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Thread: Spearhead from Neil Burridge

  1. #1

    Spearhead from Neil Burridge

    One thing that so far has not been available as reproductions are good sized bronze spearheads. Neil Burridge has decided to change that I just got one of his test castings for a british type basal looped spearhead. It has a few small flaws, but well within actual finds. Here you can see a close match:
    http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/archive/l...whichobj=&go=Go

    The length of the spearhead is 38cm. This casting is 550 gram, which is a bit heavier then the original spearheads, but then this is only a test casting.

    Some pictures of the spearhead:





    And to give an indication of it's size, here is next to one of Neil's Ewart Park swords:



    That's a big spearhead!

  2. #2
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    You lucky bastard, I love these big Bronze Age spearheads.

    In the Netherlands they once found a Bronze Age leaf-like spearhead that also has these holes/loops at the base. What were they used for?

  3. #3
    Most likely they were used to bind the spearhead onto the shaft. The loops were later replaced by rivet holes (although I don't believe the latter were intended for bronze rivets).

  4. #4
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    So beautiful...I may actually have to take the plunge and finally get me some sharpened bronze.
    "We are all imprisoned by the dictionary. We choose out of that vast, paper-walled prison our convicts, the little black printed words, when in truth we need fresh sounds to utter, new enfranchised noises which would produce a new effect."
    — Mervyn Peake

  5. #5
    I've got one, too, pretty much the same as Jeroen's but the socket is shorter (also due to casting flaws). We are darned excited about these, but I'm betting the production models will be amazing!

    Ben, get thee to Neil's sale page and send him money!! You will not regret it. The spearheads should be showing up there soon.

    There are a couple places in Europe offering bronze spearheads, but from what I can tell they are rather small. Not incorrect at all, just not the kind of substantial pig-sticker many of us are looking for! These bad boys of Neil's fill the bill nicely. Of course, just like swords, I still want more in different styles! Yup, we're junkies, big time.

    Matthew

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    Wow. I didn't think that Neil would be start producing socketed spear heads simply due to the troubles involved. I have been scouring the internet for good bronze spear heads but I have been very disapointed as I am sure many have been before me. I was tempted to get something from manning imperial but I obviously need to hold out until Neil starts to offer these. Very exciting.
    Battle not with monsters lest ye become one;for when you look into the Abyss, the Abyss looks into you. -- Nietzsche

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon Groves View Post
    Wow. I didn't think that Neil would be start producing socketed spear heads simply due to the troubles involved. I have been scouring the internet for good bronze spear heads but I have been very disapointed as I am sure many have been before me. I was tempted to get something from manning imperial but I obviously need to hold out until Neil starts to offer these. Very exciting.
    Yep, spearheads are much more difficult to produce then swords, so I'm quite suprised that Neil managed to accomplish it, and affordable enough to start selling them. That just shows again that he's the man when it comes to bronze age reproduction

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeroen Zuiderwijk View Post
    Yep, spearheads are much more difficult to produce then swords, so I'm quite suprised that Neil managed to accomplish it, and affordable enough to start selling them. That just shows again that he's the man when it comes to bronze age reproduction
    True indeed. Also, on the tpoic of spears, do you know of any good websites to purchase a good ash spear shaft? It seems pretty much impossible to find something approriate locally, not even some ash wood stock thick and wide enough to carve one of my own. So alas, for this future project I am forced to scour the internet and eventually fork over a great deal of money for shipping an oversized item.

    Any sugestions for websites or alternatives? I pretty much have my heart set on ash, thats about it.
    Battle not with monsters lest ye become one;for when you look into the Abyss, the Abyss looks into you. -- Nietzsche

  9. #9
    You might try modifying a broomstick, if you can find those long enough and made from ash. Be aware though that they can often be from a more inferior wood like pine wood. And even if ash, they won't follow the grain, so they aren't as strong. I personally have no trouble finding shafts, but sending a 7-8' pole through the post might be a problem You might also check if there are there any wood suppliers in your area, which can have a very large range of different woods.

  10. #10
    Peavy Manufacturing,

    http://www.peaveymfg.com/dowels.htm

    I'm considering them myself, but lemme know what they say if you get a quote first. I'm thinking it might make sense to buy 2 or even 3 shafts at once, since I'll need them eventually and that will cut down on the shipping, presumably.

    But first I'll poke through the local Lowes and custom woodshop.

    Matthew

  11. #11
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    Arms & Armor sells 6', 1 1/8" ash poles intended for use with their spears and polearms. However, they want $36 for them, plus another $36 for shipping. Maybe if you bought several at once $36 would cover the shipping for all of them. You'd have to call them and ask.

