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I have always been interested in weapons from the viking age, but everyone seems to focus on the swords, being the most romantic and iconic of the viking weapons. Spears however were much more common, and just as highly revered and decorated, yet seem to be much less documented, and far less studied. The only books studying them that I've been able to find are academic works for which I haven't been able to access actual copies, just references by name. I've been looking for a copies of the following, if anyone has access to them, please contact me! Norwegian Spear-heads from the Merovingian and Viking Periods by Bergljot Solberg - Universitetet i Bergen, 1984 Weapons Export from the Continent to the Nordic Countries in the Carolingian Period by Bergljot Solberg - Studien zur Sachsenforschung 7 (= Veröffentlichungen der urgeschichtlichen Sammlungen des Landesmuseums zu Hannover 39), Hildesheim, 241-259 [Studies of Saxony Research 7 (= Publications of the prehistoric Collections of the National Museum to Hannover 39), Hildesheim, 241-259] Tension and Tradition: A Study of Late Iron Age Spearheads Around the Baltic Sea by Kristina Creutz - Stockholms universitet, 2003 Anyhow, that out of the way, I've been collecting as much info, images, and actual artifacts of one particular type of spear from the viking age. I first saw pictures of the helsinki spear, Helsinki 3631:2 I have always loved pattern welded spears, and this spear to me was the most clear image of pattern welding in a spear. One of the distinctive features on the spear is the wolfs tooth pattern which intrigued me. It was the first time I had seen that pattern on a spear, though I had seen tooth patterns on seaxes before, in particular the Sittingbourne seax and the hunting knife of Charlemagne. In searching for other spears with this pattern however, originally I had thought them to be extremely rare, finding examples in a few museums and but one other image of one from an 1800s museum catelog from Bergen Museum. In the years since then however I have discovered that they are apparently vastly more common than I had originally supposed, and in fact I now have five toothy spears in my own private collection. Fair warning, I do not own the rights to many of the images that I am posting here (many of them come from other threads on this forum which I am collecting here, others I do not know the origin of) The Helsinki spear, first the image that most people are familiar with, and second the true color image of the artifact. The spear third from left in this plate from the Bergen Museum is also a wolfstooth spear Now even from just these two images and renditions of extant spears, I could tell that the teeth were not made in the same manner as those on the Sittingbourne seax. For comparison, here are that seax, the hunting knife of Charlemagne, and another wolftooth seax with radiographs. The teeth there are big and chunky, and look to be constructed in the same manner as this seax The teeth in the hunting knife of Charlemagne are very hard to discern in the blade itself from images, but they're there, and much finer construction than the above two seaxes, but still not so small as those in the wolfstooth spear heads.
Some of you who attended the Swords through the centuries event last weekend got to see most of these. I've since replaced all my containers with archival safe foam and materials thanks to Mr. Shea donating some scraps of ethafoam he had. It's nothing like Jeff Pringle's collection, but it's my own =) A fellow nearby me who is conserving a viking sword and scabbard pieces recently unearthed let me onto the fact that there's some fairly reasonable priced authentic viking pieces coming out of Estonia and Latvia on ebay right now, and so I've got another couple axe heads coming my way after bidding on them in the last few weeks as well =) http://www.tharkis.com/images/viking/thumbs.py Here's everything in it's new home (the dark foam next to it is a softer foam which goes on top to keep stuff from moving when the box is closed and not sitting down) Here's one axe head, not in that great shape, and like most of my artifacts, not yet stabilized. This is my spear head, which was stabilized with electrolysis , which unfortunately makes it hard to tell, but there's evidence that it has a pattern welded core, but it's very hard to tell if its' patern welding or if it's very long strands of impurities. The parallel nature and the length of the lines makes me believe it's not just a grain ala wrought however. the most prevelant modern conservation techniques tend to mask / eliminate evidence of pattern welding. Here's a pair of small blades. A small axe head in very bad shape Some bronze belt hardware. Several tongue ends, one set with very nice knotwork engraving, two with very distinctive Viking triangles with 3 dots inside. There are some leather remnants still attached to a few pieces, importantly the join plate in the top right corner clearly shows how, as suspected with many Viking belts, it was created from shorter pieces of leather joined with plates. The leather between the plates is still intact with very clean cut ends between the two halves. The iron tongue has rotted away on the belt buckle, but next to it are some fairly rare hangars , which would have been used to hang other equipment, fire starters, knife sheaths, etc, to the belt. As small as all the pieces are, the level of detal on them is great, with fine lines around all the edges. The buckle has nice stipple work on the face, the 2 hangars on the left have very nice octohedral botoms.
In between all of the travel I have been adn doing, I managed to get theses two comissions finished up. The chef knife is 1095/15n20 in a ladder patter around 75 layers and forged close to shape. the handle is Mahogony with silver inlay and domed brass pins anf the triskel knot engraved on the blade. this is a very thin blade the spine at its thickest is just about 1/8" with full distel taper and I took the edge to aroud 0.002 before sharpening. the spear is forged from 1075/ and mild steel. the socket is brazed on as is the ring the center ridge is forge welded
So I started making a spear today, partly as a secondary weapon for hunting our local feral pigs, but mostly just because I felt that I needed one. I wanted to use 1045 laminated with 5160 core, like san mai, but the local Alro doesn't carry "exotic" steels, so I went with 1018 and the venerable mystery steel. In this case, it's small gauge railroad track, pulled out of state forest along the AuSable river, most likely from a logging track. I used an angle grinder to cut the top off of about 14" of track, forged one end flat, normalized thrice using my Mark II eyeball to gauge temps, and quenched in weak brine. To my happy surprise, it hardened beautifully, and from my limited experience with grain size, it appears to have very a fine grain, comparable to the professionally HT'd stainless I run at work. Questions, critique, and suggestions welcome. I feel a duty to warn that progress will be extremely slow, as my forge is 2 hours away from my "normal" residence (apartment) that I am at no less than 5 days a week. Unless there is a fellow smith in the Saginaw/Reese area that wouldn't mind me using a corner of their property? Chase Here's a pic of the broken end: And a pic of the envisioned spearhead: