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Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > I have a couple of questions about seax... Reply to topic
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Jay Barron




Location: Albany, NY
Joined: 18 Aug 2003

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Posts: 291

PostPosted: Sun 22 Feb, 2004 7:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeanry Chandler wrote:
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


That is a custom seax from Jake Powning http://www.powning.com/jake/home/j_homepg.shtml. It ain't cheap but then, why should it be. All of Jake's stuff is incredible. I consider him to be one of the hidden jewels of the custom sword world. Unfortunately, I can't afford anything from him at the moment, but some day...

Can anyone tell me if the hilt on Jake's seax would be historically accurate for the Beagnoth blade? I really like that style and would love to have my seax sport something similar, but I am also going for accuracy.

Constant and true.
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Jeremiah Swanger




Location: Hershey, PA
Joined: 20 Feb 2004
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Posts: 535

PostPosted: Sun 22 Feb, 2004 7:04 am    Post subject: Re: I have a couple of questions about seax...         Reply with quote

Jay Barron wrote:
Yes I said seax! Big Grin


Well, Jay...

When a steel billet and a swordsmith love each other VERY much...

(sorry, I just couldn't resist!)

On another note, the Jake Powning Anglo-Saxon seax is absolutely beautiful.

I, myself, have a question about seax...

Most examples I've seen of a Leangseax (spelling?) have just a simple wooden grip- no apparent pommel or cross. The one Randal Graham did for Albion had a full viking sword hilt. Was this a common practice? Are there many surviving examples that exhibit this?

"Rhaegar fought nobly.
Rhaegar fought valiantly.
Rhaegar fought honorably.
And Rhaegar died."

- G.R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire
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Jay Barron




Location: Albany, NY
Joined: 18 Aug 2003

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Posts: 291

PostPosted: Sun 22 Feb, 2004 7:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello Jeremiah. The full sword hilt langsax is accurate for the Viking period.


 Attachment: 37.88 KB
langsax.jpg


Constant and true.
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Jay Barron




Location: Albany, NY
Joined: 18 Aug 2003

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PostPosted: Sun 22 Feb, 2004 7:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is another pic of Viking and Saxon lansaxes (along with a few swords). These no longer have their hilts, but they would have had full hilts.


 Attachment: 55.19 KB
Seaxes and swords.jpg


Constant and true.
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Jeremiah Swanger




Location: Hershey, PA
Joined: 20 Feb 2004
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PostPosted: Sun 22 Feb, 2004 8:40 am    Post subject: Ooh...         Reply with quote

Jay Barron wrote:
Here is another pic of Viking and Saxon lansaxes (along with a few swords). These no longer have their hilts, but they would have had full hilts.


There's one pattern in there that I haven't seen anyone take a crack at- the one on the right side, second from the top, with a somewhat rounded tip- almost like a 'proto-backsword'!

Thanks for the info, Jay. That cleared a few things up for me.

"Rhaegar fought nobly.
Rhaegar fought valiantly.
Rhaegar fought honorably.
And Rhaegar died."

- G.R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire
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Michael Pearce
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Location: Seattle, Wa.
Joined: 21 Feb 2004

Posts: 365

PostPosted: Sun 22 Feb, 2004 9:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Saex (Seaxii?) have long been a favorite of mine. Something Harold Peterson wrote (not sure where) indicated that many saex did not have a true guard or bolster, but a simple band of metal around the join of handle and blade on an organic hilt, very like 'shoulder bands' found on Thwittle style knives of all periods. This band would help prevent splitting of the handle under stress. The reference seemed to be referring to knife-sized implements, but was not entirely clear on this point. He also mentions both organic and metal or mineral pommels. This reference might have been in his book 'Daggers and Fighting Knives of the Western World.'

The saex is believed by many to be a relative of the Greek Kopis, and the earliest knives that I have seen referred to as saex seem very like a Kopis, but with a straight blade. This is not far-fetched, as the Greeks did trade overland with the peoples of Northwestern Europe during the Classical Period (around 500BC.) The handles of these weapons had scales of organic material of various types riveted to the full-width scales. I have veiwed very few saex personally, and all were in museums in Germany over 20 years ago, except for examples of very small (3-7 inch blade) handsaex that I looked at last weekend in Mark Gaukler's collection- none of which had any remnants of hilt fittings. They were for the most part typical of later medieval knives called Thwittles, having a narrow tang tapering towards the tip that would extend 1/2-3/4 of what you would expect the length of the handle to be. It would be reasonable to suppose that these would be mounted very like these later knives, with the narrow tang 'burned in' to the handle, glued or simply force-fit to a handle with a shoulder band, rather like a modern file handle. This mounting method would be much less suitable for shortsword length weapons under discussion here, but I though it might be of interest.

