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Jay Barron




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PostPosted: Sun 15 Feb, 2004 9:10 am    Post subject: I have a couple of questions about seax...         Reply with quote

Yes I said seax! Big Grin

I'm planning to have a custom seax made for me and I could use some help on the grip. I really would like one in the style of the famous seax of Beagnoth (probably minus the runic script). Unfortunately, the grip of that seax has long since eroded away. Can anyone provide me with an idea of what it may have looked like? I want this to be as accurate as possible for the period. I would also consider another style of seax if I could find a decent pic of one. I'm particular curious about migration era germanic styles since they seem to be the the least well represented in museums etc. Any help would be greatly appreciated.



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Seax of Beagnoth.jpg


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Scott Byler




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PostPosted: Sun 15 Feb, 2004 10:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have no idea... I do know that the blade you posted is the style I'm going to be trying to do for my longsax model.
Minus the runes, unfortunately, but hey... I've actually designed one that I think looks very good, but how accurate it is I can't say. It has the furniture from a Viking sword hilt that I admire ( at least in the planning stage). I believe it would be a popular design if I could ever get it produced.... I still need to work it out, though, and get my heat treat set for longer blades...
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Shane Allee
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PostPosted: Sun 15 Feb, 2004 12:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey Jay,

As far as I have been able to find, there seems to be a pretty small amount of information about how these late anglo-saxon seax would have been mounted. Personally I would avoid using any metal fittings to keep it more accurate. If I can ever get around to making one of these for myself, I'm planning on building up from the 8th century sculpture from Repton, Derbyshire. Really it is the only thing I have found which give much of an idea of what the grip would have looked like. I'll include a photo of a sketch of it. It does show the end of the grip swelling, and you know that the front of the grip would have to be easy to slide out of the sheath. As far as cross section of the grip, I would guess at elliptical, possibly with taper to the edge side. Working from this, you would have a firmly based design with room to be creative.

For the migration era, are you looking for hand seax size examples or the short sword sax? There seem to be several examples of 6th century hand seax found in england with fittings, I'm not sure how common the fittings would be on the continent would have been though. I'll throw in a sketch of a seax from Ford, Wiltshire with silver plated bronze fittings with a garnet setting. Still, my favorite small migration era seax is one which was shown on Netsword a number of years ago. It has the sandwich construction guard of bronze and wood, with the rest of the handle being a carved raven. It is probably still there, if not I have a picture of it saved somewhere. For the larger, short sword types, Oakeshott has a couple of illustrations in AOW. Right off hand I can't think of any good photos of these, although I know they are out there. I'll have to think about it.

Maybe this is a start...

Shane



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Ford Wiltshire seax.jpg


 Attachment: 49.93 KB
Repton seax.jpg

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Scott Byler




Location: New Mexico
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PostPosted: Sun 15 Feb, 2004 12:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've seen a couple of late period drawings that depict the sax with an hilt that tapered in at the middle like an hour glass almost. I can't recall if there were any metal fittings or not. If there were they were the very thin 'washer' style... I bet there is lots of room for variation, though, in getting a seax designed.

There is a picture of a sword hilted seax on SFI right now. It has similar shaped fittings to the drawing Shane posted. I think that may have been a common 'type', but it is just a guess...

I have a suspicion that the one I will make for myself won't be accurate in fittings, but I think for sure that Shane would be pleased with the hilt form I've chosen. I seem to recall the hilt being one he was fond of...

I'd be interested in trying to replicate a seax like the Raven hilted one. Don't know if it would be a masterpiece, but it would be fun...
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Jay Barron




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PostPosted: Sun 15 Feb, 2004 1:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the info guys. I would probably be looking for something in the 12"-18" blade length so I can use it for test cutting like a short sword. I'll check out Netsword for the seax with the sandwich hilt.
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Shane Allee
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PostPosted: Sun 15 Feb, 2004 1:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ah, here we go...




There is the thread it comes from...
http://netsword.com/ubb/Forum2/HTML/000311.html
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Scott Byler




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PostPosted: Sun 15 Feb, 2004 1:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jay Barron wrote:
Thanks for the info guys. I would probably be looking for something in the 12"-18" blade length so I can use it for test cutting like a short sword. I'll check out Netsword for the seax with the sandwich hilt.


