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Jason Elrod




PostPosted: Sat 30 Apr, 2005 4:12 am    Post subject: Pattern Welding on Ulfberht Swords?         Reply with quote

How was the Pattern Welded "Ulfberht" symbols added to Ulfberht swords?

In earlier viking swords the pattern welding is forged "into" the blade. Ian Peirce in "Swords of the Viking Age" makes me believe that Ulfberht blades were homogeneous iron blades, forged and finished, and then the Ulfberht symbols were added onto the sword later as decoration. Is this a correct assumption?

Here's a pic from his book:
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Craig Johnson




PostPosted: Sat 30 Apr, 2005 9:56 am    Post subject: Inlays         Reply with quote

Hello Jason

Good question. I would say on the example you have posted of the Ulfberht sword from Ian's book that the wide pattern would be forge welded as a veneer to the blade. The other side were the two groves are depicted can be done as forge welds or as inlays, ie. the groves are filled with a metal and the edges of the groves tamped over to hold them in place. This methodology is used on many of the blades that have the iron or lateen inlays seen in early medieval blades. Wether the Ulfberhts used this particular method on any specific blade I can not say with out some inspection and such.

Best
Craig
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Jason Elrod




PostPosted: Sat 30 Apr, 2005 10:17 am    Post subject: Re: Inlays         Reply with quote

Craig Johnson wrote:
Hello Jason

Good question. I would say on the example you have posted of the Ulfberht sword from Ian's book that the wide pattern would be forge welded as a veneer to the blade. The other side were the two groves are depicted can be done as forge welds or as inlays, ie. the groves are filled with a metal and the edges of the groves tamped over to hold them in place. This methodology is used on many of the blades that have the iron or lateen inlays seen in early medieval blades. Wether the Ulfberhts used this particular method on any specific blade I can not say with out some inspection and such.

Best
Craig


Interesting. So would it technically be possible to take one of the nicer viking reproductions (the Shifford and Huskarl come to mind) that are around nowadays and add Ulfberht inlays to the blade?
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Peter Johnsson




PostPosted: Sat 30 Apr, 2005 11:16 am    Post subject: Re: Inlays         Reply with quote

Jason Elrod wrote:
Craig Johnson wrote:
Hello Jason

Good question. I would say on the example you have posted of the Ulfberht sword from Ian's book that the wide pattern would be forge welded as a veneer to the blade. The other side were the two groves are depicted can be done as forge welds or as inlays, ie. the groves are filled with a metal and the edges of the groves tamped over to hold them in place. This methodology is used on many of the blades that have the iron or lateen inlays seen in early medieval blades. Wether the Ulfberhts used this particular method on any specific blade I can not say with out some inspection and such.

Best
Craig


Interesting. So would it technically be possible to take one of the nicer viking reproductions (the Shifford and Huskarl come to mind) that are around nowadays and add Ulfberht inlays to the blade?


Well, no actually...
The patterned rods that make up the letters are welded to the blade at an earlier stage before the cross section is shaped. As the blade is taken to welding heat, you cannot have the edges too thin. I think that you forge weld the letters into the blade even before you forge the fuller in. You have the flat rectangluar blade blank (that is laminated in any of many various ways, but non patterned) then lay out the letters and forge them into the blade. When they sit firmly you forge the shape of the blade to finished (or almost finished: as much as youforge before grinding/filing, that is about 70% finished)

You need to do it in that order.
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Jason Elrod




PostPosted: Sat 30 Apr, 2005 11:40 am    Post subject: Re: Inlays         Reply with quote

Peter Johnsson wrote:


Well, no actually...
The patterned rods that make up the letters are welded to the blade at an earlier stage before the cross section is shaped. As the blade is taken to welding heat, you cannot have the edges too thin. I think that you forge weld the letters into the blade even before you forge the fuller in. You have the flat rectangluar blade blank (that is laminated in any of many various ways, but non patterned) then lay out the letters and forge them into the blade. When they sit firmly you forge the shape of the blade to finished (or almost finished: as much as youforge before grinding/filing, that is about 70% finished)

You need to do it in that order.


Hmmm. Going back to historical examples . . . Ian Pierce states late pattern welding was basically used for decoration. Additionally the Ulfberht symbol seems to simply be a way to identify the maker of the sword. This seems like an extremely complicated process to use just to identify the maker of the sword. Why not just use a simple stamp? Are there any books out there, in English, that goes into more depth about the Ulfberht swords?
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Peter Johnsson




PostPosted: Sat 30 Apr, 2005 11:55 am    Post subject: Re: Inlays         Reply with quote

Jason Elrod wrote:
Hmmm. Going back to historical examples . . . Ian Pierce states late pattern welding was basically used for decoration. Additionally the Ulfberht symbol seems to simply be a way to identify the maker of the sword. This seems like an extremely complicated process to use just to identify the maker of the sword. Why not just use a simple stamp? Are there any books out there, in English, that goes into more depth about the Ulfberht swords?