    Then you can compare what that'd cost you to what Peavey wants.

    If you buy from one of them let us know how it works out. Or if you find another place with a better deal, be sure to pass that along.
    "Courage is fear holding on a minute longer."--Gen. George S. Patton

  12. #12
    I posted some data on bronze age spear shafts some time ago, so I thought it would be worthwile repeating it here:

    Here's some descriptions of Bronze Age spearshafts, as described in "A Bronze Spearhead and its shaft from the River Thames at Hammersmith.", which I'd highly recommend if interested in bronze age spears:

    Lengener Moor, Halsbek, Kr. Ammerland, Lower Saxony, Germany:
    Plain, pegged spearhead of LBA Montilius IV-V type, found 1.70m deep in a bog with a wooden shaft 2.50 m. long, which crumbled on removal.

    Forro Enez, Abauj County, northern Hungary:
    Spearhead with socket of octagonal section from mouth to tip, a rare type most common in the Italian Early Iron Age, found with a wooden shaft 2.50 m. long and an octagonal-section ferrule.

    Co. Donegal, Ireland:
    Spearhead with short, knife like blade having a mid-rib and bevelled edges, an offset socket of concave profile, ridged oval section and two rivet-holes set side by side. This is probably an Early Bronze Age type. Found 6.10 m. deep in a bog with a shaft of ash 2.44m. long attached by two wooden rivets; the shaft disintegrated on removal.

    Edenberry, Co. Offaly, Ireland:
    Part of a broken spear-shaft of wood, 1.17 m. long.

    Lough Gur, Co. Limerick, Ireland:
    Pegged spreadhead with a leaf-shaped, straight-based blade and gold ornament on the socket; Late Bronze Age. Found with a shaft of bog-oak 1,43 m. long, exclusive of the part inserted into the socket; the total length of the spear was 1.84 m. The shaft, now lost, was shaped from a solid block of wood and was thickest in the centre, tapering towards the ends; it was attached to the head by a bronze rivet.

    River Thames at Hammersmith, London, England:
    Enfield type spearhead, Penard phase of the British Bronze Age. Found with a wooden shaft about 1.5 m. long, now lost.

    Also mentioned in this publication: "Where the wood employed has been identified it has often proved to be ash."
    There ya go. I was actually mistaken about the length, which gets up to 2,5 meters. I think I'm going for a bit shorter though, about 2 meters in total.

  13. #13
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    Looks good and, ehm, substantial!
    Hwęšere žęr fuse feorran cwoman
    to žam ęšelinge. - Dream of the Rood


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  14. #14
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    I just had an order that Nate Bell and I are splitting show up today. We ended up ordering thirteen 1" by seven foot ash dowels from Atlas Dowel and Wood Products. Of the places that I found to contact these seemed to be the cheapest, but they do have a $75 minium order. Shipping didn't end up costing as much as I was expecting, only $16.50. So it worked out to be less than eight dollars for each spear shaft, and they look pretty nice too.

    Shane

  15. #15
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    Thanks for the tip, Shane.
    "Courage is fear holding on a minute longer."--Gen. George S. Patton

  16. #16
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    Cold steel is selling an ash spear shaft for one of their items by itself. $36 with $8.50 shipping within the US. Not really a big fan of their products, but the shaft does interest me. Unfortunately, I live in Canada and I am sure I would receive a nice “special” shipping charge. While it doesn’t give the length of the shaft on the website, I read elsewhere that it was 70". Not bad.
    Battle not with monsters lest ye become one;for when you look into the Abyss, the Abyss looks into you. -- Nietzsche

  17. #17
    Neil sent me a drawing of the original spearhead that he modeled his casting from.

    http://www.larp.com/hoplite/neils_new_spearhead.jpg

    The loops are not as rectangular as I had thought. But the overall shape is basically what he made. And there is a pair of holes for a peg or rivet way up even with the loops!

    Should be easy to finish this one up!

    Matthew

  18. #18
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    Socket depth

    Hey folks!
    It is really exciting that Neil is moving on to spearheads, they seem to be a complete nightmare to cast. From the little I know about casting, it would not surprise me if at least the longer ones were made using the lost wax process, as they manage to maintain a uniform wall thickness to the socket of 1mm and less for the entire length of these weapons, some of which are over 600mm in length (very rare), but they are often over 350mm in length. I know cores are the usual suggestion for casting the sockets, but I have seen folks try this and while possible for shorter pieces, it seems nigh on impossible for the long ones.

