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Kirk Lee Spencer




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PostPosted: Wed 20 Oct, 2004 7:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

[quote="David McElrea"]Björn Hellqvist wrote:
Quote:
I am in total agreement with you Bjorn (at least I think so) Happy I wasn't suggesting that strikes to the legs were killing blows-- merely that battlefield forensics seem to show that a majority of the dead from the early-late Middle Ages display damage to the leg bones. These bodies don't only show damage to the legs, but it is significant, I think, that most show such damage.

I hate to post too much info without having the facts at hand, but if someone else recognises what I am talking about, perhaps they could give the location for the following. If not feel free to ignore it (it's probably superfluous anyway)...
David


Hi David...

Here are some forensics from Visby... a little later than our discussion but interesting none the less... IMO.

ks



 Attachment: 103.11 KB
VisbyBattleWounds.jpg
Wounds From Visby Based Upon Fresh Bone Cuts

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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Geoff Wood




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PostPosted: Wed 20 Oct, 2004 10:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
Geoff Wood wrote:

Looking again at Petersen etc. I can see how some of the flatter [when viewed side on], pommels could have been designed to allow the latter grip. That opens the question of pommels that would bulge out beyond the upper guard [e.g. as shown well on the Albion 'jarl' photgraphs]. That seems an odd thing to do if the handshake grip is intended.
Regards
Geoff


Hi Geoff,

I don't find the pommel shape of my Jarl to be an issue with the handshake grip. It's quite comfortable either way. Personally I think we're over emphasising the comfort issue. We're all a bunch of sissies compared to the "real" warriors of old.

As I have said repeatedly folks, both gripping techniques are effective depending upon circumstance. As with most other things in this field of research, claiming that something was "always", or "never" done is all too often a receipe for failure.


Hi Patrick
There sir, you clearly have the advantage over me (and what a wonderful advantage to have). I concede, in part, your point on the comfort and hardiness issue, but I don't completely agree. That a person can cope with discomfort does not mean that they will choose to inflict it on themselves by design. I'm suspect the vikings wore silk if they could get it.
Regards
Geoff
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Björn Hellqvist
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PostPosted: Wed 20 Oct, 2004 11:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kirk Lee Spencer wrote:
Here are some forensics from Visby... a little later than our discussion but interesting none the less... IMO.


The Visby "forensics" should be taken with a grain of salt. Damage to the ribs aren't shown, as those were crushed in the graves. It doesn't discern between cuts made with swords and cuts made with axes and pole arms. We don't know what armour was worn by the individuals (just a small number were buried with their armour still on, and there's reason to believe that most of them were Danes or mercenaries). The examination was made in a rather unscientific manner, i.e. the skeletons weren't examined as individuals ("#1234 had a cut to the left forearm and to the right shinbone"), but as totals (in grave #4, 47% of the left shin bones displayed cuts, 23% of the skulls were damaged" (I made up the numbers quoted)). That has led to assumptions like: "here's evidence that they first made an attack against the legs, and then finished off the enemy with a blow to the head". The forensics from the Towton finds might be more useful to understand the effects of medieval fighting techniques.

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Kenneth Enroth




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PostPosted: Wed 20 Oct, 2004 11:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In my experience with uncomfortable hilts I've found that you just need to practice, practice and practice some more until it feels good in your hand.
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Risto Rautiainen




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Oct, 2004 6:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great thread! What about hilts where the pommel and crossguard actually curve towards the handle? Like this one on Barta's site:



Similiar hilt is seen in Oakeshotts Archaeology of weapons p.139 fig 62. How can the hammer grip be comfortable with that hilt style if your hand barely fits the grip?
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Kirk Lee Spencer




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Oct, 2004 6:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Björn Hellqvist wrote:
Kirk Lee Spencer wrote:
Here are some forensics from Visby... a little later than our discussion but interesting none the less... IMO.


The Visby "forensics" should be taken with a grain of salt. Damage to the ribs aren't shown, as those were crushed in the graves. It doesn't discern between cuts made with swords and cuts made with axes and pole arms. We don't know what armour was worn by the individuals (just a small number were buried with their armour still on, and there's reason to believe that most of them were Danes or mercenaries). The examination was made in a rather unscientific manner, i.e. the skeletons weren't examined as individuals ("#1234 had a cut to the left forearm and to the right shinbone"), but as totals (in grave #4, 47% of the left shin bones displayed cuts, 23% of the skulls were damaged" (I made up the numbers quoted)). That has led to assumptions like: "here's evidence that they first made an attack against the legs, and then finished off the enemy with a blow to the head". The forensics from the Towton finds might be more useful to understand the effects of medieval fighting techniques.



Hi Bjorn...

Excellent points...

