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ZebDeming

A lecture by Dr Ann Feuerbach

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Hmmm?

+VLFBERH+T is the name of a pagan hero turned into a christian warrior saint? Somehow connected to Beowulf? -Seriously?

Hmm?

 

 

Crucible steel or not, some of the ideas that comes along with the theory is not all that convincing.
Why a name that is frankish (or as some say Anglo Saxon) in origin?
Why use greek crosses in the name if the blades were supposedly made in the mid 9th C and onwards in the pagan lands of scandinavia?
Why is the word written with latin letters when runes were the form of writing used in this area at this time?

Why is the lattice pattern on the back side of these blade so often ignored in the analysis (the lattice pattern is common with some variations on both +VLFBERH+T and other swords which might point at some share place or tradition of manufacture)?
Why do some of the swords that have been identified as being made of crucible steel show a clear strandy/streaky structure in their corrosion? Is this possible if the steel was from a crucible process? Is it not a sign of a bloomer process that involves repeated forging and folding?

I remain mystified, but also highly entertained. Hopefully further research into these swords will bring more interesting results in the future.

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A note on lines in some supposed crucible steel blades.

Microstructure microstructure microstructure...........weld lines may only mean that the starting bar was welded up a few times........such may be the case with the Ulfie in Solingen.

Do keep in mind that Nanban-tetsu or "oranda-tetsu" foreign steel was used in Japan...did they take these bars and forge a single steel blade? Nope...they did what their tradition dictated and used it in whole or in part for the traditional folding and welding. I see little reason for this not to be also the case in other areas....especially when the tradition in Europe was to use different materials for edge and core...indeed it may come that some multi bar blades have low slag components use in sections of the blade and not others.

In India and Persia there are tools made with bloom bodies and crucible steel tips/edges and there are blades made with interlocking sections of single steel and patterned (maybe crucible steel and bloomery or various bloom chemistry like high and low phase for contrast). Al-Kindi speaks of ingots not forming a pattern being used for "common tools" and lists scissors, chisels, saws, files and cutting tools...not swords.

I wager that IF the steel in question IS crucible steel that it is of the non-sword "Common" variety .......why trade away the good stuff after all?

 

The use of Latin lettering is a main point

a cross is an old symbol and may be religious and may not.

The obverse side with the interlace is an area of almost no research.

 

It would be good if someone bothers to include all this stuff in a nice Saga Story or a European sword making shop were covered where everyone just set down their tools in 1000AD and buried the place. Where is a good volcano when you need one.....i.e. Pompeii?

 

Ric

Edited by Richard Furrer

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This is the +VLFBERH+T from the Deutshes Klingenmuseum.
I hope the photo is clear enough and that you can zoom into higher detail of you open it in a separate window. The rust pits reveal a fine fibrous structure along the whole length and whole width. (Photo by Lutz Hoffmeister)

This sword had a fragment of its edge tested and identified as crucible steel.

There is more left of the mystery of these swords, it seems.
I am very curious to learn more about them and only hope that the idea that they were forged in scandinavia does not become too strongly bound with the idea of crucible steel.
Perhaps it is wise to keep more of an open mind as to both material and origin?
-But I am no metallurgist. I would be happy to learn that I am mistaken in my doubt.

 

1973.W.005.jpg

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I'd like to see that one up close.

No inserted edge on that one I take it?

 

When speaking of sword research......on the whole it is an under-valued area of study. In addition to more metallurgical samples we also need more archeological finds.......a few workshops specific to swords would be real handy.

Earlier finery furnaces would be good as well to see if blooms were altered in ways other than forging from this earlier period........like Theophilus from the 1120's

Quote

"Iron is engendered in the earth in the form of stones. When it has been dug out, it is broken up in the same way as copper above[iII-63] and smelted down in lumps. Then it is melted [sic] on an iron-worker's forge and hammered, so that it becomes suitable for any kind of work."

So is he writing of a finery process?

Was the iron carburized in small batches or cemented in thin strip and then wadded up in layers for edges?

 

​What would fined steel by a smith who knew what he was doing look like on the edge of one of these blades? What amount of slag remains at 100 magnification? We can judge a bit from armor of later periods perhaps as in the late 1500's finery furnaces were well used.

