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yet another freakin seax topic


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I took some quick and blurry photos taken just as memory notes:

attachment=22697:IMG_0111.jpg

attachment=22698:IMG_0113.jpg

In the lower pic is a cluster of strange looking war knives. The largest ones are about 45 cm in blade length and almost 8 or 9 cm wide. They are about 5 or 6 millimeter thick in the spine at the base and have an concave distal taper that is most sever in the first quarter of the blade. Out twards the oint they are about 2 millimeter thick.

than the ones found in Brirka, but clearly the same tradition.

Oh wow, early medieval machete-saxes! I got to make me one of those. They seem pretty easy to forge, so I'll have a go at that pretty soon. I've been wanting to make a blade along those lines, but having early medieval examples makes it even more interesting.

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Here's a full-on shot of the whole display case. That seax is in the upper left corner. Based on the sword hilt to the right (and foggy memory) it's about 13 to 14 inches overall.  

I am about 95% sure #7 is the same seax (type III, from the Thames at Wandsworth)... if so, the blade is approximately 13 1/4 inches long and 1 3/4 inches wide.... approximate is the best I can do wit

Knife 11-12 century with the new efficient handle. Excuse for english, I use the translator

Posted Images

Is there a minimum length for a seax to be considered a long seax? Would a 15 in blade be considered a long seax?

It's a bit ambiguous I think. In the UK f.e., you have everything from a small knives up to the largest long saxes. But if you look at Dutch finds, here are the blade lengths I know in numbers (most are 8th century, 1 or two later): 480, 540, 520, 500, 524, 456, 550, 564, 580, 492, 496 and 496mm (width generally ranges 40-46mm and thickness 5-9mm). There there is nothing between those lengths and regular knives that I know. So it seems that lengths were quite standarized for langsaxes here at least.

I've not looked into such detail for German long saxes yet, but I'd expect things would be fairly similar there. So personally, when considering long sax, I'd have a blade of roughly 500-550mm blade length in mind.

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Jørgensen compares the nordic saxes with the continental in “Waffen und Gräber,” says the Kurtzsax (short) and Schmalsax (small) are the same, then in place of the Breitsax (broad) is a Scandinavian variant with a shorter grip and blade proportions of 36-53 cm L 3.5-4.3 cm W. Then the Langsax (long) is back in sync with the continental saxes, and after that the Scandinavians go their own way again in a trend that ends in those big Norwegian single-edged swords.

Those wide-point war knives are from Semigallia (Zemgale), they were the major Baltic tribe in the Vendel/Viking period and had those in place of the sax (they were made in sizes from utility knife to sword like the sax). They were the ones manufacturing tanged spears at the time when everyone else in the region was using sockets. They must have been an active participant in the region’s trade, their stuff is intermingled with Viking artifacts on both sides of the Baltic.

The Eastern European info is scant, both Kolcin and Kirpicnikov (the two big soviet-era names) show swords, axes and spears mostly in line with the Scandinavian & Frankish models, but no saxes.

Thanks, that's good information to have. Do you mind if I stick that in the Wikipedia page on saxes?
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very interesting thread!

I see with a lot of pleasure that you are back on the "seax path" Petr :)

I'm waiting forward to look at the different steps of the planning and realisation

Edited by Jacques Delfosse
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Superb thread!

 

One question about decoration, I see a lot of grooves and fullers in saxes (both broken back and langsaxe). Quite a few inlays in broken backs, but they seem rare in langsax type.

Is it only an impression? Is there any other common decorations? Engravings, inlays (iron or non ferrous metals?) and what types of pattern are seen, geometrical knotwork, "organic" ect.

 

My vison of those weapons changed so much since I've started to read this forum!

Thank you this is great!

 

Antoine

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Superb thread!

 

One question about decoration, I see a lot of grooves and fullers in saxes (both broken back and langsaxe). Quite a few inlays in broken backs, but they seem rare in langsax type.

Is it only an impression?

Inlays AFAIK weren't done on saxes prior to the 9th century, when the broken back had become the norm. The only exception would be the inlay of patternwelding within the fullers of long saxes, opposed to using solid torsion bars.

 

Is there any other common decorations? Engravings, inlays (iron or non ferrous metals?) and what types of pattern are seen, geometrical knotwork, "organic" ect.

The small and narrow saxes have lots of complex engraving in the examples where the surface is preserved well enough to show this. Braided bands or snakes is common, but other engravings exist as well (including f.e. writings in latin). That's not on all of them though, some also have simple lines on them. Decorations on broad and long saxes are more basic, consisting of grooves and fullers, or even no decoration.

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"The small and narrow saxes have lots of complex engraving in the examples where the surface is preserved well enough to show this. Braided bands or snakes is common, but other engravings exist as well (including f.e. writings in latin). That's not on all of them though, some also have simple lines on them. Decorations on broad and long saxes are more basic, consisting of grooves and fullers, or even no decoration."

