|not called a longseax for nothing|
- The hilt would have a pommel--this was a high-status item, and the Angles and Saxons of the time would not have been able to resist the opportunity for display. The Anglo-Saxons loved their bling, the gaudier the better. They particularly liked garnets and were very skilled at bringing out their flash and sparkle by foiling the settings. (Gold foil behind a stone really enhances the shimmer of the stone.) When it comes to wealth and hierarchy, subtlety was not a cultural value.
- The sheath (or perhaps scabbard might be a better term for something this size) would most probably have been highly ornamented. If it were leather, it would be tooled and dyed a brilliant colour. It would have metal chape and throat. But I think it's equally likely that with a blade of this size and status the scabbard would have been more like those for swords: wood, covered in (decorated) leather and lined with fleece.
- The scabbard fittings would have been more like those for a sword: this blade is so long that that no one, excepting exceedingly stout giants, could wear it as a normal seax: suspended horizontally from and parallel to a belt. With something this size I would certainly want a baldric. But if I were a stout giant who could only afford plain brown leather, I'd at least put the loops on the other side of the sheath so the blade hung edge-up and so didn't cut it's way out in a week.
Hild leaned back from her half-eaten bread trencher and fingered her black-handled seax. It was a big blade, far bigger than any ten year-old should wear by rights, a slaughter seax.
The seax was handsome, with a black horn hilt, and a blade inlaid with patterns in a silver and copper mix, and hung edge-up in its supple black sheath suspended by two loops parallel to her belt, silver chape to her left. It had a battle edge with a very hard, sharp point. It could open a man's throat, cut twice-baked road bread, or joint a roast.I think of it as a gorgeous but deadly cross between a knife and machete. As Hild gets richer and more influential she may have gussied it up a bit: exchanged the sheath for one of embossed and tooled red or royal blue leather, swapped the silver chape and throat for figured, inlaid gold, put a whacking great jewel in the pommel (she is more fond of blue than red), etc. She's an Angle; tasteful understatement was not her thing. There again, Hild being Hild, she might have enjoyed wearing a stark black killing tool to enhance her reputation. It depends what would have served her purpose most readily. And her purpose changes as she changes.
In the middle of writing this post I realised that I hadn't quite visualised the seax, so I got out my trusty Sharpie:
If we say that Beagnoth's seax is mid-ninth century, that is, circa 850 CE (though as I've said I think it's later), and if we say that Hild's is right around 600 CE (though as I've imagined it was a trophy from a skirmish fought a generation or two before she acquired it, it's probably closer to 580 CE) then that's at 250 years difference, minimum. Consider the change in knife design and production between knives of today and those of, say, 1750 and you begin to get an idea of how vast the cultural and manufacturing gap might have been.
I like them both. I think I might be developing seax acquisition syndrome...
* Anything I got right can be credited to Anglo-Saxons Weapons and Warfare by Richard Underwood (Tempus, 2001). Anything I got wrong is mine, all mine. Hey, I'm a novelist. I make shit up.