Vikings! They are back!!!!!!!


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rcmodel
February 27, 2014, 07:48 PM
The new season of Vikings is on the History Channel tonight.

I can't wait to see the ax's and other Viking edged weapons used in it.

http://www.history.com/shows/vikings/videos/vikings-season-2-sneak

rc

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ugaarguy
February 27, 2014, 07:55 PM
I've slightly tweaked the OP above to make this on topic for NFW. For further clarification, discussing the show in general is off topic, and such posts will be deleted. However, posts specifically discussing the arms and armor featured in the show, or other Norse and Norse enemy weapons of the Viking era are on topic for this forum.

So, let's keep this on topic and have a little fun. Let's use the History Channel show Vikings to spark a discussion of some very cool edged weapons. I know very little about the specifics of these weapons, but I think they look cool, so this could be very educational for me.

Sam Cade
February 27, 2014, 08:05 PM
Now, a thread specifically about Norse weaponry of the Viking era...THAT would be on topic.

hso
February 27, 2014, 08:58 PM
Very seaxy!

armoredman
February 27, 2014, 09:08 PM
Spears were the Norseman's friend, IIRC, as Norway is metal poor in general. I've seen some VERY interesting documentaries on swords, the best being Reclaiming the Blade, makes me wish I had the time and money to invest in learning European sword fighting techniques.

tomrkba
February 27, 2014, 09:42 PM
Weapons training is on topic!

Spears were the Norseman's friend, IIRC, as Norway is metal poor in general. I've seen some VERY interesting documentaries on swords, the best being Reclaiming the Blade, makes me wish I had the time and money to invest in learning European sword fighting techniques.

Ah, but you can! HEMA is available all over the country. The great news is this is a martial art that includes combatives, dagger, sword, ax, spear and so forth. They are recreating the fighting arts from as early as the 13th century.

Here's one in Phoenix, but there are others around.
http://phoenixsocietyofhistoricalswordsmanship.webs.com/

You can start out with nothing but a stick and move up from there.

It also turns out there are many original manuals available to read ONLINE for free!

http://wiktenauer.com/wiki/Masters

Take a look at this one:
http://wiktenauer.com/wiki/Johannes_Liechtenauer

Lessons on the English Longsword (http://www.amazon.com/Lessons-English-Longsword-Brandon-Heslop/dp/1581607342/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1393555178&sr=1-1&keywords=lessons+on+the+english+longsword) is a good one and is available from Amazon.

Google around and you'll find blogs, events and all sorts of stuff.

Not to mention swords to drool over from Albion and Arms & Armor (the best production makers of swords based on real thing. Buying a "beater" sword for $150 doesn't cut it; they're clunky and do not have proper rhythm. These makers research original swords and duplicate them so they swing properly. This is exceptionally important; balance is mostly unimportant.)

The Cluny Sword from Albion (http://www.albion-swords.com/swords/johnsson/sword-museum-cluny.htm)

Swords from Arms & Armor (http://armor.com/swords.html)

Here's a Viking sword for the OP:

The Valkyrja (http://www.albion-swords.com/swords/albion/nextgen/sword-viking-valkyrja.htm)

Shanghai McCoy
February 27, 2014, 11:02 PM
There were some Gransfor Bruks hatchets to be seen in the last season. Lots of the bearded axe type weapons seem to be used as well.

shiftyer1
February 28, 2014, 01:45 AM
It got me thinking about buying a small ax or hatchet, that's for sure:)

hso
February 28, 2014, 06:33 AM
Axe and you shall receive!
http://www.gransforsbruk.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/4995-produktinfo.jpg
http://www.gransforsbruk.com/en/products/gransfors-ancient-axes/

VA27
February 28, 2014, 08:26 PM
Darn! Now I need a Cold Steel Viking Axe!

rcmodel
February 28, 2014, 08:46 PM
Pretty good photo's of old iron here.

http://www.hurstwic.org/history/articles/manufacturing/text/viking_axe.htm

Cold Steel?
Say what? :what:

This stuff is Probably as close as it gets to the real deal.

http://www.gransforsbruk.com/en/products/gransfors-ancient-axes/

rc

hso
February 28, 2014, 09:09 PM
Neat!

