Safe Seax: Forging the legendary Germanic short-sword

(Son of a bitch… David already shared a version of this meme back in 2015. I just found it. Damn. Oh well, I am running it anyway since my post has videos and I am waaaayy behind on tying)

Howdy folks. I am guiding in the morning and have a tin of fly-tying to do, so I don’t have much in the way of commentary. There are a couple of cool forging videos below the jump, so there is that.




This last one is the longest of the bunch, but the end result is absolutely beautiful.

Thanks for bearing with my quick (and somewhat redundant) post tonight. There is a guest post in the morning, and we will be back on Monday with a full slate of content.

Have a great Sunday folks.


  1. John F. MacMichael says:

    Reminds me of the scene from “A Game of Thrones” where Jon Snow gives his half sister Arya the sword she will name “Needle”. His advice for her on proper technique: “First lesson…Stick them with the pointy end.”

  2. William Bilbro says:

    Beautiful work! I couldn’t keep my eyes off the video; my wife had to call me three times for dinner and that NEVER happens!
    One question: why is it called a “broken back”?

    1. From

      “The Anglo Saxon Broken Back Seax

      Frank Docherty
      The Anglo Saxon Broken Back Seax
      An article by

      Click to enlarge
      A selection of 11th Century Anglo Saxon seaxes

      Swords were enormously expensive weapons 1,500 years ago, and the Anglo Saxon warriors of those times needed a blade that could be used for everyday work and double as a fighting knife or sword. They and warriors of many other Northern European cultures chose the seax, which can be considered either a large dagger or a short single-edged sword.
      The origins of the seax are difficult to determine, but early forms of the weapon have been found in 5th century Frankish graves. This is surprising in as much as the weapon gave its name to the people known as “Saxons” who were one of three Germanic tribes who settled in Britain.

      The term “scramaseax” is sometimes used in modern descriptions of this weapon, but it occurs only once in an historical account. In his History of the Franks, Gregory of Tours describes how sixth century Frankish king Sigibert was assassinated by two young men using “strong knives commonly called scramaseax” (cultris validis quos vulgo scramasaxos vocant).

      Click to enlarge
      The Thames Scramaseax: the only example with its entire Anglo Saxon runic script intact

      It’s difficult to improve upon Richard Underwood’s description of the basic seax form in his book Anglo-Saxon Weapons and Warfare:

      The blade of the knife terminates in an iron tang by which the grip was attached. The grip was made of perishable material such as wood, horn or bone, and does not generally survive. The majority of knives have quite short tangs, between 3cm and 7cm long, although occasionally it is much longer, suggesting the grip was suitable to be gripped in two hands. The tang is usually a plain iron bar tapering towards the end. It can therefore be presumed that the grip was bored out to hold the tang which was held in place by friction, perhaps aided by softwood wedges or glue. It is possible the tang was heated and burned into place although this would tend to weaken the fabric of the grip. Occasionally knives have metal hilt fittings, either a pommel or both a lower-guard and pommel.

      Beyond this basic description, the typological classification of the weapon follows the system devised in modern times to describe Frankish finds:
      Class A: The narrow/small seax 5th-6th century
      Class B: The broad seax 7th century
      Class C: The long seax 8th century

      Click to enlarge
      Part of a 10th century burial cross

      The Anglo Saxon seax corresponds with the Frankish variety in date, but has some distinguishing characteristics. First and foremost is its distinctive “broken back” blade shape. Compared to its continental relatives, the Anglo Saxon weapon sometimes has a much longer grip, with an upper guard curved away from the blade in a manner that suggests that this seax was adapted for two handed use. This seax commonly features pattern-welding, but usually only along the spine of the weapon. Later examples sometimes feature a shallow rounding of the blade towards the point. The long seax, which could reach a length of up to 24″ or 30″, in broken back style seems unique to Britain.”

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Safe Seax: Forging the legendary Germanic short-sword

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