When you look at the documentation available that talks about Vikings, you will learn that the most commonly used weapon as the spear. Even then, it is worth keeping in mind that the military weapons the Vikings used are based on limited archaeological findings. The other way that we know what weapons got used is based on pictorial presentation, as well as accounts in Viking sagas and laws recorded from as far back as the 14th century.
One thing we do know is that all Norse men were required to own weapons and also allowed to carry them at all times. Who are the Norse? Norse and Viking are synonymous and refer to the same Germanic people that settled in Scandinavia in what is referred to as the Viking Age. The language spoken was Old Norse. Another fact that people might not be all too aware of is that Vikings were actually farmers and part-time warriors.
It is the fact that war was only something they didn’t often do that made it quite an event for the Vikings. That is why you’d find, as you’ll see below, that they had beautifully finished weapons. It was their way to show off their wealth and status as well. The spear is also significant among the Viking warrior because it was also the primary weapon that Odin, the King of the Norse gods, as well as the god of warfare, used.
In this article, we are going to explore more about the spear, stating what it got used for, what it was made from, and how it looked like.
What is a Viking spear
Simply because this spear has the name ‘Viking’ in front of it doesn’t make it all that different from other spears used in both ancient and modern times. Their spears followed the typical version of what a spear was.
When you look at the modern and older models of the Viking spear, you will find that the head varied in size. During the early times, the arrowhead on tended to be 20cm long. However, that changed, and we begin seeing spearheads that were even as much as 60cm long. When you read some of the documented Viking sagas, you will find that a reference in a prominent battle features a spearhead that was 50cm long. Most would, therefore, assume that it is the general standard of the same.
Another thing about Viking spears that you will note is that the spearheads were not always uniform. They had variations when it came to the shape and size. How the spear looked was also meant to reflect your status in the community. For example, the simpler spears were for the commoners or those poorer in the community, while those adorned with other metals showed that you were wealthy. However, it was those who were poorer in the community who used spears while the nobles and the rest had more options when it came to the choice of weapon.
What is a Viking spear made of
Viking spears were made from iron that measured between twenty and sixty centimeters. They also had patterns on the arrowhead, and they tended to be decorated with geometrical patterns or inlays of precious metals. One of them was silver and copper on the rib. You could also note the leafy foliage decorations on the surface of the blade through some of what remains is not as clear.
To form the head in which the spear shaft would go, the blacksmith would flatten one end and then fold it to form a solid socket. In some cases, the metal flaps joined together would overlap. The other part of the spear was made from wooden shafts that were about two to three meters long. For the most part, the wood used was ash wood, which was commonplace during that time.
viking spear types
Viking spears were commonly used weapons by the ancient Vikings, and they came in several different types:
Regular Spear: This was one of the most commonly used weapons by Viking warriors. It consisted of a spearhead, a shaft, and a handle. The spearhead was typically made from a single piece of iron, with a broad leaf-shaped blade and a pointed tip. It was mounted on a wooden shaft of varying lengths. These regular spears could be used for thrusting or throwing.
Glaive Spear: This type of spear had a blade with lateral wings, resembling a glaive. Glaive spears offered increased cutting power and could also be used defensively. When an opponent attacked with a sword, Viking warriors could use the lateral wings of the glaive spear to parry the strike while simultaneously thrusting with the pointed tip.
Short Spear: Short spears had shorter shafts, generally not exceeding 1 meter in length. They were primarily used for close combat and could be thrown or wielded with both hands. Short spears typically had sharp tips capable of penetrating armor.
Bardiche Spear: This weapon combined elements of both an axe and a long spear. A small battle axe was often mounted on the spearhead. Bardiche spears could be used for both thrusting and chopping attacks.
These various types of Viking spears featured unique designs and functions, reflecting the Viking warriors’ combat traditions and tactics. Viking warriors would select their weapons based on the specific requirements of a battle.
viking spear length
Viking spears typically ranged in length from about 2 meters, but there were also longer spears that could reach up to 4 meters. The choice of spear length depended on the height of the Viking warrior and the specific combat requirements. Since Viking warriors often faced opponents wearing armor, they needed a weapon that could penetrate armor and deliver significant damage. Longer spears provided greater penetration and killing power, allowing them to effectively pierce armor and attack distant enemies. Additionally, Viking warriors could use long spears for throwing attacks, inflicting damage on adversaries from a distance. Therefore, Viking spears typically had lengths of around 2 meters, although longer spears were also used in specific situations and tactics.
viking spear head
Viking spearheads were a crucial component of Viking weaponry. They were typically made of iron or steel and designed for thrusting or throwing. These spearheads came in various shapes and sizes, adapted for different combat scenarios. Here are some key characteristics of Viking spearheads:
Blade Shape: Viking spearheads often featured a leaf-shaped or triangular blade design, which allowed for effective thrusting and penetration through armor. Some had wide, flat blades for slashing.
