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illerup swords or more specifically the diamond/chevron pattern


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These sword captured my interest the second I first saw them. And I have been grinding my head trying to figure out how the were actually made. And I just saw something that all of them have in common that changed the little understanding I had of them.

illerup_amy.pngillerup_savk.pngillerup_bil.pngillerup_safb.png

So what do all of them have in common except the diamond pattern? The pattern elongates towards the tip. Which to me would mean that the blades were forged more after the pattern had been put on. Because I first thought these were made by first forging the blades to near completion, and then adding the pattern by chiselling in the pattern and then adding the extra steel kinda like how the text on the Ulfberht swords were put in. Or am I way off anyone else that have a clue or might even have tried making one?

 

 

Oh and it seems to be the same on many of the other Illerup swords with different patterns 

 

illerup_avk.png illerup_saex.pngillerup_safg.pngillerup_sapc.png


Edit: I just remembered I had these pictures to I think they should support my theory that the blades were forged more after the pattern were added. Because everything looks a bit wavy I don’t think it would look like that if the pattern was added as one of the last forging elements.

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Edited by EricAndersson
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8 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

I think you're on the right track.  Those are the most complicated swords I know of, and I've never figured them out either. B)

I think a good smith would need to have a look at the swords in person to have a chance to really figure it out, I really wonder if the pattern matches on the other side or not because if it does I might have a clue but if they don´t I got no idea, I think I read some wear that most patternwelded swords of this period had a sheet of iron between the two different sides. If I have time this or the next month I´ll try to do some small test pieces, because the only way that makes sense to me would be if they did some kind of canister mosaic Damascus but without the canister.... 

 

Just had another thought if it´s done like I said they couldn't have started the pattern with diamond shapes because that would distort the pattern to much, they started with squares that when they actually forge welded it turned into the diamond.... maybe  

so somewhat like this but without the edge added yet

illerup_samk.pngkok.png

Edited by EricAndersson
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I'm 95% sure that must be welded inlay - if you look at the last pic, there's no repeating pattern to the over/under of the laminated strips . While the ulfbhert inlays were done at the very end of forging to minimise distortion, it  would be far easier to do this kind of inlay immediately after welding on the edge, when the billet was flat and at full thickness.

 

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21 minutes ago, jake cleland said:

I'm 95% sure that must be welded inlay - if you look at the last pic, there's no repeating pattern to the over/under of the laminated strips . While the ulfbhert inlays were done at the very end of forging to minimise distortion, it  would be far easier to do this kind of inlay immediately after welding on the edge, when the billet was flat and at full thickness.

 

When I looked at those last pics it reminded me of a braided pattern with more than 3 plaits.  Sort of like how you braid rope, over one skip two sort of thing.  Would it be plausible that the smiths braided the patterned rods over a central rod then flattened it out to create a core bar?  I'm not sure why you would choose to do it that way.

 

However they did it, I suspect the process is simpler than we are making look in our heads.  It seems like every time I find out how some old craft was done the masters at the time had worked out some sort of brilliantly simple approach to getting it done.

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17 hours ago, EricAndersson said:

I think a good smith would need to have a look at the swords in person to have a chance to really figure it out, I really wonder if the pattern matches on the other side or not because if it does I might have a clue but if they don´t I got no idea, I think I read some wear that most patternwelded swords of this period had a sheet of iron between the two different sides.

 

Yes, I believe one of the written works that mentions this is the sword in Anglo Saxon England, that's at least where I had read it first.  I think it's pretty common that although as pattern welds are made today its mostly one large billet in the middle that makes up the pattern.  However holistically they tend to be just veneers welded onto a central iron core that's built up of many rods.  Why it was done that way beats me, possibility of the iron core was needed structurally, and the two most expensive parts of the sword to produce were limited as much as possible (the pattern and the cutting edge). 

 

There was another theory that I watched some time ago of a researcher who believed that the patterns may have been a way to embellish a blade but to also add strength to it like weaving a rope.  In a way I can see that as a very minor possibility, that patterns are stitching the core of iron bars together in a way.

 

I'm by far no expert on pattern welding, but a place to also research and look for answers actually might be over on the Myarmoury forum. That's where I first saw these swords made by Patric Barta who seems to reproduce some of these.  I did not understand what I was looking at at the time, to me I thought they were just pattern welds. 