Just a personal preference thing, but I'd aim more toward the 18 than the 12 if test cutting is what you want to do. Not that 12 or 13 inches won't do that pretty well, ofcourse. It just doesn't quite feel like a sword to me. Kind of ambiguous, though, since
the 13 inch blade also seems to be bigger than a knife, too.... At least on the ones I make. lol
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Shane Allee
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PostPosted: Sun 15 Feb, 2004 1:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Found a pretty good picture here... Some examples of the migration short sword types with the grip style not that removed form those of a falcata on the left side. On the far right side then there is an example of single edge viking age sword, at this point it seems simplier to not even call these a seax. These fall into the transition area from the migration to the viking age. One of these days I still also want to do one of these in the sword hilted variety and test it compared to a similar double edge sword.


http://www.frojel.com/_index.html

Shane
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Greg Thomas Obach
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PostPosted: Sun 15 Feb, 2004 5:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi all
- the seax is a great knife.... good choice !!

- from what i've seen of the seax's online.. (archae pic's ) .... almost all have been absent of handle material... and very few have bolsters or pommels (cept the larger versions and the occasional small knife)

- generally acidic soils attack organic stuff aggressively.... this is one of the reasons why it is seldom that bone remains are found in the Boreal forests digs.. (graves and middens etc)

- this leads me to believe the handles were possibly made of bone, antler, or wood with hide

- another assumption is how the handle material is fixed onto the tang..... I haven't seen any holes in the tang for pins therefore this leads me to believe that few were pinned...... mostly likely bone or antler was boiled to soften it and hammered onto the tang or....... wood maybe used similar to a hidden tang with resin/pitch to fix the wood to the steel

-either way it is safe to assume that the handle material was decorated with carvings and designs..... since this is very popular with the northern cultures of the time..

Greg
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Shane Allee
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PostPosted: Sun 15 Feb, 2004 8:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ok, I'm seeing what else I can find to post.

For the most part I would agree that rivets holding handle slabs on wasn't used, with the exception of the type pictured directly above on the left hand side. These do seem somewhat more common to have the rivets. Outside of this type I have only found one vague reference to one which might have a rivet helping to secure the handle. Here is another photo of the same seaxs pictured above, only at an angle where you can see the rivets. Looking at the two broken ones in the same box, there looks to be four rivets/rivet holes in the top one and one visible hole on in the bottom blade.

Rewinding back even further to the Hjortspring find we have things such as these....


http://home6.inet.tele.dk/hjortspr/weapons.htm
Now I would have to disagree with this sites statement that the Celts only used double edged swords, but that is another post.

Heck it is looking like I haven't transferred the majority of picture that I have saved over time over to our new computer.
Shane
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Patrick Fitzmartin





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PostPosted: Sun 15 Feb, 2004 8:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Greetings Gentlemen, My this is timely indeed. I have looked at bunch of these, online and in books off the shelves. I have seen few with fittings, most without. I am working on 2 more aimed at being secondary implements. Being this is a new area to me, do let me muddy the waters a bit. Wink First off, would it be the agreed consenus that this is a utility item similar to the Scottish dirk or maybe the Kukri among the Norse/ Teutonic/ Germanic cultures (?)? A man of the period or culture might not have a sword but he would have a seax? Secondly, a man of means, say a chieftan or moneyed, may have a "fancier" one than his lower ranking counterparts? Thirdly, given the value of an already made weapon in these times, one might find a variety of styles due to trade, confiscation, spoils of battle, etc. ? Sorry Gentlemen, I work 4 forums most of the time and this is the one I would trust to get the most academic answer considering the "greyness" of the period. Wink This is a new area for me and I have found it much muddier than any I have pursued before. To you, Jay Barron, I do apologize for any hijacking that may occur. It was not my intent and hopefully we may benefit from it. For my part, I have just got Osprey's Anglo-Saxon Thegn book and it has many great photos and drawings to hopefully fill in these gaps. Sincerely, Patrick Fitzmartin
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Patrick Fitzmartin





