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Hjortspring Knife Interperetation

Henry Utley

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Hey all, this is my first post but I've been all about this forum for years. I'm 23, and I really like the iron age. 

Here is my most recent project, I must thank Peter Johnsson for his tremendous help!


I have also included a mini iron age blade that I made some time ago. 


It is my most researched project, which is one of the things I have enjoyed most throughout the process, but I still probably got plenty wrong. Researching for this has taught me a lot about the time period, the adjacent finds, and the progression of these early blade types. It is far from perfect, but my best, most precise work as a craftsman. The scabbard is yet to come, I'm very exited about it, I think interpreting it will be its own fascinating and new project for me.
Here is a rundown of my decisions in interpreting the knife, based on Peter's suggestions and my own findings.
First, I made two major exclusions in my interpretation:
1. I did not attempt to T back the blade, as the original was. This is mostly due to me wanting to investigate that aspect of these early blades on its own, at a later date. I am very interested in the T backed blades and i want to do that type of cross section its due justice. I did radius the spine to pay homage to the T back, however.
2. I did not bind the grip. This is something I considered hard, but ultimately decided against for similar reasons as the T back. I want to investigate the grip binding of these blade types on its own terms.
The Blade:
Not much interpretation here. I simply did my best to copy the outline, the thickness and tapers.
The Grip:
I probably spent more time on the grip than the blade. This is what sent me to the university library, had me ordering out of print books, and anguishing over what to do. Ultimately, I chose to synthesize what I knew about other iron age blades with what I could see from blades from the late nordic bronze age, combined with the trial and error of making a grip profile that made sense. I debated doing a disclike grip, as some of the other pre roman iron age finds have, but decided against it on grounds that the disc pommels seem to be on a separate blade type.
The grip is made of ash, with a bronze ferrule that is wrapped around the end and welded together. I considered overlapping and using a small nail similar to the other copper alloy handle bands from hjortspring, but this seemed to be a construction not represented in other ferrules from handle ends. The rivets are also bronze, just a guess really. The cross section comes directly from the ferrule from Værebro, on a very similar blade type and construction. It is very flat with a slight taper from spine to edge.














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That's a really nice bit of work there. Looking at it through the lens of Iron Age, I'm sure that was a most fearsome weapon.

“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  





J.States Bladesmith | Facebook



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As illustrated by the museum picture, organic parts of a knife/sword rarely survive so it's hard to say that your selection of handle material is wrong.  I agree that the handle of the knife is as impressive as the blade and I am handy to see that you chose to duplicate the stub tang on the blade.  As you see from the museum photo, the size and shape of the tangs can vary a lot.  The smaller knife is also quite impressive.  You, sir, have real talent.



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

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That is some clean work on your blades….. Nice…. I think you are ready to dive into the deep end….with an T back …..especially if you have Peter extending you a lifeline…. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

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