Scottish Weaponry

1308 - 1745

 

In the above picture are some examples of the pole weapons used in the period 1314 -1745. Starting on the right you have the basic pole weapon, the "knife on a stick" or "glaive". The Scotsman could get a stick and probably owned a big knife; neither was particularly effective as a weapon but together they became a usable pole weapon. This gave you the ability to attack more efficiently at a greater distance from your body. Most pole weapons were developed from simple peasant tools like this. The longest of the pole weapons on our rack is a spear about 12' long, used against the English knights for many years, starting in the beginning of our time period. This tactic gave the Scots the ability to defeat the cavalry while on foot. This was important since the Scots were mostly footmen, while the English could bring many mounted knights to battle. It took the English a long time to devise an attack that could counter the long pike, other than their archers. They did eventually come up with better tactics for the use of the English Bill (shown below left), which would be used to come up under the long pole with its V-shaped top. As the "V" slides up the pole the user was able to push the spear up, coming within in the 6 foot striking distance of this weapon. The defender with the pole weapon had no way to recover before he could be stuck with the sharp points of the English Bill. Not to be out-done or defeated easily, the ingenious Scots devised the Lochaber Axe (shown below right). Its length equal to the the Bill, the Lochaber Axe allowed the Scots to defend themselves against the English footman. The hook ("cleek") on the back allowed them to attck the horsemen as well, pulling them down to be dispatched with the axe edge, or taking down the horse with a sweeping blow.

 

The targe (shield) was a defensive weapon with offensive capabilities. With a spike mounted in the center and your dirk in hand, point downwards behind the shield, you could block an opponent's blow effectively and change from a defensive weapon to offensive without losing a beat. Also able to stop a musket ball at some ranges, the targe was about 18" - 22" round and made of 3 or more layers of wood with the grains running in different directions to create a "plywood"-like shield. It was then covered with a thick leather or oxhide and decorated with brass and iron studs. The spike in the center was used to parry opposing blows or as an offensive weapon. The targe was held on the forearm with two straps, leaving the hand free to carry a dirk of 14" or so. This created another sharp point sticking out from the side of the targe, as shown in the picture above. Equipped like this, when one parried an opponents blow, the targe would come up with the spike in the middle holding the enemy's sword, and a new point (the dirk) would now be in his face or chest.

 

On the rack are various broadswords that the Scots used in the latter part of our period, from the early ribbonhilt to the familiar baskethilt of Culloden Moor. Pictured below is the hilt of a Scottish broadsword from 1710, made by a"hammerman" to fit the blade. The blades were made in Italy and Germany and imported; the hilts were crafted locally on a forge. See the Wapenshaw for more on swords

 


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