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Kirk Lee Spencer




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PostPosted: Thu 24 Dec, 2009 10:11 pm    Post subject: Seax Charts: Typology, Chronology and Geography         Reply with quote

Merry Christmas all…

Over the last year I have been piecing together a couple of charts on seax classification. On the first I am trying to distinguish basic types modified from Wheeler. I expanded Wheeler’s four type classification, defining transitional types by simply combining the wheeler types on either side of the transition separated by a slash. (I have seen plate captions in monographs where these transition or mixed forms are designated by combining the Wheeler types.)

The second chart I show this modified Wheeler typology in a way to situate the forms in a vertical chronological sequence and a horizontal geographic distribution. I have also added some possible ancestral forms at the bottom.

Take a look and let me know if there is any thing confusing and especially if you have something that should be corrected or added. I will be glad to explain any parts that are hard to understand. I also welcome any suggestions on how they could be improved, especially on the chronology bars… most of these are just guesses.

Take care

ks



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Anders Backlund




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PostPosted: Fri 25 Dec, 2009 1:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Can't comment on the typology itself, since I know too little about the seax, but I find it usefull as a reference. Nice work.

Slightly OT: I'd like to know more about the style refered to as "narrowseax", but non of my searches turn up anything usefull. Worried

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Last edited by Anders Backlund on Fri 25 Dec, 2009 6:00 am; edited 1 time in total
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Scott Kowalski




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PostPosted: Fri 25 Dec, 2009 5:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow Kirk. This is a great reference . Thank you very much for putting this together. While seaxs are earlier in period then my main interest I want to get one eventually just to round out my collection. With this I can get a pretty good idea of what I would like to get.

Merry Christmas,
Scott

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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Fri 25 Dec, 2009 6:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Kirk,

This is good job you are doing. A handy reference.
Wheeler shows some of the basic shapes, but I have an impression it is from an anglo saxon perspective.
It leaves much unsaid about the continental sax. The sax has a diversified development in different parts of europe. I am not sure where to draw the line between war knife and sax. There are gaps and also less than certain lines from one type to the next.
Jeroen has posted a very handy illustration of the continental sax several times and I post it here again for ease of access. It is from a work by Georg Schmitt on the weapons of the Alemanni.
You can see the major types laid out in chronology.
-Narrow long sax from about 450 to 520/30
-Short sax from 520 to 570/80
-Narrow sax from 570 to 600
-Light Broadsax from 600 to 620/30
-Heavy Broadsax 620 to 670/80
-Atypical Broadsax 670 to 700
-Long Sax from around 700 to ?

I think this is provides helpful information to distinguish between types that Wheeler does not focus his work on. It also gives good time frames for the various types.
There is also a typology over the scandinavian material made by Anne Nørgård Jørgenseen that is very helpful in showing that the trends seen among the continental blades are not always directly applicable to the material of the north.
There are local variations of the central european types, even if the basic trend with smaller saxes in the beginning, followed by broad saxes and later with long saxes is the same. The concepts of these blades does vary: proportions between width/length and blade/grip are not always the same. Styles of grips, materials used and styles of scabbards are also different.
The seax in anglo saxon England is yet a different case.
A presentation of the development of the seax over the whole of Europe, showing important typologies with rules of proportion and time periods would be great to have. It might at least work as a basic reference for discussions and give a general idea of what the sax was about in different regions and times.



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R D Moore




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PostPosted: Fri 25 Dec, 2009 8:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Merry Christmas Kirk!

Thank you for this timely gift. It is much appreciated. I've been trying to piece together information on seaxs for quite some time now and I'm very happy to receive this typology you've compiled.

"No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation" ...Gen. Douglas Macarthur
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Fri 25 Dec, 2009 8:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Anders Backlund wrote:
Can't comment on the typology itself, since I know too little about the seax, but I find it usefull as a reference. Nice work.

Slightly OT: I'd like to know more about the style refered to as "narrowseax", but non of my searches turn up anything usefull. Worried


The Narrow sax developed from the short sax (that was in used after the long narrow sax fell out of favor by the beginning of the 6th C).
The Narrow sax belongs to the last third of the 6th C AD. Its blade is about 25-30 cm and some 2.5 - 3 cm wide. It has a grip of some 12 - 15 cm. It is common to see a small plate at the front end of the grip and a plate and reinforcing rivet bar or block at the but end.

