War Mattocks

From the Blue Mountains to the Iron Hills...

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Eofor
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War Mattocks

Postby Eofor » Mon Apr 06, 2020 12:46 pm

HI all,

The dwarves of the Iron Hills are famous for their war mattocks, there are references to them in both Appendix A and the Hobbit ( see Below).

Lord of the rings Appendix A
Description of the battle of Azanulbizar

“Coming late and fresh to the field the mailed warriors of Náin, Grór son, drove through the Orcs to the very threshold of Moria, crying ‘Azog! Azog!’ as the hewed down with their mattocks all who stood in their way”

“With that he rushed at Náin and they fought. But Náin was half blind with rage and also very weary with battle, whereas Azog was fresh and fell and full of guile. Soon Náin made a great stroke with all his strength that remained, but Azog darted aside and kicked Náin leg, so that the mattock splintered on the stone where he had stood, but Náin stumbled forward. Then Azog with a swift swing hewed his neck. His mail collar withstood the edge, but so heavy was the blow that Náin neck was broken and he fell”


The Hobbit
The Clouds Burst
“Each one of his folk was clad in a hauberk of steel mail that hung to his knees, and his legs were covered in a hose of fine flexible mesh, the secret of whose making was possessed by Dáins people. The Dwarves are exceedingly strong for their height, but most of these were strong even for dwarves. In battle they wielded heavy two-handed mattocks; but each one had a short broad sword at his side and a roundshield slung at his back. Their beards were forked and plaited and thrust into their belts. Their caps were of iron and they were shod with iron, and their faces were grim”

“With cries of Moria! And Dáin, Dáin! The dwarves of the iron hills plunged in wielding their mattocks, upon the other side ; and beside them came the men of the Lake with long swords”


I'm wondering if anyone can think of any further references or perhaps a description of the mattocks that I might have missed?

Thanks in advance!
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Iodo
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Re: War Mattocks

Postby Iodo » Mon Apr 06, 2020 1:32 pm

Those are the only two written sources I've ever been able to find of the dwarven war mattock, in The Hobbit movie Bofur carried something that's almost a mattock, hammer on one side and adzi on the other - discussed on this thread: viewtopic.php?f=4&t=148

A few years ago I made a foam cosplay version of what I imagined this to look like (viewtopic.php?f=23&t=3995) and I chose the option of a pick-mattock over a cutter-mattock because they're generally more associated with mining rather than farming, but the thing I find odd is that dwarves are referenced to carry axe's in LOTR, and the mattock seems to be ether an Iron-hills or The Hobbit thing?

If there is any further references I'd be interested to
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Re: War Mattocks

Postby Elleth » Mon Apr 06, 2020 1:56 pm

For what it's worth, a friend once told me there was a reference to mattocks used by archers at Agincourt.
I'd imagine a perusal of popular treatments of Agincourt - particularly Henry V in print and film c. 1910-1950 might give a hint as to the Professor's inspiration there.
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Re: War Mattocks

Postby Eofor » Tue Apr 07, 2020 12:31 pm

Sigh, I should have known it had been discussed before, and in detail!
I thought with these being unique Dwarven weapons that it could feature under Dwarven culture but I'm still finding my way around here so I'm happy to delete or move the thread?

Thanks for the replies though,

Iodo - Your foam mattock looks not unlike the one I've been considering making. The size of the head and a nice two handed shaft seem about right for an end product something like a shepherds axe. I'd post a photo but damned if I can figure out how on this forum.

Elleth - I couldn't find a reference to mattocks in the Henry V text. They are mentioned in Romeo and Juliet and Titus Andronicus but only as implements for digging.

There is however a record from Kent in 1313 of a man called WIlliam of Buckwell who is beaten so badly by mattock wielding archers that he dies three days later. It seems that they have featured as makeshift weapons throughout time but nothing like the clearly weaponised versions we see sported by the Iron Hills Dwarves.
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Peter Remling
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Re: War Mattocks

Postby Peter Remling » Tue Apr 07, 2020 2:25 pm

I haven't seen a reference for this however, it makes sense that the mattocks wielded by the archers were smaller versions of the farm implements not a weaponized version.
Archers would have used mattocks to anchor their pavis. These shields would cover the entire body and a bow is a two handed weapon. Digging a small trench or hole to place the pavis in in an upright position. If you were being overrun, you'd use whatever you could to protect yourself, in this case the mattock.

