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owen bush

how big do seaxes get ?

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Today I was taken by the Muse and instead of making what I should have .I try'd a different variant on the serpent in the steel. Inspired by a small sword section made by Vince Evans in the BM .I have ended up with a great big billet enough to make two langseax (I forged points on both ends to try a couple of pattern variations).

I don't really want to go broken back seax on both of the blades and I really want one to be a wopper.

I have been making light fast blades recently and I want to make a brutish 'Hero" piece based on the borders of historic reality .......

 

 

 

 

so........ what is the biggest seax ?

 

 

I must admit this is a little previous as I have not checked the pattern to see if its a good un .

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This is a langbardian design, seventh century. As you can see blade is 37.5 cm long.

 

Blade is slightly hollow ground as well. Light and quick weapon in the hand.

 

 

pippo.jpeg

 

(Pic can be used only for non commercial purposes. It is hosted on my server to save bandwidth. Shoe point is mine and it cannot be reproduced elsewhere, this is valid also for the inside foot )

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This is a langbardian design, seventh century. As you can see blade is 37.5 cm long.

 

Blade is slightly hollow ground as well. Light and quick weapon in the hand.

 

 

pippo.jpeg

 

(Pic can be used only for non commercial purposes. It is hosted on my server to save bandwidth. Shoe point is mine and it cannot be reproduced elsewhere, this is valid also for the inside foot )

 

 

That is a very pretty blade thanks , you will have to excuse my ignorance but I have not come across the term Langbardian ? I looked it up on google and was sent to your other posts!! Where does it originate ?

 

Many thanks Owen

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I feel dumb, I thought that was an inch measuring tape and my heart caught in my throat :P a 3ft plus some blade would make that almost 6 inches wide!

 

ah well.. my bad

 

Pretty blade in the picture

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That is a very pretty blade thanks , you will have to excuse my ignorance but I have not come across the term Langbardian ? I looked it up on google and was sent to your other posts!! Where does it originate ?

 

Many thanks Owen

 

Np, they are better known as the Lombards, ancient germanic population who established after migration in Northern Italy, spreading aslo in Sourthern Italy until Salerno. They ruled part of italy in scatetred dukedoms until they were defeated by the Franks.

 

They had originated in northern Germany. Their culture is obviously typically germanic, but they are nto much famous outside Italy as they played a significant political and historical role only there, after a passage through Hungary that left also sinificant archeological traces.

 

I do not use the word Lombard to avoid confusion with modern Lombards, inhabitants of the region where their presence had been stronger: a lombard knife would be a modern era popular knife with almost no connection with seaxes (if we exclude typical Bergamasc knives from Bergamo)

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lombards

 

Langbardian swords were also typical migration era longswords, often with splendid hilt carrying a strong similarity to saxon swords.

 

this is Deltin's replica.

 

http://www.kultofathena.com/product~item~DT2071~name~Del+Tin+Lombard+Sword.htm

 

I must have some images of originals buried in a dead computer's HD, sorry for posting a rpelica, a good one though

 

Langbardland maps.

 

http://www.langbardland.info/

 

yes, the actual english name is Langobard

Edited by GBC

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Thank you very much that was very interesting .

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if it were me, i'd go for something like this - a german (i think) langseax - 772mm long, 45mm wide and 9mm thick.

 

seax german.jpg

 

or this from leeds armouries, which from memory is about the same dimensions:

 

museums 122.jpg

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Jake,

That is just the ticket ,are those dimensions total length or blade length .

on Dons sword class (almost 2 years ago) Jake P and Petred Johnsson both made big old seaxes .I was too busy running around to really pay attention to them or there size and feel , They were impressive though .

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Great pics Jake! Amd very intesting thread Owen, I can't wait to see what you come up with!

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Owen, i can't find the original pic for the first one, and the text is in German, so... but my best guess is that that was overall length, leaving about a 2ft blade. the leeds one may have been a little longer - it sure looked like a big mother, but that may be just 'cause it's such an impressive and intimidating thing (if poorly/over dramatically lit). from memory the ones peter and jake forged from the w2 were about that size as well, but a little thinner in the spine, maybe 6mm? but as you say it was 18months or so ago, and there wer a lot of distractions... remember to post whatever you come up with.

