What is Claymore?

Claymore swords have long captured the imagination of history enthusiasts, sword collectors, and fans of medieval weaponry. With their imposing size and distinctive design, these iconic weapons evoke images of fierce battles and heroic warriors. In this article, we will explore the origins, features, usage, and cultural significance of claymore swords, shedding light on their unique place in history.


The clanging of steel, the clash of warriors, and the power of a mighty sword. These are the images that come to mind when one thinks of a claymore. The word “claymore” is derived from the Scottish Gaelic term “claidheamh mòr,” which translates to “great sword.” Indeed, the claymore is known for its impressive size and stature.

Definition of Claymore

A claymore is a large, two-handed sword that originated in Scotland during the late medieval and early Renaissance periods. It is characterized by a straight, double-edged blade, a crossguard, and a hilt long enough to accommodate both hands. Claymores were primarily used by Scottish Highland warriors, known as Highlanders, who wielded them with great skill and ferocity.

Origins and Historical Significance

The claymore’s history can be traced back to the 15th century when Scotland was embroiled in conflicts with neighboring countries. These swords played a vital role in battles, offering the Highlanders a distinct advantage with their longer reach and superior cutting power. The claymore became a symbol of Scottish resilience and martial prowess, deeply intertwined with the country’s culture and heritage.

Types of Claymore Swords

There are several variations of claymore swords, each with its own unique characteristics. Let’s explore some of the most notable types:

Basket Hilted Claymore

The basket-hilted claymore, also known as the “claymore and targe,” featured a distinctive basket-shaped guard that provided excellent hand protection. This design allowed the wielder to parry attacks effectively while maintaining a secure grip on the sword.

Great Claymore

The great claymore, as the name suggests, was a larger variant of the traditional claymore. With a longer blade and an extended handle, it offered increased reach and cutting power, making it a formidable weapon on the battlefield.


The flambard, or “flaming sword,” was a specialized type of claymore characterized by its wavy or flame-like blade. This unique design was not only visually striking but also served a practical purpose. The undulating shape caused the blade to vibrate when striking an opponent, making it more challenging to parry or block.

Features and Design

The design of the Claymore sword encompasses various key elements that contribute to its effectiveness and aesthetic appeal. Let’s examine these features in more detail:


The blade of a claymore is typically long, straight, and double-edged. This design allows for powerful slashing and cutting motions, maximizing the sword’s offensive capabilities. The blade’s length provides the wielder with an extended reach, enabling them to strike opponents from a distance.


The hilt of a claymore is long enough to accommodate both hands comfortably. This two-handed grip provides the wielder with enhanced control and leverage, allowing for more powerful and precise strikes. The hilt may feature intricate engravings or decorations, showcasing the craftsmanship and artistry of the swordsmith.


The crossguard, also known as the quillons, is a protective feature positioned between the blade and the hilt. It serves to protect the wielder’s hands from enemy strikes and also assists in trapping or parrying an opponent’s weapon. The crossguard can vary in design, ranging from simple straight bars to more elaborate curved or S-shaped forms.

Usage and Combat

Claymores were primarily used as offensive weapons in battle. The Highland warriors who wielded them employed a combination of slashing, cutting, and thrusting techniques to overcome their adversaries. The length and weight of the sword allowed for powerful strikes capable of incapacitating opponents with a single blow.

Cultural Depictions

The claymore sword has left a lasting impact on Scottish culture and is often depicted in various forms of media. From novels and films to video games and artwork, the claymore continues to capture the imagination of people worldwide, symbolizing strength, honor, and the indomitable spirit of Scotland.

Collecting Claymore Swords

Due to their historical significance and aesthetic appeal, claymore swords have become highly sought-after collectibles. Collectors and enthusiasts value authentic claymores for their craftsmanship, rarity, and connection to Scottish heritage. Careful preservation and documentation of these artifacts help ensure their longevity and cultural significance.

Modern Interpretations

While claymore swords are primarily associated with the past, their influence can still be seen in modern times. Many sword enthusiasts and historical reenactment groups meticulously study and practice the techniques used by Highland warriors, keeping the spirit of the claymore alive through their dedication and passion.


The claymore sword stands as a testament to Scotland’s rich history and warrior culture. Its imposing size, distinctive design, and historical significance make it an enduring symbol of strength and valor. Whether displayed in museums, wielded in reenactments, or cherished as collectibles, claymores continue to captivate the imagination and ignite a sense of fascination for those who appreciate the artistry and martial heritage they represent.


Q1. Were claymores used in battle?

Yes, claymores were widely used in battle by Scottish Highland warriors during medieval times.

Q2. Can claymore swords be purchased today?

Yes, there are replicas and authentic claymore swords available for purchase from reputable dealers and collectors.

Q3. How heavy is a claymore sword?

The weight of a claymore sword can vary, but they typically range from 4 to 6 pounds (1.8 to 2.7 kilograms).

Q4. Are claymore swords only associated with Scotland?

While claymore swords have their origins in Scotland, similar two-handed swords were used in other parts of Europe as well.

Q5. Were claymores primarily used by a specific group of warriors?

Claymores were predominantly used by Scottish Highland warriors known as Highlanders, who hailed from the Scottish Highlands.

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