Viking Axes Facts: Learn All About The Vikings Beneficial Battle Gear!

Joan Agie
Feb 29, 2024 By Joan Agie
Originally Published on Dec 16, 2021
Viking axes facts will help you know more about axe shafts and Mammen axe techniques.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.7 Min

From the 8th to the 11th century, the powerful Vikings emerged from their homelands in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, and swept across Europe.

They were superb ship-builders and navigators, and they used these skills to travel as far afield as the eastern coast of North America and the eastern Mediterranean. Vikings had a reputation for raiding wherever they landed, and many of their leaders grew wealthy from plunder.

However, they were not all raiders; some established peaceful colonies. Before exploring the history and facts about Viking axes, have a glance at some general facts about Vikings, their trade, artistry, craftsmanship and thirst to raid, settle and explore!

The Vikings also had an upper hand on trade. Their traders bought furs, whalebone, walrus ivory, and timber from the Mediterranean to Britain and brought back wheat and cloth from Britain, and pots and wines from the Mediterranean. They traded animal products that could only be found in the north.

They had a system of weights and measures. These five pieces would have been used to weigh small items, such as jewelry made from precious metals. The Viking traders also owned coins towards the end of the 10th century, and until then they used a barter system. It's jaw-dropping to learn that the rich people among Vikings in these times wore brooches, rings, and gold or silver pendants.

The poor wore bronze or pewter jewelry. The Vikings were great explorers too. They traveled by sea from Scandinavia, raided and settled along the coasts of Europe, and crossed the Atlantic to Iceland, Greenland, and Newfoundland. They also sailed the rivers of Europe to Russia and Constantinople. They made their own ships to move across and raid the territories.

The Dane axe is a sort of battle-axe that was popular during the transition from the European Viking Age to the early Middle Ages. The weapon (battle axes) is also known as an English long axe, a Danish axe, Viking axe, bearded axe, or a hafted axe. These weapons had thinner blades and were used by skilled warriors.

Viking battle axes were used for many things especially the bearded axe as these Viking battle axes were used for splitting wood. A double-bladed Viking axe known as Labyrs was also used. These double-bladed axes were used for many purposes. These double-bladed axes were previously used by Vikings in wars. There are many other axe head shapes such as an axe hammer, an axe horn, a wood axe, or a farm axe.

Norse warriors used broad axes all the time. Norse warriors used them in forging weapons. There are many Norse warriors who used these weapons in Viking wars and these Norse warriors were astonishingly strong with these edged weapons(these weapons had a thin blade). They also had horned helmets. They used these horned helmets at wars too. They also used a spear point and a Mammen axe as a throwing weapon. They also had pull weapons in Viking sagas. Spearpoint was one of the lighter weapons. As lighter weapons, they were widely used as throwing weapons.

Here you'll find all you need to know about the Viking axes; their form, types, construction, and much more! Afterward, be sure to also check out Viking jewellery facts and Viking helmet facts.

Viking Axe History

In the prehistoric period, until 1050 AD, Viking axes were widely used by warriors and raiders. When the prehistoric people were using woods for almost everything; artifacts, weapons, ships, and other materials, the Vikings had moved beyond this and were already using iron objects.

The axes were one such group of objects. These were inevitable for them to tame wildlife and to survive in the snowy wilds. Be it raiding expeditions or conflicts, the axes were of great use. Read on to find out about this popular choice of weapon that ruled the Viking armory.

It was in the 10th-11th century that Viking axes began gaining immense popularity and influence. During the Viking era, only a handful of people owned swords, while many owned axes.

A Viking axe was excavated from the Magnate’s grave at Mammen in Jutland. This axe was distinct with inlaid silver decoration. The motifs carved in this axe were ambiguous to interpret. The motif depicted a tree that became the bone of contention between Christians and Pagans. Pagans consider it to be their 'Yggdrassil' while Christians interpret it as their 'tree of life'. A long-bladed axe that belonged to Magnate was also discovered from Over Hornbaek near Randers in Denmark and was found ornamented with silver and copper inlay. The patterns visibly carved an animal figure. Cross-axes marked the later Viking period.

The Form Of The Viking Axes

The medieval Norsemen are believed to have used long axes and short-hand axes. They were of various forms because of their varied purposes. Some were meant to be used in the battlegrounds and others at home. It was a common tool in every Viking household.

The Norsemen employed their artistry to carve out axes of different structures, designs, and forms. First made of stone, axes began to be made of iron and steel gradually.

