Saturday, 25th November 2017 at 2:00 pm, in the Museum of the History
of Science, Old Ashmolean Building, Broad Street, Oxford.
James Hester 'Forensic Fencing: What can damage on blades tell us about
The martial arts of Europe were just as sophisticated as those of Asia.
However, as the weapons concerned declined in use, the arts were
gradually forgotten. Only in the last thirty years have efforts been
made to study surviving sources in an attempt to understand, and
perhaps re-create, these lost techniques.
We are fortunate in having a wealth of surviving late medieval arms and
armour in collections throughout the world, including many beautiful
and well-preserved swords. Closer examination of some of these reveals
traces of their former use preserved as notches, rolled edges, and wear
patterns on the blade. Having not been previously investigated in
detail, this talk will discuss part of my PhD research in which I
analyse these damaged blades to gain insights into medieval swordplay.
Focusing on the period between 1350 and 1500, this includes the ways in
which different parts of the weapon were used, the types of techniques
that may have been most common, and also any possible shift in
technique that could have taken place throughout the period covered.
Perhaps ‘reading’ the blades will prove a major key to recovering these
lost martial arts.
Our June meeting will a talk by Seb Falk on early medieval mathematics,
exact date and topic TBD