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A bibliography on swords and sword construction by Master Magnus Malleus.
NOTE: See also the files: swords-msg, scabbards-msg, leather-msg, knife-sheaths-msg, swordcare-msg, woodworking-msg, wood-msg, tools-msg, lea-tanning-msg.
This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that
I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some
messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.
This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium.
These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org
I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with
seperate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes
extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were
removed to save space and remove clutter.
The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I
make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the
Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these
messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this
time. If information is published from these messages, please give
credit to the orignator(s).
Mark S. Harris AKA: THLord Stefan li Rous
mark.s.harris at motorola.com stefan at florilegium.org
Date: Fri, 14 Dec 2001 14:32:31 -0500
To: - Atlantia
"- Stephan's Florilegium"
- Regia Anglorum - North America
Subject: Making a sword
Melanie Wilson wrote:
> As the greatest keeper of booklists I know ;) have you a list of
> how to books etc on Dark Age swords at all ? - Mel
Okay, this is a mixed reply with a couple of older postings inserted:
Probably the best single article. I obtained it a short while ago:
Anstee, J. W.: A Study in Pattern Welding; in Medieval Archaeology 5,
1961, pp. 71-93, with Plates IV-XVI depicting the welding
experiments and microstructure as well as a finished
reproduction sword, sheath, belt, buckle and chape. Time
and methods of forging and making the components are discussed
as is a special mixture involving pigeon droppings (39.5%
by weight), plain flour (21.5), honey (14.5), olive oil
(2), milk 22.5) - Used 3 1/2 lbs, 1.6kg. Comparison of various
swords, provenances given, good bibiography of comparative work,
diagrams of welding processes attempted.
Piggot, Stuart: Swords and Scabbards of the British Early Iron Age;
Paper No. 1 from the Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society for
1950, Vol. XXVI, pp 1-28, with extensive bibliography.
Davidson, Hilda Ellis: The Sword in Anglo-Saxon England, Oxford, 1961.
The following two I have not seen yet:
Behmer, Elis: Das Zweischneidige Schwert der Germanishcehn
Vˆlkswanderungzeit; Stockholm 1939.
Leppaaho, J.: Spateisenzeitliche Waffen aus Finnland (Helsinki 1964).
Supposed to be quite unusual.
These I have:
Oakeshott, R. Ewart: The Archaeology of Weapons: London 1960.
[Oakeshott, R. Ewart: Records of the Medieval Sword; Paperback,
320pp., ISBN: 0851155669, Publisher: Boydell & Brewer, Inc.,
Pub. Date: July 2001; Edition Desc: REPRINT 306 pages.
Covers Sword styles X - XXII. Covers 1050-1520 AD.]
Has an article (not by him) on making non-pattern welded swords
in it, and things like pommels and guards.
[Oakeshott, R. Ewart: Some Medieval Sword Pommels: An Essay
in Analysis; Journal of the British Archaeological Association
14, 1951, pp.47-62 and plate XXVII, with 27 in text line drawings
of swords, pommels, scabbards from illustrations and sculpture.]
I also have
Oakeshott, R. Ewart: The Sword in the Age of Chivalry; London,
1964, 2nd edition, London 1981.
and his European Arms and Armour.
Scull, Christopher, with many assorted other authors: Excavation
and Survey at Watchfield, 1983-32; Arch. Journal 149, 1992,
pp.124-281. Includes many photographs and drawings of an early
Anglo-Saxon Cemetery and itís inhabitants and their possessions
from the Vale of the White Horse.
Some finds are neolithic to medieval, one is 1700ís
knife handle, other finds include glass and bone beads, brooches,
weapons, shield rivets, handles and umbos, a deteriorated leather
scabbard and a scale case made of leather with scales and weights
and inscription, cauldron bits and fittings, tweezers, knives,
buckles, saucer brooches and oneís construction, ear spoon,
square headed brooches, amber, dress pins, skeletal remains with
analysis, remains of horn handle for sword, electron pictures
of grooves cut in carnelian by a bow drill, reconstructions of
the pattern welded sword blades (similar to Sutton Hoo but not
quite as complex, nine page bibliography. Most things are drawn
and not photographed in the text. Excellent coverage of most
materials and discussions of specific fields of items by specialists.
