One Cut at a Time

If you were a warrior in the Viking age, you would want a weapon that was quick and light, with easy access for those deadly attacks that were so rampant.  Thus, the preferred choice for fighting was the battle axe.  Aside from the spear, the axe was probably the most used weapon by the Vikings.  As many Vikings were farmers and did not have big budgets, axes proved to be cost effective and simple to make.  In contrast to the farm axe of the day, commonly made from wood, the battle axe was made of iron and single edged.  Battle axe heads were thin, making them effective skull splitters, diverse and came in several shapes.  Axe heads often had a wedge shaped cross section near the edge to offer greater strength for a given weight of iron.  In the early Viking age, the cutting edge was generally from 3-6 inches), but grew larger over time.  The larger axe heads would sometimes contain hardened steel welded to the iron for a better cutting edge.  Some axe heads were even richly decorated with inlays and precious metals.  No matter what your personal taste was, you could be sure there were always axe options to satisfy.

Axe handles, known as hafts, were made of wood and were sized for intended use of the axe and balance of the axe head.  The axe head was attached to the haft by either folding the metal around the haft or by drilling a hole in the axe head and securing it on the haft.  Smaller axe heads obviously had smaller hafts and were used one handed while larger axe heads had longer hafts with two handed use.  In terms of battle, smaller axes would have been the way to go, as they are easy to conceal behind a shield or under a cloak, thus being prepared for a surprise attack.

Short Viking Axe:

Short Viking Axe

A major advantage of the axe over other edged weapons, and perhaps the reason why they were popular during the Viking age, is that the force of the blow is focused in one small area, allowing the axe power to cut through armor and helmets.  Due to the curved shape of the axe head, other advantages are also available in combat, including the ability to hook an opponent’s ankle, throwing them off balance.  The axe head can also be used to hook an opponent’s neck, forcing them to move in a direction they don’t want to go, and to hook the edge of a shield, disarming an opponent’s protection and making them an easy target.

Viking Axe Antique Finish:

Viking Axe

Though the axe may seem like a mere chunk of metal attached to a piece of wood, be not deceived!  This weapon can be a force to be reckoned with in any battle.  So, why not sharpen your skills.  Peruse our Viking battle axes and other collections at:

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