Oakeshott Type XVI – XVIa – Records of the Medieval Sword – 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!


Extract from Records of the Medieval Sword by Ewart Oakeshott

Type XVI – XVIa

It is possible, indeed, it seems inevitable, to suggest that this blade-form developed as a direct offensive answer to the newly-developed as a direct offensive answer to the newly-developed reinforced mail armour of the period 1300-1350. It is broad enough, and flat enough in section to provide an efficient cutting edge, but the lower part part below the end of the fuller is nearly always of a stiff flattened-diamond section with a strong median ridge, making it suitable for thrusting. Not all have this ridged lower blade, which makes it very difficult if not sometimes impossible to distinguish whether such a blade is XVI, or in fact a XIV; No. XVIa. 1 in this group is a case in point, its lower blade tapers strongly, though it is flat, but it has a very stout diamond-section reinforced point.
They are quite often shown in art. Sometimes, as in the two shown here at (iii) and (iv), from Italian early 14th century paintings at San Gimignano, they can be matched exactly by survivors – except that they are shown scabbarded. All we have to go on is the long, rather slender, tapering blades and long grips. Compare these two for instance, with the photograph of the hilt of No. XVI.2 belwo. A sculptured St. Peter at (v), from a roof-boss at Exeter Cathedral which can be dated to 1328 shows a perfect example of the type, closely matched by NO. XVI.3 below.

XVI. 1

Type: XVI
Find-place: London River, off Westemister opposter the HOuses of Parliament
Collection: Formerly the old London Museum, now the Royal Armouries IX.13
Blade-length: 27″ (68.6cms)
Pommel-type: 1
Cross-style: A long 7
Date: c.1300-25
Condition: River-found. Excellent some pitting and erosion of the edges near the point and below the cross. Compare this sword with the drawing of St Peter fromt he Exeter roof-boss, which was carved before 1328.
Publication: Dufty; Oakeshott, Catalogue of the Second Park Lane Arms Fair, Londong, 1983.

XVI. 2

Type: XVI
Find-place: unknown
Collection: Royal Armouries, IX. 1083 formerly D’Acre Edwards
Blade-length: 32″ (81.2cms) approximately
Pommel-type: J
Cross-style: 2
Date: c.1300-25
Condition: Excavated, almost certainly river-found. Very good though there is a lot of corrosion at the point-end of the blade. The cross is very slightly bent, up one arm and down the other. The metal of the cross is very stout, of square section, and it has always seemed to me when handling this sword that very shallow reverse curvature couldn’t have been made by accident; it must, I think, have been forged that way – though one cannot assume that, in the forging, the bend was deliberate. It is too shallow to have a ‘guarding’ effect like 16th century vertically recurved quillons; bu the process of forging a carefully sharped bar of of iron, with a slot in the middle is tricky business and an inadvertent bend could very easily occur. There is some distortion in the tang, too.
Publication: Dufty.


Type : XVI
Find-place: Unknown, but in Denmark
Collection: Nationalmuseet, Copenhagen
Blade-length: 30&1/8″ (76.5cms)
Pommel-type: T.1
Cross-style: 6
Date: c.1300-50
Condition: River-found? Excellent. The erosion on the edges of the blade is the result of wear and honing, not corrosion. The fuller bears a a near four-letter inscription inlaid in latten. This inscription is similar to that upon the blade of the big XIIIa in the Burrel Collection in Glasgow, shown here above at XIIIa.10.
There is a sword extremely similar to this – its hilt is identical though its blade is about 6″ long, in the Museum at Bern (inv. No.840). That one, however, has no inscription.
Publication: Hoffmeyer; Pl.XXXIId.2 p.34 no.1 Oakeshott, SAC pl.20b


Type: XVIa
Find-place: ? Germany
Collection: The Royal Armouries. IX. 1084. Formerly D’ACre Edwards
Blade-length: 33″ (83.9 cms)
Pommel-type: K
Cross-style: 6
Date: c.1300-25
Condition: Excavated. ? River found. Good, but considerable erosion of the edges and some deep putting on the blade. The grip, of white wood, is modern, The shape of this sword should be compared with that of No.XVI.1 in this series. The fuller here is very narrow, but there is a distinct rib in the lower half of the blade.
Publication: Dufty, [sic]

Read more: http://www.sword-site.com




Oakeshott Type Xa – Records of the Medieval Sword – 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!


Extract from Records of the Medieval Sword by Ewart Oakeshott

Characteristic of this type is a long fuller, like a X, only narrower – but no so narrow as an XI. This is a very fine distinction and may seem unnecessary. In fact, in my original typology of 1960, I had not isolated it; I put all Xa’s into Type XI. It was only when The Sword in the Age of Chivalry was reprinted in 1980 that I decided that there was a clear distinction, and so in a new preface to the book I added my new Type Xa. It may seems a silly distinction, depending only upon the breadth of the fuller, but I think it is better that such a distinction be made. There is no real difference in dating X’s and Xa’s for both types were in use together from c. 1000 on. This is proven beyond any reasonable doubt by a series of swords found in the early 1950s by Dr Jorma Leppaaho, of Helsinki University, in a large group of late Viking graves in southern Finland. These are all clearly dateable to the second half of the 11th century, give or take a decade each way; and the information as to reliable dating, not by the form of blades and hilts but by the style and ‘handwriting’ of inlaid inscriptions, which subsequent x-ray photography of the blades provided, is absolutely crucial to the segregation of types of sword and sword-inscriptions, and their dating. Among these finds, the incidence of X types and Xa’s was about equal.