Below an image of a Narrow Sax. It hangs supported above the other blades in the case, so it may look bigger than it really is. Below it is a Brad sax, and above it you can se long saxes.



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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Fri 25 Dec, 2009 11:25 am    Post subject: Re: Seax Charts: Typology, Chronology and Geography         Reply with quote

Kirk Lee Spencer wrote:
Merry Christmas all…

Over the last year I have been piecing together a couple of charts on seax classification. On the first I am trying to distinguish basic types modified from Wheeler. I expanded Wheeler’s four type classification, defining transitional types by simply combining the wheeler types on either side of the transition separated by a slash. (I have seen plate captions in monographs where these transition or mixed forms are designated by combining the Wheeler types.)

The second chart I show this modified Wheeler typology in a way to situate the forms in a vertical chronological sequence and a horizontal geographic distribution. I have also added some possible ancestral forms at the bottom.

Take a look and let me know if there is any thing confusing and especially if you have something that should be corrected or added. I will be glad to explain any parts that are hard to understand. I also welcome any suggestions on how they could be improved, especially on the chronology bars… most of these are just guesses.

Take care

ks


Incredible work Kirk, thanks for posting this.

Jean

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Jeroen Zuiderwijk
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PostPosted: Sat 26 Dec, 2009 1:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Johnsson wrote:
Hi Kirk,

This is good job you are doing. A handy reference.
Wheeler shows some of the basic shapes, but I have an impression it is from an anglo saxon perspective.
The Wheeler typology is too crude IMO. It mixes the continental, Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon saxes, but doesn't give a line of developement. I prefer to ignore the entire Wheeler typology. The Anglo-Saxon sax development follows the continental developement as described by George Schmit, but with a lot more variations in size at the same moments in time, and keep on developing into the broken back styles after continental saxes seem to have gone out of use at the end of the 8th century. So for continental saxes I stick to the Schmit typology, for Scandinavian the Jørgensen typology (see http://forums.dfoggknives.com/index.php?showtopic=15373&st=62). And for Anglo-Saxon I mostly follow the Schmit typology with exception of those that don't fit in, and use Honeylane for the shorter broken back saxes, and Hurbuck for the long sax broken back variants. The intermediate sized broken back saxes I just refer to as intermediate, and then there's the earlier shorter curved backs saxes (forerunners of the Honeylane saxes) that don't fit the Schmit typology. They still need their own typology IMO, for which I don't know an official fitting name.

Quote:
A presentation of the development of the seax over the whole of Europe, showing important typologies with rules of proportion and time periods would be great to have. It might at least work as a basic reference for discussions and give a general idea of what the sax was about in different regions and times.

Yep. But unless someone knows more about saxes then us, then it will still take quite a bit of studying to get the picture complete Happy The picture for me at least is becoming more and more clear, but still don't feel I have all the information to draw a complete picture of all the typologies and evolution of saxes in Europe. The earliest stages of development of saxes are still largely unclear to me, and outside Germany I still know too few actual examples to be able to judge the entire sax developement in those regions. Only from Germany I know many hundreds, if not more then a thousand examples, which gives me a fairly good picture there. And even then, it's not until I start sorting them all out by date, measurements, stylistic features etc. Fortunately George Schmit seems to have done a pretty good job so far, which I've not been able to find much against so far (although I'm not exactly sure if the schmaller langsax should be included, which may be a different breed altogether, or whether the kurzsax is perhaps not contemporary with the narrow sax, and just a smaller more basic variant).

Jeroen Zuiderwijk
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Jimmie Johansson





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PostPosted: Mon 28 Dec, 2009 4:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow thanks alot, both went into my savings file.