Michael 'Tinker' Pearce
-------------
Then one night, as my car was going backwards through a cornfield at 90mph, I had an epiphany...
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Michael Pearce
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Location: Seattle, Wa.
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PostPosted: Wed 25 Feb, 2004 5:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This post got me thinking, and as a suitable Sramasax blade was sitting in the shop, I set about to make a 'historically plausible' hilt for it. There is a metal shoulder band around the hardwood hilt, and the tang passes entierly through the hilt, through a metal plate and then through a migration-era style pommel. The tang is then riveted over the pommel. The wood handle was relieved to accomodate the thickness of the linen cord wrap and the leather covering that, and also so that the shoulder band and supporting wood would form a rudimentary guard. For reference the blade is 17-3/4 inches long and the overall length is 23-1/2 inches. Information/inspiration for this came partly from information and photos in this post, partly from a 'continental-style' saex pictured in Harold Peterson's 'Daggers and Fighting Knives of the Western World' and partly from general information on period hilt construction gleaned over the years from sources too numerous to mention. Lighting conditions sucked, which did nothing for my already questionable photography...


 Attachment: 9 KB
FL1.jpg


Michael 'Tinker' Pearce
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Then one night, as my car was going backwards through a cornfield at 90mph, I had an epiphany...
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Michael Pearce
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Location: Seattle, Wa.
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PostPosted: Wed 25 Feb, 2004 5:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is a closer look at the hilt-


 Attachment: 4.38 KB
Hilt1.jpg


Michael 'Tinker' Pearce
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Then one night, as my car was going backwards through a cornfield at 90mph, I had an epiphany...
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Joe Maccarrone




Location: Seattle, WA USA
Joined: 19 Sep 2003

Posts: 165

PostPosted: Thu 26 Feb, 2004 1:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just a little something you slapped together, eh Tinker? Happy

Very nice work! I'd be glad to have that one in my mitt when things get close & personal.

Got your e-mail, and will write soon, when I have a longer moment to do so...
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Shane Allee
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Location: South Bend, IN
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PostPosted: Thu 26 Feb, 2004 8:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey everyone...

Here is my take on things...

For the late anglo saxon style of seax blade like the Beagnoth, the most accurate way to mount them is pretty much the way that Peter mounted his. Either with or without the metal collar... The next step down in accuracy would be something based on the image I posted earlier with the swell at the end. This we have no physical proof, but an artistic image to base the design upon. Beyond this, we are getting into designs as Tinker called his, historically plausible. Some of these are more so than others. Personally I don't care for this style of blade mounted with a Petersen type B,C,H, or I type of hilt, it seems stretching a bit for me personally.

Shane
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Michael Pearce
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PostPosted: Thu 26 Feb, 2004 9:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have to agree with Shane- these style of hilt are more appropriate to longer continental styles, though I do get customers who request them on the clip-point styles as well.
Michael 'Tinker' Pearce
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Then one night, as my car was going backwards through a cornfield at 90mph, I had an epiphany...
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Patrick Fitzmartin





Joined: 07 Nov 2003

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PostPosted: Fri 27 Feb, 2004 4:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Greetings Gentleman, Okay, from what I gather here so far, the "hand seax" more than likely had some kind of organic handle, wood, bone or antler usually without fittings. The short sword to sword size probaly did have fittings. I am working on two to go with my Viking kit. It strikes me that the "hand seax " is sort of the Viking/Anglo Saxon equavilent to the Scottish dirk. Secondary weapon and utility knife. I am sure there are exceptions though due to wealth, trade and opportunity though. I have been researching this alot on SFI and here. I have seen some really appealing examples. The trend I am beginning to see is that the sword would have great work lavished upon it while a utility blade would not get such treatment in general. I do welcome all opinions as this is great stuff on a simple yet complicated blade type. Wink Sincerely, Patrick Fitzmartin
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Michael Pearce
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PostPosted: Fri 27 Feb, 2004 5:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I usually break them down by size- a 'hand-sax' can be anywhere from 3-13 inches, anything from 14-24 I refer to as a scramasax (short sax) and the sword-like ones above 24 inches as simply a sax. That's sort of how Oakeshott broke them down, so it works for me.
Michael 'Tinker' Pearce
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Then one night, as my car was going backwards through a cornfield at 90mph, I had an epiphany...
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Patrick Fitzmartin





