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I Forge Iron

Viking Hersir

Tim McCoy

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Found this book at a yard sale for $1 ...

Viking Hersir
793-1066 AD

ISBN: 1-85532-318-4

Published by Osprey/Military, London
Authors: Mark Harrison & Gerry Embleton

63 pages/ line drawings/ color plates/ black & white photos

The authors provide a scholarly look at the history of vikings over a period of just under three hundred years. Written in a style that will suit the needs of the average reader and follows the development of "Viking" culture and provides a great deal of insight about how they really were able to influence much of European history for the last 1500 years.

Of particular interest to re-enactors and especially blacksmiths are the sections related to weapons and armour (English spelling). There are many examples of swords, seax, and even a couple representations of what comprised a blacksmiths work area. Has also examples of "hack silver", pattern welding, axes, and shields. Many comparisons of sword pommels, blade styles, and maille.

According to the authors Vikings never carried double bladed axes ... those arrived later in European warfare, maybe circa 1200 or later to fight mounted cavalry.

I have not checked to see if it is still in publication - the copy I have is from 1993.

Contact Osprey at:


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Note that in the living history community Osprey books are considered to range from quite good to quite poor in their scholarship. I do not know where this one is in that spectrum; but it's good practive to never use only *1* source when researching something!

BTAIM I'd have bought it at that price to add to my research library!

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Of course no student relies on one source. That notwithstanding, the photos of finds from archeo sites are enough to satisfy any interest in style, composition and date. It is for the reader to judge what is correct/relevant or hogwash. While I find the nuances of trying to discern what life was like yesterday interesting, it frequently starts with information taken from one dimensional settings that have long lost their true meaning. But, a piece of hammered steel tells a blacksmith much about it's creation. So, for me it was a dollar more than well spent. Your points are well taken and I appreciate your input - as always. Others will have to decide what may work for them with this work. B)

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