Cuda wrote:Hello one and all, i am a new member to this form, and a stray novice reenactor from Australia.
I am trying to gather ideas on Irish arms and amour from early 13th cen so that i can ge a kit together, and get out onto the battle field (after some serious training!)
Sources for Gaelic arms & armour in the 13thC is very very thin on the ground. I can't think of *any* pictorial sources at all, off the top of my head.
The main reason i am posting here is that i saw somewhere online that the Irish of the time were useing 6' axes at the time but the source did not seem as well read on the topic as most of the posts i have seen in these forums.
He's likely right; certainly they were using axes in the late 12thC - Cambrensis says that in 1180 the Gaels made their Norman neighbours nervous by carrying such large axes (handles over a meter...but not likely much more) around towns when they came to visit, much like nobel normans would wear a sheathed sword. Carrying an unsheathed weapon - never mind a axe - in polite company was veru uncouth. There are no descriptions of native gaels using axes that you couldn't carry around on a shopping trip to the nearest Norman settlement though. I spent five minutes flicking through my copy of Expugatio Hibernica, though despite having copious index, I couldn't find the charming descriptions of the gaels in it.
Any info would be great, specificly on what swords, axes, daggers were used by the Irish at the time (25 year bracket either side of the fourth Crusade).
I remember seeing a picture online recently of a mountd Irish worrior wearing what looked, to my inexperienced eyes, a form of short sword sheathed. Suspended on a sword belt, but with another sheath on the outer face of the sword sheath with a dagger in it.
If it's for crusader stuff, I'm not aware of any native Irish interested in going on crusade. It might have happened, but given that Norman invasion only 50 years earlier was somewhat under the cover of correcting the native's idea of christianity, I don't think the pope had much influence here, outside the Norman community. There certainly were Normans who funded their crusade on the back of their Irish estates, I'm sure (no evidence, as I've never gone looking for some). The Knight's Hospitaller founded the Royal Hospital in Kilmanham in 1174. I'd be very very surprised if they weren't at least sending cash and horses out East by the mid 1200s. They were known for farming & raising tithes, and noted for not going on crusade as often as their french brethern would have liked.
The early (late 13thC) gallowglass did use long-hafted axes, maybe up to 2 meters long. I'd read some fiction on some of the highlander nobles who went on crusade..but I don't know how accurate they were. If they went, they certainly would have brought gallowglass with them. So, if you *really* wanted a gaelic persona for any reason, and didn't mind stretching the limits of 'what was possible', you could check out some of the descriptions of the 13thC gallowglass. They weren't really Irish yet - the vast majority were guys coming to Ireland looking for short-term mercenary contracts, to be back in the Isles & Argyll for harvest time. I'm sure some stayed here, even then though.
There are no known 'Irish styles' of swords for the 13thC. You can guess if you want; the scottish islanders had a number of styles in the 13thC that look disturbingly like a viking 3-lobe pommel with a quillion that curved away from the hand. I have no doubts that 13thC Gaelic nobles would have acquired fashionable weapons from France and Spain; but I've no evidence. Due to the prevalence of axe & spear here, it's possible swords were considered quite unusual, perhaps even effeminate. I'm not aware of any specific Irish designs for knives here, until the nasty long pointy scians of the 16thC. Though, someone had linked to some really cool knives of the first millenium a while back. There was a post
a while back discussing medieval Irish knives. Seems "The Archeology of Celtic Britain and Ireland" by Lloyd Laing" has been taken off books.google.com now. Shame, as that's the reason I bought it - it's nice to have an online searchable version of books you've bought.
I had considered doing 13thC Irish kit. In the end, I decided that there just wasn't the evidence, and went for 13thC Hospitaller kit instead. And then got distracted halfway through and finished 14thC hospitaller instead. And have never used it at a gig
John, thinking dumping out every post ever made to these, and looking for URLs, and cataloging them...