The Viking ax: you’ve seen in the comic books and movies as well. What else is there to know about it? Read on to find out.
What is a Viking axe？
Viking axes were hand tools and weapons Viking warriors wielded. As seen in the movies, it was also considered to be a medieval throwing ax. Overall, the shafts were accessible to both make and repair. The axes were highly effective when it came both to getting used in the wild and also in battle. The mighty hand of a Viking could do severe damage to anything and anyone the ax came across.
The Viking axes were quite powerful and made all the difference, particularly when in close combat. They were able to cut through the helmet, perforate the enemy’s armor, and also shatter a shield. That was primarily possible in close combat, and it was as easy as chopping wood for them. Though these axes are simple, they are quite impressive in whatever context you put them in.
Overall, the axes had many uses and not merely for war. The Vikings could use them for domestic purposes on the farm to perform several tasks. That could also get used for cutting wood, especially when it came to making timber for building Viking ships. The axes were impressively sharp because they were able made from forged steel or carbon steel. The haft of the ax was made from either oak or ash, both of which got used mostly in Europe to make polearms.
The axes were also made in either one or two-handed designs with thin blades that were somewhat light and even thin, making the fantastic for cutting. In short, they were made to be razor-sharp and ready for any use. The average weight of a Viking ax was about one and two kilograms. They were also lightweight, so handling and throwing the ax was easy.
Viking Axes history
Historically, Vikings used what is known as the Danish ax. Other names of the same are the hatted ax, English long ax, or Dane ax. It was an early battle-ax and referred to as a polearm, which is quite literally a weapon on a pole. The Danish ax was in use mostly during the transition between the European Viking age and the beginning part of the Middle Ages.
The Danish ax was famous between the 10th and 11th centuries, especially in England, Normandy, and Ireland. During that time, the ax was depicted as a weapon for the elite and also well-armored huscarls (medieval North European manservants). The Danish ax, though being Scandinavian, it featured in Europe from the 12th century and was even considered a weapon worthy for a knight though not as highly favored as the sword. Even with the evolution of weapons of war, the Danish sword still got used throughout the 16th century in the West of Scotland and other areas.
Historically, many Vikings owned axes, which cannot get compared with the swords in use at the time. That is based on them getting found in both adorned and simple graves that date back to that era. Though most axes were simple, some of them were decorated, perhaps as a symbol of status. The other reason why axes were standard is because they were simpler and cheaper to make, which was not the case with swords. It is for that reason even those considered as commoners had them.
Types of Viking Axe
There are various types of Viking axes in use at the time. They were available in multiple sizes, depending on the application. There were small hand axes, throwing axes, and also large war axes. The latter was prominently used during battle. The designs of these axes were not intricate or impressive because the axes were more functional than anything. They looked quite basic but got the job done. The lengths also differed based on the use, with some being one to five feet long.
What we’ve mentioned here is the Danish ax, which was mostly for war. The other type of ax that was present was the bearded ax. It was heavier and thicker as well, which made it ideal for tasks such as cutting or splitting wood. They are also multi-purpose as well; during the war they would inflict severe blows on the enemy.
There were axes also used during combat and those used as a symbol of status. For such, they were inlaid with silver or copper and were not entirely made with the steel edge that war axes tended to have. They are also heavily decorated based on the person and the culture at the time. There are also axes thought to be for ceremonial purposes found. They tended to have a partially solid head and even a cross motif. Though it was practical, it is the difference it had from other axes that led historians to agree on the use. Also, it is thought that the axes did reflect a strong Christian existence, given that Christianity came to the Vikings in the 4th century.
The other ax that is talked about is the grave from Mammen, where a magnate was buried. It is estimated the body was laid to rest between 970-71AD. The grave was richly furnished, and in it, he found an ax made from iron and also decorated from silver inlay. The motifs are, however, ambiguous, so it’s difficult to know if they were of pagan or Christian significance. The reason for that is because, on one side, there is a tree that pagans refer to as the “Yggdrasil” while the Christians call it “Three of Life.” The other side has a bird believed to be an Old Norse “gold comb’ (Gullinkambi) or Phoenix. For the first, it is part of the Norse mythology while the other is from Christian mythology.
There is much to admire about the Viking ax. With the rich history behind it, one can appreciate how the Viking went to war and also lived their lives. If you’re interested, there are various places that you can purchase your very one Viking ax as a keepsake.
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