The Claymore was a sword that was popular in Scotland during the 15th and 16th centuries, especially in the Scottish Highlands. From the Gaelic Claidheamah mor for "great sword," this large two-handed sword was similar to other two-handed swords used in Europe during the same time period and belonged to the long-sword family of weapons.
Arguably the most impressive part of this weapon, the Claymore featured a long, heavy, straight steel blade. The blade, sharpened on both edges, was up to 60 inches in length. Two authentic Claymore swords dating back to the early 16th century that are owned by The National Museums of Scotland measure a total of 54 and 57.8 inches in length. One of the museum blades is inscribed with the initials "IHS," which are the first three letters of the name Jesus in Latin; a common Christian emblem. In comparison, 16th century rapier blades measured 50 to 65 in length and a standard sword blade measured about 36 inches. A modern replica Claymore is made by Swords of the East that has a blade that measures 41 inches in length.
Hilt and Guard
The straight grip of the Claymore was often decorated with an interwoven Celtic pattern. The quillions, or cross-guards, slanted toward the blade, but were straight. In the 1700s, the term Claymore came to be applied to basket-hilted broadswords, likely because many old Claymore blades were converted into basket-hilted weapons. The new "Claymore" became the national weapon of Scotland. According to The Encyclopedia of the Sword, sword hilts for the claymore were manufactured on the island of Islay, off the West coast of Scotland. A replica Claymore produced by Swords of the East has a hilt and guard that measure 13.75 inches.
Claymores were known for their fine balance. As a member of the long sword family, along with the spadone, espadon, zweyhandler, the Claymores were used as cutting weapons and were suitable for slashing and thrusting movements. Because of their length and weight, the Claymore sword was wielded by those on foot.