Talk:Seax of Beagnoth

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Good article Seax of Beagnoth has been listed as one of the History good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
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August 18, 2010 Good article nominee Listed
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Untitled[edit]

There's a picture of this one coming, as soon as I get it uploaded.—S Marshall T/C 23:38, 4 June 2010 (UTC)

Length error?[edit]

The British Museum say here that the Seax is 81.1cm long.—S Marshall T/C 23:54, 14 June 2010 (UTC)

But this page at the BM gives detailed dimensions -- Length: 721 millimetres, Length: 170 millimetres (handle), Length: 551 millimetres (blade), Thickness: 8.2 millimetres (thickest point), Width: 38.7 millimetres (Widest point), Weight: 985 grammes -- which contradict the 81.1 length. 72.1 cm also concurs with the length 2' 4 1/2" (= 72.39cm) given by Elliott. BabelStone (talk) 00:39, 15 June 2010 (UTC)
  • Yeah, I saw that. I wonder if different people have measured different things—perhaps one measurement along the fuller, another along the longest edge? The alternative is that the British Museum have made a typo, which I'm reluctant to assume. Maybe we should ask Witty lama to check with the curator.—S Marshall T/C 00:49, 15 June 2010 (UTC)
Ask Witty by all means, but getting one figure (81.1cm) wrong is surely much easier than getting three (721/170/551mm) wrong. I think best to assume the detailed description is correct until we find out otherwise. BabelStone (talk) 01:02, 15 June 2010 (UTC)
  • I've dropped him a note on his talk page, and I agree that in the meantime, the 72.1cm figure probably ought to stand.—S Marshall T/C 01:14, 15 June 2010 (UTC)
I'm on it... In the mean-time - go with the dimensions listed at the catalogue reference (which is the more academic source) rather than at the "highlights" page (which is the less detailed page). Witty Lama 07:51, 15 June 2010 (UTC)

Just got confirmation - the database/catalogue entry is correct, not the "highlights" page.

  • L (Length) 721.00 mm
  • L (Length) 170.00 mm handle
  • L (Length) 551.00 mm blade
  • T (Thickness) 8.20 mm thickest point
  • W (Width) 38.70 mm Widest point
  • M (Weight) 985.00 g

Witty Lama 11:39, 17 June 2010 (UTC)

"Iron"[edit]

I'm a bit doubtful about the way the seax is described as "iron". It won't be pure iron or wrought iron. The smelting and forging techniques of the time (which involved charcoal) would've impregnated the metal with quite a lot of carbon and a bit of sand. If the British Museum called it "cast iron", I'd happily say "cast iron" in the article, but absent a source I'm reluctant to do so and I'm not happy with just "iron" because it's ambiguous and misleading to a reader unschooled in metallurgy. Can we rephrase to avoid that word?—S Marshall T/C 01:40, 17 June 2010 (UTC)

A metallurgical analysis would be nice, and is something that the BM may have done (a lot of objects in the collection database refer to such an analysis), but in the absence of a reliable source that says anything other than plain "iron" I am not quite sure what we can do. I certainly don't see how we can rephrase to omit the word "iron". What would also be very good to have in the article is a discussion of the technique of inlaid wire decoration in A-S metalwork, to put its use on the seax in some sort of context and possibly as an explanation for the dating of the object -- at present the 9th/10th century date seems to be given with no particular evidence and is simply taken on trust by us. A photo of the apparently related Berkshire seax would also be interesting, showing how the same sort of ornamentation was used on other seaxes. BabelStone (talk) 09:16, 17 June 2010 (UTC)
In some places the word "iron" could be omitted entirely ("an iron knife" → "a knife"), and if necessary could be replaced with "metal". I'd love to see a metallurgical analysis.

I'll look through my paper sources for a description of late dark age inlaying techniques. I've got quite a decent bookshelf on weapons and warfare of the period, so there might well be something.

