"Seax" (also "Hadseax", "Sax", "Seaxe", "Scramaseax" and "Scramsax") in old Saxon stands for
knifeor cutting tool. [ Bosworth, Joseph, D.D., F.R.S. [http://beowulf.engl.uky.edu/~kiernan/BT/Bosworth-Toller.htm An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary] . Retrieved 16 July 2008] In modern archeology(and further in this article), the term seax is used specifically for the typically large knives that were worn by men in the 5th to 11th century, in the region roughly enclosed by Ireland, Scandinaviaand Northern Italy. In heraldrythe seax is a charge consisting of a curved sword with a notched blade. [http://www.probertencyclopaedia.com/browse/US.HTM]
Amongst the shape and construction of seaxes there is a lot of variation. The most frequent characteristics are:
* A tang in the centerline of the blade, inserted into an organic hilt (wood, horn)
* A large single edged blade
* The blade is worn horizontally inside a
scabbardattached to the belt, with the edge of the blade upwards.
Germany, the following types are defined for seaxes between roughly 450 and 800 AD, in chronological order [Schmit, George [http://ubm.opus.hbz-nrw.de/volltexte/2006/907/pdf/diss.pdf Die Alamannen im Zollernalbkreis] . Retrieved 16 July 2008] :
* Schmaler Langsax (small long seax)
* Kurzsax (short seax)
* Schmalsax (narrow seax) - Often have braided bands or
snakes engravedin the blade, and frequently include metal bolsters and pommels. Both the edge and the back are curved towards the tip, which is generally located above the centerline of the blade.
* Leichter Breitsax (light broad seax) - Similar to narrow seax, but frequently lack metal
hiltparts, and have simpler decorations on the blade, such as parallel lines. Both the edge and the back curve towards the tip, which is generally located at the centerline of the blade.
* Schwerer Breitsax (heavy broad seax) - Have simple decorations on the blade if any, and long single-part organic hilts (>20cm). Both the edge and the back curve towards the tip, which is generally located at the centerline of the blade.
* Atypischer Breitsax (atypical broad seax) - Same as heavy broad seax
* Langsax (long seax) - Blades are 50cm or longer, often with multiple fullers and grooves, patternwelded blades, and long hilts similar to broad seaxes. The edge is generally straight, or curved slightly towards the tip. The back either curves gently, or with a sharp angle towards the tip, which is located below the centerline of the blade.
The general trend, as one moves from the short to the broad seax, is that the blade becomes heavier, longer, broader and thicker. Long seaxes, which arrived at the end of the
7th century, were the longest of the seax. These were narrower and lighter then their predecessors. Initially, these weapons were found in combination with double-edged swords and were probably intended as side arm. From the 7th century onwards, seaxes became the main edged weapon (next to a francisca), sometimes in combination with small side-knives. [Schmit, George [http://ubm.opus.hbz-nrw.de/volltexte/2006/907/pdf/diss.pdf Die Alamannen im Zollernalbkreis] . Retrieved 16 July 2008]
The rest of
Europe(except for parts of Scandinavia) followed a similar development, although some types may not be very common depending on location.
Another typical form of the seax is the so-called broken-back style seax. These seaxes have a sharp angled transition between the back section of the blade and the point, the latter generally forming 1/3rd to 3/5th of the blade length. These seaxes exist both in long seax variety (edge and back parallel) and in smaller blades of various lengths (blade expanding first, then narrowing towards the tip after the kink). They occurred mostly in the
UKand Ireland, with some examples in Germany around 8-11th century AD. Some examples have patternwelded blades, while others have inlays of silver, copper, brass, etc.
A seax in modern times is often called scramasax or scramaseax. "Scram" or "scran" is a word for food in some
English dialectsand "seax" to a blade(so a possible translation is "food knife"). However, as the word 'scramseax' is only used once in early medieval literature(In Geoffrey of Tours 'History of the Franks'), the general use of the term when referring to all short knives of this type is erroneous).Burton, Mark (2002). [http://www.atburton.freeserve.co.uk/MilitiesdeBec/Equipment.htm Milites deBec Equipment] .Retrieved 27 September 2005.] The Saxonsmay have derived their name from "seax" (the implement for which they were known). The seax has a lasting symbolic impact in the English counties of Essexand Middlesex, which both feature three seaxes in their ceremonial emblem.
Migration Period sword
Migration Period spear
Reference in Culture
*In the epic poem "
Beowulf", the title character used a seax to nearly hack a dragon apart while it was dying.
*The scramasax is one of many knives in the GBA game "
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance".
*"" character Anthony is given a scramasax for personal defense early in his chapter.
*In Flanagans's "Ranger's Apprentice" series the saxe knife is the primary duty knife of the rangers. It is also employed the Skandians for both battle and everyday use.
* [http://www.myarmoury.com/feature_seax.html The Anglo Saxon Broken Back Seax] (myArmoury.com article)
* [http://www.regia.org/seax.htm Regia Seax]
* [http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/pe_mla/s/seax_of_beagnoth.aspx British Museum:Seax of Beagnoth]
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