Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Dublin Seax

I have been looking to add a traditional Seax to my medieval collection and discovered an unique design available at The Medieval Shoppe based in Australia.

Called the Dublin Seax it is a reproduction of a seax from the late Viking era.  With an overall length of 19" (47.5 cm) it is a substantial blade and falls within the midrange of historical seaxes. It could easily be used as both a camp knife and a warrior's sidearm.

The seax was a traditional knife used by Germanic peoples during the Migration period into the early Medieval period. They varied in length but usually were of the broken back variety of utility blade with a steep descending angle from the spine towards the tip. In regards to the Dublin seax the broken back is less acute with more of a Bowie knife style of point. 

This reproduction also features a pommel made of solid brass and adorned with Celtic knotwork. Not sure if it is based upon a historical example but pommels were not typically found on seaxes. I did notice that the pommel seems offset and not centered on the handle. Either an assembly issue or more probably by design....the offset enables a more comfortable hand shake grip that offers better point control. The false edge along the spine is also sharpened about three quarters the length of the blade. That is unusual for a utility seax but probably not for a weapon designed for combat. Swords were prohibitively expensive during the Migration/Viking period and most Germanic/Norse warriors opted for spear, axe and seax which were far easier and cheaper to manufacture.

The handle is comprised of a very nice hardwood and swells towards the brass guard (or lack thereof) resulting in a comfortable grip.The Dublin seax comes with a well constructed leather sheath in the traditional duel strapped style so it can be worn on a belt horizontally above the groin or lower back.

Whether it is a historical copy or not belays the fact this seax is a well constructed reproduction. Fit and finish is very good considering the price. It possesses a substantial, non fullered, carbon steel blade that comes moderately sharp and feels well balanced in the hand. 

Online ordering from The Medieval Shoppe was easy and the seax arrived well oiled and packaged. Shipping was high but it was sent air and arrived fairly quickly having travelled to Canada. Our dollar is slightly higher than the Aussie dollar so it was nice to not have to factor in paying more in exchange as with the USD or Euro.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

12th Century Enclosed Helmet

 Picked up a primitive great helm otherwise known as an enclosed helmet to add to my medieval armory collection. Produced by GDFB ( Get Dressed For Battle) the familiar flat top crusader style helmet is made of 14 gauge steel, lined with a leather suspension system, weighs in at about eight pounds and is WMA authorized for combat sport.

The enclosed helmet first appeared around the end of the 12th century after Norman nasal helms began to evolve with added face protection and a square profile. In retrospect the cylinder flat top profile seems counter intuitive and a step back from the conical deflective properties of spangenhelms but became the dominant helmet design of the high middle ages with sugar loaf and great helm versions being used into the 14th century.

Typically worn with a padded cap and chainmail coif the enclosed helmet was probably developed in response to the use of heavy lances by armored knights and massed archers upon the medieval battlefield. Often they were discarded once in a melee due to restrictive peripheral vision and lack of ventilation. That said the tight fit of the helm does place the wearer's eyes quite close to the vision slots which results in surprisingly decent sight lines. The ventilation holes also aids in downward vision. In later variants of the great helm often secret helmets or cerve!lieres were used with mail coifs for head protection once the great helm was removed after the initial cavalry engagement. The biggest issue may well be the lack of hearing and the prodigious weight of the cap, mail coif and helmet ensemble. Medieval knights must have been quite fit, strong and well muscled to function effectively on the battlefield.

Used by famous martial orders such as the Templars, Hospitallers and Teutonic Knights and, of course, recognizable as the black knight's helmet of choice in Monty Python's satire Quest For The Holy Grail the flat top helmet became an iconic symbol of the middle ages.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

English Longbow

With an apparent early Spring and some unseasonal warm weather of late I had the opportunity to test my latest bow acquisition - a hickory longbow purchased from EBay vendor KP Archery this past winter. With an eye for reenactment I wanted a ELB that looked medieval traditional but was also functional. This simple but well made bow fit the bill perfectly. A self bow of American hickory it is 72 inches in length pulling #45@28 and came unfinished with a simp!e Flemish twist string.

I was familiar with KP Archery's products as my first bow was a flatbow purchased several years ago which I still possess and continue to use. It has been bomb proof so I had no doubt the ELB would not disappoint but I was anxious to loose some arrows as soon as the weather permitted.

A sanding and several coats of marine urethane later the bow was ready to shoot. I added a simple jute twine grip to complete the look and then waited for Spring.

This is a very nice basic D bow that complies to the specifications of the ELB society, albeit more of a Victorian style longbow due to its low poundage. It is certainly not a war bow but does look the part quite nicely when matched with medieval style arrows. Not just looks though....the bow shoots nicely with very little hand shock. It draws well with no stacking at 28 inches and it only began to get difficult at about 31 inches of draw. Sends the arrows down range at a decent velocity. This is a fun bow to shoot, perfect in it's simplicity, and affordable at $68 USD. If you are looking to get into traditional "off the knuckle" instinctive archery or want to participate in historical reenactment or larping this is a great economical option.