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Thread: Viking Bastardsword- Fantasy? Maybe not...

  1. #1
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    Viking Bastardsword- Fantasy? Maybe not...

    I have long held that the Viking-era bastard sword was a mythical thing. This hasn't stopped me from making a few...

    Then I was re-reading Ian Peirce's 'Swords of the Viking Age.' In the introduction by Ewart Oakeshott he mentions a peculiar sword found with other Viking-era grave goods in the 1840's. The sword has a typical stubby Viking-era guard but a 7 inch handle and a wide disc pommel! The blade is described as being pretty far gone unfortunately. There is a drawing of the grave goods and sword in the library at the Society of Antiquaries in London.

    It would be interesting to get a precise dating on the sword and other artifacts- anyone know anything about this sword, or the drawing? Or even other examples of unusually long-handled Viking era swords?

    PS-I already know about Xa.10 From 'Records of the Medieval Sword,' but the form of the pommel seems ill-suited to hand-and-a-half use- though I could be wrong...
    Tinkerswords.com Fine knives, swords and daggers in the style of the European Middle Ages and Viking Era

    "Then, one night as my car was going backwards through a cornfield an ninety miles per hour, I had an epiphany..."

    Luke 22:36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.

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    Hey Tinker...

    What do you think of this puppy?


  3. #3
    The burial cited in the OP must be the Claughton Hall site excavated in 1846.

    http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=4...quaries+london

    The finds are published in this volume of the local society proceedings;

    http://www.abebooks.co.uk/servlet/Se...shire+Cheshire

    No idea whether that would contain a pic or not - I would think it's likely.

    The Society of Antiquaries has an online catalogue - I can't find the drawing within it however;

    http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/spec...ges/search.cfm

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    Quote Originally Posted by M.K. Ridgeway View Post
    Hey Tinker...

    What do you think of this puppy?
    Sure looks long enough- but where is the upper guard? How did that disappear leaving the pommel in place? What's the provenance of this piece?

    Jonathon- yes, I believe that that is the one.
    Tinkerswords.com Fine knives, swords and daggers in the style of the European Middle Ages and Viking Era

    "Then, one night as my car was going backwards through a cornfield an ninety miles per hour, I had an epiphany..."

    Luke 22:36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Tinker Pearce View Post
    Sure looks long enough- but where is the upper guard? How did that disappear leaving the pommel in place? What's the provenance of this piece?
    .

    Tinker, there appears to be very little in the way of facts or provenance for this piece...

    All I know is it was published in Follow the Vikings (by Viking Heritage, 1996 ISBN:91-972916-0-9)

    Very little other than that is availiable as far as i know, and I have not seen a copy of the book.



    http://www.myarmoury.com/albums/disp...lbum=48&pos=76

    EDIT: BTW good question about the upper guard... most of these were two piece with a u rivet right?
    Any chance the extra tang would provide enough counterweight to make the two piece pommel unneccesay?

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    i've always been fascinated with the possibility of a viking bastard. i wonder, however, if a heavier, two-handed variety (meaning, not suitable for one-handed use) might have been more likely. seems dispensing with the shield isn't very kosher for viking tactics unless they were really going all out berserker style, in which case a bastard sword just seems underwhelming. unless, of course, there were warriors who really valued the versatility of a hand-and-a-half sword. makes my brain swim. need proof.
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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Tinker Pearce View Post
    Sure looks long enough- but where is the upper guard? How did that disappear leaving the pommel in place? What's the provenance of this piece?
    Could have been organic. Bone versions of upper of lower guards that I've seen are generally much more thicker then the metal versions so that would explain a longer tang. But is the pommel still attached, or is it loose? It may just be placed further back then it used to be in the photo.

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    Interesting topic. I have always wanted a "Viking" longsword...Something along the lines of an Albion Baron XIIa blade Fitted with type AE AKA Knud pommel and guard....Or with hilt fittings similar to the Korsoygarde sword: fig. 89 in Davidsons 'The Sword In Anglo-Saxon England'....

    Does anyone have pics of later long swords with earlier style fittings? I once read an article over at MyArmoury that such swords were made.


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    Two handed/Bastard sized Viking Blade?

    Where is the petition?

