Scott A. Roush Posted September 14, 2015 Share Posted September 14, 2015 Since I've started working on Scottish dirks I've been paying attention to the types of wood that one finds for the grips on these weapons. It's obvious when you look at my work that I've had my own romantic love affair with woods salvaged from bogs... but now I'm wondering if this notion was shared by our ancestors. Was there anything magical or wonderful to the folks who found an old log when cutting turf for their fires? The reason I've been thinking of this is because I keep seeing historical dirks with handles that say 'bog oak' but don't really look anything at all like it in terms of grain structure. Many of these black/dark woods are completely smooth suggesting ebony perhaps... or there is damage in which you can see the underlying color of the wood. For example.. In the case of an early 18th century dirk that I'm working on right now.. the auction listing says 'bog oak' but there is a chip taken out of the grip that is yellow. And the grain is simply too smooth as well. I also have a copy of 'Scottish Arms and Armour' in which there are two dirks called 'bog oak'.. one actually has the type of grain in which you would see in oak (although it appears to be a red oak variety and my understanding is that the red oak species assemblage does not survive bog conditions). The other is so smooth and black it could almost be made of plastic! Yet it clearly says 'bog oak handle'. Another thing that occurs to me is that oak is not wonderful carving wood.. whether it's been in a bog or not. Sure.. you can get some knot work in it.. but it will never hold the detail of the many other alternatives one would have found in the Scottish Highlands. I've spoken to a few forum members about this and I won't share their names .. but if you read this.. please feel free to add to my comments. One of these folks mentioned the large number of light or yellow colored dirk handles in period art.... it didn't take me long to start observing that myself. Anyway... I'm not saying we should all stop using bog wood if it does turn out to be overplayed in historical work....after all we are all carrying the torch and creating new traditions. But.. I have a general interest in truth and sometimes I wonder if the auction companies throw the 'bog oak' around to generate interest and bids. http://www.bigrockforge.com Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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