Joined: 07 Nov 2003

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PostPosted: Sat 28 Feb, 2004 8:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Greetings Michael 'Tinker' Pearce, I just put the trusty tape to mine. They both fall into the short sax or scramasax range. If it is good enough for Oakeshott, its good enough for me. Wink I guess since I am doing two of them, I will do one with fittings and one without. I will just have to fall back on "historic plausibility"otherwise. I really like your latest effort. I don't care for blades without fittings myself and your's is the best looking one I have seen yet. You have really fleshed out the mental picture I have had in mind. We will see what happens. I still think that a person of status or wealth would have a fancier one and considering the lack of materials, I don't think these would get rebuilt that much for the sake of fashion. I also think alot of this is based on what we have been lucky enough to recover. For me personally, considering the love of embellishment I have seen so far in this culture on so many objects, why not the sax , scramasax etc. Big Grin Sincerely, Patrick Fitzmartin
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Michael Pearce
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PostPosted: Sat 28 Feb, 2004 11:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks, Patrick! As I have said, the sax has always been a favorite of mine. You are surely correct that the sax of a wealthy person woulf be more ornate- there are some examples in 'The Sword in Anglo-Saxon England' By Hildegard Davis- currently out of print, but Barnes and Noble reprints it occasionally and it has been in print recently enough that copies are usually available though it might run you $50...
Michael 'Tinker' Pearce
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Then one night, as my car was going backwards through a cornfield at 90mph, I had an epiphany...
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Patrick Fitzmartin





Joined: 07 Nov 2003

Posts: 134

PostPosted: Sun 29 Feb, 2004 6:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Greetings Michael 'Tinker' Pearce, Thank you for the heads up on photos. I own Osprey's "Anglo Saxon Thegn". It has a few good pics. From everything I have read so far, I need to get "The Sword in Anglo Saxon England" as a matter of practice. Everybody seems very impressed with it. I spent today edging one of them. I am a rank amatuer at best so things take me awhile. Wink Sincerely, Patrick Fitzmartin
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Patrick Fitzmartin





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PostPosted: Fri 05 Mar, 2004 4:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Greetings Michael 'Tinker' Pearce, I just received a really pristine copy of "The Sword in Anglo Saxon England" today. I found it for $25.00 plus shipping. Just a page through show it to be very interesting. The drawing of the Shifford sword is nice as I happen to own A&A's Shifford. I also see where Albion's "Clontarf" came from. I also received a Viking reenactor book I ordered off of eBay today. Lots of great color pics of weapons and gear. Woo Hoo! A whole new period to play with! Big Grin My wife will hate me. Thanks for the heads up. Sincerely, Patrick Fitzmartin
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Jay Barron




Location: Albany, NY
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PostPosted: Sat 06 Mar, 2004 6:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not sure if I missed this in one of Peter's earlier posts, but how much (if any) distal taper did the Anglo Saxon scramasaxes have? I'm about to send my commission off to the smith and I should probably have that detail.
Constant and true.


Last edited by Jay Barron on Sun 07 Mar, 2004 11:45 am; edited 1 time in total
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Michael Pearce
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PostPosted: Sun 07 Mar, 2004 10:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I can't say for sure about all saxes, but I would certainly expect that saxes of sword proportions that are fitted up like swords would have sword-like distal tapers- with the possible exception of 'broken-back' clip-point style saxes, where I would expect distal taper only from the peak of the spine to the point. This is just an educated guess, of course- but these sword type-saex would be likely to have distal tapers similar to swords of their period.
Michael 'Tinker' Pearce
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Then one night, as my car was going backwards through a cornfield at 90mph, I had an epiphany...
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Scott Gardner




Location: Maine
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PostPosted: Sun 07 Mar, 2004 12:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have just recently started following this discussion regarding the seax. I hope that the following is found to be useful, although it may turn out to be a red herring. I have the fragment of a single edged weapon, represented at one time as a 9th or 10th centuary dagger or child's sword, however I am looking in to the possibility that it is a seax. It has a small "tea-cosy" pommel (about 1.25 inches wide, 1 inch deep and .75 inches tall), a 3.5 inch long grip area/tang and a 3 inch wide lower guard. The hilt area is about 4.75 inches in total length. What remains of the blade is about 7/8 inch wide and 6 inches long, although I can see it was longer originally since the end is clearly broken and the ridge on the non-edged side of the blade extends all the way to the tip.

I am looking into the possibility that it could be a seax because of the single edged blade, the width of the blade, and the fact that the grip area is long enough to accomodate a man's hand. On the other hand, it does have a guard, tang and pommel that do not match my previous conception of a seax.

In answer to Jay's most recent question -- assuming the the blade on this piece wasn't much longer than six inches, the distal taper appears to be about that typically seen with a single edged sword ... but take that with a grain of salt since I have no idea of whether this is a seax in the first place!

If it isn't viewed as hi-jacking Jay's topic, I would welcome any and all comments as to what this piece was and how old it could be.



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