Socketed Design: Many Viking spearheads had a socketed design, meaning they had a hollow socket at the base that could fit snugly onto a wooden shaft. This socketed design provided stability and durability to the weapon.
Length: Viking spearheads came in various lengths, with shorter ones designed for close combat and longer ones for throwing or thrusting at a distance.
Crossbars and Wings: Some spearheads featured crossbars or wings extending from the socket. These could be used for catching and trapping an opponent’s weapon or shield, making them versatile tools in combat.
Decoration: Viking spearheads were sometimes adorned with intricate designs and patterns, showcasing the craftsmanship and artistry of the Vikings. These decorations often had symbolic or cultural significance.
Material: Iron was the primary material used for Viking spearheads, although some higher-status spears might have had steel blades. The choice of material depended on the availability and quality of resources.
Viking spearheads were versatile weapons that could be used for thrusting, slashing, and throwing. They played a significant role in Viking warfare, providing warriors with a means to engage both in close combat and at a distance. The design and construction of these spearheads reflected the practical and artistic skills of the Viking people.
viking spear shaft
The shaft of a Viking spear, also known as the spear handle, was typically made from wood. Vikings used a variety of wood types, including ash, oak, and other sturdy hardwoods, to construct spear shafts. The choice of wood depended on availability and the warrior’s personal preference.
Here are some key characteristics of Viking spear shafts:
Length: Viking spear shafts varied in length, but they were generally long enough to allow for effective thrusting and throwing. The length could range from approximately 6 to 9 feet (2 to 3 meters) or even longer in some cases.
Diameter: The diameter of the spear shaft was typically about 1 to 1.5 inches (2.5 to 3.8 centimeters), providing a good balance between strength and weight.
Construction: Viking spear shafts were usually made from a single piece of wood, although some may have had reinforced tips or bindings to strengthen them. These bindings could be made from materials like leather or cord.
Tapering: The shaft often tapered gradually from the thicker butt end to the thinner tip, which allowed for better handling and balance. This tapering design made the spear easier to throw and maneuver in combat.
Grip: The thicker butt end of the spear shaft served as a grip for the Viking warrior. It was often shaped or carved for a better hold and to prevent slipping during combat.
Decoration: Some Viking spear shafts might have featured decorative carvings or patterns, showcasing the craftsmanship and artistry of the Vikings. These decorations could be symbolic or ornamental.
Viking spear shafts were an essential part of the weapon, providing the necessary length, strength, and balance for effective use in combat. When combined with a well-crafted spearhead, they formed a versatile and deadly weapon used by Viking warriors in both close combat and ranged attacks.
How to make a Viking spear
To make a Viking spear, you should secure the spearhead to a shaft. Given that there were many variations, you are also at liberty to design the spearhead that you feel works best for you best on the various shapes and sizes available from archeological findings. The shaft length is also something you can determine before getting started. The information available with regards to other designs is based on the sagas; you can choose from those present and create yours. For example, there is the reference of a shield with a shaft reinforced with iron.
How the Vikings used their spears in battle
These spears were used for thrusting, cutting, or hewing. It is also worth noting that the spearheads tended to have wings at the bottom of the spearhead. This barded aspect of the arrowhead was able to inflict a lot of damage to the enemy, especially if the spearhead was both long and thin. Even though it was the poorer in the community how used spears during the battle, the working class in the Viking communities would also use spears.
During the war, you would find that Vikings would throw spears and use other tactics to inflict harm on the enemy. They would also use it during formations with their shields; they would form and wall and use spears to jab at the opponent through the spaces left in the shield wall. There were also different types of spears. There were lighter spears with narrower heads that were ideal for throwing. They weren’t decorated because they typically got lost during the battle. There were the heavier ones with broader heads that got used for stabbing.
The other use for the spears was for cutting, where the blade would take the place of a sword or an ax. This war tactic is mentioned in the Saga, though there is also evidence that the spear wasn’t commonly used for cutting. Either way, it was the place of every Viking man during the war to have a spear, and even when they were not in active duty. Though the Vikings were mostly farmers, it is their weapons and ability to fight that put them on the map.
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