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Old 29th August 2021, 03:07 PM   #1
cornelistromp
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Default ANYONE ANY IDEAS? -MEDIEVAL SWORD INSCRIPTION/INVOCATION

some time ago I bought a sword fragment from a Dutch notary house, it was a nice early type, type similar to roms XII.18, and luckily got it at a bargain.
When I picked it up, I was positively surprised, it was a much larger sword as expected with nice brown patina and nicely made.
After I studied it more closely at home, I found faint remnants of an inscription; On both sides of the blade, 12-13 ?characters between two crosses.
Unfortunately one side of the blade the surface is more oxidized and the inscription has almost completely disappeared.
The other side is less oxidized and partially decipherable.

Does somebody has an idea about the missing characters, or does anyone have any idea about the latin? meaning of a particular section of the invocation.
What I can make out of this mission impossible is:
CROSS/F or R/S or G/D/N/I/S/small D?/small V?/X or A/T?/E?/D/X or H or A/CROSS (see attachement)

Sword Oakeshott type XII 1225-1275
OL: 67.5cm
BW at cross: 4.95cm
Cross:19cm
Grip: 12cm ( 1 hand?)
Pommel: H:58mm W: 62mm D:46mm
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Old 29th August 2021, 06:23 PM   #2
Lee
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I wonder if the "DNI" sequence within the inscription of your very nice - even if fragmentary - sword might be related to "In nomine Domini? Being familiar with the relative commonness of various corruptions of "In nomine Domini" in late iron inlaid inscriptions, I asked Ewart Oakeshott if he thought the "DNI" and "DI ... ID" on an Alexandria Arsenal inscribed 14th century sword (image below) might just be an abbreviation for "In nomine Domini." As I recall, he replied pretty much that maybe it was a good supposition, but that we just could never know.
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Old 29th August 2021, 06:50 PM   #3
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I so wish I had met Ewart Oakeshott! I have read many of his outstanding books and am a big fan. It’s a great sword. It must have seen a lot. Pity it’s so hard to see the letters. The sequence could be something like (D)omine (N)ostri (I)esu (but ”In nomine Domini Nostri Iesu Christi” doesn’t seem to fit here).
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Old 29th August 2021, 10:35 PM   #4
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[B]It looks like a River Witham example I read about on the web...
Please see https://blog.puzzlenation.com/2021/0...nd-in-a-river/

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Old 30th August 2021, 12:54 AM   #5
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Thank you for sharing photos of this interesting sword. I find these mysterious inscriptions a fascinating puzzle. While it is true that in most cases we will likely never explain their meaning with any confidence, I think there are many interesting comparisons that can be made on the basis of the content and style of their text.

I think your sword can be compared to several other well-known and/or published examples. Firstly the hilt is very similar to both the River Witham sword (as already noted by Peter Hudson) and the Whittlesea Mere sword.

The last four letters in the inscription might be NEDA, which are the first four letters in one of the Whittlesea Mere inscriptions. This would put it in the "NED" group of inscriptions, which I think is traditionally interpreted as nomine eterni Dei. the additional A could be amen; the narrow, concave shape of this letter can be seen on some other swords. The fact that the four letters can occur as a block at both the beginning or ending of an inscription suggests that they represent an independent, coherent invocatory phrase/fragment. In nomine eterni Dei, amen can be found as a preamble invocation in medieval documents, as seen here:
https://books.google.ca/books?id=AeD...20amen&f=false

The preceding letter which is mostly erased is probably a peculiar uncial version of the letter T, as found in some other sword inscriptions. It has the shape mostly of a letter C, connected to the head-stroke of T, sometimes very small and narrow as seen here.

Once I've had time to review my files, I may be able to offer more observations on the rest of the inscription. I would be very interested to see additional photos, even of the illegible side.

Best regards,

Mark
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Old 30th August 2021, 09:49 PM   #6
cornelistromp
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thanks everyone for the very good comments, especially Mark/Reventlov for filling in the T ,N and A , sounds plausible to me and have indeed seen that T in this form before in a publication of a sword inscription.

so we have now ??DNIS(D or R?)TNEDA

I also made some pictures of the other side, not so easy.
I can't make much of it, there is only 1 cross visible of which one arm ends in a longer curved line instead of a small triangle, further 6 vertical parallel lines, 3 up and three down. a small circle.......
In the Netherlands, more often inscribed and broken 13th century swords or blades have been found I don't really have a theory yet as to why and what exactly the function of this "ceremony" has been.

best,
Jasper
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Old 31st August 2021, 01:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cornelistromp View Post

I also made some pictures of the other side, not so easy.
I can't make much of it, there is only 1 cross visible of which one arm ends in a longer curved line instead of a small triangle, further 6 vertical parallel lines, 3 up and three down. a small circle.......
Thanks for these - a shame this side is in such poor condition!

The cross is distinctive enough, comparison with other swords may provide some leads.

From the angles of the fragments you've picked out, I would guess some N's are present - seems a very common letter in these inscriptions. Then there is maybe the middle section of an E, and the vertical stem of D? So we're back to NED, which would not be surprising to have on both sides.

Double horizontal lines would probably be the crossbar of an A or H. Double-barred versions of these are pretty common.

I have some more ideas about the first side, but need time for more research...

Best,

Mark
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Old 6th September 2021, 12:03 AM   #8
Reventlov
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Based on comparison with other inscriptions, I think a plausible reading of the first side might be RCDNISRTNEDA. The two most relevant comparisons that I've found are swords from Oldenburg and Karlstad.

The Oldenburg sword belongs to the NED group, and also uses the sequence RC. This can be found in a several other inscriptions, in at least two cases as the first two letters.

The Karlstad sword is instead part of the SDX group, this sequence having been recently identified by scholars as sanctus dominus Christus. The sequence RT is used twice, immediately before IS, versus immediately after. The odd uncial variant of the letter T is used again here (not illustrated very clearly), and the cross of the sword is again type 2.

Both swords seem to have incomplete versions of the other's key sequence (SD vs. NE). I think the "inscription groups" that have been identified (NED, DIC, SDX) are not really distinct at all; there are many similarities and shared minor sequences like RT and RC, which probably also refer to certain standard phrases.

Both swords use the seemingly conjoined form of IS that is extremely close (or actually is?) a letter U/V. The crosses are also very elaborate and distinct; is there any chance that similar details are present in the crosses on your sword, Jasper?

Best,

Mark
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Old 18th October 2021, 09:41 AM   #9
cornelistromp
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Sorry for my late response, I'm just now seeing the post.

RCDNISRTNEDA is a big contender and is certainly plausible.
Thanks for your help

The cross has more similarities with the oldenburg sword.
a hatched diamond with stripes in the middle, small pronounced triangles at the end of the arms and arcs at the small triangles. I also see a curl like the oldenburg sword at one triangle.

The cross looks more like the cross of the oldenburg sword but is less stretched.

best,
Jasper
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