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Peter Johnsson
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Location: Storvreta, Sweden
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PostPosted: Mon 10 Nov, 2003 12:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Russ Ellis wrote:
Now there's some irony for you. ...I would have thought that you would have very much focused on the swords that appeal to you the most personally. Would you say that the Tritonia is now one of your favorites? Since we are talking about the pommel, may I ask if it is hollow or solid? Was it cast?

I know what you mean about the Sture sword, when I first saw it I was repulsed but now I must admit the XVIIIe is my favorite type. So much so in fact that I am going to be contacting Albion (although I have not yet done so) about ordering one of their reproductions.

Alright, if I might be so bold as to ask, what is your favorite Oakeshott type if you have one?

After having worked with the Tritonia on and off for more than two years it has sort of passed beyond liking or not liking. Of course I am fascinated with it and love it, but it has rather taken a place among the extanded family, so to say. The Tritonia has taught me some important things and because of that I am eternally gratefull to its original maker (or makers). At first I was not thrilled about the spherical pommel, but it is a typical feature on some of the scandinavian swords of this period. The sword as a whole has very impressive proportions and is clearly the result of the work of a master craftsman. As such it merits a closer look. Not before long I found myself having no reservations to its pommel. It looked just right and I would not want to replace it to something else. A wheel pommel on this sword would make it more mainstream. It would loose much of its personality.
Being asked by a museum to make a reconstruction and exhibit on a sword is alas not something that happens very often. When the Museum of Medieval Stockholm asked me to do this for them I was naturally thrilled. It gave me an opportunity to study this sword even more closely.
It is good to see that a museum makes a point of showing the story of a sword and its craft as a permanent item of their exhibit. That way visitors will get an opportunity to make their own conclusions about the other arms and amour on display that are in various states of preservation.

The pommel of the original is solid and clearly forged, not cast. The hole that takes the tang is slightly too wide (by a milimeter or so on each face of the tang). This gap is wedged with thin wooden slats that are well preserved and still clearly visible. This very slight "hollowness" is something we have taken into account in the making of the reconstruction at Albion. Not by having a hole so large that wedges are needed, but by removing a slight amount of material down the centre of the pommel. That way the tang is still firmly wedged in place from the base to the rivet and we still get the balance right.

My favourite type of sword, as classified according to Oakeshott?
-Not easy...
I like the longsword types, and type XVIIIb“s usually have a strong and stark presence. If I had to stick to one type of sword, I would probalby devote my time exploring the type XVIII family, or the longsword in general. Luckily, I do not have to make that choice!
I am best happy if I can study bronze swords one day and rapiers the next.

Right now I am fascinated with the swords found in the Danish bog finds. These span a period of 350 BC to post Roman iron age. There is a number of single edged swords (scramasaxes) and some gladii but foremost there is a large number of spathae. These come in a wonderful variety of corss sectional shapes and also vary quite a bit in profile and general size. Some are wide and thin with multiple fullers, other have stout cross diamond or octagonal sections. Some taper straight to very strong and acute points while others have only slight profile taper. Hilts are also very varied. It is an untapped material that is greatly rewarding.

The same goes for the swords from the bronze age. We can learn much about the many different functions of the sword and the development of the craft, when studying the swords from the age of bronze. They are masterfully made and can be things of great and sublime beauty. The fact that they are made in a meterial that demands a totally differnt approach than steel adds to their fascination.

Swords from the viking age are something quite apart from anything else when it comes to style, proportions and dedication. I am always in awe of these and will ever strive to do them justice. The hilts have a certain hidden logic that is not easy to pin down. They vary greatly in size and shape, but have still some traits in common across all different types. There is an activity and awareness in shapes and volumes that is incredibly vital. Even the blades that at first might seem easy to describe are subtle and precise with a logic all of their own. They are nothing short of fantastic, in the true sense of the word.

The single hand sword of the age of chivalry is of course the archetype of all swords. The combination of massive and reliable heft together with quicksilver responsiveness and agility makes them glorious examples functionality and understated elegance. It s a marvel to see how well available material is used to best effect. The definition of their blades is highly developed and brought to the highest level of refined simplification.

Then we have the enormous flowering of styles, shapes and functions in the 16th century. Here we can see almost all basic shapes that ever existed put to use simultaneously in never before seen combinations. To the student of the european sword, the 16th century is a dizzying carneval of possibilities.

...Did I say that it is difficult to pick one single type as favourite?
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