In my books The Witch of the Sands and Black River, my main characters, the Hounds of the North, are loosely inspired by a range of warrior peoples: Picts, Scots and Vikings. Given that, I added a heavy influence of Viking background weapons in the stories.
Part of the fun in the stories was supplying the Hounds with an interesting variety of weapons, including those from Viking culture and lore.
Here are the top three Viking weapons:
When people think of Vikings, they often imagine a giant bearded warrior with a double-bladed axe resting on his shoulder.
But the reality is that the axes used by Vikings were most likely single bladed, and not necessarily the huge unwieldy heavy weapon often depicted in covers and fan art.
In fact, Viking axes were lighter and more agile weapons to be used either in a single hand with a shield. And the two-handed varieties were single bladed.
This make sense since axes were essentially a tool for chopping wood – a farmer’s implement that was also used to fight. Axes were common and less expensive to make than swords.
Below is a reenactment showing how a carefully hidden small axe might have been used in a combat situation.
And here is a video showing test cuts with a modern two-handed axe replica.
Read more about Viking axes here.
Next up in the weapons of the Vikings is the sword.
Swords were not the implements of the Northern farmers. Instead, swords were the weapons of war and status.
Swords weighed about 2.5 pounds and the entire length was around 36 inches. The size of the grips also suggest that swords were used with one hand rather than two (so likely in conjunction with a shield).
Many swords were given names, such as Leg-biter and Gold-hilt, and were so highly prized that they were passed on down generations.
Here’s a longer video on the Viking sword for those that want to dig deeper.
Further reading on Viking swords can be found here.
My final favorite weapon is the spear (and not just because it is the name of one of the main characters in my Hounds of the North series).
Spears, with wooden (often ash) shafts and metal heads, were used as both throwing and thrusting weapons. The design of the spear heads – whether hooked or barbed or larger-head – matched function (hewing, hooking, stabbing or throwing).
Since Odin, the king of the Norse gods and the god of warfare, wielded a fabled spear called Gungnir, the spear was important to Viking warrior culture.
The video below gives some idea of the piercing power of a spear when either thrust or thrown.
So what’s your favorite Viking weapon? One of the three I mentioned or something different?
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