Patternwelding was a sign of skill and so also of quality. As ithe case is today, patternewelded blades might have been revered with special awe at their time of use.
If customers wanted patterned blades even after new methods were developed that made original patterning method redundant, it is still a good marketing vehicle.
I also suspect there might have been some other ideas going on, like pattern adding some power to the blade magically. If this was actually beleived by the makers or not, I would not say. I can well imagine patterns or signs being very much sought after by customers at the time, though. The tradition carried on in later medieval times with religious invocations inlayed in the blades. I would think it is a continuation of the same frame of mind.

The case that it is more labour intensive might be the very thing the makers were after (makes it more difficult to copy):
-"look what I can do! and now look at the price...they say the signs are magical too! Good price for you Sir...! And imagine what your fellows at home will say, I mean this is a genuine Ufberht we are talking about here!...And there are two crosses in the name as well, for luck: look here. So what do you say, do we have a deal or not?"
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Jason Elrod




PostPosted: Sat 30 Apr, 2005 12:37 pm    Post subject: Re: Inlays         Reply with quote

Peter Johnsson wrote:

The case that it is more labour intensive might be the very thing the makers were after (makes it more difficult to copy):
-"look what I can do! and now look at the price...they say the signs are magical too! Good price for you Sir...! And imagine what your fellows at home will say, I mean this is a genuine Ufberht we are talking about here!...And there are two crosses in the name as well, for luck: look here. So what do you say, do we have a deal or not?"


HA! I hadn't thought of it this way.
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Craig Johnson




PostPosted: Sun 01 May, 2005 8:48 am    Post subject: Re: Inlays         Reply with quote

Jason Elrod wrote:

Hmmm. Going back to historical examples . . . Ian Pierce states late pattern welding was basically used for decoration. Additionally the Ulfberht symbol seems to simply be a way to identify the maker of the sword. This seems like an extremely complicated process to use just to identify the maker of the sword. Why not just use a simple stamp? Are there any books out there, in English, that goes into more depth about the Ulfberht swords?


I would want to add to Peter's comments that the decoration of the blades with this inlay may well be something the customer or smith felt was contributing to the attributes of the piece in a significant way. Wether they were viewed as a protection for the bearer or as imbuing the blade with some attributes beyond the steel in the blade, as examples.

Now, as in most things, this would only count if one believed this worked or as in the case of a seller they felt they could get more for the sword. There are several different examples of lettering in the blade and it is difficult to say what most mean as we have little to go on and the use of mnemonics (I think that is the right word) in the medieval vocabulary. One sees such things as these in the blades XXXIIXXX or XIXIXIXIXIX or SISISISI so the meaning can be difficult to ascertain. With the Ulfberht swords and other names it has been supposed these are makers or more likely shop names and they are a mark of quality and forgery by others. But wether this is absolute or not is still to my mind unclear as one can see some other explanations for blades with the same name and such appearing over time. The understanding of these inscriptions is something that can tell us quite a bit about sword production, if we are able to hypothesis some good solutions that can be supported with evidence physical or documentary. I would agree that the best theory we have is a makers name but it is good to keep in ones mind that this is our interpretation of the evidence.

In english OAkeshott and Pierce cover the material the most, there maybe another article that deals with some of it but I can not remember who wrote that off the top of my head. I suspect Gedag goes into it more deeply in german and the russians have done some work as well but I have little info on that.


Best
Craig
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Petri Peltola




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PostPosted: Tue 03 May, 2005 1:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As mr. Johnson mentioned the letters in the Ulfberths (and other swords with blade inscriptions) are formed from thin bars of patternwelded steel, very often of a tight twist pattern. Here are some pics. A drawing from an ulfberth sword and a detail photo of the letters DU from another sword.
Mikko Moilanen has been doing experiments on the letterwelding and his swords look reasonably good, the techniques do work. He does it with bundles of twisted steel and iron wires (maybe not the best option IMO) and welds the letters on one at a time after the fullering. Put the letter on the fuller, sprinkle borax on top, bring up to low weld temp and hit the letter in. Easy as one-two-three Happy
Not much sense on doing forge welding to an already finished sword. Inlaying soft iron wire could be an option for a DIY-project if you're handy with the chisels. Or you could go the easy way and etch the letters: DALO-etch resist marker pens and some ferric-chloride and voila! an Ulfberth-sword! Big Grin



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Letters DU from an X-type from Tyrväntö,
Finland


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Ulfberth-text of a sword from Vesilahti, Finland [ Download ]
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Patrik Erik Lars Lindblom




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PostPosted: Wed 04 May, 2005 4:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for these pictures Petri, this was news for me, that they where twisted, Happy Cool
Have Mikko any homepage or something online ?

Frid o Fröjd!
Patrik
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