Siddorn, J. Kim: Viking Weapons and Warfare; Tempus Publishing Ltd,
The Mill, Brimscombe Port, Stroud, GL5 2QG. FP2000 UK,
lSBN 0752414194, 160 pages, 88 line drawings, 31 colour plates,
in English. UK, £15.99 USA, $26.99. (Got an excellent review in
Minerva, Sept/Oct 2000 issue. Minerva is an English world-view
archaeology magazine.) Gee, Imagine that Kim. ;)
Sim, David: Beyond the Bloom, Bloom Refining and Iron Artifact
Production in the Roman World; edited by Isabel Ridge, BAR
International Series 725, 1998, 155pp., published by Archaeopress,
PO Box 920, Oxford OX2 7YH England, printed by the Basingstoke
Press, ISBN 0860549011, available from Hadrian Books, Ltd.,
122 Banbury Road, Oxford, OX2 7BP, England.
"The major part of this work details practical experiments that
replicate the working environment of a Roman blacksmith. The
tools and equipment used were as far as possible copies of Roman
originals. A record was kept of time taken to turn raw bloom iron
into workable iron and the amount of fuel and other materials
consumed. Similar records were made of the times to make Roman
iron artifacts together with the amount of metal and fuel
Various ancient to 16th C. forges, furnaces, hearths, tools,
weapons, etc. are depicted. Examples would be drawplates, a
mandrel / die used to make solid rings for mail, pattern welded
blade, pilum, pole lathe, stylus, hammer head, nails, ballista
bolt head, fire arrow head, bow drill, swages. A three page glossary
and a three page bibliography are included. For some reason the
author also includes quite a bit about firescale including many
pictures of it...
Smith, Cyril Stanley: A History of Metallography. The Development
of Ideas of the Structure of Metals before 1890. Cambridge & London:
M.I.T. Press, 1988. First Paperback Edition (1st = 1960). [xxviii],
297 pp; 110 illus.; 11 tables.
Includes the Merovingian Patterned Welded Sword and various articles
on Damascus blade making and attempts of Europeans to replicate
The Vikings! Norse Film and Pageant Society Books:
Parker, David E., and E. Rachel Lowerson: Anglo Saxon Costume, Arms
and Armour; The Vikings! Society Handbook, 1992, 80pp., Contents:
Section 1). The evidence;
v.) Arms and Armour: a.) the shield, b.) helmets, c.) armour,
d.) the spear, e.) the seax, f.) seax sheaths, g.) swords,
h.) scabbards, i.) axes;
vi.) Adaptations: a.) ninth century, b.) eleventh century,
c.) adaptations for combatant women; vii.) Suggestions
for further reading:
vi.) Arms and Armour: a.) introduction, b.) armour,
c.) the byrnie, d.) alternatives to mail,
e.) the helmet, f.) the shield, g.) the spear, h.) the seax,
i.) the sword, j.) the axe, k.) banners,
l.) missle weapons;
Scott, Russell: Unsheathing the Dark Age Scabbard, The Medieval Scabbard
in Manuscript Art and Archaeological Finds; No date, 56 page,
Good luck getting these. Took me two years through an intermediary.
Norse Film and Pageant Society / The Vikings - on the web.
REALLY slow on responding to inquiries - if they do at all.
Ward Perkins, J B.: London Museum Medieval Catalogue 1940. Anglia
Publishing, 1993. Catalogue of the wide-ranging collection:
weapons, tools, horse furniture, pendants, keys, purses,
weights, lighting, household utensils, plate, pottery,
tiles, pilgrim souvenirs, buckles, chapes, figures, wood,
bone, ivory, glass, pipeclay, whetstones, seals. 322pp,
illustrated boards, profusely illustrated
with photos and drawings. New. Book # 16 £24.50 (approx. $38.89)
Anglia Publishing , Unit T, Dodnash Priory Farm Hazel Shrub,
Bentley, Ipswich, United Kingdom , IP9 2DF Phone 01473 311138
/ Fax 01473 312288, anglia at anglianet.co.uk ('99)
Evison, V: Anglo-Saxon Finds near Rainham, Essex, with a Study of Glass
Drinking-horns; Archaeologia 96, 1955. 38pp, 12figs, 11b/w pls,
pp. 159-98 and plates LIX-LXX, last plate is the Torrs Chamfrein
which uses drinking horn ends as horns. A-S Square-headed brooch,
glass whorls, girdle hanger, coopered bronze-bound drinking vessels,
diagrams of pattern welded swords, shield bosses, pottery cups (4),
spearheads, round mouthed pitchers, pots, gold pendant, 36 views
of mostly different drinking horns.
