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Scabbard Hardware -  The men of the Outlander series  never leave home without wearing some kind of blade weapon, but they typically sheath their swords and dirks unless there is some kind of threat. Scabbards were an essential part of menswear in the 18th century, allowing men to carry their blades without cutting or otherwise injuring themselves or others. Scabbards were usually made of hard leather, so they are not likely to survive in the burial environment, but archaeologists do find the metal hardware that decorated scabbards and attached them to belts. Illustration on how scabbard parts were used:In the Outlander series, Jamie Frasier served as a soldier in France before he met his wife, Claire. As a French mercenary, Jamie might have worn a sword belt such as this, which is based on a French example from around 1720. The belt holds both a short sword and a bayonet, which was used to turn a musket into a blade weapon for close combat. Image of a silver scabbard throat piece:Silver Scabbard Throat, Date: ca. 1750-1780, Site Name: Ft. Frederick, Site Number: 18WA20/1047 -  Some scabbards have a metal throat to decorate and reinforce the opening where the blade is inserted.  This example is made of silver and comes from a relatively fine weapon worn by a soldier, most likely an officer, stationed at Ft. Frederick, which was built between 1756 and 1758 for the French and Indian War. The Fort was also pressed  into service during the American Revolution, so this scabbard throat could have been lost during either of those conflicts. The opening of the scabbard throat is slightly triangular to accommodate a blade with a deadly triangular cross-section. Wounds caused by triangular blades had little chance of closing on their own, increasing the likelihood of death by blood loss or subsequent infection. Image of a brass scabbard tip: Brass Scabbard Tip, Date: ca. 1675-1700, Site Name: Charles’ Gift, Site Number: 18ST704/601 - This scabbard tip dates to the end of the 17th century, and it has holes at the upper edge that were punched to fix the metal in place on the leather scabbard. Not all scabbards have a metal tip because the scabbard should be made to fit all the way to the hilt of the blade without the tip poking through the end. Having a metal tip can serve as a reinforcement of the stitched leather scabbard though, and it doubles as a decorative element.; Images of a brass bayonet scabbard hook and a brass sword scabbard hook: Brass Bayonet Scabbard Hook  (Front & Side), Date: ca. 1750-1780, Site Name: Ft. Frederick, Site Number: 18WA20/1039; Brass Sword Scabbard Hook with Figure, Date: ca. 1690-1730, Site Name: Addison Plantation  , Site Number: 18PR175/9608 - These hooks were once mounted on scabbards so that they could hang from a belt, making it easy to carry and draw a blade weapon when the need arose. Such metal fittings allowed people who carried blade weapons to add or remove scabbards from their belts as needed. The plain hook on the left is a regulation British bayonet hook from Ft. Frederick, and it dates to the French and Indian or Revolutionary War era when soldiers were stationed at the site. The hook on the right is earlier in date and it is decorated with a human figure. This hook comes from the Addison Plantation, which was on the edge of European settlement when it was established by John Addison at the end of the 17th century. John Addison and his son Thomas were both colonels of the Maryland militia, so if the colony needed protection from a threat, such as conflict with the region’s Indian population, the Addisons were responsible for gathering the local settlers for militia service. Archaeologists found both firearm parts and blade weapons in a structure at the site that burned ca. 1730, and these may represent items that the Addisons kept for the militia. Several sword hilt parts that match this scabbard hook were recovered together in the burned building’s cellar. Image of 2 men dueling with swords: Was the scabbard in the way? For the dueling pair in “A Teirce cutt off (in time) by a Second,” from The Art of Defence, ca. 1688-1699, the win goes to the combatant who unhooked his scabbard and left it on the ground with his hat. Only the unfortunate man who has been impaled still wears a scabbard hanging awkwardly from its belt.© Trustees of the British Museum.