Monday, June 30, 2014

Word of the Day -- Lochaber Axe

The Lochaber axe is a type of halberd. The weapon was employed by the Scottish highlanders. The axe itself is similar to tools used with crops, such as the scythe, which is designed for reaping. The hook on the back bears a passing resemblance to a shepherd's crook, although within agriculture a smaller hook such as this may have been used in order to lift and carry tied bundles of a harvested crop or pull down tree branches. Early Lochaber axes, like the billhook, served a dual purpose as both building instruments and farming tools.

The Lochaber axe took many incarnations, although all of them had a few elements in common. It was a heavy weapon, used by infantry for a defence against cavalry and as a pike against infantry. Like most other polearms of the time, it consisted of two parts: shaft and blade. The shaft was usually some five or six feet (1.5 or 1.8 m) long, and mounted with a blade of about 18 inches (45 cm) in length which usually resembled a bardiche or voulge in design. The blade might be attached in two places and often had a sharp point coming off the top. In addition a hook (or cleek) was attached to the back of the blade. A butt spike was included as a counterweight to the heavy axe head. Langets were incorporated down each side of the shaft to prevent the head from being cut off.

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