I've attended hammer-ins where axes/hawks were forged and I've seen the first two methods of forging the head/eye. I'd not known about the one where the back was forge welded to form the eye.

Deltaboy
February 28, 2014, 10:13 PM
The Weapons they used were very efficient in the job they were made to do.

rcmodel
February 28, 2014, 10:35 PM
The only thing I don't quite understand is the affinity for the bearded fighting ax for several century's.

I understand it would be lighter and faster.
I understand it offers a wider cutting edge for less weight.

But it seems to me the downside would be, much easer to hook behind it with another ax or spear shaft and jerk it out of your hand?

Regardless of all that, I'm glad I was born in a later age.
Getting shot or blown up in battle the modern way seems to be a kinder gentler way to die.

Without all the bad breath & under-arm BO in your face thinking about it while bleeding out.

Hand to hand combat with those types of weapons took some real intestinal fortitude just to show up!

rc

tomrkba
February 28, 2014, 11:24 PM
Here are two nice axes:

Nordland Axe (http://armor.com/pole213.html)

Danish war axe (http://armor.com/pole024.html)

Here is some interesting historical information about Viking axes. (http://www.hurstwic.org/history/articles/manufacturing/text/viking_axe.htm)

It appears that one of the purposes of the bearded ax was to pull down a shield for a follow up attack.

blarby
March 1, 2014, 12:07 AM
RC, are you actually telling me we're distant relations in the same tribe ?

"Fra sine vpen p den pne veien, br ingen mann trinn en tempo unna."

kamagong
March 1, 2014, 12:35 AM
What strikes me about the show is the prevalence of spears and axes and the relative rarity of swords. Even the main character Ragnar Lothbrok, a jarl and renowned hero, fights with hand axes.

rcmodel
March 1, 2014, 01:04 AM
See post #5 about that.

I believe metal for swords was a pretty scarce commodity there at the time.

Ax's and spear heads didin't use as much steel they didn't have an unlimited resource of.

One could also surmise a long sword might be a little unwieldy and in the way on a 8' - 10" wide Viking long ship.

One good swing might cut your sail rigging off.
Or your shipmates head or arm.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d6/Moragsoorm.jpg

Rc

Sav .250
March 1, 2014, 08:53 AM
Great program.......... Still can`t pronounce the guys name. :)

hso
March 1, 2014, 10:20 AM
Swords used a lot of material and had really only one use, battle. Axes and spears, OTOH, that were tuned for battle also had other applications in hunting and sailing. Dual use, even if optimized for killing. I'm certain that there are axes so refined for battle that they weren't practical for other light chopping tasks, but I expect they weren't as common as the dual use ones.

kamagong
March 1, 2014, 11:00 AM
I understand that most men would have used axes. But Ragnar isn't most men. He's a jarl, a man of considerable wealth and standing. He's been on raids, fought and come out victorious where swords would've been among the spoils of battle. His wife, the shieldmaiden Lagertha, has a sword. You'd think Ragnar would wield one, even if its main use was as a status symbol.

I know I'm over thinking this. It's probably as simple as Ragnar fighting with the weapon he is most familiar and comfortable with.

hso
March 1, 2014, 11:04 AM
probably as simple as Ragnar fighting with the weapon he is most familiar and comfortable with.

Makes the most sense. We certainly would use what we're best with.