    Question is, how deep has Neil managed to cast the socket and is this the additional weight or is it from blades' thickness (they seem slightly thicker than historic pieces). If he can manage to pull these off as well as his swords when he has developed his technique fully, I am really looking forward to getting my hands on one!!

    B
    "If your bayonet breaks, strike with the stock; if the stock gives way, hit with your fists; if your fists are hurt, bite with your teeth" (Dragomiroff, c.1890)

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Barry Molloy View Post
    Hey folks!
    It is really exciting that Neil is moving on to spearheads, they seem to be a complete nightmare to cast. From the little I know about casting, it would not surprise me if at least the longer ones were made using the lost wax process, as they manage to maintain a uniform wall thickness to the socket of 1mm and less for the entire length of these weapons, some of which are over 600mm in length (very rare), but they are often over 350mm in length.
    From the evidence I've seen is they used: stone moulds, bronze moulds, and clay moulds made using wooden models. So far I've not seen any evidence of the use of lost wax. However, stone or bronze moulds could have been used to make the wax models. If you cast wax into the mould, then pour the wax out, you get a hollow wax model you can stuff with clay. But as from the clay models it's shown that they could do it without wax and there's no direct evidence that wax was ever used in the UK/Ireland AFAIK.

    I know cores are the usual suggestion for casting the sockets, but I have seen folks try this and while possible for shorter pieces, it seems nigh on impossible for the long ones.
    Padraig from Umha Aois has been experimenting using wooden cores (with a thin clay coating) in a stone mould, and got pretty good results. A wooden core is a lot easier to shape accurately then clay. The trick is though to delay the burning of the wood long enough to fill the mould with bronze. Otherwise the gasses will push the bronze away.

    Question is, how deep has Neil managed to cast the socket and is this the additional weight or is it from blades' thickness (they seem slightly thicker than historic pieces). If he can manage to pull these off as well as his swords when he has developed his technique fully, I am really looking forward to getting my hands on one!!
    I couldn't check the depth, as in mine there was a bit of flash on the inside of the socket, but it was at least to 1/3rd from the tip, possibly further. Neil will be casting the sockets thicker then the originals, as he's got to have a high enough succes rate in casting them to make them affordable. From the outside, you won't see the difference though.

  20. #20
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    You are right Jeroen, the only evidence we have is that they used wooden models as formers (apart of course from stone or the occasional bronze mould), there is even wood pattern on a small few Irish swords I have looked at (little or no post-cast treatement of the blade). But the evidence for lost wax casting these kind of artefacts would be difficult to prove or disprove archaeologically, as the wax does not survive, and the finished products look so similar. The wooden models for socketed spearheads are solid, so in these cases the use of a core similar to Padhraigs method could work (I have seen him get fairly good results on a lunate opeining piece using a soapstone mould). But I can't see how it would work where the core had to be 500mm+ in length and not be off centre to the tune of even 0.5mm, 0.000X degrees of a shift would ruin the casting. The fact is though they did manage to cast them, so they certainly had a method that was very effective. Always intrigues me though.

    Some of the Myceneaen swords actually are 99% certain lost-wax cast, despite what some specialists have said (there is debate here), so it is fairly certain that this technology was in use in some areas of Europe. The problem is the old absence of evidence vs evidence of absence debate, which is problematic as I mentioned the unliklihood of wax surviving and the *comparatively* basic shape of the end product (in relation to free standing statues etc.).

    I hope, Jeroen, with your growing experience that you may be able to shed light on this for all of us some day!!!

    B
    Last edited by Barry Molloy; 02-23-2007 at 09:12 AM.
    "If your bayonet breaks, strike with the stock; if the stock gives way, hit with your fists; if your fists are hurt, bite with your teeth" (Dragomiroff, c.1890)

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Barry Molloy View Post
    You are right Jeroen, the only evidence we have is that they used wooden models as formers (apart of course from stone or the occasional bronze mould), there is even wood pattern on a small few Irish swords I have looked at (little or no post-cast treatement of the blade).
    Did it look anything like this?
    http://1501bc.com/files/carps_tongue...8_okt_2006.jpg
    I found that on the sword I cast, using a wooden pattern to make the mould. At first I thought this was the wood grain, just like described on the swords you mentioned. On closer inspection, it wasn't woodgrain at all, it was the marks left in the clay by my fingers when I was smoothening the clay, after I removed the pattern. The pattern itself is smooth, so it doesn't give woodgrain marks. You need to work the clay a bit after the pattern is removed, as there's cracks, bits of clay missing which stick to the model etc.

