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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Mon 02 Aug, 2004 1:56 pm    Post subject: Kern Darts         Reply with quote

I've seen some (very few) modern and period artistic depictions of the darts or javelins the Irish Kern carried. Has anybody made replicas of these weapons? Does anybody have museum photos, contemporary drawings, stats or additional info about them? I'd like to make a few of these, but don't really know where to begin.

Thanks!

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Matthew Kelty




PostPosted: Mon 02 Aug, 2004 2:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Most descriptions I've encountered had them between 3 and 4 feet, with leather fletchings. I've found less accounts than I'd like for their construction, most people tend to focus on the fantastic wailing they make when flying overhead (the Irish loved making those English cringe in the night... Happy

The reenactors I work with just use a simple bronze or steel head (pyramid shaped) on an Ash (or hickory for cost savings) dowel about 3/4" in diameter, with two or three leather fletchings about 2 inches tall, and 4-6" long.

I'd love to hear what else people have found out there.

Matthew
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 03 Aug, 2004 6:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Fascinating! Thanks for the reply. Are the heads used by the reenactors socketed? I'm imagining something like a bodkin arrowhead. Is that something like what you're describing or are the heads more like short, pyramidal butt caps?

There's a contemporary depiction of one of these weapons in a painting included in the Osprey Irish Wars book. It's long, though-over six feet-and may be a spear rather than a dart. The top of the weapon isn't shown, but there's a pointed iron cap covering the end of the shaft resting on the ground, and a leather thong with finger loop at mid-torso level. The entire weapon isn't included in the original portrait, and without being able to see the top of the shaft it isn't clear whether the part shown resting on the ground is the business end or not.

The image below is a modern rendering of the contemporary painting from the same book, and the artist seems to have guessed that in the original the head is held down and there is nothing more to be seen at the top of the shaft (including fletching). Some of this artist's other interpretations in the book are questionable, so I'm not sure how trustworthy his interpretation is here. All that can be said with certainty is that his depiction of the lower half of the weapon is exactly as shown in the the original painting. But is this a dart, and if so, which end are we looking at?



 Attachment: 110.01 KB, Viewed: 5885 times
dart.jpg


-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Allen W




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PostPosted: Tue 03 Aug, 2004 7:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is portrait of Sir Neill O'Neill that was painted in about 1680(pg.138 of Arms and Armor of the Samurai by Bottomly and Hopson) that shows the O'Neill about to cast such a dart and an attendant carrying four more. These are about 4' long with shafts tapering from butt to point and small,barbed, bronze heads. They have no fletchings though finger loops as illustrated in your post are present. These loops are tied very close to the butt end of the shaft (maybe 8" from the butt).
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 03 Aug, 2004 7:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks! If enough people post with this kind of info I may be able to triangulate on the actual appearance of the weapon. Maybe there were different types, too.
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 03 Aug, 2004 12:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey, Matthew-got any photos of your Kern reenactor friends? I'd love to see how they're interpreting the other weapons, shields and accoutrements.
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Matthew Kelty




PostPosted: Tue 03 Aug, 2004 12:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I can't seem to spot any with the darts in them, but here is a gaggle of pictures of them through the years. They portray both Scots and emigrated Irish, so there are Kern out there, but for the most part you'll see Scots:


http://www.geocities.com/Broadway/Balcony/2320/FAIRPIX.HTM

http://www.geocities.com/Broadway/Balcony/2320/fairpix99.html

http://www.geocities.com/Broadway/Balcony/2320/FAIRE01.HTM

http://www.geocities.com/Broadway/Balcony/2320/FAIRE02.HTM

http://www.geocities.com/Broadway/Balcony/2320/BATPIX.HTM

http://www.maccolin.com/latest/index.html

Enjoy... Happy

Matthew

P.S. I miss the good old days of swinging around Tetanus-On-A-Stick... Happy
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 03 Aug, 2004 1:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for those! Love those Jeddart staves....
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Matthew Kelty




PostPosted: Tue 03 Aug, 2004 2:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Whoah! Hold the phone! You just used the words 'Jeddart staves'... Happy

That is the term that I first learned, and it came from the MacColin folks in Southern California (the group pictured).

In my research, however, I'd never found that term. The closest weapon and term I did find was a 'Jedburg Axe' in 'Weapons: The Diagram book'.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0312039514/re...eader-link

It is the topmost polearm in this display:

http://www.long-sword.com/images/Royal_Armour...s_051.html


At any rate, I'm curious where you picked up that term, as I'd love to follow up on it's etymology.

Thank you,
Matthew
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 03 Aug, 2004 2:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's a pronunciation issue. As I understand it, the town of Jedburgh is commonly pronounced "Jeddart," so the Jedburgh staff or axe is the same thing as the Jeddart staff or axe. One name reflects the actual spelling of the town name, while the other is simply a phonetic rendering of the common name.
I once ran across the English name Featherstoneaugh and later learned that it's pronounced "Fanshaw". Strange language, English.
Whatever the name, there seems to be general confusion between this weapon and the Lochaber axe and bardiche.

