It would be amazing to see the story of this person and why they were buried with a viking sword along side their own crusader one.
It ought to be stressed a bit more that the greatsword was not necessarily a crusader sword, just from that era. I believe the jury is still out as to
whether or not this individual participated in the Crusades. From what I read in the article, a few things strike me as interesting which have not
been mentioned. First is that grave goods are an exceedingly rare find in Christian burials, much less an entire panoply of weaponry. For example,
most Vikings were not Christian, and so were
buried with grave goods, but I know of no case even among the vikings that the full panoply of
sword-spear-axe were found in a single grave, as was the case in this one.
My own speculation is that this individual was probably not a Christian per se - or at the very least not a "strong" one - since at that time the
Church frowned upon grave goods as a pagan practice, and paganism was still a open sore to the church, a fresh "danger", to be stamped out. I can
almost see a village priest having a coronary over some cat thinking he'll need a sword in the Christian heaven, much less two swords, a spear, and an
It looks to me more like the grave of a professional soldier - i.e.a "mercenary", which most armies were composed of at the time. The era of "citizen
soldiers" had not yet come, and most fighting men were itinerant professionals, marching towards the sounds of the drums and the clash of steel to ply
their avocation. Now, he may
have participated in the crusades, but I'm not sure who would have paid him to do so. That does not, however,
preclude the possibility of his participation. Going on the evidence of the grave goods, I think it unlikely that he participated out of any sense of
Christian "duty", however - mercenaries fight for money. it's how they eat and keep a roof over their heads.
The presence of the viking sword is interesting. If, as seems likely, it was an heirloom rather than a functional item at that point, having been
burnt, it may indicate descent from a viking. It appears that the fighting trade may have run in this man's family.
Or perhaps it's a viking who took a crusader's sword as a trophy?
Unlikely, as the Viking Era ended a century or so before the Crusades began, and was a mere shadow of it's former self even then.
A big old claymore like that is certainly something worth having on teh battle field. Although as short as the body is claimed to be, it doesn't seem
like it would be very functional.
180 cm, which the article gives as the man's height, works out to just a hair under 5' 11" (5' 10.867"). 120 cm, given as the length of the
greatsword, works out to about 3/4" short of 4 feet. Now, I am 6' 2" tall, just 3" or so taller than this man, and have a claymore that is a bit over
4 feet long which I can sling around fairly handily - i.e., I've yet to get tangled up in it or lop off any of my own body parts with it. It's a
matter of knowing how to work it, which back in that day they had formal schools in the subject, complete with text books which have in some cases
come down to us to this day. From the ground, you work a greatsword somewhat differently than you do a regular broadsword. The blades are generally
dulled for a part of their length to "choke up" on them and use them in a two handed manner, rather than single handed, and all parts of it are used,
rather than just the blade. The handle and pommel, for example, are used to strike as a cudgel, and the cross guard can be used to hook and pull an
opponent off balance for easier dispatch.
With that said, however, greatswords were originally developed for use from horseback. War horses in those days were great big brutes. What are now
called "draft horses", along the lines of Clydesdales and Percherons were originally bred big to bear the weight of a fully armored knight, not to
pull a plow as they are now used for. The greater sword length gave greater reach from up there, and so was not quite the disadvantage one would at
first assume for smaller folks - they actually gave a greater advantage, and let the wielder reach out, reach out and touch someone!
edit on 2013/11/17 by nenothtu because: (no reason given)