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Extract from Records of the Medieval Sword by Ewart Oakeshott
Type XX – XXa
This type seems to have been more characteristic of the late 15th century than the early 14th, for certainly more surviving examples seem to suggest the later date, but a sword which may be called the archetype can be dated – at lest, its characteristically formed blade can – firmly to the early 14th century by the inscription and markings engraved upon it.
As in most cases, the type is determined by the form of the blade, and particularly by the arrangement of its fullering. Here it is charaterised by a central fuller running over half-way down the blade, flanked by two shorter ones, generally of the same width as the central one, in the upper quarter of the blade’s length.
Most survivors of the type are large hand-and-a-half swords, but the archetypal one in question is an enormous bearing sword, shown here at XX.1(i)and XX.1(ii), shows the marks upon it which date it. Another rather later one – at least, the date on it is later, 1427 in Arabic Nashki script – si from the Hall of Victories in the Arsenal at Alexandria. This sword has a hilt quite consistent with a mid-14th century blade, a squared ‘wheel’ pommel of Type K and a straight square-section cross, but the others, as the illustrations which follow demonstrate, have varieties of the ‘scent-stopper’ pommel and have a distinctly 15th century look about them – i.e. their hilts resemble hilts shown in all form of art from the 1370s to the end of the 15th century. These will of course be deal with individually. In previous publication where I present my typology of medieval swords, I included two other blade-forms in with Type XX, but further study (after all, the typology was originated in 1958!) has made it plain that I have put these other forms into types of their own, XXI and XXII. This will appear in due course.
Type XXa: I felt that it was necessary to differentiate this form of blade from the broader, less acute blades of Type XX; the fuller in this sub-type is the same, but the edges run very sharply to an acute point.
Blade-length: 50″ (127 cms)
Condition: Very good. It has obviously been well-cared for. There are a few patches, where there has been very light rusting, scattered over the surfaces of the blade. The grip, wood, with a cord biding covered with leather, seems to be original. The enormous, massive pommel of bright iron has, like the blade, one or two very slight black patches on it.
The very enigmatic marks (see (ii) here) give a very positive date to the early 14th century. The style of the achievements of arms (crested helm and shiled) on either side are typical fo the period =c.1275-1325, as is the style of the letters and the other marks.
Publication: Oakeshott, SAX, Plate 40, p.76; Blair, C. EAA, No.64.
Find-place: The River Dordogne, near Castillon
Collection: ? Private
Blade-length: 36 /14 (92″[siccms)
Cross-style: 11, straight
Condition: Considerable corrosion, and some very wide and deep nicks on one edge, but none on the other. There are some remains of the wood of the grip in the lower opening of the pommel and on each face of the tang. There is also some of this wood of the grip inside the top face of the opening of the cross – i.e., the wood of the crip was shaped to fit top and bottom into the holes in the pommel and cross. Like other type XX and XXa clear traces of a complex pattern in gilt and on the upper part of the blade. THese marks (which include a totally indecipherable sequence of letters on each side) are not engraved and inlaid, but appear to be lightly etched and gilded. The pommel which is shaped like a more usual Type T.3, pear-shaped, is mounted with the thin end upwards, instead of downwards to join the top of the grip. There is another complete sword, the twin of this with asimilar? etched decoration on the blade, and a fragmentary one, from the same find.
Publication: Oakeshott, in Stuber & Wetler, No. 15a (p.19) and 15 (p.22).