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Historical Inspiration This forum is dedicated to the discussion of historical knife design and its influence on modern custom knife work.

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Old 09-30-2022, 12:49 PM
kleenur kleenur is offline
Join Date: Sep 2022
Posts: 1
What EXACTLY is a Sgian Dubh


I’m new to this forum and am hoping you all can help me out with a problem I’ve been struggling with. A few weeks ago I decided I wanted to make an historically accurate Sgian Dubh. As with any re creation project I wanted to start with research, but quickly found a lack of legitimate information on the topic. Most of what I found were snippets from various manufacturers of “Genuine Scottish Tartan Supplies” which did not fill me with confidence as pertains to the accuracy of the information they provide.

Eventually, I made a contact at the National Museum of Scotland who let me know that the blade form dates back to the bronze age, but didn’t tell me what the specific blade form is/was, or give me resources that could be found anywhere other than in the National Museum of Scotland’s Library. This is problematic because I can’t really afford to fly to Scotland and spend several weeks combing through the library (as much as I’d like to).

My short term need is for some sort of resource that can tell me what features make a knife a Sgian Dubh. This will at least allow me to make one I can stand behind as an accurate representation. Long term,since there doesn’t seem to be an accessible body of work on the subject I’d like to do an academic study and possibly publish something for craftspeople to use as a reference. For the larger work I have a few theoretical assumptions.

The Sgian Dubh began as a simple everyday carry utility knife similar to the pocket knives we carry today.
Over time it evolved first to a skinning knife, then functional jewelry, and now as “sort of” functional jewelry.
As its use evolved its level of ornamentation increased. In a similar vein, higher status individuals had more ornamentation at every stage of evolution due in part to the fact that if they were wealthy they didn’t actually use the knife for significant work.
For “some” period of time they were meant to be paired with a larger blade, likely a dirk.

What do you think of my assumptions? Do you have any resources you can point me to?

And most importantly,

TLDR: What features classify a knife as a Sgian Dubh?

Any help or advice you can offer will be greatly appreciated.
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