Anthropomorphic Swords

British Museum
{short description of image}Metropolitan museum
Hull Museum
Sword and hilt weapons, various, MMB 1989
{short description of image}

These form a peculiar subclass of period weapon that is found across Britain and Europe. The handles are solid cast, semi-realistic representations of the human form; hence the name of the swords. 

{short description of image}

They seem to be exclusively fitted to very short swords or long daggers, sometimes found with a longer sword. Some are found with bronze scabbards as well.

{short description of image}

Buying Advice.

Be very, very careful when thinking about buying one of these weapons. To my knowledge, nobody makes a good "off the shelf" replica. Although there is a weapon, with a junk blade, that has a very good "pot metal" handle; That might serve as a basis for casting your own bronze handle assembly.

There is a variant which is very numerous on EBAY ,and other places, inviting called a "celtic sword" (below)


Things wrong with this sword:

  1. Probably a stainless steel blade; which will break.
  2. central fuller (groove) - not accurate for any weapon of this period
  3. Ricasso (square section on the blade adjacent to the crossguard) - as found on later medieval swords.
  4. brass fittings.
  5. resin or "macassar" wood (as grown in the East Indies, Philippines or Celebes Islands) grip.
  6. "anthropomorphic" design is like nothing found


John Barnett Anthropomorphic (Celtic sword) - picture right.

Be prepared for some work with this one.

  • Handle is "inspired" by the one from Salon (above), crossed with ones from chartres (france) and Dinnyes(hungary). However, it is slightly too big but not grossly so.
  • It appears to be bronze (ad advertised) but is covered in some black varnish muck, obviously there to "age" it. A nightmare to remove.
  • Blade shape is completely wrong and far too long.
  • The blunted "EN45" blade is not that hard as my grinder finds it easy to cut.
  • The main problem is that the sword tang only goes halfway into the handle and is then "pinned" through with either one or two very thin lengths of brass rod. Looks rubbish and will break under use.

This weapon is recoverable after alot of work. If you can get one really cheap (like £20) then it might be worth the hours of work. If you can pick one up, then you will need the "re-enactment" version as the blade edge is thicker (but is still too thin on the edge).

Be wary of any trader that sells these as "accurate". They obviously have no idea.