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Rare chance as city swordsmith seeks apprentices

Master-at-arms Paul MacDonald with one of his creations. Picture: Esme Allen

Master-at-arms Paul MacDonald with one of his creations. Picture: Esme Allen

The search is on for apprentices willing to take a stab at becoming master swordsmiths.

Macdonald Armouries, which makes reproductions of edged weaponry for collectors, museums and theatre companies and historical fencers, is offering what must be one of the most unique work opportunities in the country.

Owner and master-at-arms Paul Macdonald, 41, is to offer two new starts the chance to gain experience in one of Scotland’s rarest heritage crafts today. Applicants do not need any previous experience but they must be confident in their abilities to learn quickly and create with various power and hand tools.

Paul, who described the job as demanding but rewarding, said: “A passion for history has to be there because we research and study original pieces – it’s an essential part of the job.

“And a design and craft background is helpful too.”

The Brunswick Street Lane firm, which opened in 1998, is one of only a smattering of specialist swordmakers in the country, and covers all periods from the Bronze Age through to present.

Over the years, it has earned a reputation for making some of the best quality and largest range of Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knives – commando knives – anywhere in the world.

It also produces the Montoya Rapier – a reproduction of the 17th century style swept hilt rapier from the movie The Princess Bride. And it also stocks the only commercially available full size quality reproductions of swords of legend from the original He-Man animation series.

Once Paul chooses the most promising applicants he will bring them in for a trial day.

He said: “I’ve taken on two apprentices before, and at that time we had something like 150 applications. A lot of people were very keen but of course they have to have the skills too – it is difficult to find somebody because it’s quite specialist. You need to have patience and perseverance, because a sword can take anything from a few days to a few months to craft.”

David Ffye from the re-enactment group The Historic Saltire Society, studied an apprenticeship under Brian Davenport who crafted the swords used in the film Braveheart.

He said: “This will be a fascinating apprenticeship and an excellent opportunity – I expect there will be a lot of interest.”

dawn.morrison@edinburghnews.com

 

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