Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Norse and Anglo-Saxon Knives - grind profiles

I was short on a posting for this week, so thought I might toss out this tid-bit based on an ongoing discussion from Don Fogg's (excellent) Bladesmith's Forum

Topic: Sword grinding the ancient european way

... Later Anglosaxon pieces had blades that got wider past the handle, adding to the blade-heavy feel...

A good number of the A/S and Norse knives I have looked at have a taper to the thickness of the blade (looking down the back edge) getting thinner from handle to tip. So even with blades wider closer to the tip than at the handle (the classic seax shape) the mass is not as far forward as one might think.
Generally the artifacts are considerably thicker at the back edge than most contemporary blade makers. This is no doubt due to the use of softer wrought iron and almost always much lower carbon content metals than in modern blades. Thickness in the range of 1/4 inch (or more) on a small knife blade is common.

Other readers might be interested in something I started working up - Knives from the Viking Age (based mainly on the finds from York, England)

Its hard to actually find a single volume source for information on Migration Era knives (swords, yes - but just on knives?). I have been working in fits and starts in trying to tie bits from various museums and reports into some kind of summary. One thing that becomes clear when you start looking at a lot of artifacts - the historic knives were generally quite small (at least to modern eyes) with most knives * less * than four inches in blade length.

If readers are interested in the topic in general, search past entries here (use "Viking Age", Knives).

1 comment:

Sean Williams said...

This is really interesting - all that machinery to sharpen a knife! The Vikings had incredible weaponry, and this shows they must have been way ahead of the game during the Dark Ages.


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