    What blade length are you thinking?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mat Rous View Post
    Two handed/Bastard sized Viking Blade?
    No, not a viking blade, unless you can prove an earlier epoch for the type XIIa...However, you were half right, the project I had in mind was indeed a two hander....8" grip

    [/QUOTE]Where is the petition? [/QUOTE]
    At the bank....But your welcome to throw a few Benjis in the hat if you want.


    [/QUOTE]What blade length are you thinking? [/QUOTE]
    38" to 40"....really havent decided yet.


    :
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    for no particularly good reason here's one that I did a couple years back-
    [IMG]http://tinkerswords.com/Basvik1**.jpg[/IMG]

    I'm actually contemplating one like that described at the beginning of the thread; 7 inch handle, wheel pommel and viking era guard.
    Tinkerswords.com Fine knives, swords and daggers in the style of the European Middle Ages and Viking Era

    "Then, one night as my car was going backwards through a cornfield an ninety miles per hour, I had an epiphany..."

    Luke 22:36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.

  12. #12
    Good news and bad news. I’ve tracked down the drawing that Tinker was after;

    http://tinyurl.com/6daceg

    However, there appears to be considerable doubt over how accurate it is. The journal I mentioned (“The Claughton Viking Burial” by J.N. Edwards, p113 of Transactions of the Historical Society of Lancashire and Cheshire) says;

    “The basis for doubt about the sword and spear is to be found in the Weld sketch book…Comparison between Weld’s drawing and the original water colours for Jone’s illustrations (by Edward Jones and dated 1846) shows several differences. The relative length of the sword grip between hilt and pommel is much less in Weld’s drawing. The guard is straight, while Jones’s is down-curved (apparently rather more so in the published engraving than in the original water-colour). Jones’s spear had a raised band round its ferrule, while Weld’s has not..."
    (My emphasis)

    *found loose within John Weld’s “Weapons and Implements. Prehistoric and Ancient Races” in the Harris Art Gallery and Museum, Preston)

    Frankly, I'm not sure that even the Jones drawing has the “seven inches” of grip that Oakeshott describes. I can only think that the original watercolour has a scale on it that gives such a measurement. It’s worth pointing out that although Weld’s apparently lacks a scale, it is the earliest likeness.

    At least, we have to say that without the original artefact, and with shaky documentary evidence, the sword may or may not have had a longer grip than is typical. The pommel is certainly very interesting. On its own, it doesn’t constitute evidence for Viking bastard swords. The Scandinavian example depicted above however, might. I don’t know. The lack of provenance etc is a worry.
    Last edited by Jonathan S Ferguson; 11-28-2008 at 02:56 AM.

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    Not really surprising, Long swords would not really have fit well with the shieldwall tactics used in the "Viking" era. Whether sword folk like it or not the dominant two hand weapon of the day was the spear.


    I think we should see ideas such as this one for what they are. A fun outlet for a sword enthusiasts creativity. While I've heard of later longsword blades being dressed with "Viking" hilts, there doesnt seem to be any solid evidence for longswords from the Viking period proper. But look at how far we've come the last ten years, who knows what could surface in the next decade


    ~RDM~
    ~Asatru is not what we believe...its what we are~

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    Quote Originally Posted by R.D.Metcalf View Post
    I think we should see ideas such as this one for what they are. A fun outlet for a sword enthusiasts creativity.
    And this is the main reason that I brought this up; it's fun to discuss and think about. I'm not about to make one and claim that it's historical- but I'll surely make one now and again and claim that it's fun!
    Tinkerswords.com Fine knives, swords and daggers in the style of the European Middle Ages and Viking Era

    "Then, one night as my car was going backwards through a cornfield an ninety miles per hour, I had an epiphany..."

    Luke 22:36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.

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    I know I've seen a photo of a Viking sword with a thoroughly "killed" blade - twisted up serpentine-style - with what looks like 7 or 8 inches of handle section. Of course, it may be that the shoulders have deteriorated and the guard has slid down, increasing the apparent tang length.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Tinker Pearce View Post
    And this is the main reason that I brought this up; it's fun to discuss and think about. I'm not about to make one and claim that it's historical- but I'll surely make one now and again and claim that it's fun!
    No doudt! And they are very beautiful as well I've always liked seeing the blending of artistic traditions from different time periods come together in a sword. Such as a type X blade with a baskethilt, Or in this case mounting early hilt furniture on later type blades. To me such combinations clear the air of all the dusty academia and bring out something that is both unique and possessed of great artistic merit. To me the "could'ves" are a hell of alot more fun than the clear cut "this is how it was". Also, for me, Nordic swords are a celebration of my ancestors, a living tradition. Weapons art is like water in the sense that when it stops flowing it stagnates.