ApacheCoTodd
March 1, 2014, 11:14 AM
ugaarguy Thanks for immediately saving this thread as I'm a fan of the show and would love to hear member's take on the accuracy of the equipment shown in it.

hso
March 1, 2014, 01:24 PM
One of the things I doubt we'll be shown is one of the exceptional Ulfberht swords that were part of the culture. I think the program is set too early for that.
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/secrets-viking-sword.html
http://www.doorcountyforgeworks.com/NOVA.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulfberht

Owlnmole
March 1, 2014, 03:08 PM
Here is a source for a couple of modern Viking-style axes if you wanted to try your hand. I have ordered knives from Ragnar before with good results.

https://www.ragweedforge.com/ThrowingCatalog.html

See A-23G The Viking Belt Axe, A-23V The Viking Bearded Axe; A-23L The Viking ship builder's axe and A-23Q; The Norseman.

Shanghai McCoy
March 1, 2014, 03:25 PM
Judging from the "Out of stock" notes on his Viking items he might be a source for the series as well ?

hso
March 1, 2014, 03:33 PM
http://stores.ebay.com/OLEG-AXES-AND-OTHER-ANTIQUES/Axes-/_i.html?_fsub=4660873015&_sid=863834165&_trksid=p4634.c0.m322

There are also smiths like Jake Powing who are dedicated to rediscovering Viking and Celtic bladecraft - http://powning.com/jake/
I had the privilege of being at a hammer-in for several days with Jake and Rick Furrer. Remarkable talents and craftsmen.

Bartholomew Roberts
March 3, 2014, 12:54 PM
Somehow I now have this strange urge to purchase an axe with an iron-wrapped haft... You know, just in case.

Dave Markowitz
March 3, 2014, 02:46 PM
A month or so ago I went on a weekend Vikings watching binge, which caused me to buy an Arms & Armour Nordland Viking Axe (http://www.kultofathena.com/product.asp?item=AA213&name=Arms+%26+Armor+Nordland+Axe) from KoA. I've been meaning to do a thread about it but have had too much going on. It's a nice size as a practical tool but the factory edge needs some work.

Shanghai McCoy
March 4, 2014, 09:15 AM
So Dave, is the axe up to use as a tool or is it more of a prop..?

50 Shooter
March 4, 2014, 11:42 AM
So in the commercial for the show you see Ragnar's brother leaping over the front line with a massive battle ax. Anyone found a pic of it online? The sword, I've seen the commercial a million times.

Had to ad, if you like Viking's watch the movie The 13th Warrior! Lots of weapons, blood, guts...

toivo
March 4, 2014, 12:37 PM
Swords used a lot of material and had really only one use, battle. Axes and spears, OTOH, that were tuned for battle also had other applications in hunting and sailing.
Mostly agree, but if medieval literature is factually accurate, swords were also used for pig hunting:

The boar makes for the man with a mighty bound
So that he and his hunter came headlong together
Where the water ran wildest--the worse for the beast,
For the man, when they first met, marked him with care,
Sights well the slot, slips in the blade,
Shoves it home to the hilt, and the heart shattered,
And he falls in his fury and floats down the water,
ill-sped.
Hounds hasten by the score
To maul him, hide and head;
Men drag him in to shore
And dogs pronounce him dead.
(from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight)

Dave Markowitz
March 4, 2014, 06:42 PM
So Dave, is the axe up to use as a tool or is it more of a prop..?

I used it on some firewood on my last camping trip and it did OK. The edge geometry needs to be reworked, however. The bevel is uneven and too steep for my preference.

OTH, if I was going to use it as a weapon it's GTG right now.

Sam Cade
March 4, 2014, 06:57 PM
Mostly agree, but if medieval literature is factually accurate, swords were also used for pig hunting:

A shortish sword suitible for the thrust was pretty common as a European hunting weapon up until fairly recently.

ca. 1780, French fittings, German blade.
http://25.media.tumblr.com/df431ea82f239a08ff7094f13b95fbbf/tumblr_mqul1yhLh01rrjmgoo1_500.jpg

German, 19th century
http://c252289.r89.cf3.rackcdn.com/33128.jpg

There was also a late medieval Germanic hunting weapon resembling nothing so much as a zweihander with a spatulate tip that straddles the line between long sword and short spear.

