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Old 13th January 2009, 02:34 PM   #8
Jeff Pringle
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Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 187

Jens – those look a bit pre-Viking to me, I think they stopped throwing stuff in the lake at Nydam around 450AD.

After having a chance to read “Crucible steel in medieval swords” by Alan Williams, it is no surprise to find it is a much more coherent & reasonable article than the Guardian would lead one to believe. That said, Mr. Williams makes a few unsupported statements which I feel should not go by unquestioned. In the section introducing Damascus steel (wootz in this context), he says:
“The blade so formed needed no further heat treatment
to harden it, although some attempts might be made.”

Obviously, heat treating wootz is a big kettle of fish which is full of unresolved questions (hinted at in the end of that sentence), but by saying it does not need to be heat-treated, he sets himself up for this:
“…it would have been very tempting to
try to counterfeit these valuable blades. One way, perhaps,
was by welding small pieces of bloomery steel onto a billet
of iron, and forging that into a blade before quenching it.”

Perhaps? He is talking about the state-of-the-art swordmaking here, THE USUAL METHOD by which swords were made at the time, yet it is put forth as a possible means to counterfit a small number of unusual blades?????
He then goes on to say:
“The sharp edge that could be formed might well deceive the
less discerning customer, but with a depth of only a few millimetres
it would not have survived many sharpenings.”

By his own measurements a few years before, six millimeters, over a quarter inch – I think this is the major blunder from which the other questionable theories have grown. If the Viking period warrior used his sword as often as the modern GI, mercenary or policeman uses his gun, or even if it was twice as often, or ten times as often, that would still equate to ALMOST NEVER, and six mm of hardened steel would last generations- as many swords of the era with much later hilts attest to. Again, it was the usual way to make a sword for almost a thousand years, it seems weird to make it the fake rather than the odd Ulfberhts which may be introducing a new method.
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