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34 minutes ago, Daniel W said:

 

Yes, I believe one of the written works that mentions this is the sword in Anglo Saxon England, that's at least where I had read it first.  I think it's pretty common that although as pattern welds are made today its mostly one large billet in the middle that makes up the pattern.  However holistically they tend to be just veneers welded onto a central iron core that's built up of many rods.  Why it was done that way beats me, possibility of the iron core was needed structurally, and the two most expensive parts of the sword to produce were limited as much as possible (the pattern and the cutting edge). 

 

There was another theory that I watched some time ago of a researcher who believed that the patterns may have been a way to embellish a blade but to also add strength to it like weaving a rope.  In a way I can see that as a very minor possibility, that patterns are stitching the core of iron bars together in a way.

 

I'm by far no expert on pattern welding, but a place to also research and look for answers actually might be over on the Myarmoury forum. That's where I first saw these swords made by Patric Barta who seems to reproduce some of these.  I did not understand what I was looking at at the time, to me I thought they were just pattern welds. 

I did take a look on Myarmoury but it’s just the diamond pattern that really interest me, and I can’t find any modern reproduction of that one

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After taking a close look, I bet the diamonds are just overlay, like the last third of the Vehmaa sword.  I also bet they are very thin.  The patterns you see in the middle are just wrought iron grain, and as Daniel said, the core of most swords of the period is built up of small pieces, so if you overlaid the diamonds onto that heterogenous bar you'd get an assortment of different patterns within the cells that does indeed look a bit like modern mosaic techniques.  

 

Can you get hold of a copy of Tylecote and Gilmour 1986, The Metallography of Early Ferrous Edge Tools and Edged Weapons?  They did some cross-sections of slightly later Anglo-Saxon swords and knives that are truly staggering in the amount of odd crap the smiths welded up into blade form.   What looks on the outside like a solid opposed twist is revealed as a thin strip of twist welded onto a pile of assorted scrap, sometimes with no regard as to whether the harder stuff ended up on or near the edges.  But when they were new they sure were pretty!  

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It's mind blowing what "ancient" craftspeople were able to accomplish within all crafts.  I've only made 2 pattern welded billets and I never understood the gravity of how much time and effort goes into them in just the modern sense.  Take it back a thousand years where your materials are of much lesser quality, and it would seem to be much more difficult.  On top of the difficulty to just build up the core of a blade, then you add the frustration of twisting materials and getting rid of 90% of it just to accomplish that pattern. 

 

And a link to mr Barta's site where he's done some reactions of these migration swords is here below.  I have not looked at his site for quite a few years and do not see that diamond pattern anywhere.  Maybe he hasn't figured it out yet either.  Between him and Peter Johnson, I would probably melt if I would ever have the opportunity to hold one of their completed swords.  

 

https://www.templ.net/english/weapons-antiquity_and_early_middle_age.php#132-roman_sword

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 11/17/2021 at 4:45 PM, EricAndersson said:

 

On 11/17/2021 at 4:45 PM, EricAndersson said:

These sword captured my interest the second I first saw them. And I have been grinding my head trying to figure out how the were actually made. And I just saw something that all of them have in common that changed the little understanding I had of them.

illerup_amy.pngillerup_savk.pngillerup_bil.pngillerup_safb.png

So what do all of them have in common except the diamond pattern? The pattern elongates towards the tip. Which to me would mean that the blades were forged more after the pattern had been put on. Because I first thought these were made by first forging the blades to near completion, and then adding the pattern by chiselling in the pattern and then adding the extra steel kinda like how the text on the Ulfberht swords were put in. Or am I way off anyone else that have a clue or might even have tried making one?

 

 

Oh and it seems to be the same on many of the other Illerup swords with different patterns 

 

illerup_avk.png illerup_saex.pngillerup_safg.pngillerup_sapc.png


Edit: I just remembered I had these pictures to I think they should support my theory that the blades were forged more after the pattern were added. Because everything looks a bit wavy I don’t think it would look like that if the pattern was added as one of the last forging elements.