Grove, L.R.A.: Five Viking-Period Swords; Offprint from the Antiquaries
Journal, July 1938, Vol. XVII, No. 3, pp.251-7, depicts scale
drawings of four swords from the Mouth of the River Kennet;
Reading; Tilehurst, Berkshire; Twyford, Berkshire; and Tenfoot
Bridge, Shifford; with a drawing and photograph of a sculptured
sword in scabbard from Ebberston, N.R. Yorkshire, north wall of
Chancel, scaled. Scabbard appears to be leather covered, with
four incised lines down most of the side, a diagonal strap
running about and inch and a half wide from two to three inches
down from the scabbard mouth which has a Y shaped decoration
or tie between the strap and the mouth. The chape appears to be
a simple wrap-around metal piece in an I shape with the cusps of
the I wrapped a bit around front and back.
Kolchin, B.A., Wrote a book on russian medieval metalwork that
I have yet to obtain a hardback copy of that included information
on blade welding, can't recall swords specifically. Most of his
work concerns Novgorod.
Artsikhovskii, A.V. & Kolchin, B.A. (eds.): Trudy Novgorodskoi
Arkheologicheskoi Ekspeditsii. Tom II. (Materialy i
Issledovaniia po Arkheologii SSSR. 65.) Moskva (Izdatel'stvo
Akademii Nauk SSSR), 1959. 362, (2)pp. Prof. illus. Lrg. 4to.
Novgorod 1958 Volume II Iron and Steel by B.A. Kolchin,
Weapons A. F. Medvedev, Leatherwork and Shoemaking by S.A.
Izyumova, Metal articles of dress and adornment by M.V.
Sedova, Seals, Agriculture.
Books by Jim Hrisoulas
This guy has written several books on forging blades and doing
damascus forging. I don't have the last one. He has a Phd in
metallurgy and is a professional bladesmith.
I have The Master Bladesmith and The Complete Bladesmith.
Dr JP Hrisoulas jhrisoulas at aol.com (Dr JP Hrisoulas)
Author: The Complete Bladesmith, The Master Bladesmith,
& The Pattern Welded Blade
LtC NVDoM, http://www.Atar.com
This guy is an OLD SCAdian and is known as Master Atar in the SCA.
7 Jun 01 From: rmhowe
Real Wootz / Damascene / Damascus Steel
A few days ago I got a bit diverse in one of my discussions on
the Medieval-leatherworking list and mentioned that it was only
in the last twenty years that the Medieval Wootz of the type
that once travelled the India to Damascus route had been
rediscovered after about 150 years of European attempts at
Someone requested that I ramble on a bit. As I generally have
documentation for my opinions (but not time to find it usually)
I shall give you lucky other people some sources to research it
yourself. Assuming this means anything at all to you. If it
doesn't then I apologize for wasting your time.
I have about fifty large folders on diverse subjects besides
the library. Fortunately I had the time at one time to put a
number of articles into a couple of fat ones on knives and
swords. These are taken from various magazines and sources.
The ones from the last few years are not separated out and
filed so I shall not be messing with them. They're in stacks
of magazines mostly. I suppose it could give you an insight
into how well I follow my interests...
Easiest found will probably be:
"Damascus Steels" by Oleg D. Sherby and Jeffrey Wadsworth
in: _Scientific American Volume 252: pp.112-115, February 1983_.
This is a general history with illustrations of enlarged steel
microsection, a Persian Scymitar, and an illustrated method of
the production of wootz steel.
In their citations they give:
_A History of Metallography_ by Cyril S. Smith.
U of Chicago Press, 1965
"On the Bulat - Damascus Steels Revisited
by Jeffery Wadsworth and Oleg. D. Sherby
in: _Progress in Material Science, Vol. 25, pp.35-68.