I'm picturing a small garden style mattock like this one for the archers:

https://i.imgur.com/54V84kP.jpg

I think Iodo's weaponized version is a realistic adaptation.
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Re: War Mattocks

Postby Iodo » Tue Apr 07, 2020 2:45 pm

Eofor wrote:Iodo - Your foam mattock looks not unlike the one I've been considering making. The size of the head and a nice two handed shaft seem about right for an end product something like a shepherds axe. I'd post a photo but damned if I can figure out how on this forum.

A thought I had about this a while ago was to make a pick mattock in the "walking axe" style (shown here: viewtopic.php?f=28&t=3648&p=44495&hilit) Nemo's walking axe is so almost a mattock, with a pick and axe instead of a pick and adzi, possibly it's a more useful combination because it can be used to chop firewood and is just as deadly in combat. Maybe something similar to that would be in order? with a slightly thicker and more decorated shaft and a bit more weight in the head to make it look more like it was made in the Iron Hills for battle use

you can attach images directly but the file size limit is seriously small, this is the method I use, hope it's some help: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=4303


and Peter, something similar to that, on a longer decorated shaft and with a bit of added engraving would be something to behold, I have ideas :P
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Re: War Mattocks

Postby Eofor » Wed Apr 08, 2020 11:32 am

Iodo wrote:A thought I had about this a while ago was to make a pick mattock in the "walking axe" style (shown here: https://www.ranger.budgetauthenticity.o ... 4495&hilit) Nemo's walking axe is so almost a mattock, with a pick and axe instead of a pick and adzi, possibly it's a more useful combination because it can be used to chop firewood and is just as deadly in combat. Maybe something similar to that would be in order? with a slightly thicker and more decorated shaft and a bit more weight in the head to make it look more like it was made in the Iron Hills for battle use


I've been tossing up the same thoughts. I think that the Shepherds axe is a wonderful bit of gear and taking it's basic design function and adding a mattock head seems logical. There are a range of small mattocks at my local hardware with different types of heads. There is some work involved in the stock removal and polishing but I think you could turn them into something lovely.

For the handle I think something a bit more solid would be in order as the force generated by a pick head would snap a smaller haft. Plus if it's a bit heftier near the head then you could inlay some brass or bone panels for decoration.

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Re: War Mattocks

Postby Iodo » Wed Apr 08, 2020 1:58 pm

That middle one looks like it could work
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Re: War Mattocks

Postby Darnokthemage » Wed Apr 08, 2020 10:19 pm

I wonder if they had a vertical or horizontal "axe" head? The Vertical version wouls make quite a lot of sense, as you would have a batlleaxe and a pickaxe in one tool, good to fell both Orcs and Trees, and make roads/tunnels/forifications easily.
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Eofor
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Re: War Mattocks

Postby Eofor » Mon May 18, 2020 6:20 am

I received the gift from a friend (I think he's lurking in here somewhere) of a small mattock head after he heard of this project and today I tested it on a few different haft options.

This first one is on a naginata haft and is the second is on a large piece of spotted gum I have. The shield is simply for scale. The finished product will need to be somewhere inbetween the two as the naginata looks great but the haft is too slim and light to counterbalance the head.

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Re: War Mattocks

Postby Eofor » Mon May 18, 2020 6:21 am

I've realised this post may be better filed under the weapons and armour section if an admin was able to do so. Sorry.
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Re: War Mattocks

Postby Iodo » Mon May 18, 2020 7:30 am

that looks amazing :P
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Re: War Mattocks

Postby Peter Remling » Mon May 18, 2020 12:45 pm

I recently thought it might be better if the pick side was a axe. This would allow for the cutting of timber to set up camp when the army was on the move. If they were mining it would benefit in the making of wood supports. Not all mines can be carved out of the bedrock or solid stone, most would be utility mines: iron, copper, coal salt etc.
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Re: War Mattocks

Postby Eofor » Mon May 18, 2020 2:05 pm

I think there would likely have been multiple variations of the mattock head carried based on personal preference.

For example looking at it from a combat point of view the spike would be far more deadly against heavy armour than an axe.

A case of horses for courses?
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Re: War Mattocks

Postby wulfgar » Wed May 27, 2020 7:06 pm

I wonder if Tolkien had something similar to a Roman dolabra in mind. They were an engineering tool that the soldiers carried, but it could very well be used as a weapon.
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