 

 

I tried to capture the photos as well, but could not.

 

7. Museum für Hamburg Geschichte; inv.no.1965/124 (Fig. 24-25)

Inscription +VLFBERH+T. Another river find, from the Elbe.

A sample taken from the damaged edge about 10cm from the end, shows a microstructure of mostly fine pearlite with some cementite at grain boundaries, but no visible slag inclusions. Another taken from near the centre, at the broken tip, shows a microstructure of very fine pearlite. This is a steel of perhaps 1% carbon, or more, and so it is almost certainly a hypereu- tectoid steel.

Microhardness centre 337-388; average = 355 VPH. – edge 439-476; average = 463 VPH.

It seems that this blade underwent more hot-working than sword # 2, and perhaps had a lower carbon content, for no cementite was observed in the form of needles within the prior austenite grains, but only at grain boundaries, or as laths, in a more equiaxed form. By con- trast, the sword # A 8 seems to have undergone a little too much hot working.

Electron microanalysis suggests that the inclusions are iron oxide.

8. Solingen, Deutsche Klingenmuseum; inv.no.1973.w.5 (Figs. 26-27)

It has an inscription which may be read as +VLFBERH+T.

A sample taken from the damaged edge shows a microstructure of what seems to have been pearlite which has been mostly divorced into carbide particles, and a network of particles outlining the prior pearlitic areas. There are very few slag inclusions7.

Microhardness 243-277; average = 258 VPH.

This seems to be a steel which has been annealed, or undergone an excessive amount of hot-working. Since it seems unlikely that any sword would be intentionally softened by annealing, one may speculate that this was another hypereutectoid steel but it was somewhat overheated in working.

 

Figure 26. Sword # A8 from Solingen.

Figure 27. Microstructure of # A8: pearlite areas with network of carbide particles (scale bar 50 mi- crons).

Gladius, XXIX (2009), pp. 121-184. ISSN: 0436-029X

 

 

 

Ric

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"Iron is engendered in the earth in the form of stones. When it has been dug out, it is broken up in the same way as copper above[iII-63] and smelted down in lumps. Then it is melted [sic] on an iron-worker's forge and hammered, so that it becomes suitable for any kind of work."

So is he writing of a finery process?

Was the iron carburized in small batches or cemented in thin strip and then wadded up in layers for edges?

 

 

This is the almost exact process of the "Evenstad" steel. I think mostly people have misinterpreted it as forging it instead of actually melting it, I've heard many times that a normal charcoal forge can't attain the heat needed to melt iron, which is plain false, we've done it using bellows as well. I'm pretty decent at the process and using just a side blast forge could be done easily. I've taken iron to cast iron in one attempt, and there is quite a bit of control over it. Making a solid lump that has been liquid, big enough for a sword would be a challenge, but smaller pucks that could be welded up wouldn't be all that hard. Using a normal blacksmith's forge would not leave any archaeological evidence other than a forge, possibly slag bowls (clinker) that may be indicative of a remelting process instead of normal smithing. Like you said though, there isn't enough study in this area to be completely sure. I believe that what Ann is saying, is that if the swords were made from crucible steel, that said crucible steel was likely imported and then smithed in "norse" regions, It's always interesting to hear what others have found as well.

 

Zeb

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This is the +VLFBERH+T from the Deutshes Klingenmuseum.

I hope the photo is clear enough and that you can zoom into higher detail of you open it in a separate window. The rust pits reveal a fine fibrous structure along the whole length and whole width. (Photo by Lutz Hoffmeister)

 

This sword had a fragment of its edge tested and identified as crucible steel.

 

 

 

I think that this may be part of the problem with this. Have only small fragments of these swords been tested to determine crucible steel? That sword, from what I can see in the pics, is "wroughty" indeed. Certain parts of bloom and these "hearth" remelted pucks would most certainly look crucible steel like, and if that's the part that was tested...

 

 

Zeb

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It would be very worthwhile to do practical experiments with steel making in a earth, as you suggested.