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)


Last edited by Sean Flynt on Tue 03 Aug, 2004 2:28 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Matthew Kelty




PostPosted: Tue 03 Aug, 2004 2:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mystery solved, thank you... Happy
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Stephen Wittsell




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PostPosted: Wed 04 Aug, 2004 4:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey Guys,

I found a reference in a historical novel to a Scottish weapon called a gaveloc, desribed as "an odd sort of staff,
forked and iron-clad at one end, pointed and iron tipped at the other". I've looked around but all I can find are
definitions from the dictionary saying its a spear or dart and a Scottish crowbar or lever. As I have an interest
in spears and staves I'd sure like to find a picture of this one. Can anyone point me in the right direction?


Thanks,
Steve

There are very few personal problems that cannot be solved through a suitable application of high explosives.
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Matthew Kelty




PostPosted: Wed 04 Aug, 2004 9:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

None of my books have a mention of anything like that. What was the novel, and what is the context of it? Region/Era?
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Stephen Wittsell




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PostPosted: Thu 05 Aug, 2004 9:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The book is called Bone Peddler by Sylvian Hamilton. Mid to late 13th century. In context, it was a description by the protagonist of arms and acutrements strapped to the saddle of a Scottish Knight after he helped them out in a skirmish. I wouldn't say the book is completely historically accurate but it is one of the best stories I've read in awhile. As I said peviously, I did find a definition of the "gaveloc" as a spear or dart so I'm figuring it is an historical implement. I was intrigued by the name but couldn't find a picture.

Steve

There are very few personal problems that cannot be solved through a suitable application of high explosives.
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Matthew Kelty




PostPosted: Thu 05 Aug, 2004 9:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Digging into the etymology a little, it looks like Gaveloc has a pretty widespread past. It can trace it's roots back to no less than 6 different possible roots:

\Gav"e*lock\, n.
Old English gaveloc a dart, AS. gafeluc; cf.
Icel. gaflok
Old French: gavelot, glavelot,
French: javelot,
Irish: gabhla spear,
Welsh: gaflach fork, dart,
English: glave, gaff

1. A spear or dart. [R. & Obs.]

2. An iron crow or lever. [Scot. & North of Eng.]

It looks like the older references involve the Dart or Javelin, and it carried forward into the modern era as a regional term for a crowbar. I'd be tempted to say that your Gaveloc is the same thing as our "Irish Dart", we've just never heard the Anglicized version of the Gaelic 'Gabhla' before.
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Stephen Wittsell




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PostPosted: Tue 10 Aug, 2004 5:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sorry to leave the thread dangling so to speak. The infernal machine was down for a few days.

Thanks for the info Mathew. Looks like only the Welsh refer to the forked part. That was the bit that intrigued me. I was wondering if it was something like the Gae Bulga, the legendary spear of the Irish Hero of Ulster, Cuchulain. I always loved the saga of the Red Branch.

Just Wondering,
Steve

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Matthew Kelty




PostPosted: Wed 11 Aug, 2004 9:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Stephen, thank you for such a fun and odd thread... Happy

I'm still trying to find how 'Gae Bulga' was actually spelled in Gaelic, as well as see if it's etymological roots share those of 'gabhla' (pronounced 'Gav-Lah', I think...), and then also the origins of the Welsh word for 'fork'.

Normally I wouldn't bother, but where I'm intrigued is that in one translation, 'Gae Bulga' is mentioned as being launched:

"...and from between the fork of the foot it was cast; the
wound of a single spear it gave when entering the body, and
thirty barbs had it when it opened and it could not be drawn
out of a man's flesh till the flesh had been cut about it."

With the Welsh 'gaflach' having the only direct translation to fork, and 'gavelock' being a Scottish colloquialism for a crowbar, I'm wondering if these words have a common root, a Homonym between 'javelin' and 'fork', or if the adventures of Cuchulain predisposed it's cultures to associating 'gabhla' with the way 'Gae Bulga' was released, forever binding Javelin/Dart/Fork together in weird ways... Happy

Curiouser and curiouser.... Happy
Matthew
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Sean Flynt
myArmoury Team


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PostPosted: Wed 11 Aug, 2004 11:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A point of clarification about the image from The Irish Wars...
As far as I can tell, the Irish horseman's lance was also referred to as a javelin but was longer and heavier than the true darts. Another plate in the book shows a horseman with both lance/javelin and darts. The darts are significantly shorter, unfletched and with barbed heads. So, I suspect the image of the gentleman above shows a lance rather than a dart.

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Matthew Kelty




PostPosted: Wed 11 Aug, 2004 11:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

"So, I suspect the image of the gentleman above shows a lance rather than a dart."

I think you're dead on. I was thinking it was a lance as well, but the descriptions offered of the finger loop led me to doubt... Happy

So, have we maybe hit the conclusion that it's about 4 feet long, usually with a barbed head, a leather loop about 8 inches from the rear, possibly called a 'gabhla' in Gaelic, which becomes 'Gaveloc' in English?
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Sean Flynt
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myArmoury Team

PostPosted: Wed 11 Aug, 2004 2:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sounds like we're getting warmer, especially since "forked" could easily be interpreted as "barbed." Plus, if horsemen DID carry both lance and darts, the darts would need to be secured to the saddle within easy reach.
By the way, according to the book, many darts were fletched, but not all were.
As for the leather thong, the description of the original portrait makes clear that allowed the wielder to spin or otherwise maneuver the lance in his hand-which you'd need to do with a lance, but not with a dart.

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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