How do I read the chronology in the second pic, for example does the Norse "IV/II Longseax" cover from the later part of the 7th century all to the middle of the 11th century?
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Kirk Lee Spencer




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PostPosted: Mon 28 Dec, 2009 5:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Johnsson wrote:
...Wheeler shows some of the basic shapes, but I have an impression it is from an anglo saxon perspective.
It leaves much unsaid about the continental sax. The sax has a diversified development in different parts of europe. I am not sure where to draw the line between war knife and sax. There are gaps and also less than certain lines from one type to the next.
Jeroen has posted a very handy illustration of the continental sax several times and I post it here again for ease of access. It is from a work by Georg Schmitt on the weapons of the Alemanni.
You can see the major types laid out in chronology.
-Narrow long sax from about 450 to 520/30
-Short sax from 520 to 570/80
-Narrow sax from 570 to 600
-Light Broadsax from 600 to 620/30
-Heavy Broadsax 620 to 670/80
-Atypical Broadsax 670 to 700
-Long Sax from around 700 to ?

I think this is provides helpful information to distinguish between types that Wheeler does not focus his work on. It also gives good time frames for the various types.
There is also a typology over the scandinavian material made by Anne Nørgård Jørgenseen that is very helpful in showing that the trends seen among the continental blades are not always directly applicable to the material of the north.
There are local variations of the central european types, even if the basic trend with smaller saxes in the beginning, followed by broad saxes and later with long saxes is the same. The concepts of these blades does vary: proportions between width/length and blade/grip are not always the same. Styles of grips, materials used and styles of scabbards are also different.
The seax in anglo saxon England is yet a different case.
A presentation of the development of the seax over the whole of Europe, showing important typologies with rules of proportion and time periods would be great to have. It might at least work as a basic reference for discussions and give a general idea of what the sax was about in different regions and times.


Hi Peter...

Thanks for the information.

I agree that Wheeler's typology is leaning anglo-saxon. I suspect it was a more deductive typology designed to help organize finds in London museums.


I had seen Schmit's typology but was unsure of the lengths and widths that quantify the boundaries between the different types. If I had these length and widths, I could try to combine a modified Wheeler tyology to define the geometry of the tip sections (to help designate geography) with the basic length and width designations of Schmit (to add a chronological designation. These two designations could produce a matrix of sorts with all the possible variations. These could then be placed in a chart that could give some very basic information about geographic and chronological distribution.

On the chart, the trend from German Warknives to Seax and the Illerup Adal knives to seaxes is just possible suggestions (not mine... none of the stuff on the charts is mine, I am just trying to organize it in a way that can be understood easily and quickly). In the couple of centuries in between war knives and seaxes, it is hard to know what happened. We could bring Occum's razor (or knife in this case Wink into the discussion and suppose that some indigenous knife was just made longer. Eek! .. I have heard that a volume on the knives of Illerup Adal is coming out. If so I would like to get a copy, especially if it is as well done as the Sword Volumes (v.11 & 12).

Thanks again for the help...

take care

ks

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Kirk Lee Spencer




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PostPosted: Mon 28 Dec, 2009 5:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

R D Moore wrote:
Merry Christmas Kirk!

Thank you for this timely gift. It is much appreciated. I've been trying to piece together information on seaxs for quite some time now and I'm very happy to receive this typology you've compiled.


Anders, Scott and RD...

I am glad you can find use for the charts. These are just the first draft. I posted them because I believe they are at a point where we can discuss them and clarify places that need to be refined. And with the information gleaned from this and other threads I hope to make them more accurate.

take care

ks

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Kirk Lee Spencer




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PostPosted: Mon 28 Dec, 2009 6:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

[quote="Jeroen Zuiderwijk"]
Quote:

The Wheeler typology is too crude IMO. It mixes the continental, Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon saxes, but doesn't give a line of developement. I prefer to ignore the entire Wheeler typology...


I agree that Wheeler mixes continental (type I) and Scandinavian (type II) with two Anglo-Saxon types (III & IV). However I think that this is a strength in that it allows these geographic differences to be presented in the same typology. As for not showing a line of developement, I agree it is a crude development, however Type I seem to be older and type IV seem to be later. (There is certainly overlap between I & II). Also I think that in a modified form it can be usefull in giving designations of differing tip geometries which are certainly important in terms of seax design overall.


Quote:

...The Anglo-Saxon sax development follows the continental developement as described by George Schmit, but with a lot more variations in size at the same moments in time, and keep on developing into the broken back styles after continental saxes seem to have gone out of use at the end of the 8th century.


