EAA Research Consultant
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
I think the reference to the similarity between these volute scrolls in the lower guard of the Dutch hilt and many of the devices between guard plates in the Scottish basket hilts was in accord with comparing possible influences.
Much of the discussion on Scottish basket hilts and their origins and development has always been focused on such comparisons from the early arms writers into present, and the basis for considerable debate. These kinds of questions are much in line with the type of analysis attended to in the excellent work by the late Claude Blair.
Quite honestly, some years ago I had seen the integral 'fluer de lis' elements in these hilts and assumed possible connections to France considering the strong connections between the Stuarts and them.
When the Dr. Mazansky presented his book I was surprised to see these elements actually representing 'rams horns', which I would presume possibly could derive from early Celtic symbolism.
On the other hand, and as has been often maintained, many of the elements may have likely and simply been aesthetic designs which lent well to the basic structure of the closed basket guard. While this is often hard to fathom given the profound symbolism often imbued covertly into sword decoration by the Highland Scots, it remains a distinctly probable circumstance.
Naturally, and has been well shown in the illustrations of other volute scrolls inherent in many Continental hilt forms, these devices have been around since virtually ancient times in art and material culture of many civilizations as they migrated and these diffused widely. If I recall correctly, these volute designs are even seen in remnants of prehistoric cultures.
Returning to the influences of hilt forms between countries, it does seem there were notable connections between Holland and England with sword fashion and elements in the 17th and 18th centuries. This is represented somewhat in "The Smallsword in England" (Aylward, 1945) who includes a number of Dutch examples (a few French as well) and once again recalling the philosophical comment which emphasizes that the styles and forms of weaponry never have geographic boundaries.