The Scottish two-handed Claymore sword was recognised for its deathly advances in battle with fierce results but you’ve more than likely heard of it due to its feature in popular Hollywood films, such as Brave Heart.
In this article, we’ll delve into the Scottish claymore sword history and explore the origins of this mighty blade.
What is a Claymore sword?
The Claymore sword is legendary in Scottish history, having being used in many famous battles and wars. The name "claymore" translated to "great sword" in Scottish Gaelic and was primarily used between the 15th and 17th centuries.
The Claymore sword is illustrated by the British Museum as "a two-handed sword … [which is an] iron blade with stamped ornament”. The sword showcases “downward curving quillons ending in quatrefoils [and has a] blade extended beyond wooden handle".
Claymore sword history
During clan wars and battles against the English borderers, the claymore sword was the Scotsman's go-to between 1400 and 1700. Claymore swords were reportedly utilised as early as the first wars of Scottish Independence in 1296, with sculptures depicting soldiers carrying the famous design despite it appearing slightly smaller and less developed in composition.
Fable has it that a claymore was flung into the battlefield toward the opposing soldiers before combat to purport that the Scottish crowds were ready to fight. William Wallace, awarding the less technical nickname "the William Wallace Sword", famously used this as his weapon of choice.
After use in several battles, the last record of its service was the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689, fought between Highland Scottish clans supporting King James VII of Scotland (also known as James II of England) and troops supporting King William of Orange. Although this battle was a triumph for the Highland Scottish Clans, it had overall little effect on the war's outcome and forsook their leader dead. Their forces were disseminated at the Battle of Dunkeld the next month, ending the Jacobite advance.
This disbandment saw the end to the claymore sword being used primarily in battle but it is still represented in sculpture and art throughout Scottish history.
How much does a Claymore sword weigh?
Traditionally, the average claymore would amount to about 140 cm (55 in) in overall length, with a 33 cm (13 in) grip and a 107 cm (42 in) blade. Due to its immense size, the Claymore broad sword is estimated to have weighed approximately 5.5 lb (2.5 kg). The claymore sword was particularly prevalent due to its lighter and smaller size compared to its predecessors.
Occasionally the sword would feature a "Ricasso", a division of the blade above the handle wrapped or covered to enable the wielder to throttle up on the sword and use it as a half sword.
While this sword is no longer employed to behead soldiers on the battlefield, it's still celebrated as a piece of significant Scottish history. Claymore swords are commonplace in museums throughout Britain and you can even buy replica (and much less deadly) versions of the sword!