The Sword and the Crucible

A History of the Metallurgy of European Swords up to the 16th Century

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Author: Alan Williams
The sword was the most important of weapons, the symbol of the warrior, not to mention the badge of a officer and a gentleman. Much has been written about the artistic and historical significance of the sword, but outside specialised publications, relatively little about its metallurgy, and that often confined to a particular group. This book aims to tell the story of the making of iron and steel swords from the first Celtic examples through the Middle Ages to the Early Modern period. The results of the microscopic examination of over a hundred swords by the author and other archaeometallurgists are given and explained in terms of the materials available in Europe.

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Alan R.Williams, PhD (1974) in History of Science, University of Manchester, now works as an Archaeometallurgist in the Wallace Collection, London. He has published extensively on the metallurgy of swords and armour and is the author of The Knight and the Blast Furnace (2003)
Preface . . . vii

PART ONE: THE FIRST METALS
1. The Extraction of the First Metals. . . 3
2. The Smelting of Iron and the Production of Steel . . . 12
3. Different Ways of Making Steel—Eastern and Western Steelmaking. . . 24

PART TWO: THE FIRST EUROPEAN SWORDS
4. Celtic and Roman Swords . . . 49
5. Pattern-Welding . . . 62

PART THREE: THE “DARK” AGES IN EUROPE
6. The Revival of Science in Europe . . . 85
7. The Survival of Technology From the Ancient World . . . 96
8. Viking-Age Swords and Their Inscriptions . . . 116

PART FOUR: STEEL ARMOUR AND SWORDS
9. The Invention of the Blast Furnace and Finery . . . 187
10. Bloomery Steel and the Development of All-Steel Swords after 1400 . . . 202
11. The Mass-Production of Steel for Swords and Armour . . . 210
12. The Decoration of Swords by Etching and Gilding . . . 223
13. Medieval European swords after 1000 . . . 230

Further reading . . . 287
Index . . . 291
All those interested in medieval warfare, and the technology of the weapons used therein, as well as archaeologists, metallurgists and re-enactors.