61B902ED-F61E-41A1-9CBB-C5FE559AB7A1.jpegF59D5076-9478-476B-97B8-C974E85471F9.jpeg02F64085-3D42-40CE-8B39-6796DBB858BF.png

Hi everyone! I know I am new to this forum, but I am extremely familiar with various ways of developing pattern welded forms. I’ve observed that all the “special patterned” spatha experience pattern elongation at the tip. My guess would be that the degree to which the pattern elongates will vary based on who is forging it.

 

On 11/18/2021 at 2:40 PM, EricAndersson said:

I think a good smith would need to have a look at the swords in person to have a chance to really figure it out, I really wonder if the pattern matches on the other side or not because if it does I might have a clue but if they don´t I got no idea, I think I read some wear that most patternwelded swords of this period had a sheet of iron between the two different sides. If I have time this or the next month I´ll try to do some small test pieces, because the only way that makes sense to me would be if they did some kind of canister mosaic Damascus but without the canister.... 

 

Just had another thought if it´s done like I said they couldn't have started the pattern with diamond shapes because that would distort the pattern to much, they started with squares that when they actually forge welded it turned into the diamond.... maybe  

so somewhat like this but without the edge added yet

illerup_samk.pngkok.png

I was first introduced to these patterns by Peter Johnsson 3-4yrs back. I’ve been pondering them off and on since. I have a peculiar ability to look at most any pattern and be able to reverse engineer it in only a few moments. Peter shared some theories of how they were made, but added that no body really knows because they haven’t been properly recreate since they were last forged several centuries ago.

 

I have noticed that many of the special pattern swords have different patterns on the opposing faces. I do believe a an iron core would make good sense for these swords as a kind of support scaffold. Also, squares to diamonds is a good start and a realization I came to about 2yrs ago.

On 11/19/2021 at 6:35 AM, jake cleland said:

I'm 95% sure that must be welded inlay - if you look at the last pic, there's no repeating pattern to the over/under of the laminated strips . While the ulfbhert inlays were done at the very end of forging to minimise distortion, it  would be far easier to do this kind of inlay immediately after welding on the edge, when the billet was flat and at full thickness.

 

I’m quite confident that thes swords are the first examples of mosaic pattern-welded blades.

On 11/19/2021 at 10:42 AM, Alan Longmire said:

After taking a close look, I bet the diamonds are just overlay, like the last third of the Vehmaa sword.  I also bet they are very thin.  The patterns you see in the middle are just wrought iron grain, and as Daniel said, the core of most swords of the period is built up of small pieces, so if you overlaid the diamonds onto that heterogenous bar you'd get an assortment of different patterns within the cells that does indeed look a bit like modern mosaic techniques.  

 

Can you get hold of a copy of Tylecote and Gilmour 1986, The Metallography of Early Ferrous Edge Tools and Edged Weapons?  They did some cross-sections of slightly later Anglo-Saxon swords and knives that are truly staggering in the amount of odd crap the smiths welded up into blade form.   What looks on the outside like a solid opposed twist is revealed as a thin strip of twist welded onto a pile of assorted scrap, sometimes with no regard as to whether the harder stuff ended up on or near the edges.  But when they were new they sure were pretty!  

On many of the diamond pattern blades one will observe that the space inside the diamond is a very intentional basket-weave element and not random piling. It is difficult to deny the consistency, not only contained within a single blade, but across all diamond pattern examples.

 

Lastly, there is no denying Patric Bartas talent and skill, but all the examples I’ve seen of his work are either multi twist constructions or layer manipulation, but no mosaics.

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These are some photos, of my first attempt at recreating the essence of the diamond pattern. I say essence because it isn’t an exact replica as the elements don’t exactly replicate the originals. So I suppose a better term would be proof of concept of this pattern type using elements, like my 4 petaled flower, that I had laying around the shop.

 

Four of the photos were of the blade post heat-treat. The last photo is a better look at the pattern after it’s been ground on a bit.

 

I would be curious to hear your thoughts.

 

one last thing I will add, is that this blade is made entirely of modern materials using modern techniques. I have no delusions in claiming otherwise. That being said, I am quite confident that I devised a method for producing these patterns and swords that is pretty straight forward and contemporaneous to when the originals were made. Additionally, I have palmette and pearl pattern elements that I look forward to getting forged into swords sooner than later. Let me know if you’d be interested in seeing those as well.

 

Best regards,

Mareko

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Edited by Mareko Maumasi
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5 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

Welcome, Mareko!

