by Dick Lucas who
owns The Scottish Armoury.
When I travel
about the country I often hear the big two handed sword with the quillons
ending in an open work quadtrefoil formed of four short tubes welded
together called a Claymore.
I also hear
others saying, "no", the Claymore is the Baskethilt broad sword and the
two-handed sword is just that, a two-handed sword.
So who is right?
Lets look at some
of the expert's opinions. In the summer of 1996 an exhibition of swords
was held at Culloden commemorating the battle there in 1746. There were
some swords on display that had never been seen by the public before and
The National Trust for Scotland published a book called "The Swords and
the Sorrows" with many of these swords pictured in the book. The sword
pictured in the book with the quadtrefoil described above is called a
two-handed Highland sword and under those words are "claidheamh da laimh."
I do not speak
Gaelic or attempt to but I am told those Gaelic words mean, two-handed
sword. There are other pictures of big swords of different style quillons
with these Gaelic words under them.
[This is the correct translation, if you want to add them there are
accents: dà làmh. dà = two, làmh = hand. Information supplied by Barry
swords with different quillons do not have the Gaelic term under it and is
simply called a two-handed sword and they are considered lowland Scottish
swords. This style sword was also commonly used in Ireland. A Glossary of
the Construction and Use of Arms and Armor by George Cameron Stone has
pictured a sword with the Highland style quillons and they call it a
Claymoree. Stone also uses Gaelic words to describe the sword (claidheamh-mor
and/or claidhmichean-mhor). Stone also says in the book that name is
usually used for the later Scotch broadsword which is actually the
Now lets look at
comes in many hilt styles but are usually known by two common names, the
Basket-hilted broadsword and the Basket-hilted backsword.
The Swords and
the Sorrows has Gaelic written under the broadsword (claidheamh mor) and
the backsword has (claidheamh cuil) written under it. The broadsword is
double edged while the backsword is edged only on the edge facing away
from the open side of the hilt and was preferred by the calvary. The
baskethilt with the curved blade was called a basket-hilt sabre (claidheam
crom). The term baskethilt is not used by Stone but lists all baskethilts
under the broad category-broadswords and also described them as single
commonly associated with the Scots were used worldwide and even most of
the Scottish baskethilts were made on the continent.
So who is right
about the swords? I have seen both swords in museums all across the UK and
the big sword in called a Claymore.
armourer that makes some of my swords calls the big sword a Claymore and
the small sword a Baskethilt.
in many of the castles I have visited call the big sword a Claymore and
the small sword a Baskethilt.
Personally I am
going to call them what my friends in Scotland call them - the big sword
is a Claymore and the small sword is a Baskethilt.
I am sure I will
hear from some of you about what these weapons were called and I hope some
Gaelic speaking person will clarify the Gaelic terms for all of us.
If anyone would
like more information on these or other medieval weapons I can be reached
through The Family Tree.