Viking axes were generally lightweight as to throw and handle easily.  Some had a close cutting edge while others had a razor-sharp edge. The Dane axe and bearded Axe were the most commonly used axes in the Viking age. These were usually one to five feet long, etched, and with blades that differed in size and thickness according to their purpose.

The medieval Norsemen used long axes and short-hand axes. The early Viking age featured axes with cutting edges of three to six inches long. For cutting and splitting huge timbers for building, processing wood, weapons, and battlegrounds, axes were widely used over swords. The latter, made of steel, was expensive and as a result, axes were common and essential in households. The axe was a deadly weapon that was used for close combats and axes helped Norsemen raid, plunder and build territories.

The Main Types Of Viking Battle Axe

Viking battle axes had varying structures and types. Here are a few of them:

The Danish axe was one of the earliest types of battle-axe, and it was widely in use during the Viking Age and early Middle Age. These are also known as a Dane axe, hafted axe, or English long axe. The Dane axes had thin blades with a carve cutting edge. They had wide and thin blades and horns at their toes and heels. They were identified by large cutting surfaces. Its thin, profiled blade had a size of 8-12 inches. It could pierce through leather armors and shields, and pierced in to make deep cuts.

Bearded axes were thick and heavy; meant for wood-cutting and splitting or served to give powerful blows against enemies. In Old Norse, they were called Skeggox. Below the axehead, it had a deep curve, giving an appearance of a beard towards its lower portions. It gave the axe a larger cutting surface.

However, to our surprise, they were of light-weight enabling their use in close combats. They could hook and pull the shields away from an enemy and could directly strike the unprotected ones. Precise cuts could be made using them. These axes are used for woodworking to this date and may be inspired by Viking warriors!

Francisca axes, named after their Frankish origins were in use in the first few centuries CE. Soon, they began to be used by Anglo-Saxons and Norsemen. These axes were small weapons with a cutting edge of four inches in length and weighing around 21.2 oz (600 g). These were inevitable in the battlegrounds for close combats and were thrown at the enemies.

Mammen axes were single, fine specimens and elegant in appearance. Mammen was a Danish village and the Danish axes were named after them. They were made of iron with silver inlay and the style of these axes was recognized as 'Mammen style'. This style infused both Christian and Pagan patterns and motifs which later paved way for controversy. They were notable for they were owned by the well-off and affluent classes of the times.

The Vikings also had an upper hand on trade

Viking Axe Construction

Farm axes and the ones used for battles differed in structure and design. Tenth-century axes were made of iron and were single-edged. In the early Viking era, axes ranged from 7-15 cm in length.

In the later Viking age, axes became larger, acquiring a crescent shape with edges around 9-18 in (22.9-45.7 cm) in length. The largest axes had a length of around 9 in (22.9 cm). They had an iron head and an edge made of hardened steel. They had visible join lines. Some axe heads like that of Mammen axes had inlays of precious metals. Their flat surfaces had silver inlays and gold. Archaeologists could excavate them from the rich graves and have been trying to decipher the motifs and patterns on them. Axe heads also had wedge-shaped and diamond-shaped cross-sections. Some had sharp blades while other versions of the axe had elegant and thin cross-sections. Some were meant only for wood splitting and others only for skull-splitting.

Viking Weapons And Armors

Viking weapons and axes were used for speedy and deadly attacks. They were owned by the rich and the poor alike. Axes, bows, arrows, spearheads, and lancers constituted their acquisition of weapons.

In 793, a group of Vikings raided the monastery of Lindisfarne, northern England. The attack was the first of many raids along the coasts and up the rivers of Europe. Houses and churches were plundered, people were taken as slaves and the Vikings demanded money before they would leave. They were great warriors who even mastered weaponry. Each Viking warrior provided his own armor. Some could afford strong mail armor, and others relied on leather tunics but most wore pointed iron helmets and carried a round wooden shield. Most Viking warriors fought with swords or axes, although spears and bows were also used. Iron swords were the most important weapons of all. The Vikings defeated some of the most powerful people in Europe, such as King Edmund of East Anglia, who was tortured and killed when he refused to give up Christianity.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for Viking axes facts then why not take a look at Viking raid facts, or Viking longship facts?

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Written by Joan Agie

Bachelor of Science specializing in Human Anatomy

Joan Agie picture

Joan AgieBachelor of Science specializing in Human Anatomy

With 3+ years of research and content writing experience across several niches, especially on education, technology, and business topics. Joan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Anatomy from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria, and has worked as a researcher and writer for organizations across Nigeria, the US, the UK, and Germany. Joan enjoys meditation, watching movies, and learning new languages in her free time.

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