Sunday, March 18, 2012

River Whitham Sword


Well, it took about two months, but my River Whitham Viking Sword by Generation 2 finally arrived from Arms of Valor, Ltd. (

This is a reproduction of a Viking Era sword recovered from the River Whitham in England. The original, in excavated condition, can be seen in the Osprey Book Anglo-Saxon Thegn: 449 - 1066 AD. ( The photo is credited as belonging to the British Museum, so I assume they have the actual artifact in their collection.

There are a couple of excellent reviews of the sword already on the web. This one, from the Sword Buyer's Guide website, influenced my decision to purchase this sword:

Although also factored into the decision was the fact I own a couple of other Gen2 weapons and I've been very pleased with the high quality of the work. My only complaint is that the high carbon steel can rust very quickly if not treated right. But that indicates the steel is good, and is more a comment on my sometimes lax maintenance standards. (Bad, JRF!!!)

The sword came with a scabbard made of wood sandwiched between leather, with carbon steel chape and throat. It is a very serviceable scabbard, but not period accurate. This is going to require some work on my part to build an accurate scabbard. That went onto the project list, and I've already done the necessary research and purchased some initial supplies. When the project is complete, I'll post photos of the finished product with details.

I did price having the scabbard redone by a specialist ( or but there's a long waiting list just for them to start the project, and then it seems the scabbard will cost marginally less than buying the materials and doing it myself. It is more expensive for me to do it myself, but in the end, I'll have the scabbard, and a few new tools to use on future projects, plus some additional expertise.
Another incorrect detail is the suede-covered grip. That's going to have to come off, and I'll be looking to replace this with a more accurate cord-wrapped leather grip. Again, I've looked into this process and got the materials on order. I plan to rewrap the grip in a brown-dyed leather.
As I said, I have a couple of Gen 2 products in my arsenal, including the Viking Sax. The Sax was intended to be a matched companion to the River Whitham sword. You can see the two weapons share the copper diamond inlays on the hilt furniture. Also note how the Sax sports a brown wood handle which sharply contrasts with the black suede. One more reason to replace the sword grip.
I don't think there is much evidence for matching swords and saxes during this period, but it wouldn't have been impossible. That was not the deciding factor on purchasing the River Whitham sword. I really like the shape and style of the sword. And it fell into my price range. I'd really like to have an Albion sword someday, but this has been favorably compared to them at roughly a third of the price point. My one complaint is that my hilt crosspiece has been stamped with the letters "LA" in an unobtrusive place. I have no idea why. Fortunately, the stamp isn't visible unless you're facing the business end of the sword, so it's not a bother. I doubt Albion allows stray stamp marks on their swords.
So that's my new River Whitham sword as it arrived and paired with the Sax I already own. It's going to take a little work to bring the sword fully up to specs, but I'm very pleased with it. And we're another step closer to my 2012 goal.