Sharp Pointy Things (and the Men who Wielded Them)

Readers know that I have an interest in swords, both for fencing* and as actual weapons. Scotland is rather well known for a history of solving disputes with blades (and armies, and ambushes, and daggers, and . . . ) It also has a very strong martial tradition and has hit above it’s weight class in terms men involved in England and Britain’s wars, as well as their own local conflicts.

The Church of the Holy Rood, Sterling.

Regimental banners at the Church of the Holy Rood, Sterling.

“Hindoostan,” with the Duke of Wellington. York Minster military chapel, York Minster. Several churches had small side chapels for multiple regiments and wars.

The church of the Holy Rood (Cross) is fascinating, and is only one of a number of old churches that I meandered around in. And got cricks in my neck, staring up at the timbers.

I noticed the split in the top beam after I took the photo in the Church of the Holy Rood. Who knows how long it has been like that? Decades? Centuries?

And then there’s the “armory” at Sterling Castle, which has a selection of pointy things.

The big two-handed beasts are on the other wall. Some of the swords looked as if they had been used at some point, but you can’t get close enough to tell. I wanted to “check the balance” on one, but for some reason the docent had left the key back at the office. . . Too bad. I mean, I’ve got the right coloring, the right general shape (“sturdy”), DadRed’s family has clan members (McKay among others), and I know that “The pointy end goes into the bad guy, yes?”**

I guess it was a liability thing. Sigh.

*However, having been slashed on the padded arm by an associate who forgot that we were doing foil and not saber, you can still leave serious muscle bruises with a fencing foil.

** One of the great lines in The Mask of Zorro. I love Anthony Hopkins’ expression when Antonio Banderas explains how to use a sword.

17 thoughts on “Sharp Pointy Things (and the Men who Wielded Them)

  1. *Snickers* Yes, the movie was great fun.

    Were you able to visit the Order of the Thistle’s Chapel, in Edinburgh Cathedral? The one part not “simplified”; the Scottish royal order took a very dim view of anyone wishing to improve their user experience. It was limited access, and we were lucky to be there on a visitor day.

  2. It was one of the stand out lines of dialogue in A Game of Thrones, which came out in 1996. The cited movie came out two years later, and almost certainly swiped it. (Very effectively, too!)

    Yes, I’m enough of a pedant to even annoy myself. (Occasionally.)

    On the topic of my being a flake, I wanted to learn to smith because I wanted to make my own Lochaber Axe.
    Because that’s totally sane.

  3. AFAIK, you don’t always put the pointy end in the enemy – some swords are designed to slash, not puncture.
    But I’m not a swordist, at least not yet!

    • True. Cavalry sabers, the naval cutlass, and others are for slashing, them moving on. The Polish karabela of the late 1600s is an excellent example of that, long enough to use on either side of the horse as you rode into/through infantry, or to injure the enemy’s riders in a melee. The hussars’ attack in The Day of the Siege film shows that very well.

  4. Sigh, we live vicariously through you and your travels! Interesting that the swords are different lengths. That indicates there was at least ‘some’ attempt to match swords to height/reach…

  5. If I’m going to have to fight someone, I’d prefer to use a long-distance weapon and the other person have the sword.

    Go Indiana Jones!!!!! 😈

  6. Interesting that they included those three short swords on the far left of the armory picture. They look like the modernized gladiuses (gladii?) that were fashionable as artilleryman’s swords from the late Napoleonic period through the U.S. Civil War.

  7. I was at the Carter Plantation on the James River in Virginia almost twenty years ago and walked into one of their barns, not really expecting much. I was astonished to see that it still had the original beams and posts. Hand-hewn beams that had to be at least 12 inches on a side! Apparently it had survived Bacon’s Rebellion and the Civil War and dated back to about 1650. Much less elaborate roof and truss system than the church, but it’s a much smaller structure and, also, a barn! As a wannabe timber framer, very cool to see.

    • Oh yes! DadRed and I spend far too much time looking at wood work and joinery when we go places. I understand how the carpenters did things “back then,” but it still seems like magic, almost.

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