I like your insights, especially since you have talked to Peter about these. They are complex for sure.  You did the basket weave well! 

Thanks Alan! Unfortunately our conversations have been very few. I would really love to have a few hours or a few days to discuss and better understand the historical context within which these swords were made.

5 hours ago, Doug Lester said:

I wouldn't have believed that anything like that could have been made.  Far beyond my humble skills.

 

Doug

You’re very kind. I have elements made up to forge a more accurate replica of the diamond pattern blades. I’ve allowed myself to get side tracked with paying projects, but I really need to get back to these special patterns.

 

Considering how unique these patterns are, I’m surprised that I haven’t come across a cohesive online resource. I have Illerup volumes 11 & 12, but not being able to read German has made it a slow process of fully understanding what’s being said in the books. The organization of the volumes is a bit confusing too. Thank goodness for Google translate. 

 

Cheers,

Mareko

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14 hours ago, Mareko Maumasi said:

These are some photos, of my first attempt at recreating the essence of the diamond pattern. I say essence because it isn’t an exact replica as the elements don’t exactly replicate the originals. So I suppose a better term would be proof of concept of this pattern type using elements, like my 4 petaled flower, that I had laying around the shop.

 

Four of the photos were of the blade post heat-treat. The last photo is a better look at the pattern after it’s been ground on a bit.

 

I would be curious to hear your thoughts.

 

one last thing I will add, is that this blade is made entirely of modern materials using modern techniques. I have no delusions in claiming otherwise. That being said, I am quite confident that I devised a method for producing these patterns and swords that is pretty straight forward and contemporaneous to when the originals were made. Additionally, I have palmette and pearl pattern elements that I look forward to getting forged into swords sooner than later. Let me know if you’d be interested in seeing those as well.

 

Best regards,

Mareko

91384FE6-F1F8-4C7B-A47E-61B35DE56138.jpeg

CBA8EF3F-852D-4B2F-93F5-10F70F24409F.jpeg

0E9FB62A-6C30-47C3-AE34-716156D93AC9.jpeg

66375606-D5E3-4889-9C0E-6FAED7EAB5C3.jpeg

117B61A9-35E7-4EB6-B18E-68CAF68784BA.jpeg

Wow those are truly marvelous! Thank you for posting this. And I’m happy that I was somewhat correct with the start with squares. Do you happen to have pictures of the different stages in forging? I would love to try to make this one day. And would very much appreciate it if you could post more.

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I appreciate your positive responses. They are bolstering as I continue on this journey. Getting to this point has been a long and challenging road and a lot of work. I don’t plan on putting together a process post until I’ve done a proper reproduction of the patterns using more historically accurate techniques.

 

I do have a question for the group though. Is there somewhere that the special patterns are more of a focused conversation? I’m familiar with Dr. H. Föll’s website, but not with more of a discussion forum like this. I’ve only seen the occasional thread here and there. Would love any input you all might have.

 

Thanks,

Mareko

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Not that I’m aware of but there may well be bits and bobs buried in the mountain of knowledge that is this forum. That being said, this part of the forum would be a great place for just such a conversation. It could be a continuation of this thread or one or more new threads. Off the top of my head, @Emiliano Carrillo, @peter johnsson@owen bush and probably a fair few others (I can’t think of before coffee) would be interested in such a conversation. 

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Well that just amazeballs Mareko. totaly brill....really really good work. Visiting these pieces in the flesh has been on my list for a long long time as I find it very hard to visualise from a drawing (i am very untrusting of the drawings).

 But i think you have done a really wonderful job. I would love to see if the origional pieces had billet repetition-mirroring in the pattern or were laid out as a continuous blade length billet? the two examples above seem to show  possibly both. The skill in these blades is way out there (your modern and the old ones)...but my hat is tipped to the little dude with the billet hacksaw and his mate on the hacksaw sharpening gig.

AWSOME...happy new year!

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Funny.  I saw that blade at your shop Mareko, it's super cool- and I was reading down this thread and wondering if you'd ever finished it, and voila! ...Now you have to finish it. 

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Here i was looking at this thread the other day and thinking, gee that reminds me of some of Salem's work.

 I started thinking, it's too bad he hasn't been around here in a long time, and voila! 

Absolutely amazing work Mareko. Thanks for the big pics.

Edited by Joshua States
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