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Old 20th April 2015, 05:55 PM   #124
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
[QUOTE=Ibrahiim al Balooshi]Salaams All,

If the Mary Rose sank in 1545 what is the situation regarding the basket hilt which was brought up from the wreckage ...Does it mean that the Basket Hilt is English? pointed out on


Well placed note Ibrahiim , and indeed the basket hilt found on this ship, Henry VIII's pride and joy the "Mary Rose", which sank July 19,1545, does set distinct provenance for these in use in England at that time. The other instance would be the example lost on the 'Sea Venture' off the coast of Bermuda in July, 1609, and is well discussed by Dr. Mazansky in his article published in 1995.

Claude Blair in his "The Early Basket Hilt in Britain" ( in "Scottish Weapons and Fortifications", ed. David Caldwell, 1981)..notes that while the basket guard was certainly in use in Scotland by c.1570s at latest (p.188), there is little corroborative evidence prior to c.1617. He concedes that it remains uncertain whether these complex type hilts evolved in England or Scotland, however he states that in 17th century England, the hilts were typically thought to be 'Highland' in origin.

The excellent reference to the connection to the Norwegian 'Sinclair' sabre with basket hilt is also key. Blair (op.cit.p.190) references the ill fated expedition of Scottish mercenaries who were annihilated at Kringelen in Norway Aug. 26, 1612, and the curious misnomer to the term 'Sinclair' used for these sabres. Apparently Sinclair, was actually a Captain and not in command of the unit, it was actually Lt. Col. Alexander Ramsey.

It seems in other references the use of the Sinclair name was more to politicize the tragic event, and Sinclair was notably connected to an important Scottish clan. Holger Jacobsen (1934) noted there was no indication that these basket hilt sabres were specifically connected to this unit, in fact these were mostly German and Austrian swords on hand for local militias in Norway.

Returning to Blair, on p.186 he notes that the closed hilt or basket guard seemed to have already been in use in England by the 1560s, and the complex nature of the form suggested it had likely been in use there for some time.

It would seem the Mary Rose example well supports this with its established date of 1545, would predate the earliest mention of the 'Highland hilt' in the Inverness Burgh Records (1576) noted by Blair (p.156).
On p.153, Blair cites Holger Jacobsen (1940) who discussed the notable similarity between the construction of the Scottish basket hilt and the late 16th century German sabres with such hilts, proposed by Whitelaw as early as 1902. Jacobsen however included that he felt the hilts were probably of English origin.

To me the ancestry or origin of these famed Scottish basket hilts is not nearly as important as how monumentally distinct and admired they became historically in the hands of the Scottish warriors. Still, these perspectives on their probable evolution remain notably pertinent in comprehensive study of the form.

Salaams Jim, Thank you for the extensive, time consuming and prompt reply to what seemed a rather throw away question but actually one which had puzzled me completely. I entirely agree with what you have noted and in particular your final paragraph. Although 1545 is a deep dive on the basket hilt it is the other aspects of it which are also very interesting. Thanks again for your answer.
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