It is easy when focusing on bone studies to reinforce the images from the sagas of swords cutting off legs and heads with almost every cut. Yet I believe a majority (maybe a large majority) of the skeletons from Visby show no bone damage at all. This means that death from trauma, bloodloss and soft tissue wounds was more common than deep cuts to arms and legs.

ks

ks

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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Alexi Goranov
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PostPosted: Thu 21 Oct, 2004 6:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kirk Lee Spencer wrote:


This means that death from trauma, bloodloss and soft tissue wounds was more common than deep cuts to arms and legs.

ks

ks


Just to add . Infections from simple minor cuts and such are a great source of death during the middle ages, and all the way until antibiotics were mass produced for that matter. I do not think that these deaths are pertinent to the bodies under discussion, as it will take few days (sometimes only 2-3 days) for a bacterial infection to kill you, but TOO MANY medieval warriors have died from infections (Richard I is a good example: crossbow bolt to she shoulder; the wound gets infected; he died ~ 10 days later if memory serves me right).

Alexi
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Steve Fabert





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PostPosted: Thu 21 Oct, 2004 8:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alexi Goranov wrote:
Infections from simple minor cuts and such are a great source of death during the middle ages, and all the way until antibiotics were mass produced for that matter.


Both the Visby and Towton excavations revealed surprises about the survivability of major wounds. There were some quite severe but fully healed injuries apparent on some of the skull and jaw bones, indicating that even major open wounds did not always result in significant infection. This seems to suggest some lost medical art was available to avoid infection of lacerations in the middle ages. Puncture wounds apparently pose very different treatment problems. I have not read of any similar "cures" for deep arrow punctures or narrow stab wounds into major body cavities, which may have been practically untreatable.
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Kirk Lee Spencer




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Oct, 2004 8:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Leeches.... They work wonders... Wink Big Grin

ks

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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David McElrea




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Oct, 2004 8:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kirk wrote:
Quote:
Hi David...

Here are some forensics from Visby... a little later than our discussion but interesting none the less... IMO.

ks


My first thought in looking at the diagram was "ouch"...

Fascinating all in all, though. How on earth have you managed to accumulate so many interesting resources? Happy

David
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Geoff Wood




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Oct, 2004 9:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kenneth Enroth wrote:
In my experience with uncomfortable hilts I've found that you just need to practice, practice and practice some more until it feels good in your hand.


I'm sure that works. But why bother to make (or have made) a hilt that you have to adapt to. Why not make one that is comfortable in the first place, then practice just as much to concentrate on hurting the other chap.
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Geoff Wood




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Oct, 2004 9:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kirk Lee Spencer wrote:
Leeches.... They work wonders... Wink Big Grin

ks


Or maggots, they're good too.
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Gabriel Stevens




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Oct, 2004 9:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You beat me to this one Jason. Coming from a Serrada Escrima background I was going to say almost the same thing. It might be an of base comparison but there are certainly some nasty leg and groin shots within those arts, using (in Serrada's case) very short weapons and supple wrist actions. Another thing to consider in those arts is that the damage of the strike comes from the velocity of the strike not necessarily the brute strength behind it.


Thomas Jason wrote:
I've been holding off on replying because my swordsmanship training is Kali/Escrima rather than pure European styles.

Some of the Kali weapons such as the Moro Kris, Bolo and Barong have hilts similar in shape if not style to viking swords, IE oversized pommels with short gripps.

I generally hold them in the handshake grip as it provides the best range of motion and extension.

In Kali there are a lot of attacks to the lower leg, and these are easily done with the handshake grip.

You don't lean forward to attack the leg, this is just suicidal as it puts you off balance and puts you right in range for a quick killshot from your opponent.

Rather you drop the level of your entire body vertically when making these cuts and then spring upwards for a killshot.

A prime exmple can be found in the Numerado drill, the last few angles to be precise.

Also, many of the Kali weapons have tips that are rounded like the the typical type X. Thrusting is still taught with them and is still very effective.
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Geoff Wood




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Oct, 2004 9:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Risto Rautiainen wrote:
Great thread! What about hilts where the pommel and crossguard actually curve towards the handle?

Similiar hilt is seen in Oakeshotts Archaeology of weapons p.139 fig 62. How can the hammer grip be comfortable with that hilt style if your hand barely fits the grip?


Good point. Don't know. Similar comments could be made about the rivets holding pommels on if they are particularly prominent, or about those holding the guards together in some of the migration era swords (which are very prominent).
In fact some of the latter look like they'd even hurt with the handshake grip as drawn.
Geoff
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Alexi Goranov
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PostPosted: Thu 21 Oct, 2004 10:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Steve Fabert wrote:
Alexi Goranov wrote:
Infections from simple minor cuts and such are a great source of death during the middle ages, and all the way until antibiotics were mass produced for that matter.


Both the Visby and Towton excavations revealed surprises about the survivability of major wounds. There were some quite severe but fully healed injuries apparent on some of the skull and jaw bones, indicating that even major open wounds did not always result in significant infection. This seems to suggest some lost medical art was available to avoid infection of lacerations in the middle ages. Puncture wounds apparently pose very different treatment problems. I have not read of any similar "cures" for deep arrow punctures or narrow stab wounds into major body cavities, which may have been practically untreatable.


