7 types of viking axes and their history

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.

what is a viking axe called?

The bearded axe, known as a “bearded axe,” refers to various types of axes that were used as tools and weapons as early as the 6th century. The term is often associated with the Scandinavian people of the Viking Age. The lower part of the axe is called the “beard,” and the cutting edge of the bearded axe expands from the base, providing a wider cutting surface while maintaining lower weight. The hook or “beard” of the axe was also useful in battle, for instance, to pull a weapon from the defender’s hand or to pull down a shield, exposing an unprotected opponent.

The Viking short axe, known as a “bearded axe,” refers to various types of axes that were used as tools and weapons as early as the 6th century. It is closely linked with the Scandinavian people of the Viking Age. This type of axe is named after its lower part, which resembles a “beard.” Its unique shape and design made it excel in combat.

The design of the Viking bearded axe is characterized by its intelligence and practicality. Structurally, it consists of the axe head, handle, and guard. The axe head is curved with a sharp cutting edge, providing powerful chopping force. The handle is usually made of hardwood or metal, of moderate length, allowing for a firm grip and easy swinging. The guard is ingeniously designed, providing not only protection for the user’s palm but also a comfortable grip and maneuverability.

The “beard” part of the Viking bearded axe is a significant feature. This design not only increases the width of the axe, enhancing its chopping force, but also serves as a hook. In battle, the “beard” could be used to hook onto an enemy’s weapon or shield, pulling it out of the defender’s hand or bringing down a shield, enabling other attackers to strike at an unprotected foe.

The performance of the Viking bearded axe in battle is remarkable. Due to its broad cutting edge and powerful chopping force, it holds a significant advantage in close combat. Users can employ rapid swings and precise attacks to quickly defeat enemies. Furthermore, the Viking bearded axe can be used in combination with other weapons like war hammers and battle axes, creating a more potent fighting capability.

The Viking bearded axe is not just a practical weapon; it’s also a cultural symbol. In Viking culture, the axe symbolizes courage and strength, serving as an emblem of honor. In Viking society, only those who were brave, loyal, and wise were qualified to use and possess the Viking bearded axe.

what did a viking axe look like?

The Viking axe is an ancient type of axe that dates back to as early as the 6th century and was used for both tools and weapons. It is closely associated with the Scandinavian people of the Viking Age.

The primary feature of the Viking axe is its lower “bearded” section, a design that causes the cutting edge of the axe to expand from the base, creating a wider blade while maintaining a lower weight. The “bearded” part of the axe plays a crucial role in combat; for instance, it can be used to hook onto an enemy’s weapon or shield, pulling it out of the defender’s hand or lowering the shield, allowing other attackers to strike unprotected foes.

The axe head of the Viking axe has a curved shape with a sharp cutting edge, offering powerful chopping force. The handle is typically made from hardwood or metal materials, of moderate length, making it easy to grip and swing. The guard portion is ingeniously designed, providing protection for the user’s palm and offering a comfortable grip and maneuverability.

what were viking axes used for?

The Viking axe is an ancient weapon characterized by its unique design and versatile applications. As early as the 6th century, it found widespread use among the Scandinavian people of the Viking Age, serving both as a tool and a weapon.

First and foremost, the Viking axe served as a tool with various uses such as ship repairs, camp construction, and wood processing. In the daily lives of the Vikings, the axe was an essential tool. They utilized the Viking axe to fell trees, split wood, construct houses, and build ships. Additionally, the Viking axe could be employed for cutting metals, crafting weapons, and making tools.

Secondly, the Viking axe proved to be a formidable weapon. Its broad blade and sharp cutting edge granted it potent chopping force, rendering it effective in close combat. Viking pirates often wielded the Viking axe as a weapon during times of conflict, using it to cleave through opponents’ chests and armor. After battles, the Viking axe could be repurposed as a tool for breaking doors, windows, and chests, facilitating raiding operations.

Beyond its roles as a tool and weapon, the Viking axe also served as a throwing weapon. Some lightweight battle axes could be not only used for melee combat but also thrown at enemies. Mastering the skill of throwing required training, and the “effective range” of such lightweight battle axes could reach around 30 meters.

how long were viking axes?

Viking axes came in various sizes, and their lengths could vary depending on the specific type of axe and its intended use. There were typically two main types of Viking axes: the hand axe and the long axe.

Hand Axe: The hand axe, also known as the “short axe,” was a one-handed weapon and tool. Its length could range from about 30 to 60 centimeters (12 to 24 inches), with the blade being relatively compact and suitable for close combat as well as utility tasks.

Long Axe: The long axe, also referred to as the “Dane axe,” was a larger two-handed weapon. It had a longer handle, often between 90 to 150 centimeters (36 to 60 inches) or more, allowing for greater reach and more powerful swings. The blade on the long axe was also longer, and it was primarily used for battle, especially by Viking warriors known as “berserkers” or elite warriors.

It’s important to note that Viking axes weren’t standardized, and their lengths could vary due to regional differences, personal preferences, and the specific purpose of the axe. The longer axes were particularly favored in battle for their ability to deliver devastating blows and their versatility in both cutting and thrusting actions.

how heavy were viking axes?

The weight of Viking axes could vary widely based on their type, purpose, and the materials used in their construction. Generally, there were two main types of Viking axes: hand axes (short axes) and long axes (Dane axes).

Hand Axe: The weight of a Viking hand axe, also known as a short axe, could range from around 0.5 kilograms (1.1 pounds) to 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) or more. These axes were designed to be versatile tools and weapons that could be wielded with one hand, making them suitable for both combat and everyday tasks.

