Djurhamn Sword Measured

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To compensate for our inadequacies, us boy archaeologists like to search for large phallic objects and measure them. The most extreme case I’ve heard of was a couple of colleagues who went looking for the crash site of a mismanoeuvred 14-meter V2 rocket. In my case it’s the 16th-century Djurhamn sword. All 93 centimetres of it.

I checked it out yesterday, taking a lot of measurements (of course including length and diameter), taking pix. My report on this summer’s digging at Djurhamn is nearly finished now, and I plan to write a paper on the past two years’ fieldwork for some annual publication of naval or military history.

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Here are the measurements after conservation, for all you blade fanciers out there.

Total length: 926 mm
Max width across parry-guard: 184 mm
Max blade width: 40 mm
Width of non-edged basal part of blade: 30 mm
Max width of tang: 13 mm
Min width of tang: 10 mm
Length of tang: 82 mm
Length of grip: 155 mm
Length of blade: 771 mm
Length of pommel: 63 mm
Max diameter of pommel: 36 mm
Weight: 829 g
Thickness of parry guard at centre: 22 mm
Thickness of parry guard at end: 6 mm
Max thickness of blade near base: 5 mm
Parry nicks, measured from point: 64, 163, 285, 390 mm


By the way, let me tell you guys that your many comments over the past few days really make me feel there’s a point to blogging. Please keep talking!

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Comments

  1. #1 Felicia Gilljam
    September 6, 2008

    My, that is certainly impressive.

    (I was going to say “Oh, such a pretty sword!” but then thought better of it. I mean, I don’t think “pretty” is the adjective you’re looking for, huh?)

  2. #2 David M. Cvet
    September 6, 2008

    Thank you for the detailed specs on the sword. The most important being its weight. Unfortunately, so many believe broadswords of any kind were heavy objects, but in fact, were quite light and fast.

    It’s difficult to tell from the image, but I wonder if it might be at all possible to extract/locate the smithy’s mark on the blade near the hilt. I suppose the condition of the blade would have caused the mark to vanish some time ago.

    Good job.

  3. #3 Reh
    September 6, 2008

    That would have been a sexy sword back in its day. As an aspiring archaeologist, I can only hope to find something that spectacular someday.

  4. #4 Acai
    September 6, 2008

    That sword in its heyday may have been quite the swashbuckler. Does any one swash buckle any more?

    I think the find is great. It looks amazing still.

    Acai

  5. #5 Martin R
    September 7, 2008

    Felicia, do they say “My, that is certainly impressive” in porn?

    David, sorry, there is no maker’s mark although the sword’s surface is well preserved.

  6. #6 Felicia Gilljam
    September 8, 2008

    Martin, I’ve no idea. I always skip the dialogue.

  7. #7 Martin R
    September 8, 2008

    A friend of mine used to have an unpaid cable bill, which meant that he could listen to the TV shows but not see any of the footage. He had a lot of fun with what was effectively a porn radio.

  8. #8 megan
    September 8, 2008

    what kind of conservation did you have to do on it – electrolysis I assume? Did you use a wax following up? I’d be interested to see a pre-con pic if you had one, it always amazes me.

  9. #9 Martin R
    September 8, 2008

    Electrolysis is considered a brutal conservation method in Scandinavia and is never used. The conservators leached the sword for weeks in a basic solution until all chloride ions had been removed, dried it, cleaned it up with careful mechanical methods and finally sealed the whole thing with microcrystalline wax.

    A pre-cons pic is here.

  10. #10 Bee
    September 8, 2008

    I know virtually nothing practical about swords (except for the swahing buckles and all), and I am, as David above would have predicted, surprised at how light it is.

    I assume there would have been some wrapping, leather maybe, around the grip, or would they have used wood or a metal like copper?

  11. #11 Nomen Nescio
    September 8, 2008

    Bee, the grip would likely have been wood wrapped with something or other. i’m not going to guess a plain leather wrapping, because this piece might just have been too fancy for that, but i’m not sure what might have been used to make it look nicer yet still provide a good grip. metal wire, possibly?

    (i’m not a sword expert either, but i have been known to lust after a good, high-quality modern replica. museum-quality replica sword makers these days get obsessive about recreating old methods as closely as possible, and often brag about their manufacturing details. oddly, most of them would never dream of using period-quality steel…)

  12. #12 Martin R
    September 9, 2008

    A thin tang like that would certainly have been encased in a two-part wooden handle, bringing the thickness up to about 3 cm (>1″). It would have been held together with string or wire and possible covered with leather.

  13. #13 megan
    September 9, 2008

    wow, it was in pretty good condition to start with. thanks for all the info.

    i wonder what the basic solution does to it, i’m learning so much this week :P

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