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started this today:

 

irish scian 1.jpg

 

it's my interpretation of an irish scian - i have been unable to unearth very much information about these, so i'm going off a couple of woodcuts/engravings, some bits of writing (contemporary, historical and modern), and some modern reproductions. basically i'm envisioning somthing between a seax and a highland dirk - a stabbing seax if you will. i've come across a few victorian era references to there having been hundreds of scians found, but i can't find any pics, and don't remember ever having seen one. one thing i'm pretty sure isn't right is the false edge, but it was very tip heavy, and not manouverable enough for something i think of as a skirmishers weapon, plus i'm hoping the hardened false edge will stop it changing profile too much in the quench, and it's something i saw on some modern reproductions and i kinda liked the look. I'm thinking some la tene ish carving for the handle and possibly scabbard, with engraved or just textured copper mounts. the blade is 14 1/4" 1095, 1/4" thick, 1 1/8th wide, about 19 1/2" o/a/ handle is walnut.

 

if anyone has any info on these, let me know, and tell me how i'm doing so far...

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Ooh, that will be nice!

 

I wish I knew more about these daggers. I have made some lazy search for info myself, but with no good result really. I saw one thread at MyArmoury that showed a couple of antique ones (but this was a couple of years back and I stupidly did not download the images). I do not remember any false edge, just like you said, but I also think it goes very well with a blade of this kind. The grips had ferrules at both ends and a slight swelling in the middle. There was a small pommel cap, or dome, where the rivet was formed. No heavy or very solid mounts. My guess is that they were made from sheet metal (brass?). This is from vague memory. I am sure you have better info already.

 

Really looking forward to see where you are taking this.

 

 

EDIT: I back tracked a little looking for those half forgotten images. A few things turned up.

 

A book from 1581: "Image of Irelande" shows a wood cut with some Irish men at arms carrying fearsome Sgians.

bg0054_jpg.jpg

 

Dürer´s famous drawing of Irish mercenaries shows them wearing long nasty looking daggers with fancy pommels:

galloglaigh_589.jpg

 

And another period image showing young Irish noblemen having a disagreement abut something:

1_706.jpg

 

Not that much, but it might bring some back ground and character to the weapon?

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thanks guys. Peter - the first and last images were my main sources for this. the only historical blade i've seen mentioned in discussion of these is this one:

 

ardchattanblade400900.jpg

 

from Archattan in scotland - apparently the National Museums of Scotland website hade this dated between 400 and 900 AD - which is pretty mush just flinging their hands up and saying 'i dunno', but whatever - and i can't find the original reference for that. looks pretty much identical to a late 17th/early 18th cen. dirk to me...

 

I'd forgotten about the Durer image (are these Irish mercenaries in Europe, or Scottish mercenaries in Ireland - i've seen giant ring hilts associated with the Gallowglas, i think) - the guy on the right seems to have an atrophied anthro-hilt. i wonder if thats where all those ugly 'celtic short sword' reproductions come from, with this kind of hilt on a faux gladius blade come from? with the slim point and the tapered arms on the pommel, looks like it could be quite elegant. the other dagger seems to have a rondel guard, but i've no idea what's going on with the pommel...

 

that guy on the right really isn't messing about...

scians.jpg

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All I can add is "cool!" :lol:

 

They really do look like an ancestral dirk or rondel, with a heavy triangular blade like that. I like your false edge idea though, makes it more stabby-looking. The young gentleman on the right might have liked that. B)

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today, i got the ferrules made and fitted, and the carving roughed in on one side of the handle:

 

scian handle 1.jpg

 

excuse the crappy pics - no camera;i only have my laptop webcam. tribulations of living between two houses. anyway, here's a shot to show how the carving looks on the knife as a whole:

 

scian handle 2.jpg

 

i love how deep carving completely changes the feel of a fairly bulky handle like this - much more tactile and responsive somehow... now i just have to get the other side laid out the same, and work out what to do at the edges... anyway, let me know what you think so far...

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Very cool, I'm really liking the blade shape, and the carving goes with it well. I've got a commission for one of these, just waiting on the measurements... researching has been difficult, so little information out there that I've been able to find so far. Peter pretty much summed up my knowledge of the subject, but I have seen a few of the original blades that had a false edge so you are good there... :)

 

I'll dig around for those other images I found, but I think you are pretty much spot on this one.

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A combination of the copper and carvings totally changes the feel of the handle (for the better, I think). Even with the measurements, I imagined it shorter, but it looks good.

 

John

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I like it very much!

 

Elegant and menacing at the same time. I think this may be one of your best pieces ever (and there are a quite a few contenders).

Unique and powerful.

It is going to turn out great.

 

Will you make one of these long half enclosing scabbards for it as well (perhaps only covering the front ferrule)?

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thank's guy's. now i just have to not screw it up.

 

Peter, my original intention was for a wooden scabbard to give more space for carving - that's why i went with walnut for the handle, because i can get it in big enough pieces for a long scabbard, but i should definitley look at doing it in leather...

 

Petr, this was basically inspired by a lot of your recent stuff, so i'm glad you like it...

 

 

I just read the poetry under the first pic Peter posted:

 

Here creeps out of St. Filcher’s den, a pack of prowling mates,

Most hurtful to the English Pale, and noisome to the gates:

Which spare no more their country birth, than those of the English race,

But yield to each a like good turn, when as they come in place.

 

They spoil and burn and bear away, as fit occasions serve,

And think the greater ill they do, the greater pay deserve:

 

They pause not for the poor man’s cry, nor yet respect his tears

But rather joy to see the fire, to slash about his ears.

To see both flame, and smouldering smoke, to dusk the crystal skies,

Alert to their prey, therein I lay, their second glory lies.