I'm afraid I can't help with a photo of the Berkshire seax. There's likely to be one in my collection but it won't be copyright-free.—S Marshall T/C 10:19, 17 June 2010 (UTC)

I don't know anything about metallurgy, but the sources are unanimous in describing the seax as being made from iron, so regardless as to whether it was cast iron or not I think that there is no reason not to also describe the seax as being iron. I don't understand why you think that the plain term "iron" is ambiguous and misleading when the British Museum don't have any problems with the term. BabelStone (talk) 13:57, 30 October 2011 (UTC)
With all due respect for the museum curator and the source authors, I imagine that they will generally have expertise in the blade's primary significance, which is as a rune-bearing object; I don't think they'll be as well up on the blade's spathology, which is no wonder because metallurgy is a very technical and specialist subject. (See history of ferrous metallurgy if you want a useful and relevant introduction to it.)

Basically, "iron" is not a useful thing to say. If we're using "iron" in its broad sense, to mean anything from iron (element) through grey iron and white iron and cast iron through steel to wrought iron and ductile iron, then that's so vague as to be utterly unhelpful. They didn't make seax blades out of anything else. Saying "an iron seax" is like saying "a wooden tree" or "a female woman". I think we should either say what kind of iron, or omit the word completely.—S Marshall T/C 17:30, 30 October 2011 (UTC)

I disagree - iron is for example not bronze. One can assume that all readers know that trees are made of wood, but one certainly cannot assume that they know that all seax blades are iron. Wikipedia is emphatically not a publication (only) for specialists. Small levels of other metals & impurities are neither here nor there & articles on gold antiquities rarely comment on their purity, any more than much information is given on the makeup of bronze/copper alloy objects. Johnbod (talk) 18:19, 30 October 2011 (UTC)

Inlaying technique[edit]

The premier authority for bladed weapons of this period is Ewart Oakeshott. This is a verbatim quote from his book Records of the Medieval Sword, Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer Ltd., 1991 (reprint from 1998), ISBN 0851155669, page 6. He is speaking of Viking Age blades, i.e. 793-1066AD.

(quote removed)

Hope that helps—S Marshall T/C 16:30, 17 June 2010 (UTC)

That does help, thanks. I'm taking a break from editing for a couple of days, but I'm going to come back and try to extend and improve the article some more at the weekend. I've found an example of an C9th Norse sword with a runic inscription on the blade that uses the same technique of hammering wire inlay into chisel-cut letters -- must be exactly what Oakeshott was talking about. BabelStone (talk) 21:11, 17 June 2010 (UTC)

Wikikudos[edit]

I'm impressed with what you have done with the article, S Marshall and BabelStone, thank you. --dab (𒁳) 10:41, 15 August 2010 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Seax of Beagnoth/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

I'll be reviewing this article later this evening, and the first impressions are good. Nev1 (talk) 20:33, 17 August 2010 (UTC)

GA review (see here for criteria)
  1. It is reasonably well written.
    a (prose): b (MoS):
  2. It is factually accurate and verifiable.
    a (references): b (citations to reliable sources): c (OR):
  3. It is broad in its coverage.
    a (major aspects): b (focused):
  4. It follows the neutral point of view policy.
    Fair representation without bias:
  5. It is stable.
    No edit wars, etc.:
  6. It is illustrated by images, where possible and appropriate.
    a (images are tagged and non-free images have fair use rationales): b (appropriate use with suitable captions):
  7. Overall:
    Pass/Fail:

Sorry the review's a day later than promised, but the article is well up to scratch regardless. It currently meets the GA criteria, but below are some comments which might be useful in improving the article.

Discovery
  • What was Briggs doing in the river? It might be worth noting his occupation so the reader knows if it's relevant.
    I assume that he was mudlarking in his spare time (or perhaps the boss of a gang of mudlarks), but I'm not sure that I will be able to find any refs for this. BabelStone (talk) 00:45, 19 August 2010 (UTC)
  • How much did the museum pay?
    That would be recorded in the BM registers, but I do not know if the amount is recorded anywhere that I can find it. BabelStone (talk) 00:45, 19 August 2010 (UTC)
  • Why didn't the seax rust away, ie: what were the conditions it was found in.
    I don't know. There was some discussion of the metal on the talk page, but there does not seem to be any available discussion of its metallurgy. BabelStone (talk) 00:45, 19 August 2010 (UTC)
Description
  • Good description and the context of contemporary decoration of other seaxes adds depth.
Epigraphy
  • "The first nineteen runes are in the correct order, but the next four ... are in a confused order": should be copy edited to avoid the repetition of order.
    YesY Done by S Marshall. BabelStone (talk) 23:07, 18 August 2010 (UTC)

The lead is engaging. The article's structure seems logical.

