Dúnedain Sword Designs

A central place to talk about weapons and armour, as it relates to your kit. This is where you show it of or talk about making it. Discussing the relative merits of types of weapons goes in the WMA section.

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Manveruon
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Dúnedain Sword Designs

Post by Manveruon »

Apologies if this has been discussed at length in a previous thread - I’m sure it probably has been, in fact, but I wanted to get all my thoughts out here as well as possible, and I figured a new thread would be the best way to do it. (I also cross-posted this to the FB group, incidentally).
Anyhoo…

I’ve been thinking a lot about swords lately, and what type might have been widely used by the Dúnedain of the late 3rd Age. I absolutely LOVE the “Ranger Sword” given to Aragorn in the New Line films, instead of having him carrying the broken shards of Narsil (the change also makes sense to me from a practical standpoint, if not perhaps a poetic one), but with its two-handed hilt and acorn/scent-stopper pommel, it’s clearly based on a late-medieval longsword, which isn’t quite the image I think Tolkien himself had in mind, being so broadly inspired by Saxon and Norse epics, etc.
It seems much more likely that Tolkien intended most of the swords in his stories to be single-handed, but beyond that it’s a little difficult to say what he may have envisioned, because he rarely gave much description of such things. Furthermore, the history of Middle-earth is rather odd, in that it doesn’t have the same kinds of clearly defined technological ages as the real world. For instance, some of the earliest swords in his works seem to be at least implied to be made from iron or steel, when in reality, the earliest swords were made from things like bronze, and they were crafted using very different methods than later steel examples. The shapes and sizes of these bronze swords were also, necessarily, different than their later steel counterparts, due to their intended use, means of construction, and relative durability. So while the age of a sword like Narsil, for example, might suggest that it ought to be made from bronze, it seems very clear that it is meant to be made from iron or steel.
But I digress…
At any rate, some cultures are perhaps a bit easier to pin down - the Rohirrim, for example, seem very well suited towards swords with a Migration Era Anglo-Saxon design, or even later Saxon/Viking styles. Broad blades with spatulate tips and wide fullers, lobed, multi-piece pommels, etc. This is actually an area where I think the films did a great job, because the Rohirrim swords definitely evoked Saxon design aesthetics, while still being fantasy swords, and having a range of different design elements to tell one apart from the others.
But when it comes to the Dúnedain, I’m a little stumped. Yes, swords of the type carried by Saxons in, say, the 9th century, were often of a similar (or even identical) design to swords carried by the Danes, or the Franks, or any number of other early-Medieval European peoples - so it might make sense for the swords carried by the Dúnedain in Arnor to be similar to the swords carried by the Rohirrim, or the Gondorians, etc. But, being so insular, it feels like there might be a broader design gulf there - not to mention the lineage of the Dúnedain from the Men of Númenor, and the fact that they seem to have had at least a bit more of a relationship with the remaining Elves in that part of the world than other Men of those regions. All of those things, to me, suggest that their design aesthetics might be somewhat peculiar amongst the Men of that age.
So if you were to reverse-engineer the “archetypal” Dúnedain sword - what would that look like? Might there be any space for the design elements seen in Aragorn’s movie sword? Or is that just too far out of context for you? How about the “Bristol” from Valiant Armoury, that so many of us carried for a while? Can you share any examples of existing swords that fit this design, or at least come close? I would love to see pictures, if you have any!

I have attached here a number of examples of designs I myself have toyed with, trying to combine elements from other swords to find a style that feels like it fits - but I’ve never been 100% satisfied with any of them so far. The first example is heavily influenced by Elleth’s Ranger sword, which Odigan made for her some years back, and the last example is admittedly JUST the Bristol, by Valiant Armoury - I was just trying to do kind of a study of the hilt shape and proportions so I could apply some of that to other drawings. I ended up giving none of them standard circular Medieval “wheel” pommels, even though I recognize that this was by far the most common style of pommel throughout the Middle Ages, because frankly I don’t like them much, and to me they feel too real-world.
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Yavion
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Re: Dúnedain Sword Designs

Post by Yavion »

Even before the Bristol I had a love for that type of fishtail pommel, even though it's a later period shape.
I always get hung up on the bit about Boromir's sword being the same type as Anduril, just "of lesser lineage." Since Boromir is noted as carrying a shield, it stands to reason that it would be a one-handed sword.
I think Greg pointed out in a previous thread on this topic that Anduril is noted as a "long sword" in the description of it laying across Aragorn's lap. That lead me down a rabbit hole of thinking maybe it should be a two-handed type XIII similar to one currently offered by Kingston Arms. Something with a blade length easily maneuvered with one hand but could be wielded with two as well. I've since moved on from that idea, as we don't know what Tolkien means by "long sword" (unless I missed it).
All that to say that I really like your interpretations. I also like to imagine that the Brazil nut pommel could evolve into the fishtail. Like, the idea stayed but was stretched out and elongated over time.
As for the blade attached to the hilt, I think something akin to a XII/XIV like Albion Solingen with its flared shoulders and acute point would make sense for an all-purpose sword and shield combination. Seeing as they could be fighting any number of differently armed and armoured appointments.
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Iodo
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Re: Dúnedain Sword Designs

Post by Iodo »

All of them look good, but I am a fan of the third one down :P
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Barandir
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Re: Dúnedain Sword Designs

Post by Barandir »

I tried to post here before, but Spamhaus wouldn't let me lol. I like a number of these designs, particularly the fourth, fifth, and seventh. I'm a sucker for fishtail pommels as well, so the Bristol is always going to be a favorite no matter what.

What I particularly like about the fourth and fifth is that they seem like designs that are reminiscent of the later Dark Ages and early medieval periods but that they had a little Elven influence to them.

I too don't tend to favor wheel pommels; I have them on three of my personal swords, but wish I could switch them for scent stopper, fishtail, or brazil nut designs.
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I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory; I only love that which they defend.
Barandir
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Re: Dúnedain Sword Designs

Post by Barandir »

Manveruon, how do you think the designs of Gondorian swords might differ from the swords of the Northern Dunedain?
Barandir, a Third Age Dunedain, also known as Brand or the Goshawk.

I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory; I only love that which they defend.
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