Friday, April 1, 2011

Gear Pr0n: Hanwei Saxon Sword

Our Odin and Thor worshipping ancestors knew a few things about dealing with the undead. The Scandinavians told stories of revenants they called Draugr. These things didn't often leave the great barrows in which they were buried, and were mostly interested in protecting the wealth and grave goods that had been buried with them. They were still dangerous as draugr had magical powers and superhuman strength. But a stout hearted hero could still use three feet of good, cold steel to finish them off.
Which brings us to the new Hanwei Saxon sword. Based on an actual blade found in England this beautiful modern replica recreates the pattern welding used to forge the original Saxon swords, and frequently used in other fine swords of the Viking Age. This is the weapon of a hero.

The sword is named Saxon because it is reminiscent of late Saxon-type swords, however, high quality Saxon swords often feel into the hands of their enemies, the Danes and Norse, so we can't be certain who wielded the original. No matter, it's a fine weapon whoever smote mighty blows with its edge.

Viking Age swords are one handed and were intended to be used in conjunction with a shield. Parrying was done with the shield, not with the fine blade of the sword. Recent experimental archaeological use (yes, by scholars bashing about with wooden swords and shields) seems to indicate the swordsman was quite active in manipulating his shield. However, it is still unclear how fighting in the typical, close formation of the "Shield Wall" would've changed this. We are pretty sure the common attacks against the Shield Wall were aimed low, under the rim of the shield at the legs and ankles.

This threat is somewhat analogous to the use of these weapons against the modern zombie. The Shield can be used to ward a zombie, and the sword is as effective as it always was at destroying the brain. But a zombie can sneak in under the shield and inflict a bite. So while the sword and shield combination is attractive for the modern zombie hunter, it has its weaknesses as well.

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