Viking Battle Axes IntroductionThe Viking axe (sometimes spelled ax) was one of the most common weapons used by the ancient medieval Norse warriors. The Middle Age Norsemen used two basic types of axes as weapons, the hand axe and the long axe.
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When going off to war most Vikings of the early Middle Ages could not afford a weapon made specifically for battle, like a sword. They would often grab the same axe they used for woodcutting to serve as their weapon. This is especially true in the early Viking age. The hand axe was certainly not a very glamorous weapon. It was however, a very effective and deadly weapon. Skilled warriors could turn an opponents shield into splinters with their hand axe and easily kill them in close combat. Although effective the every day hand axe was not an ideal weapon. It was built for cutting logs and trees and therefore had to be heavy. A much lighter weapon could be used for hacking opponents. Lighter weapons were easier to maneuver with in battle and repeated swings would not tire the warrior as quickly.
As the Viking Age progressed and the Norse warriors became more successful, and therefore wealthier, they built battle axes which were specifically made for war.
Viking Battle AxesAs mentioned earlier there were two basic types of axes used by the medieval Scandinavian warriors, the hand axe and the long axe. However, within these two types there were many variations some of which are listed below.
- The length of the haft (handle) of both hand axes and long axes varied. Generally Viking battle axes were one to five feet long (approximately 30 cm to 1.5 meters).
- Blade sizes and thickness varied. For example the bearded axe had an increased depth, making it heavier but more suitable for heavy duty work such as woodcutting. The Dane (Danish) axe had a wide, thin blade.
- Some axes had features such as horns at both the toe and heel of the bit. Others had a cap at the end of the haft to protect the top of the haft from being damaged.
- Some axes had engraved designs on their blades.