A bibliography on swords and sword construction by Master Magnus Malleus

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Swords-bib - 12/30/01

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

individual authors.

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).

Thank you,

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

From: rmhowe

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)

Metallographer, Lecturer

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 Authenticity List

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

rmhowe list-regia-us at netword.com

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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