This is going to be a series of articles on my fascination with bladed weapons. Just something that has been part of not only my life, but is part of our everyday lives. We all have a kitchen and we all have knifes. We also use pen knifes and multi-tools.
Main difference between a tool and a weapon is how the tool is used. A lot of ancient weapons started off as tools with a specific purpose in mind.
The Vikings, for example, used axes as a tool to cut and shape wood, but these are also just as affective against an enemy. Eventually, some of these tools became more specialised as weapons. The Viking axe evolved a bearded drop to the blade which was much more affective at hooking the shield of an enemy and pulling it down, allowing for a fellow warrior to then launch a counter attack.
My fascination with the blade, comes from my dads influence as a child. The first movie I ever remember watching with him was the 1986 movie Highlander. I remember asking about it and he told me they can only die with swords. He also had his own fascination with blades. He had his own pair of curved swords. I also use multi-tools when the occasion calls for them – mainly the pliers or screwdriver function, but occasionally the knife comes in handy.
I will confess that I am also a movie buff and love movies like Lord of the Rings, Conan (original 2 and remake), Alita Battle Angel, Thundercats cartoon and, of course, Highlander (original, not TV series or sequels and don’t get me started on the shit-show that was Highlander 2).
The fact is that we cannot get away from blades. They are part of our daily life and also our culture. Take a look at Lady Justice – scales in one hand and the sword in the other. Even Star Wars features a futuristic version of the sword in the form of the lightsabre.
Away from these areas, we also have Stanley knifes (box cutters), multi-tools and off course, shaving razors. Lets face it – bladed tools are everywhere and there is simply no getting away from them.
In my early 20s I developed an interest in Medieval history, specially the 12th – 13th Centuries and, as you can guess, I have always had a fascination with some of the weapons that may have been used by the Knights or Lords of the middle-ages. I have went to museums and looked at some of the swords in the display cases and wondered who owned them? What did they feel like to wield? How many battles have they been in and how many lives have they taken? How many times did they save the life of their owner?
They were made and used during a time, hundreds of years ago, and in whose footsteps we still follow. Some street layouts and names have remained the same for centuries and have their names given from historical buildings that once stood in that locale.
I live in Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland. Every day I pass a castle that was build by a Knight (Sir John de Courcy) in 1177. This imposing structure still stands to this day and still has scars from its battles throughout history. The town centre still has its original medieval layout, including a local restaurant that was built in at least 1200CE.
With all this history on my doorstep, I often wonder that I am walking in the footprints of history. How many battles took place here?
To get a better idea, I joined a local history and re-enactment group; whilst my membership was short-lived, for reasons I will not go into, it allowed me to experience a part of living history that was otherwise inaccessable.
I have read books about the history of swords and other weapons, but books can only teach so much. Each item of clothing, tool, weapon etc can teach an individual a personal experience that would be impossible otherwise.
When I held a sword in my hand for the first time…it felt wonderful. When I first began to withdraw it from its scabbard, I was able to experience how long the sword was and I just about cleared it. Then there was the weight. Whilst it only weighted little over 1kg, it felt a little heavy and (I am only slightly built) and so I was able to experience a lot of muscle in my forearm working, when I was swinging the sword about. I was also able to figure out how to do that fancy swirly swing that is common in movies when showing off their swords.
To be continued…