Caithness Type XII.... $1023

There has been contact between Scotland and Scandinavia from early times and this has left traces in the type and style of weapons used.

The Scots seemed to have something in common with the Vikings and after a time intermarriages, both common and noble, with established clans took place in northern Scotland (Caithness and Sutherland) and extensively throughout the Western Isles of Scotland, the Inner and Outer Hebrides. To this day you can find Scottish Clans with direct Viking (Norse) descent: Clan Gunn in the North, Clan MacDonald of the Isles and Clan MacLeod in the west mainland and Isles, along with other Clans (MacQueen and MacAulay). Both Scandinavian languages and Gaelic were spoken for several centuries in the Western Isles. All Clans of this unique heritage have a reputation as skilled fighters and these same Clans were some of the earliest to use the longer swords and employ archers in their ranks.

It is possible to see lingering influences from the Viking age even in much later periods. (In the National Museum in Kopenhagen there are two unique ceremonial two handed swords mounted with hilts of Viking style, although made in the 16th C.)

The five lobed pommel on the Caithness is inspired from grave effigies on display in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.


Peter's drawing of an effigy at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh

These are from late medieval period but show arms and armor that would be out of date on continental Europe. This mix of up-to-date blades mounted on hilts with a blend of age old traditions and Norse influences, give swords of Scottish type a character that goes well with the fierce and individualistic Scottish warriors.

Most swords made in Scotland were probably produced by cutlers mounting imported blades with hilts according to local taste and tradition. Scottish warriors were faithful to old customs and ways of warfare. This is evident from medieval times up to the 18th C.

A sword of type XII, according to Oakeshott´s typology, is defined by having a broad and evenly tapering blade. It should have a good point and a fuller that is 2/3 to 3/4 of the blade length. This is perhaps the most classic of all blade styles. A weapon that is broad and bold with understated elegance in shapes, lines and volumes.

The heft of the sword is managed by an effective use of nonlinear distal taper and a deep and well defined fuller. This results in a lively and responsive feel that invites you to strike with the sword.

The outer third of the blade towards the point curves gradually to a sharp point. This gives a visual balance to the broad base of the blade and also helps in establishing sweet handling characteristics.