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Guest stuartthesmith

PBS Special Tonight

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Guest stuartthesmith

Tonight, at 9 PM eastern, 8 PM central, the secrets of viking swordsmithing shall be filmed and reviewed. This is a must see for folks with video recorders!

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Thanks. I totaly forgot about it coming on tonight. Duly noted and ready to watch :D

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Any idea if they'll re-run it?

 

Nevermind, just caught it. Nice job, Ric. You guys sure put an honest effort into it, and I like what you said about your whole skill set being represented in that piece. No shortcuts or cheats... you earned it.

 

Bravo.

Edited by Christopher Price

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Great work, Ric, and maybe that'll leave an impression on the Japanese Wannabees that think that the only great blades were "Sam-You-Rai swords".

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awesome ! its great to see Ric and K making steel on tv

 

good work and well done !!!!

 

 

G

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It really was a good show. I learned a few things last night when I watched it.

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Great show. Going to buy the dvd. Ric did a great job, so talented. I actually held my breath during the quench.

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Great show! I had a hard time recognizing Rick without the flaming beard though:)

 

Dan

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Thank you all for your kind comments.

 

You can watch it online here:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/secrets-viking-sword.html

not sure it will play outside the US.

 

As to the flaming beard...came close on that quench to having a real one....the wind was not helping.

 

Ric

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Thank you all for your kind comments.

 

You can watch it online here:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/secrets-viking-sword.html

not sure it will play outside the US.

 

As to the flaming beard...came close on that quench to having a real one....the wind was not helping.

 

Ric

That was awesome but the video won't play in Canada. Glad I caught when I did!

Great job Rick!!!!

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It was a truly great show, and I can't say that about many of the sort. My big question is, how did they keep Kevin quiet? :P

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Ive got some questions about what happened on this special,

The crucible you used for the Wootz, Did you make it your self?

When you quenched, you pulled it out when it was still hot, especially the tang, Did you go to water or something to prevent the heat in the tang from creeping up into the blade?

the bloomery iron was just leftovers from a run , or did you make that batch special for the show?

I feel like they left out some important bits. Other than that Ric helped me educate my roomates, on how blade making works. Great Job!

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argh.... it doesent show .. they either pulled it from the nova website, or blocked all non US views... :(

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I checked and found it will replay (at least here in Tucson) sunday evening at 6pm.

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I've been thinking a bit here- dangerous habit, I know, wood burning indoors is not a good thing- but I've been wondering if the difference in the types of "Ulfberht" swords- the +Ulfberh+t and +Ulfberht+- is actually a case of smiths "faking" another workshops products. It seems to me to be equally likely that a workshop- and I think that it was a workshop, not a single smith, although quite possibly it was a family shop founded by an Ulfberht and carried on for several generations, would not have limited its production solely on the basis of obtaining an imported steel.

What I'm getting at here is that sure some of the "Ulfberht" blades may have been fakes- but there also may have been a lot of blades made out of local iron/steel by the same shop. The differentiation in the placement of the final cross marking may have been to mark their "premium" line of sword- the imported steel- from their "standard" production.

I'm also thinking that Ulfberht may well have been a Frankish smith who lit out for Norse territories back in the early 9th century. I understand there were prohibitions in the Empire both against the swords being sold to the Norsemen and swordmiths leaving- which means there must've been pretty strong incentives to break these. Better pay and higher status comes to mind. I'm picturing a Frankish smith lighting out for Scandinavia, setting up shop and a few years later some Norse trader coming up the and saying "Hey, Ulf, I got some of these chunks of steel in the bottom of the boat from my last Black Sea run. Local blacksmith can't seem to work the stuff, but the 'smiths over there make pretty good blades out of it. You think you might want to see if you can do anything with it?"

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It seems to me to be equally likely that a workshop- and I think that it was a workshop, not a single smith, although quite possibly it was a family shop founded by an Ulfberht and carried on for several generations, would not have limited its production solely on the basis of obtaining an imported steel.

