Swords

There are many types of Roman swords. The two main groups are the gladii, the short infantry sword, and the spathae, the longer type of sword first used by cavalry and in later times by both infantry and cavalry alike.

Only few Roman swords have been found intact with hilt and (parts of) the scabbard preserved, most are just bare blades, the wood, ivory, bone and even the bronze having perished over time. However, a good portion of hilt parts and scabbard fittings have been found loose in a dated context. So putting together a more or less accurate replica involves a lot of puzzling, trying to match blades to contemporary hiltparts and fittings. The few surviving examples serve as a guideline, sometimes supplemented with evidence from reliefs and wallpaintings.  

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Republican Fontilet Spatha/Hispaniensis gladius

This sword is perhaps a bit of a surprise. The shape of this early Roman sword is normaly called a Hispaniensis gladius, but in the work of Christian Miks, this bladetype is called a Fontilet and classed as a spatha. However, in his classification, it would seem three distinct bladeshapes have been put in the same categorie. The sword when handled does not have the handling of a spatha, the very sharp, narrow and thick point favours it being used as a blade for stabbing. The hilt is done in boxwood, it's shape based on iconography, as no Hispaniensis has been found with any remains of its hilt.

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Straubing/Nydam Spatha, var. Newstead

 

This early spatha, dating from the first century AD, is modelled after the finds of Newstead (Uk) which give the name to this variaty of spatha. These are light, slender swords, very suitable for hewing. The hilt is done in boxwood and based on contemporary hiltshapes, although the pommel was done slightly larger on request. Boxwood is a type of wood greatly favoured by the Romans, most recovered hiltparts are of boxwood.

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Straubing/Nydam Spatha, var. Newstead

This early spatha, dating form the first century AD, has a rhombiod cross section and has tapered cutting edges typical for this type of sword. The blade is modelled after the finds of Newstead (Uk) which give the name to this variaty of spatha. The hilt has been expertly modelled after the complete hilt A25 decribed in Miks by Monica Tielens of Bikkel en Been. The original hilt was done in ivory, it has been reproduced in mammoth ivory found in the toendra of Siberia. The pommel nut is done in bronze.

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Lauriacum/Hromówka spatha

Found in Smardzewizce, Poland, this spatha has a blade of only 60 cm and is dated end of the second century AD. This type of sword has been found with tangs of different length, in this case, the length of the tang suggested a hilt with a round pommel, bone grip and guard, as opposed to others of the same type with shorter tangs, which would have had bootshaped, flatter pommel and guard. The scabbard fittings are contemporary and cast in bronze. The scabbard body is lindenwood, a species indentified in swords of the same date, like the one found intact in Woerden. That sword showed no indication of leather covering of the scabbard.

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Ringpommel sword dated end of the second century. The ringpommel and guard have been forged from wrought iron. The pommel is rivited to the tang of the sword, just like in most originals, after which the grip of lindenwood has been carefuly fitted. The blade has a rhombiod cross section, not very well visible in the picture. Scabbard fittings are cast in bronze. This sword was made for Museum Het Pakhuis for an exhibition.