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UNCAT Fine Early 18th century Scottish Dirk

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Price: £7,350

Ref: 12.67

Item Description

A fine quality, robust, long 18th century Scottish dirk dating to circa 1715, made with a bog oak grip, brass mounts and a cut down backsword blade with running fox mark probably of Shotley Bridge. An excellent example of a first quarter 18th century Scottish Highland weapon in original and untouched condition.

The dirk grip has a rich, deep reddish coloured patina and is carved with an early form of grip decoration consisting of four columns of Celtic interlace. The underside of the pommel is decorated with foliate lines and grooves. The brass pommel cap is engraved with two concentric circles inside which a six point floret radiates from the centre. The tang is secured by a thick square shaped nut with bevelled edges.

The dirk has a typical brass crescent shaped ferrule applied to the base of the grip into which the ricasso shoulders of the blade sit. Two strips of brass protect the haunches of the grip base, a thinner one on the cutting edge blade side and a wider one to match on the back edge haunch.

Provenance: The dirk is published in “The Price Guide to Antique Edged Weapons” by Leslie Southwick, Antique Collectors Club, 1982, page 206, item 603, described as “Brass-mounted highland dirk. Length 20ins. (50.8cm). Early 18th century.”

Note: the blade of this dirk is particularly long compared to contemporary dirks. This may be a reaction to the Disarming Acts introduced to the Scottish Highlands after the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion which forbad the use of swords by Highlanders. Although seemingly largely ignored at the time, the Acts not being so fiercely imposed as after the failure of the 1745 Rebellion, in the areas where they were enforced, particularly in the towns and boroughs visited by Highlanders, the creation of a longer dirk may have increased its defensive qualities where possession of a sword was not possible.

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