Long Axe (Dane Axe): The weight of a Viking long axe, which was a larger two-handed weapon, could vary widely. These axes were typically heavier due to their larger size and longer handles. The weight of a Viking long axe could range from 1.5 kilograms (3.3 pounds) to 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds) or even more. The weightier long axes were favored by elite warriors for their ability to deliver powerful blows and their effectiveness in battle.

Keep in mind that these weight ranges are approximate and can vary based on the specific design, craftsmanship, and materials used in the construction of each individual axe. The weight of Viking axes also depended on the preferences of the wielder and the intended use of the axe, whether it was for combat, utility, or ceremonial purposes.

how sharp were viking axes?

Viking axes were typically designed to be quite sharp, as they served both as tools for various tasks and as weapons for combat. The sharpness of a Viking axe’s blade would have varied based on factors such as the intended use, the skill of the blacksmith who crafted it, and the materials used.

For practical purposes, Viking axes used for cutting wood, building, and other tasks would have needed a sharp edge to efficiently perform their functions. These axes would have been honed to a level of sharpness suitable for the task at hand.

In terms of combat axes, like the Dane axe, which was a larger two-handed weapon used in battle, the sharpness of the blade was crucial for delivering effective strikes to opponents. A sharp edge would have allowed the axe to cut through armor, shields, and flesh with greater ease.

It’s important to note that the concept of sharpness can be relative and dependent on the standards and technologies of the time. While Viking-era blacksmiths did not have access to modern precision tools, they were skilled craftsmen who could produce axes with edges that were sharp enough for their intended purposes within the technological limitations of their era.

who made viking axes?

The Viking axe was collectively developed by the Scandinavian Vikings during the Viking Age. This type of axe features a unique design and serves various purposes, functioning as a tool, a weapon, and even a throwing weapon. Vikings used these axes for repairing ships, constructing camps, and processing wood. Additionally, the Viking axe was a formidable weapon, suitable for close combat and for breaking doors, windows, chests, and more. Moreover, some lighter battle axes could also be thrown to eliminate enemies.

The Viking axe holds significance beyond its practical applications, carrying cultural and symbolic value. In Viking culture, the axe symbolized courage and strength and stood as a mark of honor. Through an understanding and study of the Viking axe, we can gain deeper insights into the history and culture of the Viking Age.

who used viking axes?

Viking axes were predominantly used by the Scandinavian Norse people known as Vikings during the Viking Age, which roughly spanned from the late 8th century to the early 11th century. These Vikings hailed from regions such as present-day Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. The Viking axes were an integral part of their daily life, serving as versatile tools for various tasks, weapons for combat, and even as symbols of their culture and identity.

Viking warriors, including raiders, warriors, and seafarers, carried and wielded these axes in battles and conflicts. The axes were not only functional tools for shipbuilding, woodworking, and other activities, but also played a significant role in their military strategies. In addition to being formidable weapons for hand-to-hand combat, some Viking axes were specifically designed for throwing, adding another dimension to their offensive capabilities.

Overall, Viking axes were emblematic of the Viking way of life, and they were wielded by those who were part of the Viking culture, both as practical tools and as weapons of war.

what type of axe did vikings use?

Vikings used various types of axes, each designed for specific purposes. Some of the most common types of axes used by Vikings include:

Battle Axes: These were the most iconic Viking axes used for combat. They typically had a single-bladed head with a broad cutting edge, often referred to as a “bearded” edge due to its shape resembling a beard. Battle axes were versatile weapons used in close combat, both for slashing and chopping.

Broad Axes: These were larger axes with a wide cutting edge. They were primarily used as tools for woodworking and shipbuilding, as they could efficiently shape and cut large pieces of wood.

Hewing Axes: These axes had a slightly curved blade and were used for hewing or shaping timber. They were essential for constructing buildings and ships, as they could create flat surfaces and straight edges.

Throwing Axes: Some Viking axes were designed specifically for throwing. These axes had a lighter build and a balanced shape that allowed them to be accurately thrown over short distances in battle.

Francisca Axes: Although not exclusive to Vikings, the Francisca was a type of throwing axe characterized by a wide, curved blade and a short wooden handle. It was used by various Germanic tribes, including the Vikings, as a ranged weapon.

Dane Axes: These were large, two-handed battle axes with long handles. They were particularly popular during the later Viking Age and were known for their immense cutting power. Dane axes were wielded by warriors who could afford the training and strength needed to use such a weapon effectively.

Bearded Axes: As mentioned earlier, bearded axes were characterized by their “bearded” cutting edge and were used both as tools and weapons. They had a wider blade near the cutting edge, which increased their cutting surface while maintaining a manageable weight.

what are the viking axes symbolize?

The Viking axe is a significant aspect of Viking culture, symbolizing courage and strength and serving as an emblem of Viking warriors. During the Viking Age, the Scandinavian Vikings were renowned for their fierceness in battle. They used axes both as tools and weapons, showcasing their formidable combat skills and bravery.

The design of the Viking axe is distinctive, typically consisting of a head and a handle. The shape of the axe head is suited for chopping and swinging, while the handle, made from wood or metal, enables the axe to be thrown at enemies. The multi-functional and symbolic nature of the Viking axe made it a formidable weapon in battle and an integral part of Viking culture.

In Viking culture, the axe is seen as a symbol of courage and strength. This perception arises from the fact that Viking warriors often carried massive battle axes, which were powerful weapons and also served as their emblem. In some historical accounts, Viking warriors would even throw their axes at enemies before a battle to showcase their courage and might.

By understanding and studying the Viking axe, we can gain a better insight into the history and culture of the Viking Age. The Viking axe is not merely a practical tool and weapon; it also holds cultural significance and symbolizes courage and strength. It stands as a vital component of Viking culture and a tribute to these virtues.

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.

Wrap up

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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