For the past few weeks, Rolf Warming (Society for Combat Archaeology) has been working closely with the 3D scanning team from Rigsters with the aim of producing highly detailed 3D models of a selection of arms and armour from the collection of the National Museum of Denmark. The recorded artefacts are dated to the Medieval and early modern period.
The artefacts were recorded by use of photogrammetry with freehand cameras and a semi-automatic rig prototype constructed by Rigsters. The 3D models produced by these photos do not only reveal new details for future research but provide a range of fantastic dissemination possibilities. In this series, we present the 3D models along with an accompanying description of the artefacts. More models will be added to this series as soon as they are complete.
We would like to extend our thanks to the National Museum of Denmark, especially senior researcher Vivian Etting and the student employees, for all their help in this project.
Date: 14th century
Found: Borremose near Remkolde, Sværdborg, Zealand, Denmark.
Length of sheath: 19.5 cm
Length of blade (fragmentary): 11 cm
Our first model is that of a so-called ballock dagger, a name derived from the distinctly shaped hilt which comes equipped with two oval bulges resembling male testes. To avoid any sexual connotation, the dagger type is also commonly referred to as a “kidney dagger” which was a term introduced in the Victorian period. The ballock dagger was one of the five main types of daggers used in the Medieval period and was popular in Scandinavia, Flanders, England, Wales, and Scotland. between the 14th and 17th centuries. It was usually worn within a leather sheath suspended from a girdle and positioned either in front (emphasizing the phallic symbolism) or behind the right hip of the wearer. The dagger was carried in both civilian and military contexts as a close-quarter weapon and was used by all social classes, appearing in both very simple and elaborate formats.
The 3D model can be seen below or viewed directly on Sketchfab by clicking here.
The ballock dagger scanned at the National Museum of Denmark is one of the most elaborate examples of this weaponry type, belonging to the upper reaches of the social spectrum. The wooden handle is equipped with a lobe guard consisting of partly gilded silver fittings as well as a pommel cap of the same material. The flat surface of the pommel cap allows the wielder to apply additional force to the attack by hammering the top of the dagger with the other hand when held in an icepick grip. The pommel cap bears the coat of arms of the so-called Uldsax family, displaying their distinctive symbol of a pair of sheep shears. The name is a modern construct for the family using this coat of arms. The dagger is believed to have belonged to Saxe Petersen (born c. 1310, † before 1377), who, according to historical accounts, is known to have been a squire in 1320 and had knighthood bestowed on him in 1330.
The dagger hosts a single-edged blade with a triangular cross-section with a straight and slanting side. The tip of the blade has been broken off at some point during its lifetime, leaving only 11 cm of the original blade preserved. The blade is contained in a perfectly preserved and highly decorative sheath of partly gilded silver, measuring 19.5 cm in length. The front of the sheath is equipped with a pair of ornate carrying clamps and three coats of arms which are identical to that on the pommel cap. Additional ornamentation can be observed on the lower portion of the spine of the sheath in the form of a bishop’s head, displayed with curly hair and ceremonial head-dress (mitre). The back of the sheath is equipped with five carrying rings belonging to the suspension system.
A number of renders of the model by Rigsters can be found below:
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Rolf is the founder of the Society for Combat Archaeology (SoCA). He holds an MA degree in Maritime Archaeology from the University of Southampton and another MA degree in Prehistoric Archaeology from the University of Copenhagen. His studies have preeminently been on the subject of combat and conflict in the past, ranging from Mesolithic violence to organized state formation in the Renaissance. He has achieved the rank of sergeant in the Royal Danish Army. In addition to this, Rolf is the chief instructor of Weapons Combat Systems, a weaponry-based martial art which he teaches on both a national and international level through classes, seminars, etc.