Razors

LANCUM-220D90, WAW-878535, SOMDOR-123F91, NMS-AC1FC7, NARC-E52F71

Double-Edged Razor

Example:
Date: c.2,150-1,500 BC
Distribution: Widespread across Britain and Ireland, particularly in the Midlands, Yorkshire, Wessex and the Thames area.
Description: The term double-edged razor covers three broad types of the same implement; those that were handled, with a pierced tang, and with a non-pierced tang. Representing the earliest form of copper-alloy razor, these varied in shape, starting initially with the handled examples which resembled spearheads (i.e. elongated triangular-edges, with one or two rivet holes at the base for affixing a handle. The tanged varieties were more leaf shaped, echoing the styles that came afterwards. The overall shape and size of these razors varied slightly across different regions of continental Europe, resulting in many different typologies and sub-categories.

Type Hénon

Example:
Date: c.1,500-1,150 BC
Distribution: Thames Valley
Description: These tanged razors are characterised by an elongated oval, to slightly rectangular blade. The blade face can feature a raised, leaf-shaped section, and the edges converge at the top, forming a small round hole.

Type Feltwell

Example:
Date: c.1,150-800 BC
Distribution: Common in Southern England and Scotland, less so in Wales and Ireland
Description: These razors have a distinctive leaf shape which Hawkes (1931) later rewrote as "maple leaf-type". The edge is generally concave at the lower edge, which runs upwards in a smooth arc. The two leaf blades are separated by a V-shaped leaf incision, which widens at the end to a small hole. Within the type, further sub-categories can be seen. In one group, the blade face is accented with a wide central rib with or without fins. In a second subgroup there is present a hole in the neck. However, since both are often combined, it is more useful to put the two together as a single type.

Type Dowris

Example:
Date: c.1,150-800 BC
Distribution: Only appears in the Middle and Northern parts of Ireland
Description: A "butterfly-like leaf" shape with upper, pointed V-shaped notch and a flat wide handle are the defining characteristics of the Dowris type razor; which can be divided further into two variants. Type 1 is characterized by perforations in the top third of sheet, whilst type 2 lacks them.

Type Boutigny/Isleham

Example:
Date: c.1,150-800 BC
Distribution: Found on both sides of the Channel, common in the South of England (particularly in Wiltshire, Dorset and Essex)
Description: This distinctive typology is identified solely on the basis of a technical feature: that of the tang being attached separately during the casting process, leaving a clear impression.

Type Watford

Example:
Date: c.1,150-800 BC
Distribution: Southern England, notably Hertfordshire
Description: The defining feature of this razor type is its handle; it is a full-grip handle with two rings, separated slightly by a divide. The leaf is cut low, forming two elongated leaf blades, and the section expands on its end to create a small circle. Very similar type to Type Vénat, owing to the similarly ringed handle.

Type Vénat

Example:
Date: c.1,150-800 BC
Distribution: South Eastern England
Description: Characterised by a full-grip set with two rings (both very close to each other on the handle), and by the wide bridge between the upper ring and the blade attachment. The blade is leaf shaped and the overall form is bares many similarities with Type Watford.

Type Brentford

Example:
Date: c.1,150-800 BC
Distribution: Southern England, particularly near the Lower Thames
Description: In a similar fashion to Type Watford razors, Type Brentford implements are double-edged razors featuring a handle with multiple rings. The blades are leaf shaped and the handle features two larger rings, separated by a smaller, more rectangular hole. The is a small hole in the centre of the blade, sometimes the blade wings expand at the top to reach in, whilst in one example, the wings were only slightly parted, leaving the hole in isolation.

Type Havré

Example:
Date: c.800-600 BC
Distribution: South England and South Wales, notably South London, Cardiff and Cornwall.
Description: This distinctive form features a wide oval blade, with a fairly large circle or triangle in the blade centre. These decorative patterns, along with a solid handle with a ferrule at the base are the defining characteristics of this razor type.

Type Feldkirch

Example:
Date: c.800-600 BC
Distribution: Mainly found in the South of England, especially Somerset, Hampshire, Surrey and Wiltshire. Variant Bernissart so far is isolated to a find in Staple Howe, Yorkshire.
Description: The trapezoidal shape of these razors, along with the pair of rings or holes at the top of the razor are its defining characteristics, along with a series of rectangular breaks or gaps just below the two rings; something that differentiates this type from the more Continental Type Endingen. They are also often relatively large in comparison to other types, and feature a strictly narrow-triangular cross-section. There is also a variant to this typology, known as Variant Bernissart. The principal difference between the two is that in Variant Bernissart, the two back rings are connected by a raised bar.

Type Llyn Fawr

Example:
Date: c.800-600 BC
Distribution: Lower Thames and South Wales
Description: These one-edged British razors are characterised by a triangular blade with a slightly curved cutting edge and by a central ring on the top of the item. The original find from Llyn Fawr, Glamorgan Wales had two rings attached side-by-side. A few of these razors also have a triangle shaped gap in the blade, normally quite large compared to the overall size of the artefacts.

Late Urnfield Razor

Example:
Date: c.1000-750 BC
Distribution: All finds uncovered close to the Thames in London, especially around Brentford.
Description: These razors bear quite a striking difference to the other types listed, owing to their close association with the Urnfield culture, and their easily identifiable form. The type is really split into two distinct forms; the razors with a side handle, and razors with a lateral tang. All razors of this type feature a curved blade, as well as a very narrow rectangular or elongated triangle cross-section. Those with side-handles are possessed of a protruding handle formed of a ring, sometimes extended out from the blade, sometimes directly attached. The razors with a lateral tang feature a tang for hafting which directly replaces the ringed-handle, though in a few examples from France, the tang is level with the straight-backed blade, much like modern-day knives.

References

  • Jockenhövel, A., (1980). Die Rasiermesser in Westeuropa (Prähistorische Bronzefunde 8.3)
  • O'Connor, B., (2007). Llyn Fawr metalwork in Britain: a review In: The Earlier Iron Age in Britain and the near Continent. (eds.) C. Haselgrove and R. Pope. 64-79.