This study originally began with a challenge to recreate a specific seax in the British Museum's collection:
The Seax of Beagnoth
The seax ( also known as the sax or scramasax, ) is a single edged blade in use throughout Northern Europe roughly corresponding to the Migration Era and entering into the Viking Age. The size ranges from several inches to full-length swords but is most commonly a long fighting / utility knife, similar in size and function to the American Bowie. It is for this knife that the Saxons are named, and by extension the Anglo-Saxons; a testament to its historical prevalence.
I have since broadened my concerns- I now mean to make a generalized study of the metallurgy inherent to the blades of the period. I will explore the construction of the Migration / Viking Age blade from the smelting process to its decoration, use and capabilities. I will create blades with historically accurate alloy content, physical construction and heat treatment. I will test them to see what various historical methods of construction and heat-treatment produce.
I. Academic / Historical research
A. Survey of available blades.
- General history including time frame & geography.
- Alloy contents.
- Types of construction.
- Types of heat-treatment.
- Types of adornment.
B. Survey of Processes involved in creating a period blade.
- Methods of obtaining / smelting ore.
- Methods of construction.
- Methods of heat-treatment.
- Methods of adorment.
II. Experiments & Exploration.
- Construct a period smelter & refine some typical alloys.
- Explore some typical constructions
- Explore typical heat-treatments.
- Explore typical adornments.
- Explore capabilities & methods of use.
Academic / Historical Research
Resources and Intended Bibliography
Many good articles on the history of the sword with several good sections on seaxes.
Regia's Ironworking Page
Regia's informative page on Anglo-Saxon smelting & smithing.
Regia's Seax Page
Regia's page on Seaxes.
a href="http://www.hurstwic.org/history/articles/manufacturing/text/bog_iron.htm" target="_blank">Hurstwick's Iron Page
Hurstwick's iron page. Good description of bog iron.
University of Bradford.
Further info from University of Bradford with pictures of a very period smelter.
U. of Bradford.
The University of Bradford's excellent photo-essay on slightly later period smelt.
U. of Bradford
Evidence of consistent, high quality Saxon Steel production.
Modern Art-Smelters Lee Sauder and Skip Williams
Great modern studio-smelting resource.
Surveys, excavations and experiments in Tranemo, Sweden.
Probably very close to the smelter I will make...
Altantia's Metalsmithing Links
A great resource of links relating to historical metalsmithing.
Slag and Metallurgy for Historical Archaeologists.
VERY good archaeometallurgical bibliography.
Rolando, Victor, 200 Years of Soot and Sweat. Vermont Archaeological Society, 1992.
A complete study of Vermont's Iron & charcoal industries, including maps of ore-fields.
HR Ellis Davidson. The Sword in Anglo-Saxon England
Richard F Burton, The Book of the Sword. Dover Publications, NY, 1987 (Orig Chatto & Windus, London, 1884)
Ewartt Oakshott, The Archaeology of Weapons: Arms and Armour from Prehistory to the Age of Chivalry.
Ewart Oakeshott, Records of the Medieval Sword. Boydell, Woodbridge, 1991. ISBN 0851155391 hbk 0851155669 pbk
Richard Underwood, Anglo-Saxon Weapons & Warfare. Tempus, Stroud, 1999. ISBN 0752414127
Lang, Janet and Ager, Barry. Swords of the Anglo-Saxon and Viking Periods in the British Museum: A Radiographic study.
in "Weapons and Warfare in Anglo-Saxon England", S.C. Hawkes (ed.), Oxbow books: Oxford England, 1989
Anstee, J.W. and Biek, L. A Study in Pattern Welding in "Medieval Archaeology". 5:71-93, 1961
Verhoeven, John and Clark, Howard. Carbon Diffusion between the Layers in Modern Pattern-Welded Blades, "Materials Characterization".
Volume 41, Issue 5, November 1998, pg 183-191
Agricola, Georgius. De Re Metallica. Dover Publications, 1950.
Theophilus. On Divers Arts. Dover Publications, 1979.
Mircea Eliade. The Forge and The Crucible (ISBN 0-226-20390-5)
F.W. Robbins, The Smith: Traditions and Lore of an Ancient Craft (no ISBN)