1980. A Bulat is the cake of wootz steel.
"Damascus Steelmaking" by Jeffery Wadsworth and Oleg D.
Sherby in: _Science, Vol. 218, No. 4570, pages 328-9,
October 22, 1983.
Jeffrey Wadsworth (at least at that time) was professor of Materials
Science at Stanford, and Wadsworth later went to work at Lockheed
Aircraft's Research Laboratory. What started them on their quest in
1975 at Stanford was a search for superplastic steels, ones with
grain 200 times finer than commonly machined steel for use in
forming steel and then cooling it - thus making it stronger in use,
quicker to make, and cheaper to produce - gears and engine mountings
for example. They didn't realize what they had reproduced was
Damascus until a listener at one of their lectures informed them
and they subsequently researched it. They obtained a patent in
1976 for the material.
This is again written up in:
"Rediscovered - Supersteel of the Ancients" by James Trefil in:
Science Digest - February 1983, pp. 38-40 and p. 108. This discusses
their earlier findings of rolling out the steel at 2050 degrees
F, and working it at 1200 degrees F. There is also a bit of folklore
in this article, quenching in a live Nubian or urine are mentioned.
This later also showed up in an Associated Press Article by
Michelle Locke "Damascus Steel may have resurfaced" that I didn't
record the date of. This one mentions the above two researchers,
but adds another pair of similar questors - Florida knifesmith
Al Pendray and Iowa State University metallurgist John Verhoeven,
who used more traditional methods. This mentions a mixture or
Iron and possibly milkweed as ingredients in the crucible.
A somewhat better article that mentions the later pair appeared in
_Blade_ Magazine in August 1992, pp.52-5 & pp.96-7 & 100 entitled:
"Breakthrough - How the Ancients Made _Real_ Damascus" and
which _I_ take to be more authentic than laboratory conditions
and modern rolling mills. The article was by Al Pendray, a
famous master bladesmith, and W.E. Dauksch, and J.D. Verhoeven.
(It also mentions the publication of a book called _On Damascus
Steel_ by Dr. Leo Figiel, which was then available for $37.50
from Blade, POBox 22007, Chattanooga, TN 37422, USA.) This contrasts
the two techniques, the industrial one, and the small scale one,
involving crucibled steel, which has also been patented. It's
fairly well illustrated and includes further citations in
journals by Wadsworth and Sherby.
I know that I have seen further articles on Pendray and Verhoeven
since then refining their technique yet further. Pendray was
mentioned earlier in an article in Blade Magazine July-August
1987 called the Wizard of Wootz by Daryl Meir, and earlier yet
in Blade Magazine September/Oct '82 by Meir again in an article
Entitled Damascus Steel - Wootz Revisited. In this article
Robert C. Job of Hawthorne, NJ, USA is working with Al Pendray
and Stephen Swertzer of Williston, Florida. Mr. Job is the
principle subject of this article though and he has a further
method for producing crucibled wootz steel, also patented.
Pendray and Verhoeven are the people I associate with true
modern Damascus, but that is a personal opinion.
Meir also wrote an article on entitled "Damascus Steel - A
Definition" in Blade Magazine, July-August 1982, in which
he tries to set forth an accurate description of what should
be considered true damascus steel, contrasting it's historical
methods of manufacture with the modern imitations. I don't
know how many readers of this actually read Knives Illustrated
or Blade Magazine but there are a couple of dozen ways to
make modern damascus involving state-of-the-art modern,
very high technology methods. Most modern jewelers have very
little at all on some of the modern blade artisans, there
probably isn't a technique or material in jewellery or machining
they aren't exploring or haven't explored. I get Lapidary
Journal and some other gem and metalsmithing magazines and
I can tell you there is one hell of a high state of art done.
Smiths can literally spell their names or logos or other artworks
clear through the steel - multiple times using various methods.
Mixing nickel and steel, or using steel cable, or using steels of
mixed carbon content is not the same thing as using wootz steel,
nor is wootz made the same way, or forged the same way as it's
more modern imitations that use the name Damascus.
