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Sword Scabbards - Glossary of Terms

Alum tawed - A way of preparing a skin to become leather that leaves the skin white; useful for white sword belts.

Baldric - Belt that crosses the chest and is used to support a scabbard, common in 17thC and used in the Viking periods.

Belt stiffener –'Tall' bar like belt fitting that is used to stop wide leather belts from rolling up along their axis when pulled tight.

Bonded linen – Linen glued to the outside of a wooden scabbard core to strengthen it. Used on rapiers, some late Roman and some Migration era scabbards.

Bridge – Staple shaped loop fitted near the throat of a scabbard and used to mount the scabbard to the sword belt. Late Roman and Migration eras.

Byknives – Extra implements were collectively known as 'byknives' so a knife and a pricker together are known as byknives. Usual combinations are knife and pricker or two knives and a pricker. Popular in the 15th and 16th C.

Carving – A pattern or picture is incised into the leather and then areas of the leather surface are depressed and others lifted to create a 3 dimensional effect. Same as 'embossing'.

Crossbelt – 16th and 17thC hangers that are supported by a sword belt (not baldric) have a belt that passes from the hanger to the opposite hip across the front of the body.

Chape - Metal fitting mounted to the tip of the scabbard to help protect it from damage. Styles changed but they were almost universally used through recent history, though less than you may expect in the 14thC.

Cord work – Cord glued to the scabbard core, under the leather allowing patterns to show through when the leather is worked down around the cord.

Core – Sword scabbards were almost always wood cored and covered in leather, allowing the sword to fit well and consistently in a protective cover.

Crimped chape – Simple and cheap form of a chape that is made from a metal cone which has the bottom parts cut and turned in to close the end. 12th-16thC.

Distributor – Used where 3 or 4 suspension straps meet; a metal fitting that allows some movement between the straps. Used in the Viking era and later in the 14th & 15thC.

Dyeing - Chemical used to colour the leather. Vegtan (naturally tanned) leather is flesh coloured but if left untreated ages to a light sandy brown.

Edging – Metal decorative edging used on rain flaps in the 13th and 14thC.

Embossing - A pattern or picture is incised into the leather and then areas of the leather surface are depressed and others lifted to create a 3 dimensional effect. Same as 'carving'.

Finial – Enlarged button on the bottom of a chape.

Fleece/fur – Used to line scabbards during the Migration and Viking eras.

French tie – Also 'knotted belt' . Type of knot used to tie sword belts from the 12th to 14thC.

Furniture – Collective word used to describe the various metal elements fitted to a scabbard.

Gutters – Metal channels fitted to the top part of the edges of some Migration era scabbards.

Hanger – Metal fittings used to attach suspension straps to a scabbard.

Hanger - Either; leather panel with (usually) 6 or 9 straps that pass around a rapier scabbard and is hooked onto the sword belt or bottom strapped part of a baldric that passes around a scabbard (17thC).

Harness – Whole assembly of sword belt and scabbard.

Hole reinforcer – Hollow rivet that is used to reinforce the buckle holes in a sword belt, allowing the buckle pin to fit through.

Horseshoe chape - A simple form of chape that wraps around the scabbard tip; shaped like a horseshoe. Used through the Migration era to the 13thC.

Incised – Decoration that is cut into the surface of the leather and usually widened to make it stand out more.

Integrated belt - one strap cross – Sword belt is divided into parts and laced through the scabbard to create a cross over the scabbard and a single strap at the throat. 13th 14thC.

Integrated belt - Two strap cross - Sword belt is divided into parts and laced through the scabbard to create a cross over the scabbard and a double strap at the throat. 13th 14thC.

Integrated belt – Z – Short part of the sword belt is laced to the throat of the scabbard and the longer part laced further down, with a single connecting strap forming a Z shape over the surface of the scabbard. 11th to 13thC.

Knotted belt – Also called 'French tie'. Type of knot used to tie sword belts from the 12th to 14thC.

Leather – Vegtan leather is naturally tanned and can be moulded, shaped decorated and dyed.

Lining – A layer of fur, fleece or fabric bonded to the inside of a scabbard core.

Metalwork - Collective word used to describe the various metal elements fitted to a scabbard.

Mid hanger – Metal hanger around 1/4 to 1/3 down from the throat where a strap mounts. 14th and 15thC.

Mouth – Top part of the scabbard where the sword fits in.

Painting – Applied colour, usually used to highlight embossed leatherwork.

Pricker – Single spiked implement usually accompanying a byknife. 15th & 16thC.

Rain flap – Flap of leather that rises up above the throat of the scabbard and covers the guard of the sword. Either rounded or triangular. 13th & 14thC.

Riser(s) – Rods or cords fitted to the core before the leather covering that create raised lines in the leather. Used to create 'stops' for lashed belts.

Scabbard knot - A particular knot used to tie suspension straps to the scabbard.

Slider - Staple shaped loop fitted near the throat of a scabbard and used to mount the scabbard to the sword belt. Late Roman and Migration eras.

Slider – Buckle type fitting with a ring, that a rapier hanger or longsword hangs on and can be slid along a belt to aid adjustment.

Split belt – Sword belt that is split to near to where it mounts to the scabbard hangers so that two straps mount on each side. 13th & 14thC.

Stamping – Patterned stamps are used to decorate the leather.

Strap end – Metal fitting riveted to the end of leather straps or belts . Also confusingly called a chape.

Stud – Metal decorative stud riveted to belts and straps.

Tied belt - Type of sword belt that is worn using a knot rather than a buckle to fasten it. 12th to 14thC.

Throat – Top part of a scabbard where the sword fits in.

Throat hanger - Metal hanger mounted at the throat where a strap mounts. 14th and 15thC.

Vegtan - Vegtan leather is naturally tanned and can be moulded, shaped decorated and dyed. It is flesh coloured to start, but ages to a sandy brown and is usually dyed.

Woven knot – Long knot made of woven leather straps that is formed around the top part of the scabbard. Used on Katzbalgers and Langmesser. !6thC.