Thursday, 6 October 2011

The Sword Saga; Part 1

Chapter 1:       Notung; A Blade fit for a Hero
‘Notung! Notung! Neidliches Schwert !
Jetzt haftest du wieder im Heft ....’

         Richard Wagner, Siegfried (Act I, scene iii)

Some years ago, I decided I would like to acquire a good pattern-welded sword. My existing sword, which I had made myself, (with a little help from my friend Simon Stanley, the Archer) while adequate, was, I thought, inelegant. I thus began a project to comission and complete a high status early Anglo-Saxon sword.

I first approached Patrick Barta of TEMPL in the Czech Republic but there were considerable difficulties, notably price and delivery date. I thus terminated our contract.

Around this time, after some hunting around, I stumbled upon Paul Binns, (of ‘Paul Binns Swords’), who lives in The Fens. I asked Paul to make me an Anglo-Saxon spear with a particular pattern and I was delighted with it. We drove down to Wisbech to collect it, as a 6+ foot spear is an awkward item to post.

I found Paul a kindred spirit in that his work was technically excellent without that ‘sterile perfection’ which blights true reconstructive blade-smithery. Some while later, I took the plunge and asked him to undertake to make me a Migration-Age Anglo-Saxon sword featuring the ‘Serpent in the Sword’ pattern. Paul loves a challenge but this pattern is not the easiest. Time passed and Paul got busier so I suggested I might finish off the sword if he could finish the blade.

So it was that I drove up to where Paul was taking part in a Tudor reenactment and collected the blade. He had produced a masterpiece, the subtle greys and silvers of the steel showing the wyrmfäh I had requested. I drove home much delighted and began to plan how I would finish the sword.


Now it was around this time that the news broke of the discovery of Anglo-Saxon treasure now known as the "Staffordshire Hoard" only a few miles away from my surgery in Cannock. After seeing these amazing martial relics, I decided to finish the sword in the style of the Hoard.

                 ...To be continued....


MylesH said...

How much did the sword fittings cost?

MylesH said...

how much did the sword fittings cost?

Æd Thompson said...

@MylesH. IF you are referring to their value in the context of the 7th century, this is difficult to know precisely. Certainly, with the workmanship involved, the sizable quantity of imported gold and exotic garnets necessary to manufacture such items, they would have been quite valuable, and may often have been given by kings and chieftains to retainers as a reward for good service, rather than purchased. That said, the value of such fittings, as today, pales into insignificance compared with the value of a finely worked blade.

If you are asking about the fittings themselves, I am not at liberty to divulge these details, but would urge you to contact the jeweler; danegeld.co.uk for more information on such work.