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: c. 1450-1510
Found: Sorø Lake, Denmark
Total length: 140 cm
Blade length: 76 cm
Ricasso length: 20 cm
Grip: 37 cm
This model is of a late medieval longsword. The sword is an excellent example of the distinctive group of swords which have been classified as subtype XVIIIe by Ewart Oakeshott. While type XVIII was popular across Europe between c. 1410 and 1510, subtype XVIIIe is characteristically considered to be a Danish sword type. Swords of this subtype have predominantly been found within Denmark or former Danish territories – such as Schleswig-Holstein and Scania – but some examples have also been uncovered beyond these regions, such as in Austria. In Scandinavia, most datable evidence for the subtype XVIIIe seemingly dates to between c. 1450 and 1510. These include church wall paintings and, most notably, the sword found on the coffin of King Christian I (1450-1481), all of which indicate that the sword-type should be considered a weapon belonging to noblemen and the upper strata of late medieval society.
The 3D model can be seen below or viewed directly on Sketchfab by clicking here.
The sword has a long and narrow blade with a flattened diamond-shaped cross-section. Although its tip has not survived, it can be inferred from the remainder of the blade that it has been tapered to a strong point, rendering it a formidable stabbing weapon. The blade also features a long ricasso which is narrower than the blade itself and rectangular in cross-section. The ricasso, which is equipped with a fuller to reduce the weight of the blade, makes it possible to grab the sword with one hand on each side of the forward-curving crossguard and make use of half-swording techniques. This entails using the sword like a polearm with an emphasis on stabbing, which is particularly useful when facing an armored opponent where weaknesses in his armour must be sought out and exploited. The exceptionally long tang, however, allows for a variety of grips and hand positions, giving the impression of a very versatile sword. The range of hand positions and the point of balance of the sword, which lies close to the guard, offers the swordsman the possibility of delivering both powerful and sweeping cuts as well as more fencing-like strikes with greater point control. On some examples of subtype XVIIIe swords, the grip is wrapped at regular intervals with iron bands in order to reinforce it and facilitate good handling, thus indicating the location of specific hand positions. Vague traces of discoloration along the tang suggests that this particular example was also once equipped with such bands – either in metallic or organic form – but which have long since corroded away. It is worth observing that the tang of this particular sword consists of two parts which have been welded and riveted together, indicating either a repair or a later adjustment to the length of the grip. The sword sports a pear-shaped pommel (type T5) which is common for this group of swords.
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.