One of our favorite things to make are medieval style knives. These blades cover a huge variety in style and size and are often found in archeological digs and activities like mud larking and metal detection. These would have been the most common tool of the medieval period and many people would have a knife for work or personal use.
These knives are usually single edged and can be quite small in comparison to the double edged combat style of knife usually referred to as a dagger. These can be just a few inches in length up to relatively larger pieces that skirt the edge between tool and weapon.
Variety of small to medium sized medieval knives
Two replica knives of a style often depicted in medieval art
Larger belt knife replica this size is more tool/hunting/weapon as opposed to eating knife.
We reproduce these pieces as they were made in period using a bit of steel for the blade and the wood and materials to hand for the grip. In todays video we look at one we recently finished to sell at the Renaissance Fair and talk a bit about the characteristics of these knives and look at a couple of original pieces from The Oakeshott Collection.
Elegant slim knife with scabbard based on Thames River find.
4 Knife reproductions with, possibly a bit more polish than they would have had in period.
The medieval knife is a vast subject to study and we will look at some more originals and reproductions in the future, but it is important to remember how important these tools where to the medieval person. They would have been made for all levels of status in the society. The rich and the poor had a knife and it was a tool and utensil that always would have been to hand for nearly everyone in the medieval period.
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.