posted is intriguing. Who is it? What is it dated? I'd guess later 12th early 13th. Here is a writ up from someone else who suggests a similar solution. I found it interesting but not totally convincing. There are a few other period depictions that he includes which are nice to add to the list.
http://www.reenactment.de/reenactment_start/r...heide.html
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Kai Lawson





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PostPosted: Sat 03 Apr, 2021 9:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Tyler,

Yep, I've seen that website. I think the scabbard reconstruction is ok, but not great, if I'm honest. A bit too bulky, and I'm not a fan of the leather throat pad, though the fabric cover and suspension system are nice to see.

Found some poor quality images I screen-shot'd of the Codex Aureus Epternacensis. You can look up the book and find the specific folio numbers, but I've attached 2 images that in my opinion are strong contenders for cloth belts, and (I think) likely have non-integrated suspension systems. I feel like there may have been a third image from this same codex, but I can't seem to find it...

Let me know what you think. Mind, these likely apply to Ottonian/Salian areas (though it's not improbable to find something similar elsewhere).

Looking for some of the 13th to early 14th century manuscript miniatures that show knotted cloth sword belts on manuscriptminiatures.com (which my 5 minute search didn't find: too late in the day for my tired eyes), I did find this cool image. Way later than we're talking, but it got me wondering about the slim possibility of a cut-lattice like non-integrated or partially integrated system, as opposed to a series of cut tapered strips or laces. I don't think it's at all likely, but it is another cool idea to thrown in the mix that I had never thought about. Full disclosure: I think the image is actually supposed to be an integrally laced scabbard, but the art is such that it made me think of a cut lattice.

EDIT: Forgot about the effigy. French, late 13th/early 14th century, if I remember correctly. Relatively famous because of the unusual sidearm depicted. Totally blanking on the name though.



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"And they crossed swords."
--William Goldman, alias S. Morgenstern
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Tyler C.




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PostPosted: Sun 04 Apr, 2021 8:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I did some searching for a high resolution shot of the Codex Aureus Epternacensis but struck out. I would definitely like to see those in more detail. Will keep looking.

I did a quick mock up today with a scrap piece of leather to try out some of these concepts. My leather scrap wasn't quite large enough to make a whole scabbard top, but I wet it and laced it tight so it was very secure. I was surprised by how secure the suspension was with the wrap around style where the belt was coming from the outside of the scabbard. Belted in that way the sword sat in a comfortable position with an appropriate angle and did not swing or twist much as I moved around. Without the warp around the scabbard there was quite a bit more swing and the sword did want to hang in an almost vertical position.

I only wore it for a total of about 15-20min. At first it looked like the slit was doing it's job. It was very secure and It seemed like it would hold up. It almost seemed like it was the wrap around the scabbard that was actually providing the grip and the slit was just there to keep it in position. After a bit of movement however, there started to be some stretching going on. Still hard to say how it will hold up in the long run but the top of the slit loop is almost starting to roll over the leather above it.. I'll wear it some more this week and see if I get any more stretch. I also noticed, not surprisingly, that in order for the cross to stay in the right place there would need to be a stich or loop on the back side to keep it in place. If not, it wants to bunch up just below the slit. At the very least perhaps a riser would do it. This is a pretty basic test with a lot of potential inaccuracies but it will hopefully help to rule out some options at least. Anything else I should try while I am at it?



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