 

And thus bereaving him of house, of cattle and of more:

They do return back to the wood, from whence they came before.

 

these guys are wood kern - native irish displaced by the anglo-normans from the 13th century onwards, attacking the pale. the poems a bit of a propoganda piece, but still, pretty fearsome dudes using these knives...

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That's imposing, Jake- I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes!

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thank's guy's. now i just have to not screw it up.

 

Peter, my original intention was for a wooden scabbard to give more space for carving - that's why i went with walnut for the handle, because i can get it in big enough pieces for a long scabbard, but i should definitley look at doing it in leather...

 

Petr, this was basically inspired by a lot of your recent stuff, so i'm glad you like it...

 

 

I just read the poetry under the first pic Peter posted:

 

Here creeps out of St. Filcher’s den, a pack of prowling mates,

Most hurtful to the English Pale, and noisome to the gates:

Which spare no more their country birth, than those of the English race,

But yield to each a like good turn, when as they come in place.

 

They spoil and burn and bear away, as fit occasions serve,

And think the greater ill they do, the greater pay deserve:

 

They pause not for the poor man’s cry, nor yet respect his tears

But rather joy to see the fire, to slash about his ears.

To see both flame, and smouldering smoke, to dusk the crystal skies,

Alert to their prey, therein I lay, their second glory lies.

 

And thus bereaving him of house, of cattle and of more:

They do return back to the wood, from whence they came before.

 

these guys are wood kern - native irish displaced by the anglo-normans from the 13th century onwards, attacking the pale. the poems a bit of a propoganda piece, but still, pretty fearsome dudes using these knives...

 

I think the lines are "and noisome to the states", "and greater praise deserve", "Next to their pay, therein I say, their second glory lies", and "of cattle and of store"

Edited by Al Massey
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It´s not only the high level of your skills that makes me a fan of your works. Especially your historical knives have that certain breath of history, that only few makers are able to put into them.

 

I´m very curious on the finished piece.

 

Regards

Thomas

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I'm wondering if, like many of the Scots "durchs" many Irish sgians were made from worn-down or broken sword blades? A sword that was ground down to the point of being less than optimal for a sword blade would still make a few good knives, and as in Scotland, good steel wasn't wasted.

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thanks Phil and Sam, and thanks Al for help with the poem - i'd had a few beers at that point...

 

Al, i honestly doubt it. for one, the idea that dirks were made from cut down swords is largely a myth - the highland dirk typically had a spine thicker than 7mm, with 10mm or more not being uncommon (the earliest written account of a dirk comes from court proceedings in inverness in the 1500's where it is spelt 'durcke', which was an old scots word for thick, fat, stocky, heavyset), while most sword blades were 4-5mm at the thickest, and tapered rapidly. in profile they were quite different too, being basically an elongated triangle shape. there were 'dirks' made from cut down sword blades, but these were later, and basically toys for southern (english and normanized scots) land owners to play at being savages - fancy dress pieces. after the '45 and the acts of disarmament there were 'dirks' made for the highland regiments which may have been from broken swords, but again these are not true dirks so much as sops to highland identity. most of the references i've read to dirks being made from sword blades have been of the backhanded compliment variety -'the scots, a provident people, made their dirks from broken swords' is not so different from Johnson's definition of oats...

 

now none of this relates directly to scians, except they too are referenced as thick knives. they were also single edged, while irish swords were typically double edged i think, also they were a weapon of the lower classes, a way to arm men without going to the expense of making, or even attempting to make a sword - sword-smithing is a specialised craft, whereas any village blacksmith could knock up a big, thick knife...

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found some more pics.

 

Limerick scian:

 

limerick scian.jpg

 

limerick scian handle.jpg

 

from the scale, it seems to have a 20" blade and 3 3/4" handle. can't really tell whats going on with the handle though.

 

scian in scabbard from a painting from 1620:

 

scian painting 1680.jpg

 

seems this guy was also wearing Japanese armour...

 

and another Derrick woodcut:

 

mcswyne chief scian.jpg

 

mcswyne chief scian 2.jpg

 

i like the shape of the tip on this, and that he's using it as an eating knife...

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This is great... I love the deep carving. I was wondering if you have come across this one at Arms and Armor: http://www.armor.com/custom937.html I have a laminated blade which was intended to be a Scottish dirk that I started several months ago but then got set aside. I then saw that Arms and Armor knife and made the decision to use the blade for that style instead. Although I never got around to it. My blade looks almost exactly like yours in terms of profile and length.. but is composed of wrought iron/nickel/high carbon.

 

Anyway... you are making me realize that I need to finish up that project and was curious what you thought about the historical accuracy of that Arms and Armor blade... I want to stick with the rondel-like fittings.. but.. attempt some carving in the handle.

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I totally forgot about the thread I started on myArmoury a while back! Does it mean I'm losing it when I do a google search for a topic and I find my own post that I'd forgotten about? :-O

 

http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=26887

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well, I think this is successfully hardened, provided it survives tempering and straightening. did an interrupted water quench, in for 3 out for three, repeat until cool enough to hold, a quick cleanup on the grinder to check the depth of hardening - looks to be about 1/2", though i'm not sure yet what i got on the false edge - and into the oven at 220C. well see how it looks tomorrow...

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thanks Jim, Scott and Bruce.

 

it survived straightening, and i got it ground to 320 and razor sharp, and applied the initial stain to the handle - the colour looks a bit flat at the moment, but once it's polished back with fine steel wool and waxed and oiled, i think it should be nice:

 

scian hardened.jpg

 

debating what to do with the fittings - i had intended to engrave them, but i think that might end up a bit busy, so i'm leaning towards giving them a fine hammered texture?

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