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Jeroen Zuiderwijk

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    Bronze age, iron age, early medieval.

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  1. A propane forge is a lot better, as it gives a better heat distribution all around, and better temperature control. Best also to add a piece of charcoal in the crucible to get rid of oxygen that might otherwise enter the copper. The copper should probably be fine for reuse. I don't think some iron in it will give much problems, at least not that I'm aware of.
  2. Oh, last one. This one is also usually shown as example with regard to broken back style seax scabbards. It is an ivory knife scabbard from Bamberg, Germany. While the knife isn't particularly a broken backs style seax, and the scabbard is also quite small I believe, the style does look like broken back style seax sheaths. Knife sheaths are normally very different from contemporary seax sheaths. It's dated first half of the 8th century, so that may be a little early for a broken back style seax. Worth noting though is that the rivet pattern of the fittings does not match any of the rivet patterns I've seen on actual broken back style sheats.
  3. A coal forge is not suitable. You need furnace, rather then a forge. And coal gets far too hot and too concentrated. It may melt your copper, but your crucible will not like it very much. A furnace ensures an even temperature all around the crucible, particularly at the top opening, which should be kept at around 1200C. If you overheat the copper, it will absorb large quantities of oxygen and other gasses, and you get a bubbly casting. Casting pure copper is very difficult for that reason, particularly if you want to shape it further after casting, either by cold working or machining. Getting a good casting with copper without internal cavities is not easy. Bronze is a lot easier (relatively, still a challenge), if you add some tin. About 3-4 % still still gives a red coppery color, though a bit lighter and more pink, but is already significantly easier to cast.
  4. That's it, from my side. Any other additions are highly welcome!
  5. With regards to pictorial evidence of seaxes, while there are quite a few contemporary drawings of broken back style seaxes being wielded, non of the bearers is depicted with a sheath. The only exception is this 10th century burial cross from Middelton:
  6. Unfortunately there are also virtually no known loose scabbard mount finds. Probably they exist, but are not described, and/or not possible to date accurately. One example is this very fancy chape, dating to the late 8th century from Westminster Bridge, London: More information about this particular piece can be found here: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details/collection_image_gallery.aspx?partid=1&assetid=1237377001&objectid=98159 The dating could mean that this belonged to a broken back style seax sheath. It's incomplete, and originally had a V shape. What's interesting is the sets of three rivets by which it was attached. That matches this scabbard, which has such rivet holes along the spine side of the blade (no. DLS 11 from "Scabbards and Sheaths from Viking and Medieval Dublin"):
  7. Some, but not all have evidence of stitching as well as rivet holes, in the form of tunnel stitching (not visible from outside). I don't have an example scanned that shows this. But the stitching usually is nearer to the sax, and the rivet holes closer to the edge of the sheath.
  8. Those are all the sheaths of broken back saxes that I know with any metal parts still attached. A lot more sheaths have been found, but were all stripped of any metal parts before being thrown away (all found at rubbish pits). So the only basic indication for metal fittings are the remaining rivet holes. The patterns vary quite a bit. Some have largely spaced rivet holes at more or less equal intervals along the entire edge. Some have a clear separate row rivet holes at the blade either at large distance or close distance to eachother, a set of three at the blade/handle junction and a few holed along the handle part like no. 115 from Coppergate above. Others lack the set of 3 at the blade handle junctions.
  9. Last one with any metal remaining on the sheath (lower example) from Billingsgate, no. 10 in "Axpects of Saxo-Norman London: II, Finds and Environmental Evidence": Patternwelded sax, with partial handle (possibly ivory, undecorated) and remains of the leather sheath. The sheath is badly decayed. Analysis shows that it may have been decorated. On the edge side remain what looks like small bronze staples placed at 2mm intervals, which were probably wire (on one side completely decayed). This sax is dated to the 12th century, which makes it the last true sax that I know.
  10. Sheath from Berkeley Street, Gloucester (no. 350 in "Sheaths and Scabbards in England AD400-1100"): "Closed by rivets along the cutting edge at 35 - 50mm intervals. A rectangular iron plate and two metal staples were also part of the riveted seam (at the mouth end). Two localized groups of stitch holes, positioned at 60mm and 100mm below the mouth of the sheath along the seam, mark the attachment of suspension straps. Length: 415mm. Date: 10th-11nd century.
  11. Another sheath form Coppergate, York (no. 214 in "Sheaths abd Scabbards in England AD400-1100"): "It's edges were closed with a maximum of 8 copper alloy rivets or nails bent over at the back, 4 of which remain. The position and size of 3 of these suggest that they also functioned as suspension points. Other marks along the edge suggest that metal platelets may have also been used". The total length is 330mm.
  12. Next is this example from Coppergate, York (no. 115 in "Sheaths abd Scabbards in England AD400-1100"); It's got an iron mouth band, 8mm wide, fitted with iron nails. At the junction of the blade to handle, there is a rectangular iron plate on both sides (9x27mm), fitted with iron nails. The total length is 319mm. Note: there are several examples of other sheaths that have a set of three rivet holes at the blade to handle junction of the scabbard, just like this example. To me this indicates that this is probably where the suspension was attached (as well as probably at the mouth piece). However, there is no trace of the actual suspension left. Also, most other examples of sheaths have an undecorated part at the mouth end, which would suggest that this was covered by a similar metal mouth piece.
  13. It's a frequent discussed topic, but I thought I'd open a tread specificially dealing with evidence for broken back style sax sheaths, in particular aimed at the fittings, suspension. Anyone who has looked for information on this subject will find that the archeological evidence is unsatisfactory incomplete. There are quite a lot of leather sheaths found in rubbish pits in the UK and Ireland, but they are nearly always completely stripped of any metalwork. First a summary of the examples that still have metalwork remaining: The famous hunting knife of Charlemagne, which so far has the most intact sheath known: Not a lot of describing text is available about the sheath (to me). The exact dating is unknown, as is the material of the fittings. It could be gold filligree and glass inlay. The total length of the seax is 52cm. Worth noting is that the shape of the scabbard does not match the blade: the length of the tip beyond the angle is shorter on the sheath as well as the entire blade portion of the sheath. This could mean that the sheath. This could indicate that the sheath was not made for this particular seax.
  14. Steel is generally bad as crucible, except for low temperature metals like tin. Iron dissolves in liquid copper in the same way that sugar dissolves in water. I'd save the trouble of making crucibles, and buy a professional one. I use silicon graphite crucible, they're practically care free, provided that you don't get them excessively hot (>1300C). To get the copper out, you may try simply by heating the forge, and see if you can scrape it out when it's at near melting point.
  15. We were near Zennor. It was not a very comfortable place with stormy wind and rain (you could litterally hear it howl across the field). We were in winter coats with woollen hats most of the time, and that was in august I had to go out of my tent several times in the middle of the night to tie it down and make repairs, while being beaten around by storm and ice cold rain. So if you retire there, don't go live on the high plains The towns and cities were fine though. Just a few km away into one of the towns like Penzance, and we were in a completely different climate: sunny, warm, no wind. The weather was one of the reasons I just gave up trying to do complex welding stuff. At one moment the gazebo I was under started to collapse and wanted to fly away, which did not help either.