10 June 2012

Researching For Romance Writing: The Claymore

Today, I continue my new post series: Researching For Romance.  Tune in as I share the interesting tidbits I've discovered during the writing process! 

The Claymore:  Popular Battle Weapon And Oft Wielded Sword Of Romance Heroes...

In Depth Info , a great research site, explains that the claymore was a Scottish weapon used in the late medieval period (1300-1700's).  Heavy (a good five pounds), the claymore was wielded with two hands and was an offensive weapon.  With a reach up to sixty inches, this weapon was brutal when employed, but could also be disadvantageous if an attacker broke inside the swordsman's stroke arc.  Thrusts, swings, and downward hacks were deadly; the combined weight of the sword and body momentum easily penetrated English armor and could even break shields. 



The use of the term Claymore can be deceiving as the true sword has definite properties.  William Wallace was said to utilize this weapon, but his sword had a more narrow point and lacked the leather wrapping around the ricasso; so in the strictest of terms, it was not a 'true' Claymore.  I've read the sword used in the movie was.

Medieval Storm The Castle , another interesting site, tells that while the sword gained greater notoriety during its use against the English during the 1700's, it had been long in use by that time.  It remains part of the uniform of the British Highland Division to this day. 

The claymore, in its loose interpretation of the name, was used extensively in the back and forth border battles between England and Scotland between the 1400's and 1700's.  The Battle of Killiecrankie (1689) was the last documented instance of the sword's use in significant numbers. (wikipedia ) 

The Claymore seems to have developed from the cross-hilted sword and has been depicted on graves as far back as 1539, although the Claymore widely described in novels is often the Lowland Claymore.  No more precise dating can be determined beyond late 16th century for the exact time when the sword came into common use.  I was extremely interested in the evolution of the Claymore and discovered that this sword is of German origin.  My Armoury offers a more thorough vetting than I will go into.

In my novella, Her Dark Baron, the hero has a Claymore strapped to his back as he rides to his home.  Living on the English/Scottish border in the mid 1600's, a time of vicious border raids between the Scots and English, and secretly crossing the border to seek and eliminate key rebels, Baron Gervase Daltrey may well have employed this deadly weapon.  Researching the Claymore was definitely an educational experience, growing my knowledge in heaps.

What have you researched recently?  Have any great finds to share?

 ~ Nadja

26 comments:

  1. I've seen Claymore demonstrations at Highland Games...it is a completely different fighting style. I once read a story where the author described the hero fighting with a Claymore like he was fencing with an extra long rapier...um, no. But I'd not heard about the German connection before. Fascinating.

    Loving this series Nadja!

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    1. I had a bit of help; my brother pointed me to the sites I used for my research. He's a bit of a sword buff. Lol. He first explained the evolution of the Claymore from its German counterpart, and I was surprised, too! My Armory gives a detailed history for any interested.

      I'm so glad you're enjoying this series. I love writing it and have learned so much. Maybe someone will benefit from the links in their own research rabbit trails. Ha.

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  2. I have researched about Mayan mythology ;)
    <3 the Brave Heart pic ... hum, I miss that movie ... perhaps I should watch it for the 1000th time ;)

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    1. It's terrible to say, but I've never seen Braveheart from start to finish in one sitting. I always come upon it somewhere in the middle.

      Mayan mythology! That would be interesting, I'm sure. I've never been much for the South American Indian histories, but I became more so after watching Apocolypto, which I thought a well done movie.

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  3. Great post, Nadja! I love knowing the historical background for what I read in books. I think that's why when I started reading romances I always went for the historical romances first. I wouldn't read anything but those! Now I read just about anything as long as it has a happily ever after. ;)

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    1. Hi, Anya! I love my historicals, too! And I definitely want my HEA.

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  4. Fascinating stuff - I'm researching weapons through the ages to try and think of some that might be used in the future if there was no means of mass manufacture - I think the Claymore is too advanced for what I need, but am having a great time reading about all the ingenious ways we have of killing each other:)

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    1. Ahhh...a kindred spirit. Ha. I've always been fascinated with any art of bloodsport. Maybe the Saxon versions of swords would be a good match for what you're looking for, of the bow and arrow.
      I'm looking forward to writing on the English Battle Axe - my personal favorite weapon of medieval times - as well as the Roman weapons of gladiators and weapons from the Near East. So many weapons, so little time. Ha.

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  5. That's a big ole sword! LOL. Research can be fun. I haven't done a lot of research lately. So much of what I write is paranormal, so most of it is made up anyway. :)

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    1. That's one aspect of paranormal writing that I so enjoyed...making up things. It's so nice to write whatever I imagine. :}

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  6. Nasty sword, Nadja! But great post/research.

    I've been researching odd things like blood, and Rasputin, more for my blogs, and short stories than anything I need at the moment for the book.

    Hope your weekend was good!

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    1. Rasputin? Oh, that sounds fascinating. Hmmm. Post all your findings :}

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  7. Thank you so much for these research links! They were new to me.

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    1. Hope they come in handy...although I don't know much about pirate weapons, Maria. I have, however, been researching whiskey making...maybe not rum, but still... lol.

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  8. I guess, in a sense, I'm always doing research. I like to have just there when I'm writing.

    But it's also an excuse for reading posts like these all the time....

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    1. I enjoy reading interesting posts about various novels-in-the-making too. Isn't it great how many different things there are to look up and add into our storylines? :}

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  9. I've always been fascinated by ancient weapons, and the Claymore is one of my particular favorites. If I'm remembering correctly, they're swung in a figure eight pattern. I didn't realize that the sword carried by William Wallace wasn't a true Claymore. Thanks for the interesting new tidbit of information.

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    1. In Depth Info offered nice descriptions of the various blows this sword could deliver...a bit gory (as I listed...lol) but quite interesting. I have not read about the figure eight pattern, but could easily see how that particular swing arc could be devastating after all my research...Thanks, Marcy!

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  10. Love finding new resources :) I'm off to check them out, thanks so much for sharing them with us :)

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    1. Hope they're helpful :} I believe My Armoury was my personal favorite site! But those listed are the ones I found most helpful. Happy researching.

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  11. I love the claymore, and wish I had one up on the wall. So neat.

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    1. To be honest, I thought a claymore would weigh more than what was reported! That was perhaps the most surprising fact I learned. It is such a large sword! But with such a long blade, I guess even that five pounds would be quite heavy and awkward to wield.

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  12. Thanks for your comment over at my place :)

    As always reading your posts makes me want to write a historical piece next! Keep up the good work.x

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    1. You're so welcome, Em! I cannot wait to see you publish your first piece!

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  13. Woo! I love reading about all things Scottish :-)

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    1. *Scottish fan club 'Woo' in return* :}

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