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Hi Owen,

 

Here, on sax no.6 (I think one of the nicest I've found) the notice gives an overall lenght of 788mm with a tang of 188mm. A nice blade lenght of 60cm.

The no5 is also very nice and quite large.

Antoine

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This one is 90cm including hilt:

Langsax_Jesenwang_Germany.jpg

 

I know a british one that's longer still, but I'll have to dig to find the drawing of that one.

Edited by Jeroen Zuiderwijk

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This one is 90cm including hilt:

Langsax_Jesenwang_Germany.jpg

 

I know a british one that's longer still, but I'll have to dig to find the drawing of that one.

 

 

Jeroen, I know this is a big question and a bit OT, is there evidence of a survival of such weapons in later periods?

 

They seem to have disappeared quickly. In Ireland they sem to have given way to the one edged sword.

 

There is a Maciejoswky bible knight who is fighting with a possible langsax derivative of enormous dimensions here

 

otm10va&bdetail4.gif

 

otm10va&b.gif

Edited by GBC

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Hi Owen and All!

 

Saxes are getting really hot!

And I still have to make one myself, despite having collected data for almost a decade now :rolleyes:

 

I have come across a few really big ones. Two large ones in the storage in Visby on Gotland. I did not make tracings of these however.

 

There is this one monster sax in Stockholm. 1.168 kilos, 85 cm blade length, 6.8 cm greatest blade width and a spine that tapers from 0.8 cm to 0.5 cm at the widest place. This was probably a two handed weapon. Difficult to imagine anyone wielding it single hand. I could imagine it being mounted on a grip of almost base ball bat length...

 

Another big seax comes from my part of Sweden, Uppland. This landscape today is mostly a big flat clay pancake. But in ancient times it was a broken up and shallow archipelago of sorts where land was cut through with water ways that could be used by ships to reach the baltic sea. It was here that the old heathen ways were abandoned last and with some reluctance from some parties...

There are many places where Chieftains had halls and weapons are found in burials and as loose finds everywhere.

This is a nice sax of impressive dimensions that has a blade of 66.5 cm, total length of some 90.5 cm and a weight of 830 grams. The back curves to the edge in a gentle curve at the last third or two fifths of the blade. The edge is almost straight along mos of its length but curves up ever so slightly to meet the back in the point area. It starts out 0.8 cm thick at the back and tapers to 0.63 cm where the back starts to curve towards the point. The tang once protruded all the way through the grip and was simply bent over the end of the grip, like you secure a nail. There is a shallow fuller along the back, not really distinct. It is very typical in shape of those "atypical lang seaxes" (or was it "atypical broad saxes"?) that occur towards the end of the period when saxes were made and used.

 

So if yo want to make a big sax, go with the type that has an almost straight edge (always some curvature involved!) and a a back that curves gently at the point section, instead of an abrupt "clip point" as those on broken back seaxes. Blade length on these can be around 58 -68 cm (or more?). Blade width tends to be around 5 cm at the widest point but slightly less wide at the base. Tang is either hidden or goes all the way through. Those with a protruding tang that I´ve seen have been Swedish, and gave a grip length of 23-24cm.

The thickness of the spine starts out around 7 or 8 mm and tapers down to 5.5-7 mm. Typically there is some distal taper, but it is subtle. The most drastic change in thickness occurs in the point section of the blade where the outline "cuts through" the cross section of the blade. The point is always pretty stout (but I´ve never seen a reinforced point), so try to preserve as much as possible of the blade thickness as you forge. If you look at the spine at the point, it tends to look like a very big tanto: rather meaty and with a geometry that results from the sweeping curve of the edge geometry, the cross section and the outline of the blade.

 

In Chalon in France, Fabrice Cognot was my helpful and generous host as we were documenting some burgundian saxes. They were found in the river Saône, and may have been dropped in the water by local warriors or marauding northmen. These were slightly smaller than those big ones I documented at home, but still impressive blades. They tended to vary in length around 55 - 60 cm, and generally a a blade width of some 4 cm. Some were slightly wider where the back started to curve towards the edge, but often only by very little, a couple of millimeters. The outline varied where some had the point aligned closer to the back, and some towards the point. Some had centered symmetrical spear point outline. Decorative groves were common as were single and sometimes double fullers along the back. All were stout blades with a typical thickness of some 7 or 8 millimeters at the base, tapering some 1,5 millimeters to the place where the back started to curve to the point.