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PostPosted: Sun 15 Feb, 2004 8:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Greetings Jay Barron, For what its worth, go to SFI. The "Ancient Weapons" forum. The thread is " Norwegian Langsax" I think. There is a gentleman named Jeroen Zuiderwijk who has posted an impressive link to his site full of photos including seax with fittings. I have not begun to dig through all of his offerings but it is phenomenal. He is in the Netherlands. I do apologize as I don't know how to work these !@#$( Big Grin ) computers as well as others do. If you can't find it, let me know and I will do my best to provide links or get him to join up. He has done one first rate job of photographing his nations museums. Sincerely, Patrick Fitzmartin
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Shane Allee
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PostPosted: Sun 15 Feb, 2004 9:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is the link for you guys...
http://1500bc.com/index2.html

Happened to end up on the site myself and pretty much lost track of what I started looking for.... so much to see, very worthwhile for everyone to check out. Here is a teaser...

http://membres.lycos.fr/bronzeage/sejrens_triumf/07190072.jpg

ok, another one... I'm just drooling over this one
http://membres.lycos.fr/bronzeage/sejrens_triumf/07190041.jpg


Ok, enough for tonight... I gotta get some sleep
Shane
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Greg Thomas Obach
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PostPosted: Sun 15 Feb, 2004 10:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Good pic's

there is good indication that some of the larger knives had pins.. very cool stuff !!
- thank you for the correction

perhaps it is just the smaller hand knives that are fixed without pin's.... check out the pic's on Frojel gallery

http://www.frojel.com/_index.html

- I also believe it was a very functional weapon (for everday use and utility too).... seems to be many of them, therefore a very popular item !

- even the profile of the blades takes many shapes and forms.... from a typical western like curve to a drop forward point....... some have fullers and many do not...

- it would be very interesting to crunch the stats on " what was the most popular profile" for the seax

ofcourse there are some that have wonderful inlays and even pattern welded names in the steel.... my guess is that these pieces belong to upperclasses...

very interesting
Greg
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Sun 15 Feb, 2004 11:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great thread!

A few things I like to add...
The seaxes or single edged swords or war knives we´ve seen example of in this thread span quite some time period. The Hjortspring find is dated to around 350 BC and the Alnglo saxon seax the thread started with is from the 8th C AD (if I remember correclty)

Grip construction is typically a knife handle of organic material that is secured by riveting the tang at the protruding end or perhaps more common: by press fit and glueing.
Sometimes you see a small pommel or rivet cap at the end of the grip, but that seems not to have been the most common solution.

The wide and thin weapons with offset tang we´ve seen pohotos of in this thread belong to another group of seaxes that seem to have much in common with weapons like the Kopis, the Falcata and a later offspring: the turkish Yataghan.
They are generally wide and impressive in the blade but quite thin (typically some ?5 mm? at the base of the spine) and makes you think of a short sword when you handle them. Some are more like big kitchen knives, slim and wicked, but perhaps not so effective as cleaving weapons, more like murderous carving knives.

There are also those really big seaxes that have blades like Falchions of medieval times, or like very sturdy machetes. These usually have common knife handles: it is rare to find any remains of metal mounts in the hilts.
In Norway they developed during the viking age into proper swords (having sword hilts) and we recognize them as the single edged viking sword.

In general, the seaxes (with knife grps that are press fit/glued on) that have more narrow blades have also a much thicker spine. The cross section is a substantial triangular wedge. 7-9 mm thick is not uncommon. Sometimes you will se a fuller, but this can in some cases be so narrow and shallow it will not reduce weight much. It seems fullers were usually decorative rather than functional. Incised lines or groves is very common on some types.
The "typical" seax usually imagined with its angled back and long sharp point is most common in the anglo saxon material. On the continent it seems a less angular profile was more common. The point is usually spear-point-shaped and often aligned along the central axis of the blade.
These weapons have a strong blade prescence without being too cumbersome either. Balance is managed bu the mass of the tang and the change in cross section in the blade. Bigger examples often have longer/stouter tangs (leaving room for two hands in some cases). The way these blades are fashioned makes me think of some kind of migration era wakisashi, only a bit stouter.

