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Andrew W

Anglo-Saxon spearhead, from bloom

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I recently finished a reproduction of an Anglo-Saxon spearhead, made from bloomery iron and hearth steel.

The spearhead is based on an original from Flixton (Suffolk, UK), and dates to the sixth century.

For my raw material, I used a mix of bloomery iron and hearth steel. Mark Green gave me the bloomery iron last winter, and I made the hearth steel from some bloomery iron I bought from Lee Sauder.

I took a lot of progress pictures--enjoy!

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The finished spearhead.

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The original, from Flixton grave 37. It's a Swanton type H3, if you're a typology geek.

 

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This is the bloomery iron Mark Green gave me, which he smelted himself from NC ore. It's been through his press once to shape it into a bar, but otherwise it's completely unprocessed.

 

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Folding Mark's iron a few times to homogenize it.

 

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Welding the third fold.

 

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This is bloomery iron that I bought from Lee Sauder. It's less processed than Mark's--basically just chopped off the bloom and flattened a little bit.

I broke it up into smaller chunks which I ran through a charcoal hearth to add carbon.

 

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The charcoal hearth--adding carbon to the bloomery iron, making steel.

 

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This is what I pulled out of the charcoal hearth once it had cooled.

 

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Lots of carbon now!

 

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Hearth steel in the center, bloomery iron on the outsides. This san mai-type construction was pretty common on the longer type H3 spearheads that have been analyzed in a lab, so I chose to make my reproduction this way.

 

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The bars are welded together, and I'm drawing them out into a billet.

 

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Roughed out the blade shape, now I'm starting the socket.

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Anglo-Saxon spearheads have open split sockets. I'm starting the cleft with a chisel.

 

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Fanning out the socket. The wrought bloomery iron will split if I try to fan the bottom of the base too wide, so I've left it round for now. I'll cut it flat later (some originals, including the one I'm copying, have flat bases--others left the base round).

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Just about ready to fold over. I don't bother with a mandrel for this step--carefully hammering works just fine for me.

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The socket's taking shape!

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After the first rough grind.

I did not quench harden this spearhead. Instead, I let it rapidly air cool. Most of the spearheads from this period that we've analyzed in a lab had a pearlitic rather than martensitic structure. Even unquenched like this, the steel adds a lot of hardness to the blade compared to plain bloomery iron.

 

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All cleaned up!

 

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Lots of slag and a bit of trapped scale--some of the things that make bloomery iron such a beautiful mess to play with.

 

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And finally, a comparison of my reproduction to the original. Turned out alright.

 

 

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Nice work Andrew. That is a beautiful spear blade. What size is it and how heavy?

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26 minutes ago, Charles du Preez said:

Nice work Andrew. That is a beautiful spear blade. What size is it and how heavy?

Thanks! It's 475mm long and 286g.

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That's a really cool piece of work. I've always been really fascinated by spears. Ancient recreations with historical accuracy are awesome. 

 

Thanks for sharing your work with us.

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Tremendous effort, very inspiring work.

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