Xa. 9
Type: Xa
Find-place: Unknown
Collection: Glasgow Museum & Art Gallery (Ex.cool. Sir Edward Barry) A.6533
Blade-length: 36′ (91cms)
Pommel-type: R
Cross-style: A slender form of Style 5
Date: c.1050-1100 (give or take a couple of decades each way)
Condition: Excavated, very good. The surface is lightly corroded in a curious mottled way, looking like some kinds of pattern-welding; but since this mottling goes over to the edges, it is most likely to be a rather unusual corrosion pattern produced by whatever organic stuff surrounded it.
The remains of the iron-inlaid inscription (the inlaid strips have gone) is still decipherable. The spherical pommel is very small, which gives the sword an awkward, unbalanced look.

Xa. 17
Type: Xa
Find-place: Unknown
Collection: Private
Blade-length: 34&1/2′ (87.6cms)
Pommel-type: J
Date: Blade c.110, hilt, c.1450
Condition: Excellent. The long blade is hardly corroded at all, its surface being covered only with patches of shallow staining. There are a few marks of usage on the edges, but not significant. The hilt is of latten, once gilded (a tiny trace only seems to survive on one side of the elegantly modeled rivet-block. The central boss of the pommel is longitudinally ridged. The original grip of ?lime-wood survives, with a a narrow Turk’s head of brass wire (contemporary with the hilt) below the pommel. IN the narrow fuller in the blade, inlaid in iron, are the names +IESUS+ on one side and MARIA on the other. Following the second letter A in this name is an inlaid symbol (also in iron) which though extremely hard to see may perhaps be a rather naturalistic representation of the lily-flower always associated with Our Lady. At some time, an over-enthusiastic owner of the sword tried to enhance, or to make more visible, the letters of these inscriptions and began to engrave round their outlines. He ruined the I, E and S of the IESUS inlays, but fortunately gave up, and left the remainder alone. Had he done all ten letters, it would not be possible to see that they were in face inlaid in iron. This sword was examined in the Royal Armouries on 27 April, 1989, when the metal of the hilt was definitely proved to be 15th century latten. This fine sword provides an absolutely classic example of an old blade still in use, or re-used, three centuries after is making and mounted in a handsome, new, fashionable hilt. The sword is also important by reason of the (so far as I know at present) uniquely used holy names, inlaid in iron. There are INNOMINEDOMINI inscriptions, in iron, in plenty; there is on Viking blade inlaid on each side with the word AMEN, but this is in silver.

Read more: http://sword-site.com



Oakeshott Type X – Records of the Medieval Sword – 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!


Extract from Records of the Medieval Sword by Ewart Oakeshott

Most swords of the Viking Age come into this category, and X (ten) has been chose to define the type, rather than 1 (one) because in the definitive anaylitical study of the swords of the Viking Period present by Dr Jan Petersen in 1919. [sic] He classified the latest of the Viking hilt-styles (hose with brazil-nut shaped pommels) as Type X (letter X). Since most of these Viking swords with brazil-nut pommels, as well as those which are rather vaguely called ‘Pilzformige (mushroom-shaped)’ by German archaeologists, all fall neatly into the first category of the typology of swords which I presented in 1960. I began my typology where Petersen left off, with X – number Ten. At the same time I, perhaps unwisely, renamed the ‘Pilzformige’ or mushroom pommel (which it wasn’t, being D shaped in elevation and flat in plan, not like any mushroom or toadstool known to botany) as ‘of tea cosy form’. This, to non-tea-orientated continental students must have made little sense. However, in an English context it is perfect. The laid-down ‘lazy D’ is just like a tea cosy. Those which are flat in plan are like on empty, those of a stouter and more rotund shape are like a tea-cosy with a teapot inside it. In the quarter-century which has lapsed since I named, or mis-named, this pommel form it is pleasant (tom em) to find that in fact the name has been very generally adopted.
So, Type X is the ‘typical’. of there is such a thing, Viking sword with its great variety of hilt-forms and styles; and it goes on into the 12th century. Indeed, one may say it goes on into the 18th century as far as blade-shape goes, but there is no doubt it is seldom found as a blade-shape in any blade made new later than c.1200. Of course, many very old blades continued in use, re-hilted according to changes of fashion, as long as the sword was used.

