A swordid blog post

Category: | By Anthony Riches

I was quietly browsing the web for a maker of handmade Roman swords a few days ago (well let’s face it, it beats writing) when I found something that looked perfect:


It wasn’t just the fact that the entire sword is handmade. Or that it’s a perfect replica of a Pompeii gladius. What shouted ‘buy me’ was the fact that the wooden fittings are nearly two thousand years old! Dated to AD70, the wood was excavated in London, enormous tree trunks that had been squared off and used as piles for a Roman dock. I’ve never touched anything half as old, so of course I hotfooted it to Thaxted. And what a cool place the Raven Armoury workshop is. The sword was lovely, perfectly balanced in a way that exceeds the feel of any other replica I’ve ever handled, and I purchased it in a heartbeat – one of the pleasures of having a little spare cash sitting in my writing account is the ability to splash out on the occasional writing related toy – but there’s much more to Raven than my lovely gladius (which I will collect once the blade has been polished to perfection).

Simon showed my some truly amazing examples of the sword smith’s art.?

A bastard sword that felt perfect in the hand, and made wonder just how much damage a man could do to unarmoured opponents on the battlefield with a blade like that to throw around;


A scimitar that literally floated out of its scabbard and felt like I was holding a piece of exquisitely balanced thin air;


And a ceremonial dagger based on one made for a Middle Eastern monarch that is simply exquisite;


Better yet, he showed me pics of some Roman lorica segmentata…


…and a Gallic helmet…


…that look exquisite. There are only two problems with making Raven my armourer of choice for my Roman wardrobe.

  • 1. Time – Simon has a FIVE YEAR waiting list.
  • 2. Cost – You really, really don’t want to know what it costs to get Roman kit made to these exacting standards. But let me assure you, my gorgeous new gladius is a snip by comparison.

Of course I have no scabbard for it – *yet*. For the time being I’ll be happy to take the piece to my talks and invite the audience to touch the oldest piece of wood they’ll ever lay hands on, unless they happen to be archeologists. And Raven will be bashing out a run of these swords in two or three years time, Simon tells me. When he does get round to making more Roman weaponry I shall be at the head of the queue for a ‘jewellery quality’ scabbard in which to sheathe this lovely thing. And possibly a companion piece, the waisted Fulham gladius…


It looks gorgeous. And I am a pushover for a pretty sword!