Tag Archives: swords

How To Carry A Claymore: Crazy Things I Learned Researching Books

Claymore

So in last week’s post I talked about the basket-hilted Scottish broadsword. I noted that this sword became popular after armour was obsolete, which meant it was more likely my hero would carry a weapon he could use effectively against an armoured foe.http://dekor-okno.ru

So Lyram now carries a basket-hilted broadsword as a clan relic and a claymore for battle.

This all led to another question – how do you carry a claymore? The things are huge. Taller than me, even. OK, I’m not that tall, but I’m not that short either.

Presumably it needed to be carried on the back, but I didn’t know the answer, so I looked it up.

And I learned a few things.

It is exceedingly difficult to draw a claymore from a back sheath without removing or severely damaging one’s own head. Uh, maybe not a good idea.

It is arguably even more difficult to put it back in the sheath without being able to see what one was doing.

This meant claymores were carried one of two ways. Either in a back sheath where the shoulder harness could be easily dropped off to allow the sword to be drawn without decapitating oneself, or more simply in the hand.

But wait, it gets more complicated.

Apparently it wasn’t unknown for the sheath to ‘grip’ these swords. I haven’t found a good reason why, but I suspect this was a problem common to many swords. It presented a particular difficulty with the claymore because the thing was so damn big that holding the sheath in one hand and levering the blade clear with the other wasn’t easy.

So many swordsmen who carried these beasts of war also had a man filling a squire-type function, who would carry the claymore for the warrior, and/or assist him to unsheathe it as needed.

So what I thought was a relatively simple question turned out to be quite complex.

And the moral of the story: don’t cut your own head off drawing your sword.

The Basket-Hilted Broadsword: Medieval Weaponry and Accoutrements

Basket Hilted Broadsword
Basket Hilted Broadsword

Admiral Sir Thomas Allin – Allin’s sword hangs on a heavy baldric of the type needed for a basket-hilted broadsword

Basket-hilted broadswords were characterised by a basket-shaped handguard – surprise surprise! The rapier is one of the most commonly known basket-hilted swords, but the broadsword was the version in military use, while the rapier was worn over civilian dress.

The broadsword was “broad” by contrast with the rapier, and as a military weapon was suited to cut-and-thrust fighting, as compared to the thrust-oriented rapier. The broadsword was the double-edged version of the weapon (gaelic: claidheamh leathann), while the backsword was the single-edged version (Gaelic: claidheamh cùil), and neither term is contemporary to the sword itself. The weapon was typically around 95 – 105cm in length. It was often used with a Scottish dirk (Gaelic: biodag) in the left hand, or alternatively a targe (shield). The dirk might also be held behind the targe. The handle of every dirk was unique, as they were carved by their owners.

In the 18th century the broadsword came to be particularly associated with Scotland. Hence sometimes it is called the ‘Scottish broadsword’. This was how I came across it in the first place – the kingdom of Ahlleyn in my latest WIP, In the Company of the Dead, is loosely inspired by Scotland, and my hero, Lyram, needed a weapon.

‘Scottish broadsword’ by Rama available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basket-hilted_sword#mediaviewer/File:Claymore2-Morges.jpgunder a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 France  Full terms at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/fr/deed.en

‘Scottish broadsword’ by Rama available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basket-hilted_sword#mediaviewer/File:Claymore2-Morges.jpgunder a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 France Full terms at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/fr/deed.en

What type of weapon led to how big which led to how it was worn…. Despite its length, the broadsword was worn on the hip, albeit in a baldric because of the extra weight of the basket hilt.

The broadsword came into use after the musket made armour obsolete, and therefore also heavy weapons like the claymore. There are no muskets in my WIP, so I’ll have to equip Lyram with a claymore as well for actual battle. His broadsword might therefore become a largely ceremonial item of historical significance.

The basket-hilted broadsword is still worn as a ceremonial weapon by officers of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.