I had assumed that the first seaxes in Britain were broken back. It is interesting that there were continental forms in Britain that developed into broken back styles.

Quote:

So for continental saxes I stick to the Schmit typology, for Scandinavian the Jørgensen typology (see http://forums.dfoggknives.com/index.php?showtopic=15373&st=62)...


Thanks for this...

Quote:

Yep. But unless someone knows more about saxes then us, then it will still take quite a bit of studying to get the picture complete Happy ...


The charts are a point of discussion and possibly, through the discussions, a way to compose much of this good information into a handy reference.

When reading through these posts between people who really care about these ancient objects I think about "men of letters" in the past who participated in similar research through letters sent snail mail (pony express) to each other. Then societies formed and they presented papers and published in journals. Now we are devolving back to what I consider a better and more personal way to do research. In many ways it is probably still a thing of the future Worried . (do a google search on almost any type of sword and see how close to the top myArmoury.com appears!)

thanks for all the good information Jeroen Big Grin

take care

ks

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One of iron and one of ink
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One of God or one of man
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Kirk Lee Spencer




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PostPosted: Mon 28 Dec, 2009 7:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jimmie Johansson wrote:
Wow thanks alot, both went into my savings file.

How do I read the chronology in the second pic, for example does the Norse "IV/II Longseax" cover from the later part of the 7th century all to the middle of the 11th century?


Jean and Jimmie...

Thanks for your kind comments.

The black bars are an attempt to show the distribution in time. Remember it is only a very crude approximation. The thicker part of the bars are where I am more certain about the dating the thinner parts where I am less certain. Hopefully the bars will become more refined. They are just a place to start the discussion. I am in the process of trying to reorganize them so that they are a little easier to understand and I have moved the first appearance of the broken back seaxes up (more recent) by about half a century.

You mentioned the IV/II Longseax in particular... I am seeing a time range from early 8th to early 10th century. You may have meant III/IV longseax which does show a distribution from early 8th to late 11th century. I also have a maximum in early 10 century so that probably comes from the dating of a find. I think the Battersea Seax in the British Museum is dated to early 10 century. The extension into the 11th may come from this date. However, I suspect it does not, just not sure.

[Or it may be that you are not even referring to the black bars but to the form of the blade. If so, no that is not the distribution in time. The black stretched diamond shaped bars just to the side of the drawing are showing the chronological range. If this is the mix up I am sorry... I should have explained it better. As I said earlier I am rearranging this part so that the black distribution bars are all on the same side of the blade forms.]

If the reference is to the III/ IV Longseax, I am changing this designation, hopefully for the better. After looking at the Museum of London use of these hybrid Wheeler types, I think it is also possible to see what I show as IV/II as simply the type III (Hurbuck) the only difference is the tip back being convex in one and straight in the other. So on the new chart I am thinking about combining these and showing III/IV as a curved back seax. Though they seem to be rare I think it is more distinctive. It also fits in that it is probably a precursor to the Type IV (Honeylane). This is Jeroen's insight not mine Big Grin . Also the curved back seax has the widening blade from base to clip that is distinctive of the archetype of Type IV, something G. H. Ezell pointed out to me.

Stay tuned...

and take care

ks

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One of God or one of man
Our souls to one of
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G Ezell
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PostPosted: Tue 29 Dec, 2009 3:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kirk Lee Spencer wrote:
Also the curved back seax has the widening blade from base to clip that is distinctive of the archetype of Type IV, something G. H. Ezell pointed out to me.


Concerning my observations on the taper in width seen in saxes, first let it be known I am looking at these from the perspective of a layman artist and blademaker, not as a scholar or archaeologist.

To me it appears that almost every sax I have observed seems to have some taper to the width of the blade. The kurzsax, schmalsax, and some broadsax generally taper to some degree towards the point, while some other broadsax, and virtually every langsax taper towards the tang to a very subtle degree. The anglo-saxon brokeback 'seax', on the other hand, has quite an obvious taper towards the tang. The Norwegian/Scandinavian saxes may be the exception, I have not studied these enough to say one way or the other. I think I am safe in saying that earlier saxes tended to taper towards the point, while later saxes tended to taper towards the tang, with the usual odd exceptions one learns to expect from saxes.... Wink

This may or may not apply to the Scandinavian saxes. There are some Langobardian and Merovingian saxes that may not taper in either direction...

