Berdiche from Germany, Europe. Part of the Pitt Rivers Museum Founding Collection. Given to the Museum in 1884.
The berdiche (or 'bardiche') was used across north-eastern Europe as well as Turkey and the Near East during the late medieval period. Like all polearms, it is a weapon of war derived from peasant agricultual tools or hunting weapons. A berdiche is an early form of pole-weapon, halfway between a pole-axe and a cleaver: it has an elongated and curved blade, fixed at the bottom and mid-point with ring sockets to a relatively short handle. This design gave the wielder a high level of control over where the blow fell.
Over time, the weight and force alone of such weapons became insufficient to overcome improved plate armour. Consequently, the berdiche's descendants, the halberds, became increasingly spiked to pierce and tear armour. The berdiche has been recorded in use as early as 1200 and as late as 1600 but this particular example probably dates to the 14th or 15th century.