Norse Weapons – The Bow

The Vikings used a bow they called a ‘bogi‘ in Old Norse. Bows were predominately used for hunting, but in many cases they were also used for battle, especially in battles or attacks at sea. Even though nautical battles were not common to the Norse who preferred to fight on land, bows were indeed used in sea battles. They could use their bows to fire at an enemy awaiting them on the beach as they tried to land. They used the bow to attack other ships by firing arrows and throwing other…

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Elite Viking Warriors, the Shock Troops used by the Norse

The Vikings also had special troops that would reap fear into the enemy and instill encouragement on the friendly side. One kind of these special warriors were the infamous berserkers. Berserkers were warriors that would work themselves into a battle frenzy so much that they ignored pain and injury. Often, there would be many berserkers formed into groups and would be set loose on the enemy as shock troops. The berserkers believed that the god Odin would personally protect them from harm and so they often wore no armor into…

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The Viking Spear

The spear was the favored weapon of the Norse all-father and god of war, Odin. Odin had a spear that was made from the World tree Yggdrasil named Gungnir. The Prose Edda says that Odin will carry his spear Gungnir and lead the bravest that had fallen on the battlefield and had been taken to the Halls of Valhalla. These fallen warriors from Valhalla are called the Einherjar and Odin will lead them to the battlefield during the Ragnarok event. The spear held great symbolic importance to the Norse warrior…

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How to make a Viking Helm with hardly any tools.

How to COLD forge a Viking Helm, or rather a Spangenhelm with hardly any tools. The name Spangenhelm is of German origin. ‘Spangen’ refers to the metal strips that form the framework for the helmet and could be translated as braces, and ‘-helm’ simply means helmet. The spangenhelm arrived in Western Europe by way of what is now southern Russia and Ukraine, spread by nomadic Iranian tribes such as the Scythians and Sarmatians who lived among the Eurasian steppes. By the 6th century it was the most common helmet design in…

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Devastating Viking Weapons: The Dane Ax

One of the more popular battle axes used by the Norse was the Dane Ax (Danish Ax). It was an ax that consisted of a wide, thin blade that was ‘pronounced’ at both the toe and heel of the bit with the toe swept inward for better shearing power. The cutting surface of the Danish battle ax varied between 20 centimeters to 30 centimeters (8 to 12 inches) and the average weight was around one kilogram to two kilograms (two to four pounds). It was lightweight and resembled more of…

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Viking Battle Tactics: The Boar Formation

One of the battle formations that Norse warriors formed to break through the enemy’s lines was called the “svinfylking” (boar formation). The svinfylking was a battle formation where a group of heavily armed warriors (usually 20 to 30) would interlock their shields to form a wedge that had the center pointing towards the enemy’s formation. The triangular wedge tapered back on each side from the center point to make a tight spearhead. The Viking warriors would get in a “boar formation” wedge and then charge forward in this tight interlocked…

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Glíma, the Martial Arts System used by the Vikings

Viking warriors had the skills to survive against various forms of warfare and combat. The reason for the Vikings fighting prowess is found in the way they trained both with and without weapons. For combat without weapons, the Norse had developed a martial arts system called Glima. To be a good fighter and survive the unpredictability of combat, a warrior must know how to defend themselves unarmed against an armed opponent. The Norse developed Glima, which is a self-defense system that employs throws, blows, kicks, chokes, locks, pain techniques and some weapon techniques. It is comparable…

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The Viking Sword

A good sword was the obvious weapon of choice by the Viking Age warrior. That is, when they could afford or acquire one. Swords used by the Norse have been found throughout Europe and it was common for a sword blade to be imported from a Frankish workshop with the hilt fittings made locally. The most coveted of all Viking swords was a sword with the letters ULFBERHT inlaid into its blade. These very well made, high quality blades were often called an Ulfberht sword. The secrets behind the making of this…

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Less Commonly Known Viking Weapons – The Atgeir

The Atgeir was a ‘spear-like spear’ that was used before and through the Viking Age. One reference to the atgeir comes from Icelandic Sagas about the Viking hero Gunnar Hámundarson whom used an atgeir in Njál’s Saga that would “sing” by making a ringing sound when it anticipated ‘bloodshed’ when it was used in battle. Gunnar was a great warrior.  He is described as being nearly invincible in combat. According to Njál’s Saga, he was a powerful, athletic man “capable of jumping his own height in full body armor, both back and…

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The Shield used by the Vikings

There is Skaldic poetry that is specifically dedicated to the Norse shield. They are known as the “shield poems.” The shield was as much a part of Norse culture as was the ax. It was well developed and one of the best shields made. The Viking shield was very different from that of the shields used around the World. The shields were made from wood with a metal center and were colorfully painted. Upon first glance, there doesn’t seem to anything special about these shields but you’d be very wrong…

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