  • "The last two runes (27–28: ᚣᛠ) are also swapped": I think "also" should be dropped as the jumbled runes mentioned earlier weren't swapped.
    YesY Done. BabelStone (talk) 00:18, 19 August 2010 (UTC)
  • "Secondly, the 16th rune (ᛋ) is very small, and appears to have been squeezed in between no.15 (ᛉ) and no.17 (ᛏ) as an afterthought": it's implicit that the 16th character in the sequence was between the 15th and 17th, so I think this sentence can be simplified to read "Secondly, the 16th rune (ᛋ) is very small, and appears to have been squeezed in as an afterthought".
    YesY Done by S Marshall. BabelStone (talk) 23:07, 18 August 2010 (UTC)
  • Halfway through the section you start giving the Old English names along side the runes; this is slightly inconsistent and as the table is just above it might be easiest to ditch them, although that's entirely up to you.
    YesY Done -- I'm all for consistency. BabelStone (talk) 00:45, 19 August 2010 (UTC)
  • "Daniel Haigh, in an 1872 study of the runic monuments of Kent, considers the possibility...": needs to be clarified who Haigh in the same manner as was done for Elliot.
    YesY Done. BabelStone (talk) 00:18, 19 August 2010 (UTC)
  • The final sentence of this section could do with a reference.
    I agree. I am sure that I saw some brief discussion of the symbols to the right of the name somewhere, but I can't find the reference now -- I'll try and see if I can find something. BabelStone (talk) 00:45, 19 August 2010 (UTC)
Date and provenance
  • "Several seaxes of the same type as the Seax of Beagnoth...": perhaps rephrase "Seax of Beagnoth" to "the Beagnoth example" to avoid repetition of seax?
    YesY Done by S Marshall. BabelStone (talk) 23:07, 18 August 2010 (UTC)
Significance
  • Good stuff, no problems here.
Images
  • A good range of interesting and relevant images, and the way they're spaced makes the article visually appealing.
  • File:Runen Themsemesser.jpg needs a description in English over on commons and the source needs to be added. I realise the user who uploaded the image isn't involved with this article so it may be tricky, but if this goes to FAC it's bound to come up. The image certainly looks old and intuitively I'd assume the license is fine but I'm not hot on images. As the inscription is given below anyway, is it necessary?
    YesY I cannot find a source for the image, and it is mis-licenced as PD-Art which it clearly is not (it's a 3D object not 2D artwork to start with). From the look of it, I would think that it is an illustration from a mid 20th century book, and thus most likely still under copyright. As it is not essential to the article (the photograph above shows the same details and the drawing from Haigh shows the runes clearly) I have simply removed it. BabelStone (talk) 00:55, 19 August 2010 (UTC)

Perhaps merge a few of those one sentence paragraphs? Also, but have you contacted the British Museum to see if they have a curator willing to comment on the article? If you're interested in taking the article further (seems to me like it would stand a good chance at FAC) that some input or guidance from someone familiar with the subject might help fill any holes that might not appear obvious. I've made some minor copyedits you'll want to check to make sure I haven't changed the meaning of anything. Anyway congratulations on a good article on an interesting subject. Nev1 (talk) 14:34, 18 August 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for the very helpful and painless review. I will ask Witty Lama if he can get a curator to look at the article. BabelStone (talk) 00:58, 19 August 2010 (UTC)

inscribed blades[edit]

I would suggest that the wider topic of blade inscriptions discussed under "runic inscribed blades" should become a standalone topic, under either blade inscription or inscribed blade. The Ulfberht redirect would then also point there. --dab (𒁳) 08:38, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

Certainly some of the material in this section could also be included in an existing or new article, but I would not like to see it all moved away from this article as, in my opinion, it provides essential background material for understanding the runic inscription on this seax. BabelStone (talk) 21:44, 20 August 2010 (UTC)