What I'm getting at here is that sure some of the "Ulfberht" blades may have been fakes- but there also may have been a lot of blades made out of local iron/steel by the same shop. The differentiation in the placement of the final cross marking may have been to mark their "premium" line of sword- the imported steel- from their "standard" production.

 

Yes, given the consistency of the "misspelling," and that one marking appeared to consistently demark cleaner steel, I had these exact thoughts.

 

As to the question of how the Norse could have made steel... despite comments made on the show, I know of one historical source that does describe at least one process that differs greatly from common expectations, and it's potentially related to what was posited on the Nova show. I've made the metal... I just need to send it to the lab. :ph34r:

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There's another part of the picture that wasn't mentioned in the production. The opposite side of the blades also have marks that vary a lot and no one that I've heard of has a clue to what they mean. They could also be grade marks.

 

As far as who produced the slag free, high carbon steel goes, the Norse, commonly and incorrectly referred to as Vikings, kept the trade going in Europe during the "Dark Ages". If they were the ones bringing the crucible steel into Europe from the Near East they could have told the swordsmiths that if they wanted to get the steel the price would be finished blades. So even though it might be against the kings' orders to export these blades under the pain of having all your property confiscated, practicality said that if they weren't traded for the raw steel then there would be no high quality steel blades. Also gold was and is often mightier than kings who really weren't a mighty in that period as a lot of people think.

 

Doug

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...But!

 

But if the Norse made the +Vlfberh+t sword as seems to be proposed by the show, why did they spell the name with latin letters?

The norse were not illiterate. Perhaps they were litterate to a greater degree than people of the rest of Europe at the time? I don´t know. But the letters they used were *runes*, not latin letters.

 

If we believe these inscribed swords were made in scandinavia, we are not looking at a scenario with just one craftsman who was literate in latin letters. These swords must have been made by generations of makers if we are to judge the dating of the finds.

It would have had to be a long line of craftsmen who kept their knowledge of latin letters alive and separate to all else, making inscriptions that no one else around them could read. They would also for some reason have used the symbol of the greek cross, that at this time was not a sign of power among the heathen norse.

If the norse had access to this crucible steel through trade with the near east, why do we not also find sword blades of crucible steel marked with a norse name written in runes (or with no marking at all-that would have been the normal procedure)?

Why only +Vlfbehr+t swords with this exact spelling made from this wonder material?

 

If the swords were made in scandinavia, we have a group of latin literate craftsmen in scandinavia that somehow managed to get a monopoly on an imported product from the near east, who marked their weapons with cross marks before the norse way before this part of europe was christianized.

-That is a pretty tall order.

 

Why at all propose these swords were made by vikings?

 

It really does not make sense to me.

 

I do not think it is improbable that the norse could have imported crucible steel. But if they did, we should find swords *without* latin lettering made from this material. Williams makes a point of showing all other swords being inferior to the +VLFBEHR+T sword.

The theory combines the ideas of imported material and a very isolated, so far unknown group of specialists who kept a tradition alive and secret over generations in Scandinavia.

Not a probable scenario to my mind.

 

I find this hang up on Vikings as the makers of the +VLFBEHR+T swords unfortunate. The discovery of the unusual steel being used in the making of these swords is fascinating enough without an attempt to frame my ancestors with the making of them.

I would love to see "Vikings" making the *Best Swords Before and Ever After* but the arguments for this being the case is so far unconvincing to me.

 

I love the work that Ric did on the show. He made the contemporary sword smith look good. He has all the honor for that. And the sword he made is gorgeous. ( kind of hate him for that, in a good way ;-)

 

The use of crucible steel in viking period swords is a fascinating idea.

The story the production company told around this is a comedy that fails to make me laugh.

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Peter, what I got from the presentation was that the presenters looked at it from both angles, the Norse making the blades and importing blades from another area of Europe. The Franks for instance. The bottom line is that at this time we have no idea where these blades were made. I too think it unlikely that Norse smiths made these blades. I agree with your point about why would the Norse use the Latin alphabet instead of their own. Also the name Ulfbert seems to be Frankish, according to the presentation. Even though they don't seem to know what it means or have any record of that name not associated with the swords.

 

Doug

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