Celtic Boleen (Boline) Knife, Hand-forged, a Ritual Tool

I traditional Celtic Boline knife for ritual uses

Finds of Ancient Celtic "caches" includes many ritual items, these things were sunk in mires, peat bogs and seen as sacrifices or offerings of valuables to appease spirits and gods. The bogs were seen as a nexus to the other world, and so, interestingly enough, in early iron age  in Europe and England, one reason iron was seen as sacred was due to the fact it was gathered as ore from "bog iron" which is mineral iron which has been fixed into nodules in the acidic water by bacteria. Such iron is collected easily, and, due to it's regeneration by bacteria, it is sustainable, a bog, in it's natural state, can renew it's supply of bog iron in forty years, whereas underground mining depletes the minerals.

A bit more about the iron created from bog ore, is that it high in silicates, so resists rust, and was at one time called "water iron" because of it's relationship to water, rather than earth, so it's "spirit" was seen as more mercurial, or changing, the soul which it contained bore the remnants of it's watery origin, making it resist the ravages of rust and wear, so endowing it with spiritual strength derived from that element. It may seem like superstitious gibberish, but the fact it differed, in characteristics made it a more revered product, as it was derived from the sacred bogs. Recall that Arthur's sword, Excaliber, came from the lake, and was returned to that place, and also, that Arthur's worthiness was proved, when he withdrew the sword "from the stone," which also may relate to drivation of the iron from the stone-like bog ore.  It's not believed that Exclaiber and the sword in the stone are the same, but it is interesting how both relate to derivation of a blade from either water or bog iron.

In the creation of the Boline shown here, I used a bit of poured steel billet, but it would be just as proper to create from a bloom, or furnace iron, since early iron age knives would not necessarily be quench-hardened, recall the ritual nature of this type of knife relates it more to a "wand" for harvesting such things as ritual herbs, mistletoe, or for tasks not reqiring the durability of a modern knife. The blade is drawn, and curved by thinning, although either side may be sharpened into an edge, the inner curved side would be most accurately fitting to recreate the crescent-shaped boline blade.

The handle was made more sculptured, to fit the hand, with a curled tip, resembling the opening bud of a leaf, and the whole is filed, or sharpened on a stone, rather than using any power tool upon it's fabrication. The finished boline is then brought up to a cherry red heat three times, to normalize the stresses of forging, and can be quenched in oil, or left in a soft iron state, if more authenticity is desired.


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