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Old 23rd December 2021, 04:25 AM   #19
Jim McDougall
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
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Originally Posted by Peter Hudson View Post
Hello Jim, I was reading up on the Mary Rose about the English Basket Hilt found after the vessel was recovered recently following its disastrous sinking over 400 years ago and where many revealing weapons were discovered including an English Basket Hilt.

Clearly a tradition had evolved in Scottish quarters that the origin of Basket hilts was in Scotland when in fact it was earlier when this style had appeared .. as a European weapon ...obviously adopted in such armouries as English then presumably slowly filtering North to develop as Scottish Basket Hilts and with the passage of time being associated with that provenance...
I also wanted to say how much I enjoyed this thread and thanks to all who had joined in...

Regards Peter Hudson
Hi Peter, and thank you for posting on this! This field of study in pretty well clouded but I think we have a much better grasp of it than was generally held a century ago.
There were various suggestions as to origins of the Scottish basket hilts, and as Claude Blair notes ("The Early Basket Hilt in Britain" 1981), the Victorian notions of the Italian schiavona are ill founded as the structure is different and in most cases these Italian swords post date the earliest basket hilts.
Also the so called 'Sinclair sabers' (N. European basket hilt sabers termed tessak) said to have come from the ill fated expedition into Norway in 1612 also post date. No such sabers have been proven assoc. to this event or force.

That the earliest English basket hilt type was found on the 'Mary Rose' (1545) is compelling, and as far as I have known the earliest use of the 'basket hilt' term was in Inverness, Scotland (1576).
It would be hard to succinctly say which region of the British Isles was first to have a form of these 'caged' hilts.

The reason these were termed 'Irish' hilts I believe came from the convention of grouping Scots and Irish together from Gaelic speaking from middle ages thru 18th c. (Blair p.170)...and first recorded accounts of this:
From accounts of Henry Lee, Master of Armouries 1601-1610...dated Nov. 1607; "...ARMYNGE SWORDS Wth IRISH HILTES".
Francis Markham "Five Decades of Epistles of Warre", 1622, notes the musketeer must be armed with a basket hilt in the manner of the Irish".

After this the term seems to have survived until mid 17th c. with latest ref. 1653 (Blair pp, 162-163).
Naturally the convention of the Irish term may have held over in degree, but by the time of the Jacobites, a HIGHLAND BASKET HILT was notably termed as such.

As Trisarii notes, it seems that the true origin of the basket hilt is hard to say specifically as there may be evidence lacking. It is also relative as the development of the structure was incremental, beginning with just simple bars to the guard, much as complex Italian rapier hilts evolved.

To the thing on sword slippers, these seem well recorded in Scotland as Whitelaw did thorough records research on them early in the 20th c. With the English situation, it seems most of the record keeping involved 'cutlers' in other trades aside from mounting blades. While Southwick has good records of precious metals workers. Sure wish we had better records of these guys but what I have understood there were few in England mounting blades (from Germany usually) until Hounslow, then Oxford, Shotley then Birmingham.

Glad you guys are here!!!
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