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Early medieval Irish sword

PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2008 12:02 pm
by tri
Hi folks,

Came across this piece this morning, might be of interest to some of you. It's the report on the early medieval sword found in the ringfort at Killyliss in Co. Tyrone.
Killyliss Sword 1003.jpg
Killyliss Sword 1003.jpg (88.38 KiB) Viewed 15380 times
Ignore the horseshoe, pulley block and buckle, later medieval and modern...

The blade survives to a length of 34.7cm although both the hilt and tip are missing. It's a parallel sided blade with a 6.3cm taper to the point. It's fullered on both sides terminating just before the point taper. The fullers are 0.7 - 0.8cm wide and 0.15cm deep. The blade has a max thickness of 0.6cm, thinning to 0.4cm in the point which is lozenge sectioned.

X-ray analysis has shown the blade had been repaired at near the hilt at some point and that the point had also been reworked.

The only parallels for this that I know of are the swords from Lagore that date from c. 650 AD. This sword was overlain by a timber that's been fairly securely dated to between 710-970.

Interestingly, it was found in a wattle lined pit enclosed by two gullies which is the only example I know of from an indigenous early medieval site of an enclosed purpose built latrine...sad the things that get archaeologists excited...

Anyway, if anyone wants to know more the report is by Richard Ivens and is published in the UJA 47(1984), 9-35.

Tríona

Re: Early medieval Irish sword

PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 4:56 am
by claimhteoir
Does anyone have any early medieval Gaelic sword pictures? I'm familiar with the 16thC ones, but I'd like to get more acquainted with the native ones pre-Viking era and those used by the native Irish in medieval times that we believed were influenced by Viking swords.

Re: Early medieval Irish sword

PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 4:23 pm
by brendan
I don't have pictures but if you are in Dublin the museum on Kildare street has a display case full of Medieval swords...Or are these the ones you are referring to as later? (which could be the case)...in which case ignore me :D

Brendan

Re: Early medieval Irish sword

PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 4:53 pm
by claimhteoir
Oh, I've seen some swords in Kildare st. Viking age ones and then the late medieval/early modern ring hilt swords too. Are there any earlier medieval native irish-used swords surviving? I'm thinking 600-1300. Anything in that region and I know, it's a fairly large one! :mrgreen:

Re: Early medieval Irish sword

PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 9:11 pm
by the_power
"The Archaeology of Celtic Britain and Ireland" has some photos of finds; Lagore Crannóg turned up a few. Most look to be very similar to the Roman Gladius, though some are a a few centimeters longer than the average Gladius. There are a few smaller single-handed ones, that seem to be inspired by Germanic scramseaxes.

The military signifigance of Swords has always been exaggerated in folklore, and Ireland is no different. Very few swords were in use here as primary weapons, though the annals hold great stock in them, especially the rediculously over-decorated ones the Vikings sold here. There are many mentions of famous swords changing hands, and Halpin reckons some were being passed around as tribute for up to 400 years.

By 1100, the sword had fallen from use among the Nobles; by the late 1100s, the Axe had taken over as the weapon of choice for a showy type.

John

Re: Early medieval Irish sword

PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 9:30 pm
by claimhteoir
Oh cool. Thanks for that John.

Re: Early medieval Irish sword

PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 10:55 pm
by claimhteoir
Well, I found it. p285-288 of the Archaeology of Celtic Britain and Ireland discusses such finds.

Here's a picture of some blades attached...

Re: Early medieval Irish sword

PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 2:27 am
by Freebeard
to be honest, there isn;t much out there on "early medieval" swords.

the one place you should look is Etienne Rynne's "the Classification of pre-Viking Irish iron swords".

good read on Iron swords that are classified as early medieval irish swords

Re: Early medieval Irish sword

PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 4:26 pm
by claimhteoir
Thanks for that! I'll try get a hold of that one! ;)

Re: Early medieval Irish sword

PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 5:28 pm
by brendan
Oakeshotte also talks about swords lasting with changed fittings.

If you are looking for information on typographies of swords have a look here http://www.albion-swords.com/swords/sword-terms.htm
Oakeshott followed on from Petersen
(I havent read the links but Albion are VERY reputable)

Brendan