the_power wrote: As far as I can tell, most knives until the late medieval are like that - short tangs that are rammed into the handle. Any idea when that started to change ? Did Romans have.. more advanced knives ?
The Romans seem to have used scale tangs instead of whittle/pin tangs from the examples I’ve seen in books. According to Medieval Finds from Excavations in London: 1, Knives and Scabbards by Cowgill, de Neergaard and Griffiths which date from 1150 to 1450AD “…whittle-tang knives not only form the single type found until the early 14th century, but are still the most common type found until the early 15th century. The tang is usually centrally placed on the blade, rectangular or square in section, and tapering towards the point. During the 12th and 13th centuries the tangs normally penetrate only a short distance into the handle, except in a rare example where the elements of a multi-piece handle were threaded onto the tang(No.15). which is therefore the same length as the handle. On later whittle tang knives the tang often extends the whole length of the handle.” The tangs on the knives in Patrick Ottaway’s Angle-Scandinavian Ironwork from Coppergate (which the York Archaeological Trust have recently reprinted if anybody wants a copy) are all whittle tangs. “It is not usually possible to establish the extent to which the length of the handle corresponded to the length of the tang but on 2863 and 2909, where handles survive, the tangs are about three-quarters of the length of the handle. The tang of 2938 extends the full length of its handle and on 2812 and 2898 the tangs project slightly from the handle and are bent over.” What period is the knife for?
So, while working on the handle (copper beech, so it is a white wood, with a lovely purple sapwood in places) I decided to slightly mould it to my hand. It's a big, chunky, comfortable grip. I decided against making it too moulded, for fear it'd end up looking like Rambo's knife, in wood. Were handles personalised? Usually, all we find are blades, as the wood has rotted. Oh, and if you make a tight sheath for it, the little ripples for your fingers make it hard to extract...
The surviving handles on the Anglo Scandinavian blades from York all seem to be oval in cross-section. It doesn’t tell me whether the timbers used have been identified or, if so, what they were.
“Most of the surviving handles are wooden, although they are in very variable states of preservation. Only two, those of 2812 and 2938, are complete, but enough of those of 2898 and 2909 survives for their form to be determined. All four handles appear to have been similar in expanding slightly away from the blade shoulder and having roughly oval cross-sections, although the handle of 2938 is slightly faceted and that on 2812 is decorated with inlaid brass strips. The wooden handles on 2765, 2780, 2857, 2863 and 2895 survive only as vestigial remains adhering to the tang. 2833 has two bone tubes around it’s tang which formed part of the handle, the rest of which is lost.
The poor survival of handles seems at first sight surprising, since wood and bone were so well preserved on the site. Horn, however, did not survive well and it is possible that many knife handles were made of this material. Horn remains preserved in corrosion products have, however, only been found on the tangs of 2760 and 2855.”
Maximum 3 attachments. I'll post the other 2 illustrated handles from York in the next post.
There are a couple of knives with handles, one of which is shaped like a red deer antler tine, illustrated in Patrick Wallaces article The use of iron in Viking Dublin from Irish Antiquities, Essays in Memory of Joseph Raftery, ed. Michael Ryan in figure 3 on page 208 with accompanying text:
“Knives are one of the commonest iron types of all from the Dublin Excavations. ….. Although they came in a variety of sizes, they all had the same basic shape. Lengthwise, the blades taper to narrow tangs from the handle, and crossways they have broad backs narrowing to a cutting edge. They were held in the handle with additional manipulation possible from having the thumb on the shoulder between the blade and the blade back. The cutting edge also has a corner or shoulder known as a choil. Patrick Ottaway categorised the parallel series from Coppergate, York, on the basis of blade-back form. It might as easily been done on blade size. As at York, the Dublin series includes an impressive scramasax type (forms A1 and A2)m while, also like York, few of the Dublin knives had surviving handles. Ottaway’s conclusion ‘that the majority of the [York] knives were probably suitable for a wide variety of domestic and craft tools since, on the bases of all measurements and ratios between them, they form a fairly homogenous group’ is surely appropriate also to the Dublin series’.
brendan wrote:if you are worried about the sheath being tight then put a "thumb" notch in the bit that comes up over the handle. Totally legit.
Brendan, I cannot see any "thumb notches" in Scabbards and Sheaths from Viking and Medieval Dublin by Esther Cameron. When and where was it used?
Bye for now,