The Brodie Sword.

brodiesword
The Brodie Sword

This week we thought we’d take the chance to highlight one of the artifacts on display in our Culloden Exhibition and have chosen the Brodie Sword.

Reportedly commissioned and gifted by the Duke of Perth it is one of two swords and targes made for Prince Charles and his brother Henry. The sword would have been a symbol of power and used for display only, not as a weapon. The sword came to the Brodie family through the marriage of Elizabeth Brodie to George, 5th Duke of Gordon in 1813 with the tradition that it had been taken from the Princes baggage train after Culloden.

The sword is a basket-hilted broad sword from the 18th Century. The hilt is unmarked silver most likely of north European origin whilst the blade is German. The basket is a conventional shape outlined with rococo scrolls and is made from numerous small pieces cast in low relief and soldered together. It is highly decorative, and includes many symbols of Jacobitism, including the Medusa head.

The symbology on the basket is based on Greco/Roman mythology suggesting an intellectual owner. Symbols include two serpents forming the wrist guard for wisdom and guardianship, a lion  for royalty and a dolphin on the pommel to represent power of earth and sea.

The labrys or doubled headed axe (later used as a Fascist emblem) is a symbol of power and appears in the centre of faches (pronounced fatch-ey), a bundle of birch rods tied with a leather strappins. Faches were dipped in pitch and lit for use as a flaming torch. Their symbolic meaning is of power through unity and civilization/enlightment by force if necessary. Interestingly this is also where the term fachism comes form.

The medusa head was to strike fear into the enemy and was also a Jacobite symbol, in Greek myth if the medusas’ head was cut of the body would die but the head would continue to live, The Stuarts used this metaphor to infer that Britain would suffer without its natural head of state i.e. the Stuarts.

Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed learning a little more about this piece and you know where to come to see it in real life! As always please like, share, follow, tweet, comment and let us know if you’ve seen this sword or its brother, which is on display in Glasgow.

All the best, K & D

A Little Bit of Swordplay

Since Easter is fast approaching, some places may suggest some beautiful, topical crafts for the family to enjoy. Maybe painting eggs or making cupcakes, but here at Culloden we tend to do things a little differently!

So if you’re bored of making the same old things for Easter why not mix it up and make the kids their very own basket-hilted broadsword and targe!

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We have devised a brilliant way to occupy the childrens time, keep them playing for hours and all without making too much mess.

So, just how do you make a sword?

First, equipment, you will need:

Milk bottle, cardboard, scissors,masking tape, duct tape, glue (optional) and colouring pens/pencils.

1. Cut the handle off a milk bottle. We recommend at least a four pint bottle so there’s enough room for the blade but it can be done with two pints and a bit of strength.

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2. Cut out a sword shape from the cardboard with a narrow strip at the bottom to fit into the hole of the milk bottle handle. Also cut out two smaller strips of cardboard for support.

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3. Attach the two strips of cardboard along the thin strip as support using masking or duct tape. They should extend into the main sword piece to give stability and add some character to the sword.

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4. Not bad, but still looks like cardboard. So, cover the sword with duct tape to give it a beautiful shiny silver finish. Or you can use different coloured tape to create your own unique interpretation of a sword.

5. Insert the sword into the handle ensuring a tight fit. Muscles may be required. (Glue can be used to secure more fully into position)

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6. Last but not least, brandish your sword with pride! (We gave our to Bonnie Prince Charlie, not sure how happy he looks about it!)

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You can also make an accompanying targe (shield) with cardboard and colouring pens/pencils, finished off with a handle on the back made from either cardboard or rope.

Alternatively, if you fancy letting other people do all the work join us at Culloden for crafts on Sunday 5th April!

Enjoy your Easter and please share your homemade sword and targe pictures with us on Twitter (@CullodenNTS) or FaceBook (Culloden Battlefield & Visitor Centre) we’d love to see them. Have fun! K & D