Remarkable Bronze Age weapons and craftsmanship

While doing research for a future book, I was fortunate to stumble across the Web site of Neil Burridge, who makes authentic replicas of historic Bronze Age swords, spears and other artifacts, mostly based on archaeological discoveries of actual weapons.  His craftsmanship is remarkable.  Here’s an excerpt from his Web site, interspersed with photographs of some of the swords he’s made (reduced in size to fit this blog).

My name is Neil Burridge and this site showcases my work as a bronze sword smith. Over the last 12 years I have been fortunate enough to work with some of the leading archaeologists in the study of ancient weapons.

Middle Bronze Age, Canaanite “sickle sword”

This has enabled me to have hands on experience of the original artifacts and has greatly helped me in the understanding of their manufacture and the skills of the ancient metal-workers. In my work I strive to recreate the quality and elegance of the ancient bronze swords.

Bronze Age trilobal arrowheads

Apart from the design, the three qualities that you would look for in a bronze sword are, weight, balance and alloy, the level of skill Bronze age sword makers achieved with clay casting technology is stunning, and the fact that no one can match them today, is even more humbling.

Mycenaean Type G sword

All bronze age sword edges were hardened and sharpened at the same time, the edges were forged down to a thin, hard wafer. The work is so neat, its not easy to understand how they achieved it.

Late Bronze Age spear head

Over the past couple of years I have had some interesting interactions with archaeologists researching bronze swords. Subsequently I have come to the conclusion that we only see bronze swords in drawings in one dimension, and have little understanding of their weight, balance and how they were used.

Late Bronze Age Ewart Park sword, found in England

The first thing we would all say, when a bronze age sword was paced in are hands is, “it’s so small”, and they were small! It is only by the end of the bronze age that swords were getting any thing like the size we imagine, so 67cm [about 26″] would be a very big sword, and would probably weigh around 700 grams [about 24.6 ounces].

There’s much more at Mr. Burridge’s Web site.  I highly recommend that you take some time to browse the pages in the pop-out menu bar at the side, and see his craftsmanship for yourself.  It’s remarkable.

I think I might just have to save up my money to buy one of his bronze swords.  Not only will it be a fine example of historical metalworking, but it’ll be a very real reminder of how war has shaped and formed our civilization since before recorded history.



  1. I remember reading a rather dry scientific paper that determined that some bronze was as strong or stronger than iron and early steel weapons.

    The shift to iron and steel wasn't because iron and steel were overall better, but easier to manufacture.

    That was the shifting point. Iron and, especially in Northwest Europe, the proper iron ore (bog iron and meteoric iron) made for weapons as good as the bronze ones, but from more commonly found materials.

    Our ancestors weren't as stupid or uneducated as we've been taught.

    Those tri-lobe arrowheads would make one nasty wound, wouldn't they?

  2. That first sword looks like a khopesh. The Mycenaean type G sword looks almost like an early Norse 'arming sword'. There's really only so many ways to make a sword, though.

  3. Pete,
    It closed a few years ago, but the Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester, MA had an outstanding collection of bladed weapons from all corners of the globe. Some were ceremonial, others had drawn blood in combat. All were fearsome.

  4. not weapons oriented per se, but if you like the whole how ancient warfare shaped the modern world sort of thing, you might consider HARDCORE HISTORY with Dan Carlin. He does deep, deeeeep dives into historical events – persia, greece, rome, the mongols, etc….just a remarkable series and a wealth of information and interesting view points…i've found it interesting and enlightening.

  5. Brad_in_IL, I was part of an event with the WPI Glee Club once. It would have been rather ironic, then, if we had chosen to sing certain selections from Wagner or something. Not that I knew about that armory museum at the time. Might be a good reason to go back.

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