An earlier article on "The Manufacture of Mediaeval Damascened
Knives" by J. Piaskowski appeared in the Journal of the Iron
and Steel Institute, Vol. 202, July 1964, pp. 561-8. This
investigates the manufacture and pattern in medieval European
imitations of Damascus steel in Poland. An interesting thing
in this article is the cross sections, and a newly ground,
polished and etched side of one knife showing that the Polish
knives had damascene patterns on the upper fatter portion of
the knives (which in at least one instance was very pretty),
and a higher carbon edge of uniform steel welded on below it.
In _Science_, Volume 216, No.4543, 16 April 1982, pp 242-3
Cyril Smith of M.I.T. discusses the historical methods and literary
history of imported Damascus in the west - citing Giambattista
della Porta, in _Magiae Naturalis XX_, 1589, London english
translation, 1568, and Joseph Moxon's references to it in
Mechanick Excercises, London 1677, describing it's working
properties at a blood red heat, its highly prized properties
as punches, and how it would crumble at higher heats. He also
references his own work - History of Metallography- and others
specifically Breant (1820's)and Faraday.
In _Science_, Vol. 218, no. 4570, 22 Oct. 1982 Sherby and
Wadsworth dispute Smith's claim that properties of damascus
steel were well known in the 19th century.
Apparently the 1980's were a hot time in the steel re-discovery
field. Three patents at least.
An interesting history of Damascene steel may be had in an
earlier work "Damascene Steel" in _Journal of the Iron and
Steel Institute, Vol. 97 pp.417-37, 1918. The author traces
numerous oriental techniques and says the process extends
centuries back before Christ. Gives a nice long historical
I've entirely left out the imitation damascus steels and
their widely varied methods. They are indeed awesome, but
they are not wootz. (This in no way means any disrespect to
Dr. Hrisoulas, metallurgist PhD, master bladesmith. I own
two of his books, but not the one on Patternwelded Blades.
Jim Hrisoulas is known as Master Atar in the SCA and well
respected for his knowledge.) It is only considering the
rediscovery of wootz by various modern others.
[Regia-NA] Replication of Sutton Hoo Sword book 12 Jun 01
One of the recent aquisitions to my library was:
"Modern Replication Based on the Pattern-Welded Sword of Sutton Hoo"
Engstrom, Robert; $8.00 plus shipping. Paperback.
from: http://www.borders.com/ Borders.com customerservice at borders.com
customerservice at borders.com or call us at 1-800-770-7811.
This concerns replicating the Sutton Hoo Sword blade only which
was a complicated piece of work. It ended up displayed in tandem
with the original in the British Museum.
The other article I have on this is in the Knives '90 annual.
It makes very interesting reading. The sword is pattern-welded
with differing patterns on either side of the blade.
Master Magnus Malleus, OL, GDH, Atlantia
© R.M. Howe 2001.
***May be reposted to closed email discussion groups within
the re-enactor circle, but not to open newsgroups, such as
the Rialto - rec.org.sca, or to the SCA-Universitas list.
Those desirous of republication in a newsletter should contact
me. Inclusion in the http://www.Florilegium.org/ is permitted.***
From: atlantia-admin at atlantia.sca.org
Sent: Friday, December 14, 2001 2:33 PM
To: - Atlantia; - Stephan's Florilegium; - Regia Anglorum - North
Subject: [MR] Making a sword
Melanie Wilson wrote:
> As the greatest keeper of booklists I know ;) have you a list of
> how to books etc on Dark Age swords at all ? - Mel
I bow to the great Master Magnus, Bibliophile, whose shadow I most
humbly and respectfully stand in... If I may be so bold as to add one
other book to this incredible list:
_The Celtic Sword_, Radomir Pleiner with contributions by B. G.
Scott. Clarendon Press, Oxford. 1993. ISBN 0-19-813411-8
Contents: 1) The Origin of the Celtic Long Sword in Early Europe, 2)
Styles of Combat Among the Celts, 3) Notes on the Archaeology of the
Celtic Sword, 4) The Characteristics of the Celtic Sword, 5) How the
Long Sword was Made, 6) Metallographic Examinations of Swords From
Czechoslovakia, 7) Metallographic Examinations of Other La Tene Period
Swords From Europe and the British Isles 8) Techniques of Sword
Manufacture, 9) Battleworthiness
I hope this information isn't too early period for you. It's a great
Your Humble Servant and Magnus-Wannabe, :)
Gawain Kilgore / Gregory Stapleton
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