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Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

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steepholm steepholm
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A Query for Classicists and Archaeologists
"Swords like those we sent you are useful," Aska said. "They are
made by the Romans, and are vastly better than any we have. With
one of those you might chop down as many saplings in a day as
would build a hut, and could destroy any wild beasts that may lurk
in your swamps. (G. A. Henty, Beric the Briton [1893])


The speaker is an Iceni chief bartering with some fen-dwellers in the wake of the defeat of AD 60/1. The swords were captured from the Romans earlier in the campaign, and are presumably standard-issue legionary weapons, which I think of as designed more for stabbing from between the serried shields of a Roman line than waving about or chopping down saplings, but which I'm willing to believe could have done any of these things (though for chopping I'd rather have a hatchet).

My question is this. Is it likely that a British chief of this era (putting all partisanship to one side, for Henty's officer class is nothing if not realist) would consider a standard legionary sword to be "vastly better" than anything Made in Britain? Was Roman sword-making technology noticeably superior to that of the British, speaking in terms of quality rather than their ability to churn the things out on a large scale?
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uhhhhhhhh I'd have to do some more reading up because this is so completely not my time period or anything I've studied buuuuuuut I don't think the Iron Age tribes would've used swords as a widespread weapon? like, I think swords were prestige goods? and in any case they wouldn't have used swords to CHOP DOWN TREES or HUNT WILD ANIMALS.


so basically whatever book that is you're reading is, in my lowly opinion, full of crap.

The more I think about it, the more my Iceni chief looks like he's selling the fen-dwellers a pup - though that doesn't seem to be his character at all.

Apparently Henty thought that 6,500 words was a fair day's work. Occasionally it shows.