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Ornaments on the spearheads


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I would like to talk about ornaments on the spearheads. Spearheads in the middle age had different shapes and ornaments as we all know but, there is one kind of spearhead with ornament on the socket and specific shape which seem to be all over the Europe. When i saw it first time in Kolobrzeg museum in Poland i thought that is nothing unusual. Another time, another museum in Stockholm this time i found exact same spearheads, same shape, identical ornament. Same in Norway and other countries. Crazy thing is that they are in one shape, always smooth leaf shape like willow leafs. They are also in Petersens typology. Many of them was pattern welded. My question is, where they came from?

 

koll 1.JPG

Kolobrzeg Poland

koll2.JPG

Kolobrzeg Poland

koll3.JPG

Kolobrzeg Poland

poz 1.JPG

Poznan Poland

St 1.JPG

Stockholm

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This wont be info but opinion :-)

i have two ideas, one is that it could be derived from faceted socket of some frankish spears.

The other suppose that the decoration is stamped not cut - it can spread the material a bit to fit some dimensions

 

just my two cents

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Stamping to spread could be possible but you cant see it on other spearheads. I was looking through hundreds of examples and nothing. Only this specific willow leaf shape spearheads has ornament on the socket. Real enigma. Many of them was also pattern welded which means skilled professional blacksmiths work. It is possible that they came from Rheinland, big sword production place in IX to XI century. Nothing sure.

 

koll4.JPG

Visible welding lines. Two pattern welded cores plus cutting edges

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I have no idea where these will have come from, but the mark could be an elaborate makers/armourers mark. I doubt that the marks are there as a result of trying to stretch the socket as they are too fancy and simple hammer blows over a mandrel would do the same thing.

 

Mick

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maybe not ornaments..? if these are lances used on horse... maybe they get driven into target too deep and wedge between bones, split bones, ... could grooving on socket make it easier for removal ...? like new kitchen knives have scallops/grooves on side ( yes, i know this is really reaching out there for a theory )

 

otherwise.. i'd think it was just a tradition from a culture ...that either traded or went to war in many locations

 

- is it symbolic... looks even like willow leaves...or maybe bird feathers

 

what ever it is...its cool !

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- is it symbolic... looks even like willow leaves...or maybe bird feathers

 

what ever it is...its cool !

 

I was thinking they looked winglike myself.

 

Perhaps, Valkyrie-like, the winged spear sought to fly over the host and lay those it passed over to Woden... there was a tradition of throwing a spear over your opposing army at the onset of battle, and the further you threw it, and the more warriors it passed over, the more were to be taken in the heat of battle to Valhall. Wings would be nice symbolism here. ;)

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Spear heads tend to be of local styles.

This is a common and wide spread type, as you have noted.

 

I do not know of any theory of their origin of manufacture, but I have not made a point to study spear heads. I think it is reasonable to think they al come from a relatively small area. An area of arms manufacture that is capable of large volume production. A cottage industry of spear head makers, who supply the armies of rulers. Perhaps the style was so popular that it was manufactured in several locations. If so I have a feeling it was because of decree from "above".

 

Would be interesting to hear if someone has made research on these spear heads!

 

The socket can be a "canvas" for skillful forging. Facettes, beading or as in this case groves. They can have symbolical meaning. But they may also be ornamental. If so, they may offer a clue to the origin. Is this a decorative element we recognize in other media? Architecture? Pictorial art? I cannot remember seeing these kinds of forms somewhere else...

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Ypey, in "Flügellanzen in niederländischen Sammlungen," theorizes the groove pattern is descended from earlier 8-sided sockets, which sometimes had the facets hollowed with channels and outlined with grooves, the facets and hollows went away but the grooves stayed as the spears evolved in the 7th & 8th C. Specifically on the origin of the winged spears, he says:

"As the home of the winged lances Paulsen lists in connection with P. La Baume, the Frankish-Alemannic region, which is quite broad....In northern Germany and Scandinavia, the winged spears are generally regarded as an import Again, the question of their distribution."

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I would think (without any real qualification) that this mark has some cultural significance that we will probably never understand, but was taken for granted by people at the time. That has already been said, and rather more eloquently.

My first thought, however, which I now think might be far fetched, was that these might be grooves for holding poison; In some cultures where poisoned weapons were used, the poison was set on the shaft of the arrow or spear directly behind the head rather than on the head itself. The reason for this is that when you accidentally poke yourself you don't get poisoned. For the poison to enter the bloodstream the weapon really has to be jammed right in.

Now, in full understanding of the dangers of wild cross-cultural comparisons, I was also reminded of an ethnography of New Guinea highlanders which described their use of poisoned spears. Using a poisoned spear being a hateful, shameful, sneaky, nasty thing to do, on the eve of a battle the menfolk would leave their spears in a convenient location for their women to come and smear them with poison while the warriors slept (or partied or whatever). In the morning they would go off to war believing fully that no enemy would die except by the manly force of their hand (mmm-hmmm!).

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I just realized that if someone jabbed an eight-inch spear in your guts you probably wouldn't die of poisoning.

 

 

probably not,

 

but it was a good storyand i enjoyed it!

 

good to see you mate

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I just realized that if someone jabbed an eight-inch spear in your guts you probably wouldn't die of poisoning.

 

i akshully lol-ed! :D

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  • 2 weeks later...

I came across such spears along the course of my studies. Most of the local litterature (read : French) about them goes along what Ipey says, though they are sometimes attributed a slightly earlier date. The decorations on the socket shows some slight variations however, having sometimes chevrons instead of "arrows". I any case, I don't think there was enough of a centralized power in Europe at that time to dictate the spreading of this template. On the other hand, there's not many things that travel as fast as succesful military equipment...

 

My other (mildly educated) guess is that these marks, just like the pattern welding, were needed to make these objects proper Spears - without them, they'd just be spear-shaped things...(a bit like in Pratchett's Hogfather in the Discworld series : if the Hogfather doesn't complete his tour on the night of Hogswatch, the Sun will not rise again - it will just be a mere ball of flaming gas).

 

Cheers

 

Fab

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  • 3 years later...

Here I am the necromancer. But this is such a great thread and I'm curious if any new insights have been dug up. I'm working on spears right now and love the mystery of these grooves. I personally don't believe it's any kind of functional attribute.. seems symbolic or decorative or maker's mark. I love J. Arthur's idea....

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Bergljot Solberg did a great research paper on this specific type of spear in the 1990s and concluded that for the most part they were carolingian in manufacture, made for export.

 

“The marked similarity between the Nordic and the Continental spear-heads of the types VI.1 and VI.3 and sub-type VI.4A indicates a centralized production area. This is further supported by the wide European distribution of these weapons. The marked location in the Nordic countries to the trade routes, i.e. coastal areas indicates import to these countries. The distribution of these spear-heads is similar to that of the swords of Frankish manufacture, pointing to the Frankish empire as the production area. This is further supported by historical and linguistic sources.” (Solberg 1991:256)

 

 

Solberg, B. 1991. Weapon Export from the Continent to the Nordic Countries in the Carolingian Period. Studien zur Sachsenforschung , Bd. 7, pp. 241–259. Hildesheim.

 

Here I am the necromancer. But this is such a great thread and I'm curious if any new insights have been dug up. I'm working on spears right now and love the mystery of these grooves. I personally don't believe it's any kind of functional attribute.. seems symbolic or decorative or maker's mark. I love J. Arthur's idea....

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  • 3 weeks later...

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