The cross section is triangular with a healthy and stout apple seed edge that was shaped in a 8 - 10 mm zone along the cutting sharpness. Thickness at the top of the apple seed section was about 2 mm.

The tang was of the same cross section as the blade and as a norm very stout. Very similar to the concept of tangs on japanese blades, in fact. Dimensions of tangs were 14 - 19 cm, stepping down from full blade width to shoulders of tang by some 3 - 5 millimeters. The step down was equal on both sides, or slightly more on the back side. The tang tapers gently to the end that is blunt. No riveting. No rivet holes. In one case a tang looked like it was forged down as a rivet shank to be peened over some end plate or rivet washer at the end of the grip. As a rule these blades had hidden tangs that were probably fixed to the grip by cutlers pitch or glue.

The weight of these blades varied between 625-725 grams.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Can´t wait to see what you will make :)

 

Below a pic of that monster sax with 85 cm blade (edge is on curving side) and a smaller, but still pretty hefty one held by Eric McHugh...

P1000667.jpg

P1000388.jpg

Edited by peter johnsson

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GBC,

 

I´m not Jeroen, but I may be able to add something on that weapon from the Maciejowsky bible. In Chalon I came across two Fauchard or Glaive blades. The nicer of the two were surprisingly similar to what s depicted in that 13th C illumination. It even has a collar or socket at the base with decorations that are very similar to those you see on weapons in the Maciejowsky. I am not sure if and how you could trace these pole arms to the seaxes. They most probably have another ancestry.

 

This Fauchard has a blade length of some 64 cm and a width of some 8 cm. The point is double edged. Beautiful stamping/embossing of the blade made by the smith.

 

GlaiveII.jpg

Edited by peter johnsson

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Jeroen, I know this is a big question and a bit OT, is there evidence of a survival of such weapons in later periods?

The brokenback style langsax seems to stay in use up to the 10th century IIRC, mostly in the UK (I know one or two examples from the Netherlands, which are described as being possible imports).

 

They seem to have disappeared quickly. In Ireland they sem to have given way to the one edged sword.

 

There is a Maciejoswky bible knight who is fighting with a possible langsax derivative of enormous dimensions here

 

http://www.medievaltymes.com/courtyard/images/maciejowski/leaf10/otm10va&bdetail4.gif

 

http://www.medievaltymes.com/courtyard/images/maciejowski/leaf10/otm10va&b.gif

Interesting. What date is this from? Notice that there is a step in the blade, there's a narrow section extending from the hilt (unsharpened?), then with a step it broadens. This is very un-sax like. The long hilt without guard or pommel is very sax like though. But I suspect that this is a different development, that just happens to have a lot of the functionality of a sax built in.

 

On a general note, it's interesting to see that in the course of history in Europe and neighbouring regions, double edged swords continue to develope in a continuous, uninterrupted line, yet single edged swords appear, are phased out and re-invented many times. I wonder why that is? You get the khopesh (ok, that's Canaan/Egypt), Greek bronze "butchers knives", south-east European crooked knife, Dacian falx, falcata/kopis/machaira, germanic warknife (though probably related to the former), the proto-langsax (roughly 5th century), the broadsax/langsax. And I probably left out quite a few. It's only later that you get single edged swords which seem to stay and develope eventually into the saber before swords disappear altogether. Yet the double edged sword can be traced to the very earliest copper daggers from 5000-6000BC in a continuous line (although there is a big gap between 3000-2500BC, where swords might have been phased out and reinvented, or we just lack the finds). In China otoh, you first get the double edged jian, then the single edged dao aside, and they both develope continuously onwards. Japan barely even touched double edged swords, and had the single edged sword as main weapon for 2000 years with barely even any modifications to it.

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And some general things worth mentioning while on the subject of saxes, I learned a few things again about the saxes in the British museum last time I visited. The sax from Honeylane, which we all know as having either brass or gold inlays actually has neither. It looked very much like it was a single gold colored material as inlay, but on close inspection they are in fact are twisted silver/copper, which for some odd reason look gold in the photos and even in real life unless you look very close. I also took more close ups of the Beagnoth sax inlays, where you see inlays of twisted copper/silver, brass/silver, just brass and just silver. When you look this close, you'll also notice just how irregular the inlay is applied. Either the craftsman that did it was rushing it, had little to no experience or was working in extremely badly lit conditions. Anyone who knows how to do inlays without them falling out will do a better job when taken the time and patience. This sax is generally considered as one of the finest and most exclusive langsaxes out there, but IMO it was a rather fairly low end piece. There are a lot of non-inlays langsaxes which show a much much higher level of craftmanship in the finishing, croove cutting, patternwelding etc.

