Our newest item is a beautifully vicious axe from 13th C Ireland. Light and fast this hafted axe would provide the wielder with the reach and speed to counter any sword or dagger it may encounter. The original is richly decorated with silver foil plates but this piece is done in a brushed steel finish with hardened edge and mounted on a 52 inch ash haft. This piece is designed for solid use and cutting. It gives the wielder excellent control in the hand and a surprisingly agile action in use.
Arms & Armor #261 Irish Axe
The head shape of the axe is often identified today as a Gallowglass axe though the 13th Century examples seem to be smaller and much more agile than the later 16th C examples that are often replicated today as a halberd like weapon.
These axes have a slim cross section, this improves speed and ease of use.
This design is seen in illustrations from the period and the amazing finds exhibited at the National Museum of Ireland Archeology. They date from the 13th Century and illustrate the exceptional design and functionality of these weapons. They are the equal of any offensive arm they may encounter in their time and place and were recognized by opponents as being fearsome in damage and use.
Axe Display in Dublin at the Archeology Museum in Dublin
A quote from Gerald of Wales writing in the last decades of the 12th century.
"This weapon has not to be unsheathed as a sword, or bent as a bow, or poised as a spear. Without further preparation, beyond being raised a little, it inflicts a mortal blow… From the axe there is always anxiety. If you think you are free from anxiety, you are not free from an axe."
Irish Axe in use
While this is written by someone who was viewing Ireland from the point of a foreigner, it is obvious that the Irish warrior carrying an axe was recognized as being someone you did not take lightly.
The particular Axe we based our piece on.
We were amazed at the lightness and detail of these axes.
So our newest item is an axe of reputation from 13th C Ireland made from steel and fire in our shop. Check out our spotlight video on this new axe.
Nathan Clough, Ph.D. is Vice President of Arms and Armor and a member of the governing board of The Oakeshott Institute. He is a historical martial artist and a former university professor of cultural geography. He has given presentations on historical arms at events including Longpoint and Combatcon, and presented scholarly papers at, among others, The International Congress on Medieval Studies.
Craig Johnson is the Production Manager of Arms and Armor and Secretary of The Oakeshott Institute. He has taught and published on the history of arms, armor and western martial arts for over 30 years. He has lectured at several schools and Universities, WMAW, HEMAC, 4W, and ICMS at Kalamazoo. His experiences include iron smelting, jousting, theatrical combat instruction and choreography, historical research, European martial arts and crafting weapons and armor since 1985.