You may have heard the word “claymore” thrown around here and there, but what exactly is it? To start with, let’s just admit that it sounds cool…rolls off the tongue so nicely! To shed some light on this though, you should know that the Claymore is a weapon, a member of the long sword family. Rising to prominence in the 15th and 16th centuries in the Scottish Highlands, the Claymore was a two-handed sword meaning “great sword” in Gaelic. This cutting piece resembled others of its time throughout Europe, but there were indeed aspects that set it apart.
The Claymore was truly impressive in appearance and a large contributing factor was its blade. Crafted of steel, the blade was characterized as being straight, heavy and long (as much as 60 inches) and was sharpened on both edges for maximum power and efficiency. The average weight of these swords was around 5.3 pounds. Sometimes, the blades would have inscriptions signifying religious beliefs or family associations. On a note of interest, the most massive Claymore on record was 7 feet 6 inches in length and came in with a weight of 23 pounds. In modern times, these weapons tend to be smaller with blades usually measuring about 40 inches.
Moving down the Claymore was the hilt and the guard. Both were straight, although the guard slanted slightly toward the blade. The grip sometimes contained interwoven Celtic patterns for decoration. It has also been documented that hilts were made on Islay, an island off the west coast of Scotland. The weapon was also balanced by a wheel pommel accompanied by a crescent-shaped nut. During the 16th century, many claymores shifted to basket-hilted weapons and thus the term came to mean basket-hilted broadsword.
As the Claymore emerged over time, it earned the reputation of being the national weapon of Scotland. The weapon was desired for its excellent balance and was a stellar choice for cutting and thrusting. Due to its size and weight, it was used primarily by combatants fighting on foot.
Basket Hilt Claymore:
The Claymore served as the basis for other swords to come and still remains today, making appearances in reenactments, film, and more. To see our collection of Scottish Claymores, visit http://www.armorvenue.com/.