 

Oh yeah, here you can find the latest photos:

http://1501bc.com/page/british_museum_2009/index.html

 

Of course now that I've bought a new camara since my last visit, I should some time go back and take all photos again:)

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GBC,

 

I´m not Jeroen, but I may be able to add something on that weapon from the Maciejowsky bible. In Chalon I came across two Fauchard or Glaive blades. The nicer of the two were surprisingly similar to what s depicted in that 13th C illumination. It even has a collar or socket at the base with decorations that are very similar to those you see on weapons in the Maciejowsky. I am not sure if and how you could trace these pole arms to the seaxes. They most probably have another ancestry.

 

This Fauchard has a blade length of some 64 cm and a width of some 8 cm. The point is double edged. Beautiful stamping/embossing of the blade made by the smith.

 

GlaiveII.jpg

 

Peter, i guess you know me as one who sometimes pesters your mail .. ahem.

 

Thanks so much for your informations, this is a very precious information.

 

This also answer Jeroen's question.

 

I still wonder if a brescian fighter of the eleventh century (Lombardy) might appear on the battlefield with an old sax from a langobardian ancestor (most nobility had). Jeroen gives the tenth century in England as the last documented appearance.

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And some general things worth mentioning while on the subject of saxes, I learned a few things again about the saxes in the British museum last time I visited. The sax from Honeylane, which we all know as having either brass or gold inlays actually has neither. It looked very much like it was a single gold colored material as inlay, but on close inspection they are in fact are twisted silver/copper, which for some odd reason look gold in the photos and even in real life unless you look very close. I also took more close ups of the Beagnoth sax inlays, where you see inlays of twisted copper/silver, brass/silver, just brass and just silver. When you look this close, you'll also notice just how irregular the inlay is applied. Either the craftsman that did it was rushing it, had little to no experience or was working in extremely badly lit conditions. Anyone who knows how to do inlays without them falling out will do a better job when taken the time and patience. This sax is generally considered as one of the finest and most exclusive langsaxes out there, but IMO it was a rather fairly low end piece. There are a lot of non-inlays langsaxes which show a much much higher level of craftmanship in the finishing, croove cutting, patternwelding etc.

 

Oh yeah, here you can find the latest photos:

http://1501bc.com/page/british_museum_2009/index.html

 

Of course now that I've bought a new camara since my last visit, I should some time go back and take all photos again:)

 

Very good indeed. The Mac bible is dated to 1240-1250

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Wow, that broken-back seax that Eric McHugh is wielding looks almost exactly like my Maldon Foe! :blink: Cool. B) Maybe 10-15cm longer, but still pretty darned close. ^_^

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Sax 6 - 74-90cm, Sax 7 - 72-96cm, Sax 8 - 102-106 cm. 9th Century, Norwegian. Illustrations from "Waffen und Gräber" by Jørgensen.

Note the longish tangs on some of these, one could argue a sax-not-sword genesis based on that, maybe...

 

W&GFIG36.jpg W&GFIG37.jpg W&Gfig39.jpg

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Jeff,

 

Yes those are good examples!

I wish there was some way of guessing what those grips could have been like. There are those very nice earlier sax grips with bronze mounts (you posted one of them on a previous thread about that saxon hoard). That same type f bronze mounted grip is found on Swedish saxes as well, but single edged blades of the size found in Norway are non existant or very rare.

 

I do wonder if they had an organic hilt with upper and lower guard, perhaps with an hourglass shaped form, like some of those migration period swords. But then their tangs would hae been short...

A knife type grips does sound like the most reasonable option...

 

We cannot really make out the end of the tang, if it is riveted or not. That could tell us something about the total length of those grips perhaps? A visit to Oslo is in order!

 

BUt again, in the 9th C you do have many hilt styles that have tall two part pommels and fat guards. I think it would be possible to have such hilts made in whale bone or other hard but perishable material and so explain the long tangs?

 

Hmmmm.

I wonder :mellow:

Edited by peter johnsson

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