 

ever since the counterfit controversy i've wanted to make a seax inscribed "ulfbehrt ne me fecit"

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Inlays AFAIK weren't done on saxes prior to the 9th century, when the broken back had become the norm. The only exception would be the inlay of patternwelding within the fullers of long saxes, opposed to using solid torsion bars.

All of the examples I've seen of non-ferrous inlay seem to have been found within a relatively small area. Has anyone seen examples of non-ferrous inlay on saxes outside of Britain?

The small and narrow saxes have lots of complex engraving in the examples where the surface is preserved well enough to show this. Braided bands or snakes is common, but other engravings exist as well (including f.e. writings in latin). That's not on all of them though, some also have simple lines on them. Decorations on broad and long saxes are more basic, consisting of grooves and fullers, or even no decoration.

Here's a neat one I found on the web:

Imgp4805-arch.jpg

There are a few more where that one came from:

archeographe

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yep, this one from germany

 

i think its exception, not a rule

Thanks Petr, I had forgotten about that one... beautiful little seax, too.

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yep, this one from germany

sax_silver_decoration_9-11centAD_Germany.jpg

 

i think its exception, not a rule

We might just not have seen enough examples of 9-11th century saxes outside the UK. The brokenback style long sax I described earlier also has twisted bronze or brass wire inlay.

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Here is Jørgensen’s Nordic sax typology, with illustrations:

SaxK (Kurtzsax): OAL 23.5-50 cm, Blade L 18-23.5, W 2.2-3.2, Ratio blade L/W 7.5

Mid-late 6th C

 

Sax1 (schmalsax): OAL 27-52 cm, Blade L 22-38, W 2.2-3.6, Ratio blade L/W10.3

Mid 6th to mid 7th C

W&GFig19.jpg

Sax2: OAL 40.5-69 cm, Blade L 36-53, W 3.5-4.3, Ratio blade L/W 11.4

Shorter grip than the continental Breitsax, blade slightly longer and thinner.

7th C

W&GFig20.jpg

Sax3 (Langsax): OAL 55-81 cm, Blade L 43.8-67, W 4.3-4.9, Ratio blade L/W 12

Late 7th to Mid 8th C

W&GFig23.jpg

Sax4: OAL 68-99 cm, Blade L 51-85, W 5-5.9, Ratio blade L/W 12.6

8th C, here the only continental parallels are in north Germany/Austria, this is where the Scandinavian saxes split off at the start of the Viking era.

W&Gfig26.jpg

Sax5: OAL 32-55 cm, Blade L 22.5-45, W 2.2-3.0, Ratio blade L/W 12.7

Mid 8th C, Only non-Scandinavian finds are in Viking areas of England & Russia

W&GFIG32.jpg

Sax6: OAL 74.1-90 cm, Blade L 65-82.2, W 4.5-4.8, Ratio blade L/W 17

South and Central Norwegian mid 9th C.

W&GFIG36.jpg

Sax7: OAL 72-96 cm, Blade L 66-84.5, W 3.7-4.4, Ratio blade L/W 18.7

Mostly Norwegian, 9th C.

W&GFIG37.jpg

Sax8: OAL 102.5-106.5 cm, Blade L 84.5-90, W 4.5-4.7, Ratio blade L/W 18.9

Norwegian, mid to late 9th C

W&Gfig39.jpg

W&GFig24.jpg

Edited by Jeff Pringle
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on the narrow saxes with the incised patterns on the blades, are both sides decorated?

Yes.

 

with the same pattern?
From the examples I've seen both sides, such as this one, nope. The pattern is completely different on each side. Worthy to add, a difference in decoration between both sides sometimes also occurs on broad saxes (f.e. difference in number of grooves and how they come together) and langsaxes (f.e. grooves only one side, grooves with fuller other side), and frequently with the inlays on broken back style saxes.
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So this is the blade, Its not heat treated yet, not even finished grinding, i just did a little test etch to see how the pattern is coming up. i'm pretty damned happy about it.

 

I'm wondering if one of the experts can tell me whether on this style of broadsax if i should be using a hidden tang or a riveted stick tang. i'm planning to do the frontplate in wrought iron, and the backplate with the same if i need one. also, if its riveted tang. am i meant to put a peen block on it? i thought this was a lot simpler...

IMG_2856.JPG

IMG_2857.JPG

IMG_2861.JPG

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So this is the blade, Its not heat treated yet, not even finished grinding, i just did a little test etch to see how the pattern is coming up. i'm pretty damned happy about it.

Looking very promising so far!

