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Langseax from Museum of Prehistory in Munich


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Back in 2010 Peter Johnsson posted this picture of a (Frankish?) langseax blade with scabbard fittings (http://www.bladesmithsforum.com/index.php?showtopic=15413&page=4) As we are in the process of writing recommendations for scabbard fittings for our reenactment society, I am interested in more information about this.

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I am looking for information such as dimensions of blade and fittings. A dig report would be good too to get it in context.

 

We are trying to make a distinction between the Eastern scabbard style (Baltic region) and the Western scabbard style, but there are not many finds of scabbard fittings from the Vikings Western region of influence. Any additional information on this would also be welcome.

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The reason you don't find them is because saxes had gone out of fashion for most of the western region during Viking times. This sax is most likely 8th century. The only exception is the British isles, where they had developed into broken back style saxes. Of the shorter saxes we have loads of sheath remains. These come from rubbish dumps, and for nearly all of them, the metal fittings are removed. So we just have the leather parts to work with. From before the Viking period, there are lots of scabbard remains from the 7th century (broad saxes) well preserved with decoration showing clearly. But for longsaxes we're limited to a few examples of saxes with fittings, but little or no leather remains.

Jeroen Zuiderwijk

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10839981_765786480167359_297341974_o.jpg

http://www.duerbheim.de/cms/front_content.php?idart=172

Another langsax sheath... these seem to be quite rare.

George Ezell, bladesmith

" How much useful knowledge is lost by the scattered forms in which it is ushered to the world! How many solitary students spend half their lives in making discoveries which had been perfected a century before their time, for want of a condensed exhibition of what is known."
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Jeroen, if the seax had disapeared, what did the Western (Danish) Vikings use. they must have had some sort of knife. I am not aware of any knife finds from Denmark from the Viking period though.

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The sax as weapon might be replaced with swords? Were the seaxes or the decorated sax scabbards out of fashion? I can't believe that a relative effective and "easy" to produce weapon can go out of fashion. Probably dimensions or mounting or something. I can ask in haithabu if you are interested. The museum staff is really helpful, and if they out of knowledge it is no problem to talk to one of their archeologists.

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That would be great if you could ask in Haithabu. It seems like the Seax is used much longer in the British isles than on the continent and that the design is the destinct broken back. Somehow the Seax disapears from the continent, perhaps because everyone sudenly can afford swords? But people would still need a hunting knife or something, but maybe these are then much smaller as they do not need to double as combat knives.

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Thanks for the link. The only problem I have with calling that more of a hunting knife than a seax is that it matches several museum pictures of knives identified as seaxes. Also you get into terminology with the work "seax" meaning knife.

 

Doug

HELP...I'm a twenty year old trapped in the body of an old man!!!

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Melf, Do you have a dating and/or a reference for those three blades you posted?

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The wall where the last was found was build by Harald Bluetooth, in the second half of the 10th century. The first I have no clue. I found the site here in the forum. http://www.vikverir.no/ressurser/moesgaard_viking/

My research with the museum is still in the making. I know some guy who is pretty active in the reenactment research for the Viking time (and Stone Age lookup Harm Paulsen) I see if I can call him tomorrow. He is one of the first experimental archeologists.

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From that link there is also a picture of the museum information board. The knife with wooden handle is second half of the 10th century.

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I have talked to Harm. He told me that indeed the the larger seaxes were not common in the Viking Denmark. They were more a Swedish/Norse thing. The large one I linked was found in a grave under the wall. The wall is from ~950 so the sax is older, but I have no dating right now. I will look that up.

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That would be great if you could ask in Haithabu. It seems like the Seax is used much longer in the British isles than on the continent and that the design is the destinct broken back. Somehow the Seax disapears from the continent, perhaps because everyone sudenly can afford swords? But people would still need a hunting knife or something, but maybe these are then much smaller as they do not need to double as combat knives.

 

 

I meant to chime in earlier, been busy: It may well be the seax survives longer in Scandinavia and Britain for sociopolitical reasons. Both societies were far more merit-based and democratic (for want of a better word) than continental Europe, which kept the hierarchical structure left over from the Romans. So, the seax spreads across all of Europe during the migration era, but goes out of fashion in those parts where a strong central hierarchical ruler held sway. When the King had the power to make larger weapons illegal they went away except for within the ruling class and the professional military. In societies that held meetings to determine what was legal or not and in which every man was a member of what passed for the military, sword and seax ownership survived.

 

Just a thought.

 

Melf: Thank you for asking at Haithabu, this is great stuff!

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