    ~RDM~

    P.S.: To those who might be offended at my remark on academia, my point was that while the academic points should not be ignored, neither should they trap makers and collectors into a boring rut of simply copying/ buying swords based on existing finds. No offense was meant. Frith.
    ~Asatru is not what we believe...its what we are~

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Maddox Roberts View Post
    I know I've seen a photo of a Viking sword with a thoroughly "killed" blade - twisted up serpentine-style - with what looks like 7 or 8 inches of handle section. Of course, it may be that the shoulders have deteriorated and the guard has slid down, increasing the apparent tang length.

    I think I've seen this one as well, but I dont think the sword was finished....Although I've read about some finds of lang seax with longer than average grips, but I own that I've never seen any photos.

    ~RDM~
    ~Asatru is not what we believe...its what we are~

  18. #18
    Well, I for one am glad the subject came up - we all know more about it now than we did before. And that's the idea!

    I was doubtful about finding that drawing, but there it was. Google (books) be praised!

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    Hello, everyone!

    This famous so called "bastard sword" in reality is not bigger than any of "normal" Viking Age double edged swords - only from side it looks like that - when you count the missing upper guard, everything is normal. Nowdays you can find this sword in the exposition of Liepaja city Museum in Latvia.

    Here is one picture of it:
    Attached Images Attached Images   

  20. #20
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    Excellent- thanks Arthur! The missing upper guard and narrow blade are no doubt the reason the tang looks so long in the photos.
    Tinkerswords.com Fine knives, swords and daggers in the style of the European Middle Ages and Viking Era

    "Then, one night as my car was going backwards through a cornfield an ninety miles per hour, I had an epiphany..."

    Luke 22:36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.

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    Thanks for the pictures Arthur. It shows once again that it's not a good idea to make speculations based on imperfect pictures of only one original...

    Nevertheless, Vikings seemed to have thinking "outside the box" quite often, so who knows, maybe we will one day find a hand-and-a-half Viking sword...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Hansen View Post
    Thanks for the pictures Arthur. It shows once again that it's not a good idea to make speculations based on imperfect pictures of only one original...

    Nevertheless, Vikings seemed to have thinking "outside the box" quite often, so who knows, maybe we will one day find a hand-and-a-half Viking sword...

    Ummm , not that I don't believe Arthur and all ,Paul, but aren't we now just speculating more based on another imperfect picture? There's still no real sense of scale , and no measurements obviously....

    I am quite sure Arthur is correct, but still I'm seeing speculation....

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    You are correct of course. But I made a reconstruction with a little help from Photoshop, and you tell me which seems better proportioned.

    The top view is the original with added upper guard. It's just a mirror of the lower guard, which fits perfectly. Makes you wonder if the original was loose and the lower and upper guards are actually mixed up...

    The middle is places a handle from a different reconstruction on top. The proportions are kept the same.

    The bottom one uses the same handle, but the length was streched to 150% of the original, keeping the same height.

    The handle used belongs to Patrick Barta's Catalogue number 107, which I chose because he's usually very careful to stay in historical limits.

    Personally, I think that while the handle on the middle version looks a bit too thick, it's much better than the streched variant. And because the blade seems quite narrow, the pommel may be a bit on the smallish side, making the handle look bigger.
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Hwęšere žęr fuse feorran cwoman
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    "Yes...it's the only way I can be assured of intelligent conversation."
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    Nice Work !!

    I have to say that the middle one looks true to form ... except as you say, the blade looks narrow, but the hilt proportions look correct....

    The whole thing is intriguing to me... even as an ordinary Viking pattern , it still sings of mystery to me...

    I like it ...

  25. #25
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    There is nothing new 'neath moon nor sun....

    Its' entirely possible that in an era when things were hand made ,some 'off the beaten path' type of customer may have gone to a smith and asked him for a sword with a longer handle.....

    Such as sword is mentioned in the Beowulf poem from what I remember....

    And it's entirely possible that that's where the hand and a half and two handed long swords came from in later times - customers requesting something different.....

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