X. 1-4
Four typical Viking swords, dating beteween c. 750 – 1050
1.Type X
Find-place: Unknown
Collection: Private
Blade-length: 80.2 (31&5/8′)
Pommel-type: Behmer’s Type VIII
Date: c. AD-750
Condition: Excavated, but very good. Some very large pits.

2. Type X
Find-place: Unknown
Collection: Private
Blade-length: 76 cms (31&3/4″)
Pommel-type: Wheeler’s Type VII
Date: 9th century
Condition: Excavated, but excellent. More corrosion near point.

3. Type X
Find-place: Unknown
Collection: Private
Blade-length: 76cms (29&1/2″)
Pommel-type: Petersen’s Type A
Date: 9th – 10th century
Condition: Excavated. Considerable corrosion, especially near to point.

4. Type X
Find-place: Unknown
Collection: Private
Blade-length: 80cms (31″)
Pommel-type: Petersen’s Type X
Date: c.950-1050
Condition: Good, excavated. Considerable pitting.
Publication: Catalogue, Sotheby’s, Nov. 1, 1983, London
These four Viking Swords were sold at Sotheby’s in London on November 1st 1983. Lots 100, 101, 102 and 103.

1. A fine pattern welded blade with a hilt of very early Viking form, if not late Migration Period, decorated with closely-set vertical silver wires inlaid in the iron.

2. This is a most interesting and unusual sword. The fine pattern-welded blade patterns are, alternating, the ‘BLODIDA’ (Blood-Eddy) and ‘ANN’ (like rows of mown hay) of the Norse poetry, very clearly defined. One side (shown in the photograph) has a conventional broad shallow fuller, but the other has no fuller, but close alongside the edge (right side of this photograph) runs a very narrow groove, from the hilt almost to the point. The tang of the blade, as you can see, is offset towards this edge of the sword. THe offset tang and groove near the edge are characteristics of back-edged swords, from the Norse Saxes to 19th century sabres, yet this is an otherwise conventional double-edged blade. About 1cm of the point is missing. The cross and pommel are decorated with strips of gold ribbon, engraved with tiny chevrons, inlaid in the iron of the well preserved hilt.

3. This has a a pattern-welded blade with the ‘ANN’ pattern all the way down the fuller. The pommel is extremely flat in profile.

4. A much plainer sword with an undecorated iron hilt. There seems to be traces of iron-inlaid letters in the blade, but it also looks as if it is pattern-welded. Since, as far as we know from surviving example, pattern-welded blades were never inlaid in iron, so it is difficult to reconcile these two possibilities. The blade is rather heavily corroded and I found it difficult to maker out whether it was pattern-welded or inlaid. But it did seem to be both. This is a good example of an aberrant specimen; but when one considers that though some hundreds of surviving pattern-welded blades have been examined, very many thousands, which are not available for study, were made in the centuries between say AD 250 and 850. So who shall say with honesty that ‘no PW blade was ever inlaid in iron lettering, because I have never seen one.”

X. 14

Type: X (short)
Find-place: Unknown
Collection: Ex D.Acre Edwards. Now Private
Blade-Length: 23′ (58.5 cms)
Pommel-type: H
Cross-style: 5
Date: c.1250
Condition: Excavated (probably a river-find). The blade is good with a little corrosion under the patina. The pommel and cross are of copper, maybe once gilt; but when I handled it in 1961 I couldn’t see any traces. There is a cross patee engraved on the faces of the pommel, and each broadly-splayed end of a the cross guard is engraved with a little grotesque figure, a large round head with legs coming from under its chin, enclosed within a circle with tendrils going back towards the ecusson. The figure is so strongly akin to the ‘Babewyns’ in English manuscripts of the period c.125-1320 that it is inevitable that one should suggest an English origin for the hilt. The blade may of course be alot older. There is in the fuller on each side an inscription of three letters, o s o. Comparison with other sowrds (ie. No. XI.1 here) which have to be dated to the 12th century points clearly to a date c.1125-75 for the blade – a good example of an old blade re-hilted c.1270 plus or minus a decade or so.

Read more: http://sword-site.com



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

Read more: http://sword-site.com/

Bill Blake – Alae Swords


Alae Swords Heavy Infantry Spathion – 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!


Hi All!

So I just finished off another Spathion, this one with a fuller and a characteristically Byzantine down turned cross guard.

A touch over 30 inches long, 1.3kg (2.8lbs), blade width of 8cm (3.14 inches). Peened, countersunk pommel, pommel also rammed on and cold fitted as was the guard.

Handles like a dream, a real ‘hewer’. Makes beautiful sweeping cuts and is excellently balanced for thrusting. Really happy with this one!

Excited to watch the verdigris develop on the guard and pommel!

I did a hand polish on this sword, which I’ve grown really fond of. It’s has a more dynamic appearance, the grain is more alive.

I used Tasman Oak on the grip held in place with two tonne per square inch strength epoxy. The grip was then wrapped in hemp and vegetable tanned goat leather.

All Australian materials and workmanship as always!





Bill Blake – Alae Swords


Read more: http://sword-site.com

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