The structure of an ancient sword as it is today may not be what it once was. In the 19th (and early 20th C?) it was not unusual to heat blades to red heat to stop corrosion and remove surface rust. This would result in structures that are pearlitic as if heated to red heat and then slowly cooled in air. -How many times do we not encounter that description on the structure of ancient swords? I wonder how often this is a flawed result because of a violent conservation process.

The cross is indeed a very ancient symbol, but it s not common at all in pagan scandinavia (I cannot remember any instances where it is used in decoration or as a symbol). I would have expected it to be found in other situations, best of all weapons, if the cross should be seen as a (pagan) scandinavian symbol. -it is really not a plausible explanation.

 

The name (or word?) VLFBERHT must be explained in a scandinavian context if we are to accept these blades are made in scandinavia. It is not a norse word. The craftsman could have been a person from another country if it was a single object or a small number of objects, but we are here dealing with such a great number of sword blades that seems to have been made over such a long period of time that no single craftsman could have been the maker of them all. Latin letters, a Frankish (or Anglo Saxon?) name, a christian symbol and what looks like mass production does not make manufacture in a place like Haithabu or Birka very plausible.

The analysis of the microstructure bring some fascinating evidence for methods of production that goes contrary to what we expect from this time period. But to be so certain it must be crucible steel that was imported into scandinavia and there turned into sword blades seems to me to be counterproductive. To my mind there is too much that becomes very strange and difficult to explain when this position is maintained.

More research is needed!
:-)
Wonderful!

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In Alan Williams' original study, only a few of the +Ulfberh+t had no visible slag inclusions, but many did. In hearth steel, the amount of slag can vary widely also.

There are a few published micrographs remelted "hearth steel",and they show a wide range of microstructures and slag inclusions. Here's 3 places you can see some:

 

http://donwagner.dk/tiny.html

 

https://www.academia.edu/12967502/Making_Steel_in_the_Aristotle_Furnace_

 

https://www.academia.edu/5249995/The_Production_of_High_Carbon_Steel_Directly_in_Bloomery_Process_Theoretical_Bases_and_Metallographic_Analyses_of_the_Experiments_Results

 

Williams' observation that most of the +ulfbehr+t swords are hypereutectic steel has now transformed into Ann's statement that "we know they were made of crucible steel."

I don't think that statement can be justified by Williams' data. (assuming there is not more analysis of the +ULBFEHR+T swords since then, that I don't know about.)

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Exactly as Lee put it. Let's just make sure we get the terminology correct. Alan William's paper describes the chemistry as being "hypereutectoid" and to be more precise most sword were around 1.2% and some up to 1.6% and no higher. The term "hypereutectic" is different and means a lot more carbon but the point Lee was trying to make is that since the publication of that paper there has been a general assumption that hypereutectoid=crucible steel. This is wrong. Acepting that would be the same as saying that every tool steel made these days is crucible steel. There are other ways to skin the cat and reach that level of carbon without using a crucible. The trade of ingots is plausible but my question is: has it been proven by scientific methods that the provenance of the steel in those blades is exactly that of the bulad ingots? I have not read of any conclusive evidence. If there is, I must have missed it and I would appreciate a link to the paper. The process described by Evenstad would have been a local process likely known to the smiths in the area and it will yield high carbon steel in the range of those swords. Because the steel is liquid during this process it has few inclusions and the inclusions are introduced during forge welding of the Evenstad ingot. It seems to me as good and as plausible explanation for the origin of the steel in these swords.

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Peter, I had forgotten about the old practice of heating for conservation! That would certainly explain perlitic structures and low hardness, they've been normalized...it also makes me wonder about 19th century Viking sword finds with gloedeskal. I can tell the difference between ancient and modern scale if it is relatively fresh, but could they after the sword had been out of the ground a few years and all scale just looks like tight black magnetite? Hmmm...

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I am currently conducting many Evenstad hearth refining/orishigane experiments and am on the verge of getting many slag and steel samples tested for composition.

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good

 

Ric

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Today.

20160607_192213.jpg

20160607_192323.jpg

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some of those claims are a very large stretch... and have as little or less evidence as what she is arguing against ... the claim that two swords marked differently using different techniques in vastly different materials are some how the same... because pagan ritual.. seems a stretch. I want to see more evidence on this, but my first instinct is most of this is a leap.

MP

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