POMPEII GLADIUS OF A TRECENARIUS (CHIEF CENTURION) OF LEGION Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum!


Text and photos by David Xavier Kenney

Material: Iron, Silver/Lead Alloy, Bronze, and Ivory
Era: 213 AD
Culture: Roman Provincial
Style: Roman
Origin: From an Antiquities Dealer in California

Although not shown with these pictures, the inscriptions on the top of the pommel’s stud show that this sword had belonged to a Trecenarius of Legion II Traiana Fortis. Although it is well established that the Praetorian Trecenarius had been the top Centurion, the position of the Legionary Trecenarius has not been established. There is one theory that the rank was second to the Praefectus Castrorum. Part of the inscription reads “TRECEN” and the other part reads “II TR GER”, this suggests that this sword had been commissioned when Legion II Traiana had been awarded the title Germanica, most likely in 213 with the defeat of the Alamanni (although the fighting actually ended with a treaty, the Romans considered it a victory) or shortly thereafter. The inside of the stud has inscriptions and symbols of the defeated Germanic tribes. The idea of the defeated being thrown into a hole can be seen with various artifacts on this website. The iconography on the pommel highly suggests that the sword has meteorite metal. Under the green patina, the guard is black with work done in white overlay. The blade has engravings and decorations, most notably is a sword with a dragon grip and lighting (that is in fact chromium) coming from the sword’s tip. The blade appears to have been treated with a tinted black chromium or with an alloy with chromium, hence the Class I to II condition that deems it as the finest example of a gladius known.

Source: romanofficer.com/PermcolA.html

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Bill Blake – Alae Swords



Assymetries on Historic & Modern Swords – Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

*This is the article that got me kicked off SBG! Yes, I am very proud of myself! XD

Example of a beautiful historic sword clearly demonstrating assymetries: The sword has undergone a transformation from tool to art, but it is not quite sitting in art as it should, by this I mean I have never heard an art critic berrate Da Vinci or Rembrandt for visible brush strokes. There are modern examples, like Peter Lyon who I consider to be a true master. Even his work has assymetries in it, but is by no means the result of sloppy work: And that’s the product of a guy at the top of his game, with other craftsman assisting him on his swords. Then there are historical examples like the Sword of Saint Maurice, which clearly was not Roman in origin as the contemporary Germans may have insisted, and was likely commissioned by the top strata of society, therefore produced by the best available craftsmen: But I don’t believe any of this makes them less beautiful, quite the opposite and I do not think the above examples show anything but excellent skill in manufacture. I think to a certain extent we have fallen victim to photoshopped images depicting perfection, which invariably are false. For example this picture of one of Peter Lyon’s swords once the photographers, lighting technicians and photoshop tweekers have gotten hold of it: In my view a process similar to what has happened to women’s body image via photoshopped magazine images has taken place. It has left us wanting something that doesn’t exist, isn’t attainable and made us dissatisfied with everything. As an example: The one of the left is still a beautiful albeit plastic surgery enhanced face, but the one on the right more like a computer generated image than a photo. * * * * * The Importance of Assymetries & the Physical Function they Impart I believe there is a link between the asymmetrical properties of handmade swords as compared to automatically machined swords which makes them inherently better. Going through the motions with a CNC milled sword one day it struck me how lifeless the sword felt. I then repeated the same motions with a hand made sword, which had asymmetries and other humanistic attributes. The sword felt so much more alive. After much thought on the subject I think I know why. I believe the quality of a sword being alive is intrinsically linked to variations in the distribution of mass. CNC milled swords do not features these qualities, and although balance may technically be more precise, the numbers do no tell the whole story. A sword with edges that are not uniformly thick, whose pommel may be slightly thicker in one direction, whose blade features more mass on one side than another though it may seem at a disadvantage, I believe the hand made piece has an unforeseen advantage. This I believe is what makes hand crafted swords better than CNC milled swords. It’s ironic, because some people go OCD over variances and asymmetries in their swords. Although distal taper, balance, percussion, harmonics and all the rest are still critical elements, I think that a mathematically symmetrical sword will never provide the performance of a well hand crafted sword and it is the idiosyncrasies of a particular excellent sword that set it apart. The CNC milling process is a cost cutting measure, but I believe it will never replace the work of a skilled craftsman. An analogy can be seen in music – real instruments and human performers as opposed to electronica. My proposition in no way diminishes the importance of excellent workmanship. One must learn the rules to break them. I’ve been at swords for ten years, and I’ve put my work out for public scrutiny. Some people like my work, others don’t, and that’s ok with me. But I am not some critic with no work of his own for others examine, firing off shots at other people who are out there having a go. I’ve done the hard yards, filing, hand finishing, using stones, forging and grinding, and while I always feel I have room for improvement, I do feel like I have a decent handle on the basics and produce good work. My moment of revelation came as I was pondering the virtues of swords. I had always felt that there was something superior about good hand made swords, but I could never put my finger on it. It is quite distracting to see so many posts on other forums where people get OCD about minor variances on a hand made blade, and I believe this had distracted me from realizing what makes a handmade sword better earlier. In an age where technical perfection is now more achievable than ever, it is ironic that the human hand is what produces the best swords. Swords are not machine parts, treating them like they should be is a step in the wrong direction. Rather the sword is and will always be defined by the individuality of its personality, the idiosyncrasies of its design, the love imbued into its form while crafting it, and the humanistic qualities of its manufacture. Below are more examples of high end historic swords showing that the modern obsession of reviewers for things like milled guards that fit a sword to within microns are in fact just that, modern obsessions that bear no historical counterpart: The beautiful ‘Charlemagne Sword’ – can you imagine how a typical modern review might deal with the tang slot on this sword of Kings? Bill Blake – Alae Swords http://www.alaeswords.com Read more: http://sword-site.com

