May I take this opportunity to join with others in remembering Ewart. I first became professionally involved with arms and armour in and very soon found myself in communication with Ewart on various matters, particularly medieval swords. He encouraged me in my work from the start and I first met Ewart in early , at the second Park Lane arms fair, London. Together with my wife, we were wined and dined and, like many entertained by Ewart and Sybil, were made most welcome. The sweet, or rather the serving of it, will always be memorable: the cheesecake was divvied out by Ewart using a Bronze-age dagger.
|Published (Last):||20 May 2007|
|PDF File Size:||20.57 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||17.34 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
Ewart Oakeshott AM BST 12 Oct Ewart Oakeshott, who has died aged 86, was a leading authority on European arms and armour, especially the medieval sword, and the author of many books; his work was recognised in America with the foundation of the Oakeshott Institute of Arms and Armour, a non-profit-making education and research centre in Minneapolis.
Oakeshott studied and researched his subject in Britain for more than 60 years and assembled a substantial collection of swords and armour. Yet, though his expertise in the field was unrivalled, he always insisted he was a mere amateur.
Before he began his own research, studies of swords focussed on decorative styles and their relationship to other arts of the period. Systems of typology were based on ornamental features, such as the hilt. Oakeshott, by contrast, saw swords as tools to be used, and developed a new typology based on the shape of the blade and its function, allowing him to make significant advances in dating techniques: for example, the previously accepted "timeline" of the development of sword styles shifted when he established that swords thought to date from the s had in fact been made two centuries earlier.
This discovery had important implications for the history of war and technology. Oakeshott was unusual, too, in approaching the subject as more than simply a "dry-as-dust" academic curiosity for museum curators. He loved handling swords, and was involved in historical re-enactments of battle scenes.
This helped him to achieve a better understanding of how the weapons must have been used on the battlefield. Thus he suggested, for example, that the lack of significant "edge damage" on surviving medieval swords indicated that, contrary to the Hollywood myth, the weapons were rarely used to parry blows from other swords.
Oakeshott loved sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm with others, and lectured to learned societies in Britain and America as well as in colleges and schools, where he often turned up dressed as a medieval knight. He put the development of swords in its historical context, and always enlivened the technical details with anecdote.
An uncle, Jeffrey Farnol, was a successful writer of swashbuckling historical novels, and introduced young Ewart to the romance of the sword. After leaving school, Oakeshott studied at the Central School of Art in London, then became a commercial artist and illustrator with his own practice in London. But arms and armour remained his passion. As he was given little information about them, he began himself to research their history. After being invalided out of the Navy in the Second World War, he founded, in , the Arms and Armour Society, which has grown into an international organisation with its own journal.
Soon Oakeshott was being consulted by museums and private collectors to identify and assess swords in their collections; he catalogued the collection of arms and armour held at the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge. In he wound up his commercial artist business to devote his time to research and writing, though he continued to enjoy success as a painter of marine pictures and other subjects.
In he was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. Oakeshott was the author of numerous articles in learned journals and around a dozen highly readable books, most of which he illustrated himself. His last book, Swords in the Viking Age, is to be published at the end of this month.
A courteous, courtly and gentle man, Oakeshott stood only a little over 5 ft tall and was always smartly dressed. He was generous with his time and welcomed to his home in Cambridgeshire visiting enthusiasts and scholars from around the world. One recent visitor recalled with amazement being served a piece of quiche sliced with a Bronze Age dagger. Oakeshott, who died on September 30, bequeathed his collection of more than 75 swords to the Oakeshott Institute of Arms and Armour in Minneapolis.
He had been unable to find a museum in Britain with enough space to keep the collection on permanent display while at the same time honouring his request that the weapons should not just be seen, but handled, hefted and swung. Oakeshott was twice married, secondly to the novelist Sybil Marshall, who is best known as the author of The Fenland Chronicles. She survives him, with a son and two daughters by his first marriage.
Ewart Oakeshott AM BST 12 Oct Ewart Oakeshott, who has died aged 86, was a leading authority on European arms and armour, especially the medieval sword, and the author of many books; his work was recognised in America with the foundation of the Oakeshott Institute of Arms and Armour, a non-profit-making education and research centre in Minneapolis. Oakeshott studied and researched his subject in Britain for more than 60 years and assembled a substantial collection of swords and armour. Yet, though his expertise in the field was unrivalled, he always insisted he was a mere amateur. Before he began his own research, studies of swords focussed on decorative styles and their relationship to other arts of the period. Systems of typology were based on ornamental features, such as the hilt.
This varies from blades of constant taper, the edges of which are straight and narrow to a point, to blades devoid of taper, the edges of which are parallel and finish in a rounded point. A fuller is a groove that runs down the middle of a blade, designed to lighten the weapon. This was inspired by his observation that many blades bearing inscriptions and crests had to be oriented this way to be read correctly. At the top, variants of the diamond shape. At the bottom, variants of the lenticular shape.
The Oakeshott Institute