I have seen a few examples when a solid pommel has been added to function like the pommel of a sword. I´ve only seen these on the continental version, with the less angular outline. Outline and cross section follow that of the handle: egg shaped in section and parallel in outline.
In other cases there is a more decorative pommel, or rivet block, that is not too far removed in shape from late roman/early migration period spatha rivet blocks: proto three lobe forms. Sometimes with two styilzed animal heads on either side of a central little dome. These pommels are too light to have any effect in counterbalancing. They are just rivetblocks and usually sit of a thin plate that show the shape of the cross section of the grip: egg shaped.

Some of the seaxes excavated in Vendel/Valsgärde have quite a bit of the grips remaining. They are of wood and has decorative domed rivets set in patterns. This must have looked stuning as well as improving the gripping.

There are many exceptions to these features. These are just general impressions.

A quick drawing to outline grip/blade combinations of common types that have been discussed in this thread so far:



 Attachment: 51.09 KB
Saxar.jpg



Last edited by Peter Johnsson on Mon 16 Feb, 2004 1:31 am; edited 1 time in total
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Mon 16 Feb, 2004 1:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is a seax made as a reconstruction of a grave find in Tomteboda, just north of Stockhom. A lance head, a set of shears, a buckle, a fire steel some small rivets telling of a comb and this seax was found in the grave of a warrior. It was interesting to be involved in the reconstruction of these items as they were all rather far gone from corrosion.
Interstingly, the seax had a close parallel in a find from Valsgärde.
The grave was dated to the beginnig of the 7th C.

The seax is a bit strange in that the edge has a concave curve. Not much, but noticable. Like a very narrow and almost straight Kukri. It is very thick in the spine and has the heft of a short sword even though its blade is only 40 cm long and some 3 cm wide. The spine is thickest at the point where the "fuller" ends: some 10 mm thick.
The grip was reconstructed from remains of wood that was identified as maple and some remains of rivets, that hinted at some kind of reinforcing band had beed secured around the grip towards the end. The tang is not rveted but simply folded over where it protrudes from the end of the grip.



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Greg Thomas Obach
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PostPosted: Mon 16 Feb, 2004 7:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wonderful post, thank you Peter

the knife catagories you mention make very good sense.... and explain a host of differences between the knives
- it is good to get some info on the blade thicknesses ... this is an often forgot about area when people post artifact pictures on the net... ( eg..the larger falcata-ish seax has a 5mm thick blade at ricasso)

I can however explain the slight forward recurve of the seax as I have experienced this phoenomena many times while smithing knives... when a knife is quenched horizontally in an oil quench bath, it will sometimes curve forward ( a little like a kukri) during the quench hardening...
-- it acts in just the opposite manner to water quenching... (concerning curvature in quench)
-- perhaps 10 times this has occured to me where I had to reforge the straightness back into the blade...... profile didn't seem to affect this too much but a good distal taper made it very well pronounced... (sometimes 1/4 inch)

to over come this, I forge a slight curve backwards to compensate for the possible forward curve in horizontal oil....
- but i've never experienced this phoenomena in a vertical oil quench

Greg
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Jay Barron




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PostPosted: Mon 16 Feb, 2004 11:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you all for your great input. Peter, thanks for the great images and detailed information. The Anglo Saxon style of seax is the one that most intrigues me. Jake Powning recently made a beautiful version of a "broken back" seax. And I love the grip he made for it...




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Shane Allee
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PostPosted: Mon 16 Feb, 2004 8:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Peter, great information as always.

I had always brushed off the Hjortspring weapons as not being something I was really interested in, getting a more clear idea of what they would have looked like has changed my opinion on them.

Tried checking out dates for the germanic carving knifes, and the latest I have been able to find has been the one found at Vimose. I would guess from the earliest stage of deposit, but I don't know. For some reason I had been thinking these were in use later than what they were.

Eric had told me about the reconstruction you did, after seeing the picture I now get more of what he was telling me about.

Thanks again

Shane
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Jeanry Chandler




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PostPosted: Sat 21 Feb, 2004 11:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jay Barron wrote:
Thank you all for your great input. Peter, thanks for the great images and detailed information. The Anglo Saxon style of seax is the one that most intrigues me. Jake Powning recently made a beautiful version of a "broken back" seax. And I love the grip he made for it...



Man, I'm sorry to sound like a fanboy, but that is one sweet weapon. Is that a custom blade or is it for sale somewhere?

Jeanry Chandler

"A strong people do not ned a strong leader."

Emiliano Zapata
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