I first noticed this from tracing prints of saxes onto a grid... The broadsax that appeared to be roughly parallel at first glance ended up tapering in width by about 1/8 of an inch, along with virtually every other sax I checked.

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Kirk Lee Spencer




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PostPosted: Sat 05 Jun, 2010 9:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi All...

I noticed a couple of references to these seax classification charts in other threads and wanted to update where I am in revising the charts based on the helpful feedback I've received on this thread and others...

I have been working on the classification chart in particular. I kept the Wheeler blade shape/tip classification as earlier, but have broken out a column showing the Schmitt blade length classification. I have not included any of the info on blade decoration... I think this will be a great addition once everything is in place.

If you compare the new Wheeler blade shape/tip classification with the previous version you will find that I have tried to incorporate what is sometime called the "round back" form and I have included a vendel variety where the point is a little more pointier Big Grin .

With one classification based on blade shape (Wheeler) and another on blade length/size (Schmitt), I cannot help but think that these two could be combined into a matrix and then select each cell in the matrix that has an actual exemplary (maybe type) find. I have begun trying to put this together but have been sidetracked by all the pressures of life Worried .

I have attached the updated classification chart trying to show Wheeler and Schmitt in the same chart...

Let me know what you think. It is stored in Photoshop so it will be easy to make changes.

take care

ks



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Two swords
Lit in Eden’s flame
One of iron and one of ink
To place within a bloody hand
One of God or one of man
Our souls to one of
Two eternities
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Zach Gordon




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PostPosted: Mon 22 Feb, 2016 10:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Does anyone know what book this Wheeler typology is in?

Thanks!
Z
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J. Nicolaysen




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PostPosted: Mon 22 Feb, 2016 6:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi there,

The original typology is from R.E.Mortimer Wheeler's book London and the Vikings. It's from 1927. You might be able to find it here in pdf for 25 bucks: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayA...8X00001447

Someone else might have a better e-version. Print copies are scarce. Found one in poor condition at abebooks. Could try worldcat: http://www.worldcat.org/title/london-and-the-vikings/oclc/4007844 for a library copy.

Anyhow, most people nowadays follow Oakeshott's simplified version, as seen here for example: http://albion-swords.com/swords/wheeler.htm
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Harry Marinakis




PostPosted: Fri 26 Feb, 2016 3:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Looks like Jørgensen's typology of the Norse sax ends with the 9th Century.

What about the Norse sax in the 10th Century?
Were they all long?
Did the Norse carry smaller blades in the 10th Century?
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PostPosted: Sat 27 Feb, 2016 8:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Harry Marinakis wrote:
Looks like Jørgensen's typology of the Norse sax ends with the 9th Century.

What about the Norse sax in the 10th Century?
Were they all long?
Did the Norse carry smaller blades in the 10th Century?


In Scandinavia a Sax just means a one-edged blade (so applies to both sword- and knife length objects).
Scissors are in Danish called Sakse (older spelling Saxe) which is in fact what they are. Two one-edged blades.

We see that one-edged swords retained its popularity in Norway through the Viking Age, whereas I seem to remember we only have 1 viking age example from Denmark.
Most people likely had one-edged knives as a general utility tool - they would classify as Saxe as well.

In fact it could also be used as a name.
The Danish Historian "Saxo Grammaticus". His first name is just latinized from Danish "Saxe".
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PostPosted: Sat 27 Feb, 2016 2:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For continental saxes I much prefer the typology by Georg Schmitt in "Die Alamannen im Zollernalbkreis":


The UK doesn't quite follow this development, particularly seems to skip the broadsaxes and keeping a larger variety in sizes. In continental Europe, it's a gradual increase in size. And then nothing.

Longsax finds extend beyond this chart into the 10th century, but they're not very common. But that may simply be due to the disappearance of weapons in graves. Or the ones found could also be a few odd imports from the UK. One from the Netherlands is identical to British examples f.e., including in patternwelding.

Jeroen Zuiderwijk
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