There is much interest in knowing more about the Vikings era. One of those is to do with war. There are depictions on the mainstream media of what Viking wars looked like, but people want to know more as well. In this article, we are going to look at the Viking sword, and what you need to know about it. It’ll give you an appreciation of the weapon used during the time, and make you a connoisseur when picking out props for the same.
What is a Viking sword？
A Viking sword is very much like any other sword recorded in past and present history. The difference is that it has some attributes that are unique to the Vikings. The other names were given to the sword that Vikings used as the Carolingian sword or simply the Viking Age sword. This kind of sword was predominantly found in Northern and Western Europe during the Early Middle Ages.
The beginnings of the Viking sword date back to the Merovingian period in Europe, where the word at the time was called the Migration Period sword. It was primarily among the German people that came from the Roman era spatha (straight and long sword). From there, between the 8th and the 11th century AD, inspired by these ancient swords, is when we find the rise and use of the Carolingian Viking sword.
What is a Viking sword made of?
The sword’s blade was made from pure iron. However, as it was, it wasn’t strong, and it tended to bend during battle. To make the blade stronger, blacksmiths began using a technique that entailed interweaving multiple thin strips of metal under high heat. That is why you’ll find words during the Viking era looking as elaborate as they do.
The sword’s handle featured a series of three or five rounded lobes that made up the pommels. The handles found during this time were not there before the 8th century, meaning that it was something that came about during the native Frankish development. Also, you would find that there was pictorial art specific to the period present on the handles.
Viking sword history
The Viking sword got produced in the Frankish Empire. After these swords got found in pagan burial sites during the Viking Age, where it is believed, they got there after getting looted from Christian graves during the 8th century. It was also thought that some of them got acquired during a trade or when a person was paying a ransom. Overall, there is no evidence available to show how these swords got made.
Swords available between the 8th and 10th centuries are what we call the Carolingian swords, while the swords made between the 10th and the 12th century were referred to as Norman swords or also the knightly sword is given the practice began around that time. All the same, according to some online estimates, the prices of swords were typically high and, in some cases, would cost as much as $1300. It is for that reason that during the Merovingian period, words were left to the calvary. It was for men who had warhorses and could afford a sword as well. By the 9th century, the calvary primarily used swords.
Between the 8th and the 9th century, there is evidence of a shift in how the swords got made. Those in the latter century were made from higher-quality steel. That resulted in having narrower blades, which shifted the point of balance toward the hilt. It is thought that it is this shift that brought an end to the sax. The sax was a short, single-edged sword primarily used in the early parts of the Viking era. The sword was swifter during combat and could inflict more damage than the sax ever could even on shields and armor.
That said, if you owned a sword during the Viking era, it was a sight of high honor, mainly because of how expensive they were to make. Those with even a more senior status had the luxury of having their swords ornately decorated with silver accents and inlays. During the battle, the more impoverished farmers would have to use spears or an ax during combat, but after a few of them, they were able to acquire enough money to purchase one.
Making swords was something highly specialized, and it was not something Vikings were able to do. For that reason, they would import labor from other regions. It would take the swordsmith about a month to come up with a single sword. After, the local craftsmen would add elaborate decoration on the sword as per the owners’ wishes, and you would also find that a lot of the swords at the time were given names. It is because of this labor intensity, and the cost as well, that led the Vikings to pass down their swords from generation to generation. Equally, the older a sword was, the more valuable people considered it to be.
There is evidence that during Viking burials, they would “kill” their swords. What that meant is that they would bend in and render it unusable. That had two meanings; the first was that it symbolized the retiring of a warrior, but also when the grave robbers came, they wouldn’t be able to loot the sword as it would not serve them. It was “normal” for burial sites to get looted because it was common practice for warriors to get buried with their swords.
How was the Viking sword used?
One of the places where the Viking sword got used, of course, is during the war. Numerous sagas refer to them getting used for this purpose. However, over time, swords that had gold and silver inlays would get used for social and religious functions. Even so, precious metals were not commonplace in Scandinavia, and they had to get imported. Once in the territory, they would get used to inlay the pommels and the blades. The craftsmen would make various ornate designs that included depictions of animals, geometric patterns, and with the introduction of Christianity, Christian symbols.
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