I think that it is safe to assume that not every wound will lead to an infection if treated properly (kept clean) in due time. If proper treatment was not received and an extremity is affected, then the extremity is cut off to save the life of the person.

For the sake of the argument, just because some survived serious wounds, does not mean that many did not.

And to make a point: VIRTUALLY ANY OPEN WOUND CAN RESULT IN A SERIOUS INFECTION IF NOT KEPT CLEAN. No doubt that medieval society has realized that . The serous wounds that did not cause death due to infection simply imply that they were properly kept clean. Puncture wounds in non-essential parts of the body (like extremities/shoulders) pose the same problem: an open wound. If a projectile is involved, it is more likely to introduce an infection since the projectile (covered with bacteria just like anything else) is imbedded in the body for prolonged periods of time, and it is rather hard to remove.

I am not trying to start a debate especially since it is not directly related to gripping swords. Unless we talk about how the sword grips are covered with bacteria.

Hmmmmm from gripping viking swords to bacterial infections...........I guess I am right on topic Wink

Alexi
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Kenneth Enroth




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Oct, 2004 10:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Geoff Wood wrote:
Kenneth Enroth wrote:
In my experience with uncomfortable hilts I've found that you just need to practice, practice and practice some more until it feels good in your hand.


I'm sure that works. But why bother to make (or have made) a hilt that you have to adapt to. Why not make one that is comfortable in the first place, then practice just as much to concentrate on hurting the other chap.


well I don't think adapting to such a hilt would be any more work than learning to use any other sword, especially if you were to live in the viking age and not know anything else and having a proper teacher.

I tried the handshake grip on my medieval swords and it seems to be a quick and powerful way to swing a sword. I think it would work better on viking swords though as that big flat pommel would secure the hilt in the hand better than a wheel pommel.
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Brian M




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Oct, 2004 10:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The problem with using the Towton find is that it seems to be an execution of prisoners, rather than soldiers who suffered actual battlefield wounds. But I concede this is not totally certain.
Regarding the evidence of bodies found with healed severe wounds (like at Towton) this is very problematic as well. We are only seeing the fraction of individuals who *survived* a severe wounding in a prior battle only to die in a later one. If an individual survived a few days they might even be buried with the dead of the battle and so seem to us as killed in that battle. How many individuals survived a severe wounding long enough to die elsewhere? I think the fraction of the total who received severe wounds and survived blood loss and infection to fight again might be rather small. Although, in their favor, the people of this era didn't make it to fighting age with a weak immune system.

Brian M
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Thomas Jason




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Oct, 2004 10:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gabriel Stevens wrote:
You beat me to this one Jason. Coming from a Serrada Escrima background I was going to say almost the same thing. It might be an of base comparison but there are certainly some nasty leg and groin shots within those arts, using (in Serrada's case) very short weapons and supple wrist actions. Another thing to consider in those arts is that the damage of the strike comes from the velocity of the strike not necessarily the brute strength behind it.


I don't think it's an off-base comparison at all. You have weapons that although different in style have similar parts, and there's only so many ways the human body can move.
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K Holsen





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PostPosted: Thu 21 Oct, 2004 11:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kirk Lee Spencer wrote:

It seems odd to me that we are stuck in the either/or mode. The transition from a hammer grip to a loose "hand-shake" grip is really quite easy. As a matter of fact just loosening the tightness of the grip will cause the blade weight to pull the pommel into the palm. So I suspect that a viking warrior could change the grip quickly and easily.


Kirk is right, why does the grip HAVE to be one or the other. Im a carpenter (as well as an Anthropology major ) so I use a hammer on a regular basis. I do not hold it the same way for everything and Im sure that armorers and smiths dont hold their hammer the same for everything either. Is it not possible that the grip was shifted for different instances ? Yes the "hammer grip" is more useful in a shieldwall and the "handshake" in single combat. so what ? It does not mean that only one grip was used, to me that makes it not only possible the grip was shifter but probable. Probable versus possible is a big thing in archeology studies and the use of swords in cutting demos is experimental archeology in a way.
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Geoff Wood




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Oct, 2004 1:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kenneth Enroth wrote:
Geoff Wood wrote:
Kenneth Enroth wrote:
In my experience with uncomfortable hilts I've found that you just need to practice, practice and practice some more until it feels good in your hand.


I'm sure that works. But why bother to make (or have made) a hilt that you have to adapt to. Why not make one that is comfortable in the first place, then practice just as much to concentrate on hurting the other chap.


well I don't think adapting to such a hilt would be any more work than learning to use any other sword, .


Then I apologise for my misunderstanding. I thought you were saying that you needed to work at it until it felt comfortable.
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