Germanic Knives (La Tène and Frankish)

The following shows a range of knives dating from the pre-Roman La Tène period to the time of the Franks. In shape, they are often quite similar, as these were large fighting and utility knives. Where ever possible, the original location and dating will be given.


Found in Port, Switserland, this large knife, measuring a whopping 41 cm overall with a blade of 31 cm, has a very peculiar T shaped cross section, with a ridge running down the spine of the blade. The handles scales are made of horn plate, which was made by cutting open the horn and flattening it using heat. The dating is Late Iron age, La Tène III.


A cut down version of the knife described above and lacking the T shaped cross section, this knife is in use as a utility knife with a Living History group at present.


Halstadt D or Late La Tène dagger made for a client who wanted to do the hilt themselves. This dagger has the characteristic sloped shoulders to allow a close fit with the antropomorphic hilt common daggers and swords of the La Tène period. The original is described in Morel.


Germanic utility knife based on a German find, the handle is made of oak scales. It shows the thin handle charateristic of this type of knife, which in all likelyhood would be suspended from the belt in a leather scabbard.


These four knives, three with a ring handle and one with a knob, are of Germanic origin, the bent handle with knob characteristic for La Tène. Because the material of the handle had not been preserved and the normaly depicted leather wrapping seemed to offer less grip for a good utility knife, these knives were made with a wooden handle, over which wet rawhide was stitched. After drying solid over the wooden core, the rawhide was waxed to make it water repellent.


Found in Port, Switserland, the ringhandled knife has an all iron handle. It is thought to be of the La Tène period, earlier then the previous one shown, both found during the dredging activities.


Based on a find from Kessel/Lith and dated Late La Tène, this small utilityknife is very suitable for skinning. The bent antler handle was preserved, allowing the knife to be reconstructed with the original handleshape.


Four early Frankish saex. These show the bladeshapes common in early saex found in German graves. The broken back saex is a much later type and only found in an Anglo-Saxon context. The largest measuring 47 cm overall, the handle is 17 cm long. These long handles are derived from the lengthy tangs, which show no signs of being peened at the end. Allowing a "hand-and-a-half" grip, these could be lethal fighting knives. Orientation in the graves shows these were likely worn in the front of the body, suspended horizontaly from the belt.