    But the evidence for lost wax casting these kind of artefacts would be difficult to prove or disprove archaeologically, as the wax does not survive, and the finished products look so similar.
    You could see it from mould remains. If there is no separation in the mould, for releasing the pattern, then it has to have been lost wax (or lead). Unfortunately clay mould remains are rare though, and I only know of a few clay spearhead mould remains.

    The wooden models for socketed spearheads are solid, so in these cases the use of a core similar to Padhraigs method could work
    The only problem I see with clay moulds is that they have to be fired. Either the core was fired in place in the mould, or it was inserted after the mould was fired. I'm not entirely certain how that was done.

    (I have seen him get fairly good results on a lunate opeining piece using a soapstone mould).
    Ah yes, it slipped my mind that you were there as well

    But I can't see how it would work where the core had to be 500mm+ in length and not be off centre to the tune of even 0.5mm, 0.000X degrees of a shift would ruin the casting. The fact is though they did manage to cast them, so they certainly had a method that was very effective. Always intrigues me though.
    Yeah. The idea is that they used chaplets, either bronze or organic ones. I've seen examples of spearheads with thin slots in the sockets, similar to some of the bronze chapes. These indicate the use of organic chaplets. Thing is though, in case of a clay mould these would burn away during the firing.

    Some of the Myceneaen swords actually are 99% certain lost-wax cast, despite what some specialists have said (there is debate here), so it is fairly certain that this technology was in use in some areas of Europe.
    I'm convinced the technology was in use in other places as well (Scandinavia f.e.). But a lot of bronze casters go for lost wax casting, as it's so easy using modern wax in combination with silicon moulds. But I prefer to try to copy the actual found moulds, and figure out how to make those work. Quite often you can see from the design of a piece whether it's made for a bivalve mould, or a lost wax mould. But for some artifacts, different methods work just as well. And quite probably, if different methods work, they probably have been used. A bronze caster with a good supply of beeswax, who casts bronze figures, might be likely to cast axes in the same way, whereas another caster may find it easier to stick to two piece moulds.

    The problem is the old absence of evidence vs evidence of absence debate, which is problematic as I mentioned the unliklihood of wax surviving and the *comparatively* basic shape of the end product (in relation to free standing statues etc.).
    Well, as there is tons of evidence that show casting techniques having been used other then lost wax, that's what I focus on. I've not yet seen any confirmed lost wax moulds from the bronze age (I may know one from Sweden, but only from a blurry picture without descriptions). But I will do some iron age castings in the near future with lost wax moulds though.

    I hope, Jeroen, with your growing experience that you may be able to shed light on this for all of us some day!!!
    I'll do my best

  22. #22
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    spears

    That is really interesting about the mould flaws looking like wood patterning... unfortunately in a fantastically unwise lack of backing up I have lost many of my research photos so can't compare until I see the originals again, but that does seem a most plausible reason for this patterning indeed.

    I know of course that the evidence does not point to wax casting for NW European stuff, but we should always keep it in mind, but this may fit in better for the Aegean...

    But back to the spearheads, I know this is straying the discussion a little of the initial topic, but it is something that is really quite important. Especially in light of how far some of the folks doing the hard work of reconstructing the techniques of manufacture have come only in the last 5 years or so. Another (perhaps more plausible) alternative for the spearheads would be to use a four or five piece mould, which would be a pain in the backside to make, but may be a good option - if the wooden former is only covered up to the top of the internal socket depth for two near-complete halves of a split mould, this should allow the core (wood of ceramic) to be positioned at both ends of the mould through an opening. A seperate piece could then seal the end of the socket, and another (impressed) piece could be used to complete the tip of the spear with the pouring cup down here also. THere would still be room for error in this, but perhaps it could work? The whole shebang dried out and then assembled and coated in another layer of mould mix to hold them together and seal them for a pour. I know the problems of what the core was made of remains, but this would be a possibility I think.

    Anyhoos, enough theorising. Looking forward to the bronse smiths like Jeroen having the chance to tell us how they actually managed to make these in time.

    B
    "If your bayonet breaks, strike with the stock; if the stock gives way, hit with your fists; if your fists are hurt, bite with your teeth" (Dragomiroff, c.1890)

  23. #23
    Update: Neil now has the spearheads on his sale page:
    http://www.bronze-age-craft.com/swords_for_sale.htm
    So order your's now for only £80!

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