 

I'm wondering if one of the experts can tell me whether on this style of broadsax if i should be using a hidden tang or a riveted stick tang. i'm planning to do the frontplate in wrought iron, and the backplate with the same if i need one. also, if its riveted tang. am i meant to put a peen block on it? i thought this was a lot simpler...
Broadsaxes have a hidden tang construction, no backplate. Front plates as illustrated earlier in the thread, which are on a small number of broadsaxes. N.b. regarding the lines, I'd put the lower groove at least at the middle of the blade, and the upper following the edge as close as possible (I didn't do the latter on my broadsax, which I regret now). Here you can see mine, including how I hilted it:

http://1501bc.com/metalworking/Img_0299.jpg

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ah, thank you :)

 

just to check, wrought iron bolster and handle should NOT be leather wrapped?

 

i know the handle material should be ash or maple, because those were the most common. I just want to make very sure i get this one right.

 

 

 

Also, i dont know if anyone is credibly academic, but i was poking around through the staffordshire hoard and looking up info, i think they're dating it too early. i'm far from an authority, but the spatha style guard found in it would only fit a long seax, and that would (in england) be 8th-9th century, right? they're dating it from 6th-8th based on the font on one of the scabbard fittings. I only ask because i've got my eye on a simplified spatha hilted seax based off the beagnoth/thames seax as a future project, and want to make sure they're compatible before i go insane designing it.

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ah, thank you :)

 

just to check, wrought iron bolster and handle should NOT be leather wrapped?

One broad sax with a well enough preserved hilt (should be in this or the other thread) has what looks like a very thin leather covering over the wooden hilt. So a leather cover (sheat, not string) seems to have been used. But with lack of more evidence, it's impossible to make conclusions on how common this was. At least for earlier narrow saxes, leather covered grips seem to have been common, as I know several examples with remains of leather.

 

i know the handle material should be ash or maple, because those were the most common. I just want to make very sure i get this one right.
I have no data on types of wood used on sax hilts. The only exception is a broken back sax, which is described as potentially box wood. Generally I use a combination of the list of native trees for an area (you can find those online) and the list of wood used on medieval knives in "Knives and scabbards". At any rate, ash is very common as wood for hilts in any period in Europe, so you can't go wrong with that.

 

Also, i dont know if anyone is credibly academic, but i was poking around through the staffordshire hoard and looking up info, i think they're dating it too early. i'm far from an authority, but the spatha style guard found in it would only fit a long seax, and that would (in england) be 8th-9th century, right? they're dating it from 6th-8th based on the font on one of the scabbard fittings. I only ask because i've got my eye on a simplified spatha hilted seax based off the beagnoth/thames seax as a future project, and want to make sure they're compatible before i go insane designing it.

I'm actually considering that the guard may be earlier then they date it. It's difficult to put a date on something of which there are no parallels in archeology, but precious metal in hilt parts on saxes seem to be limited to proto-long saxes and early narrow saxes. My bet is still on that the guard would have fitted something narrow sax like. The beagnoth sax is definately several centuries later.
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About grip construction.

Here are some fuzzy snapshots of a sax I made back in 2005. It was not intended to be a reconstruction of a historical type. In fact it was made for someone who wanted a historical looking blade to fit a Tolkien Rohan persona. The ambition was to base it on actual blades, but to allow some freedom in how to apply various elements.

As it turns out it does follow the typological guide lines of Jørgensen, that Jeff posted above: a sax2. These can have metal hilt mounts.

I made this one with a front boltser of bronze (something you can see on scandinavian saxes sometimes), a but plate with a "wing nut" rivet block and a leather covered grip. I made this with risers as you can see a ribbed pattern shaped in sheet metal covered knives from migration period. Also have in mind that lang sax with silver bands at regular intervals on the wood grip: they look very much like these risers and would fulfill the same function, to increase control and purchase for the hand, as well as some reinforcement. To my mind it is a reasonable possibility for how a leather covered grip could have looked like on a sax.

Blade length of this sax is about 45 cm.

 

IMG_2992.jpg

IMG_2995.jpg

IMG_2993.jpg

Edited by peter johnsson
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Another image just to add to the confusion :D

A broad sax with solid iron pommel. They do not exist, but here is one example.

There is no rivet block. The tang is peened flush with the end of the pommel.

This is not a scandinavian find. It is of Langobardian context.

 

My guess is that the grip was a wood core with leather cover, perhaps something like the sax I made and posted above.

 

Helbild Scramasax.jpg

Edited by peter johnsson
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ah. wow. so... i think i'm gonna skip the leather. cause i'm bad at leather and it seems its not required, and i'm going to do the hidden tang. I'm going to shoot for wrought on the front plate because unless i'm totally misunderstanding all these pictures, it seems a lot more common, but failing availability i'm open to brass.

 

thanks for the help guys :)

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