The story of the sword

The sword: a sharp, cold, lethal piece of metal. An object with which you can slash, cut, stab. A double-edged blade that can be used for both attack and defence.

Man has used it in combat since the Bronze Age and throughout history. When Adam and Eve were driven from Paradise, “God then placed cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth on the east side of the Garden of Eden to guard the way to the tree of life.” Due to its effectiveness, in many cultures the sword is a symbol of strength and status. In the European Middle Ages, in the hands of knights it could represent all warriors. And in our times the victorious weapon of the heroes of the Star Wars films is a lightsabre – or laser sword.

A Masterpiece of the Sword Smith´s Art

By Peter Johnsson

The sword N4516 is an unusually fine example of the sword smiths craft. It is masterfully made and an ingenious work of design in the Gothic


A versatile long sword like the N4516 was effective in cuts against un-armoured targets and excelled in thrusting. Its sturdy blade is well suitedfor half-sword techniques and the massive pommel may be used as a club. The angle of sharpening is some 30 degrees, making for an edge that is both acute and resilient.

Even with a rather hefty weight of 1650 grams, the N4516 is an supremely agile and responsive weapon as a result of a well adjusted distribution of mass. Important factors in the function of swords are Pivot Points, Vibration Nodes and Point of Balance. The illustration shows where these are situated in the N4516.

The Point of Balance is where swords balance while stationary. However, swords are designed for motion. How well balanced a sword is can be judged by the placing of the Forward and Aft Pivot Points. The forward pivot points helps aiming the blade at the opponent in wards and guards, while the aft pivot point allows the sword to be quickly brought around in preparation for a blow.


The Nodes of Vibration, are places where vibrations are cancelled out. This will have an effect on how the sword behaves in contact with other weapons and on impact with targets.



























The coherence of elements of design and unity of proportions was very important to medieval aesthetics. Analysis of the proportions of medieval swords according to design techniques known from surviving architectural drawings from the period indicate that geometric drawing was also known and used by cutlers or sword smiths. The use of geometry in design has several benefits. It is a practical way to establish specifications for work that is divided between several expert craftsmen, as was the case in the production of swords. Geometric structures are also simple to scale to any size and easy to memorize. Geometry and number were to the medieval mind charged with symbolic meaning and this may be important for a weapon that was an emblem for worldly power and prowess but also a symbol of the spiritual fight against evil. Letters and symbols inlayed in blades served as religious invocations and magical talismans. Likewise, the use of geometry in the design of the sword transformed it into a divine instrument, possessed of a perfect wholeness derived from the unity and harmony of its parts.

The illustrations below show how geometry may have been used in the design of N4516. The defining elements of the structure; the vesica, the octagon, the rotated and inscribed squares and the interaction between square and circle are all commonly used by medieval architects in the design structure for abbeys and cathedrals.

Blue lines are devices for construction. White lines mark the basi geometry while red lines define the proportions of the sword.