How to Hold a Sword & Why the ‘Handshake Grip’ is Nonsense – Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum!


Doing the rounds of the sword forums is a nonsensical grip called the handshake grip. It appears to have been first proposed by sword maker Peter Johnsson on MyArmoury in 2004. Subsequently many forumites have sycophantically posted in support of it, often using spurious historical ‘evidence’ that purports to demonstrate that this modern and ridiculous idea was used by fighters in the Medieval Period. This could not be more wrong.

This is the drawing by Peter that started what is now passed off by inexperienced pseudo historians as knowledge:


*Note that some much needed corrections have been made to the image above.

So where did this come from? I believe Peter created the grip, which he himself has no historical evidence to support but rather puts forward purely as conjecture, to allow for a grip that didn’t require substantial strength. Viking Swords such as those in the picture on the other hand require great strength on the behalf of the user to hold properly. The kind of strength that is hardly unachievable, but which today’s frequently sedentary lifestyle would not otherwise require. So to account for what Peter sees as just too difficult to believe, he proposed something so ridiculous it has to be seen to be believed.

And it wouldn’t have been believed, except that it was proposed by the designer of Albion Swords, and for some reason this made the armchair experts swallow it whole. It was then enshrined by Nathan Robinson and Chad Arnow of MyArmoury, and Paul Southren of SBG.

The idea is easily identifiable as wrong, and there is one good reason why: the handshake grip doesn’t provide a secure grip. It allows one’s wrist to be highly mobile, but the wrist is the weakest mechanism of the arm, and should move the least. Movement should flow from the body and the arm, with the wrist essentially locked in place.

Note that every picture of a historical nature that has been used to bolster the argument for the handshake grip shows an arm fully extended forward. The two are fundamentally different though.

Here below is a Byzantine Warrior with a Paramerion, the very type of sword modern sword enthusiasts often insist is perfectly suited to the ‘handshake grip’. Note that his fist is instead solidly locked around the grip with thumb correctly tucked in.

In short, the handshake grip is a modern idea, and a terrible one at that.

There are thousands of depictions of correct grips in medieval and antique imagery. There are none of the so called ‘handshake grip’.

So who in this modern age can we rely upon for reasonable advice? Who actually uses sharp edged weapons in a combat context these days? Simple: criminals and soldiers. Everyone else is a theoristDoers are the best source of accurate knowledge, not people who sit around merely thinking about combat with sharps.

An expert witness in this argument is Don Pentecost, author of Put ‘Em Down, Take ‘Em Out: Knife Fighting Lessons from Folsom Prison. Rather than paraphrase the man I provide here a direct excerpt from a man who really knows what he is talking about, who has been in knife fights in a life or death situation, a man who has no interest in convolution. His words apply doubly for swords, which are heavier and require a firm grip as much or more than knives. He discusses various grips that are often proposed and then finishes with the correct grip and why it is vastly superior:


Don hit the nail on the head: “…why use techniques that will only stop a pussy?”

A full version of Don Pentecost’s Put ‘Em Down Take ‘Em Out: Knife Fighting Lessons from Folsom Prison is available here:


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