In Memory of Ewart Oakeshott
25 May,1916- Sept 30,2002
- Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries
- Founder Member of the Arms and Armour Society
- Founder of the Oakeshott Institute
On September 30th of 2002 Ewart passed from this world. He was a unique person of great intellect and deep soul. Life had forged, tempered, and honed his intellect, wit and Noblesse to as fine an edge as his beloved swords. He wielded these gifts with an unflinching chivalric courage. His passion and openness have inspired many who have come to know the field he loved so much.
His scholarship was ground breaking and an exceptional example of his inclusive attitude to the many factors that bear on any human endeavor. He not only looked at a sword as an exceptional piece of art, but also as a tool made, used and discarded with meaning and purpose. His ability to see the context clearly is what created the depth of his insight.
He found the time for many who were just entering the study of the sword, giving advice and anecdote at every turn. His ability to see the connections between far reaching examples and a voluminous knowledge of art, language and artifact is likely not to be equaled. We have certainly lost the one who has shown us the way.
- 1923-1928 – Dulwich College Preparatory School
- 1928-1932 – Dulwich College
- 1932-1936 – Central shool of Art (London)
- 1936 – Art Teachers Diploma
- 1964 – Elected to a Fellowship of the Society of Antiquaries
- 1936-1939 – Carlton Studios, London
- 1938-1960 – Joined A.E. Johnson (Artists’ Agent), Ltd as Trainee Director
- 1940-1945 – War Years – Naval service and consequent hospitalisation
- 1945-1960 – Director of A.E. Johnson Ltd
Free Lance Work (Part-Time):
One of eight founding members of the Arms and Armour Society (now a world-wide organisation with its own journal). Held several offices in the Society over time, including President of the Society in 1951, when the Society mounted
its Exhibition in The Cutlers Hall, London.
Examining viking swords in the British Museum, discovered inlaid inscriptions on the blades of two swords.
Subsequently publishing the find in ‘The Antiquaries’ Journal, 1951.
Examined and cleaned the sword of Henry V in Westminster Abbey. Published findings in an important
article “A Royal Sword in Westminster Abbey” inThe Connoisseur magazine.
Won the Reginald Taylor Prize offered for the best essay by the British Archaeological Association.
Began a lifetime of lecturing on arms and armour and other aspects of history to learned societies both
in England and America also in schools and colleges, as well as assessing and examining medieval swords in museums.
Free Lance Work (Full-Time):
Wound up buisness voluntarily, to devout full time to free lance witer/artist/illustrator, and increase time for research.
After publication of books listed below, and several articles in journals of note e.g.Conoisseur and
Antiquaries Journal was elected to a Fellowship of the Society of Antiquaries
Have worked consistently on educational courses as second in command to Sybil Marshall, including
month-long and intensive courses in Halifax, Nova Scotia (1967), Ontario (1967), Philadelphia
(1971/2/3), Savannah, Georgia (1973) and all over the British Isles.
Taught in the arts/Science programme of the University of Sussex.
Wrote six very popular books for schools and theatre- all on medieval arms and weapons (see publications below)
1984- to present
Eighteen articles for the Park Lane Arms Fair -a yearly catalogue in most prestigious publication produced
by ApolloMagazine, to be found in most museum and university libraries.
Catalogued the important collections of arms and armour in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge (part of
the University of Cambridge)
Consultant. During all these years have been sought out to give my opinion on many very important swords
in museums and private collections as wellas being consultant to several organisations concerened with
the making of replica weapons and armour.
Have illustrated for Alfred Duggen, Leonard Cottrell, Sybil Marshall, Dr Hilda Ellis Davidson, Tom Scott and others.
Have had considerable successs as a painter of marine pictures and other subjects.
The Antiquaries Journal, 1951, Articles on Viking Swords
Journal of the Arms and Armour Society of London(A Society which I had founded in 1948),
pub. 1951-1953, Several Articles on swords.
The Connoisseur Magazine, 1951, A Royal Sword in Westminster Abbey
The Sword in Anglo-Saxon England (with Dr. Hilda Ellis Davidson), illustrated by
E. Oakeshott, pub. O.U.P., 1957.
The Archaeology of Weapons, 1960, re-published 1995, pub.
Lutterworth Press, a large work involving much original research, covering period from the Bronze Age
to the Renaissance. Illustrated by the author.
Pub. 1962-1972 Lutterworth Press, illustrated by author.
A Knight and His Armour,
A Knight and His Weapons,
A Knight and HisHorse, re-published in 1990
A Knight and HisCastle,
A Knight in Battle,
A Dark Age Warrior, re-published in 1990
Fighting Men (with Henry Treece), illustrated by E. Oakeshott, pub. Brockhampton 1964
The Sword in the Age of Chivalry– a definitive and scholarly typological study
of the medieval sword which has become a standard work, pub. Lutterworth Press, 1964 and republished in 1981 and 1995.
The Blindfold Game – a detailed account of the Battle of Jutland, illustrated by the author, pub. Pergamon Press, 1966.
Sound of Battle (with Leonard Clark) – an anthology of military verse, illustrated by E. Oakeshott, pub. Pergamon Press, 1969.
European Weapons and Armour – this is in effect the second part of the history begun in The Archaeology of Weapons,
and covers the period from the Renaissance to the Industrial Revolution. It is some 120,000 words long, with 700
line drawings (by the author) and more than 100 photographs), pub. Lutterworth Press, 1980.
Eighteen articles (one per year) for the Park Lane Arms Fair, pub, 1984 to present.
Records of the Medieval Sword in combination with The Sword in the Age of Chivalrycreates the most
important work on the typology of the medieval sword, pub. Boydell & Brewer, 1991.
Sword in Hand Republication of a series of twelve articles on the medieval sword ( for Gun Report Magazine)
in a book from pub. Arms & Armor Inc., 2001.
Swords in the Viking Age, published 2003.
With the passing of Ewart Oakeshott the world lost a great gentleman and scholar. I lost a dear friend of almost twenty years.
I first met Ewart and Sybil on a research trip to England. Their warmth and open handedness to a young enthusiastic stranger was remarkable. Over the course of many subsequent visits a deep friendship developed. Ewart was always delighted to share his boundless knowledge and his amazing collection. His remarkable generosity has led me to a much deeper understanding of the medieval sword.
As our relationship deepened Ewart and Sybil expressed concern that when they were gone their collection would “fall prey to the auction house” and be scattered. They were equally concerned that Ewart’s archive would be lost as well. So one evening over “noggins” it was suggested that I might be able to help. Thus the Oakeshott Institute was first conceived. Over the last three years Ewart, Sybil and I have done our best to establish a trust that will carry forward their love of knowledge.
Ewart believed to fully understand a sword one must hold it, to “feel it come alive in your hand”. It was extremely important to Ewart and Sybil that the resources that they assembled would be available to future students, not as a sterile relic behind glass but as a living piece of history. As Ewart said “…that’s what I want. Please make it happen”
Sadly a brilliant light has been dimmed and it falls to those of us left behind to pick up the torch and carry on his life’s work. I have lost a teacher, a mentor and most of all a dear friend.
With much sadness
Pres. The Oakeshott Institute