Swedish Middle Ages, 1050-1520 Photos of medieval padlocks with arched swing shackle Sketch of a padlock with arched swing shackle, ward springs, and key The lock consists of a short, welded pipe of thin iron or molded bronze with perforated short ends. One short end has holes for the springs on the bolt, the other has the keyhole. One leg of the arched shackle is attached with an open eye (swing shackle) at one short end of the lock body, while the other ends with a square hole and is inserted into a slit in the top of the body when locked. The springs are passed through their opening in the short end and through the hole in the shackle, locking the shackle in this position. To open the lock, the key bit is inserted into the other short end, compressing the springs so they can be withdrawn to release the shackle. This type of lock has been discovered in city excavations in Lund, Skåne; on Gotland; and in archeological digs in Aarhus, Denmark. This long-used type of padlock underwent only modest changes in the Middle Ages, and is also included among the locks Duhamel de Monceau depicts on a plate in one of his books about padlocks in 1767. This means that these locks were used in parallel with other spring-and-shackle padlocks into the 19th century. Designation The first padlocks in Scandinavia used ward springs. They came into use in the Viking Era and remained in use well into the 19th century. Spring padlocks dating from the 11th to the 17th century were locked with a small round iron plate with springs applied at an angle. I refer to this model as a shackle-and-spring padlock. Other older names for this type of lock are “spring lock” and “fetterlock.” Sketch of a fixed-shackle padlock with ward springs and end cap Cylindrical lock body of iron plate with an opening in one short end for the ward springs. On the other short end is an opening for the key. In contrast to earlier locks in this era, the short end with the shackle is a fixed, integrated part of the lock body. To open the lock, the key bit is inserted in the key hole, compressing the springs and allowing the end with the ward springs to be retracted to free the shackle. The key to this lock has an angled bit with notches for the springs. This type of lock is from the latter half of the 13th century and the 14th century, and is usually among archeological finds from medieval cities and fortresses. Similar locks were unearthed in Lund in 1881 along with other locks and keys, and also in archeological digs before construction projects in the 1960s and 70s. The same type of locks have been found in many other places in Sweden and Denmark. Sketch of a push key padlock with separate spring shackle This lock has a cylindrical lock body of thin, welded iron. One short end has one or more openings intended for the shackle leg with ward springs. The other short end is closed. The lock body has longitudinal reinforcements welded on and has a longitudinal narrow slit on top, which ends at the closed end with a transverse opening (keyhole). When locked, the leg of the shackle with the ward springs is inserted in the short end of the body while the other leg is in a narrow, conical tube attached to the underside of the body. To open the lock, the key is inserted in the keyhole on the top of the body and then drawn through the slit, which compresses the springs so that the shackle can be withdrawn. This design allows one or more ward pins to be attached on the end with the openings. The key bit has notches for them. The keys to these locks are usually very elegant and encrusted with threads of brass or silver. This type of lock also comes from archeological digs in Lund. Sketch of a padlock with spring shackle and key Sketches of push key padlocks with separate spring shackles The lock body has a semispherical shape and is made of thin iron with welded joints. Instead of a shackle, it has two projections on the bottom a few centimeters apart. The lock body is reinforced with steel ribs welded along the sides. The separate short end with the shackle is inserted to lock it. To unlock, the key is inserted in the opposite direction in the other short end. The detached end has one to four springs, and may have ward pins and guide pins making up the lock mechanism between the projections. The key has double shafts and a transverse bit with notches for the ward and guide pins and the ward springs. The space between the double shaft is also a part of the lock’s ward system. This type of lock is also from the 14th century and is a common find in archeological digs in medieval cities and fortresses. Similar locks were unearthed in Lund along with other locks and keys in 1881. Sketch of a padlock with shackle and ward springs Iron padlock with a free shackle that has ward springs on one leg. The lock opens with a key that when turned compresses the springs between its two bits. The pictured lock is exhibited in the Halmstad Museum. Sketch of a padlock, reconstruction Barrel-shaped padlock of “iron” with an arched swing shackle that locks with ward springs. The lock has five reinforcements around the mantle and one protecting the lengthwise joint at the bottom. The part of the lock with the ward springs is connected to a chain. This type of lock is included in the limestone decorations of the door cornices in the medieval churches of Martebo and Gammelgarn on the island of Gotland. Both were made in the workshop of an anonymous stonecutter who called himself “Egypticus” in the 14th century. In Martebo, the stonecutter has portrayed with great realism the Devil temporarily chained and disarmed with a rope around his legs, locked with the padlock in this picture. This type of lock, which I have not yet encountered in real life, is interesting because the arched swing shackle looks like one from a simpler lock, depicted in the medieval section. However, reinforcements of this kind did not become common until the 16th century.