Shanghai McCoy
March 4, 2014, 08:24 PM
I used it on some firewood on my last camping trip and it did OK. The edge geometry needs to be reworked, however. The bevel is uneven and too steep for my preference.

OTH, if I was going to use it as a weapon it's GTG right now.
Thanks for the info Dave.
KOT has some nice stuff. I bought my daughter one of the Spartan swords for Christmas and was pleased with the sword and their service.
Might have to get one of those axes for me..:)

Nom de Forum
March 4, 2014, 08:30 PM
One line of dialog that has me wondering occurred when first contact was made with the Saxons. One of the Vikings casually commented the Saxon weapons were made of better iron. I think by the end of the 8th Century when this series takes place crucible steel from the Asia would be available in limited supply in Scandinavia. Even the common iron alloys of the Vikings should be equal to anything the Saxons had. Use of swords, which are very expensive at that time, would be limited to the wealthiest of warriors unless obtained by plunder. It is my impression the lead character was not particularly wealthy at the start of the series, had his plunder confiscated after his first raid on the Saxons, and would probably be far more comfortable using the axe because of lifelong familiarity. Using a sword efficiently requires training with good technique and experience, something he probably would not have. His wife's use of a sword is probably more Hollywood convenience than historical accuracy. This does not mean it is not possible, but I think it improbable. Swords are also more fragile than axes and less utilitarian, something the members of small raiding parties may have considered in choosing an ax instead of a sword.

Sam Cade
March 4, 2014, 08:49 PM
historical accuracy.
This show ain't got it. Historical accuracy is on par with Ridley Scott's Gladiator.
While it contains tropes and themes we are familiar with from history, the show is a low fantasy and we shouldn't take anything about it too terribly seriously.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ragnar_Lodbrok*
Note that the historical Ragnar died in Aella's snake pit nearly 70 years later than the most recent show was set.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low_fantasy

Nom de Forum
March 4, 2014, 09:12 PM
This show ain't got it. Historical accuracy is on par with Ridley Scott's Gladiator.
While it contains tropes and themes we are familiar with from history, the show is a low fantasy and we shouldn't take anything about it too terribly seriously.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ragnar_Lodbrok*
Note that the historical Ragnar died in Aella's snake pit nearly 70 years later than the most recent show was set.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low_fantasy
Thanks. Now I don't have to be the party pooper when the fans need a reality check. Nothing wrong with enjoying "Low Fantasy" if you understand that is what it is and don't take it too seriously.

hso
March 4, 2014, 09:29 PM
Ohhh, I don't think anyone considers this to be much more than a fictional piece in a historic setting. Heck, everyone's too clean for this to be historical fiction.

None the less, it is fun and we shouldn't make too much of it.

Sam Cade
March 4, 2014, 09:32 PM
One thing that the last episode has got me thinking about is the guys going "over the top" when facing the opposing shield wall.

That seems like a perfectly reasonable tactic, provided that you have a trampoline and a gymnast handy. ;)

Seriously though, it would be fascinating to know how ordered the Norse shield wall was.

hso
March 4, 2014, 10:15 PM
I doubt we'll make much sense out of the dramatic behavior seen on the show (even in combat), but if we stay focused on the weapons shown and their historical inspiration we'll be able to make sense of things a lot easier.

I haven't noticed any of the historically depicted long hafted axes in Vikings!. Is this because they aren't around in the period depicted or because ???

Nom de Forum
March 4, 2014, 10:24 PM
[QUOTE]One thing that the last episode has got me thinking about is the guys going "over the top" when facing the opposing shield wall. That seems like a perfectly reasonable tactic, provided that you have a trampoline and a gymnast handy. ;)


Seems like a perfectly reasonable tactic if you what to get a spear up your wazoo while weakening you side's shield wall. The weakening of a shield wall until it breaks into a panic is when the real killing began.


Seriously though, it would be fascinating to know how ordered the Norse shield wall was.

It was a common tactic of any migrational era and later culture previously exposed to classical Roman military influence, which the Scandinavians were, but probably nowhere as sophisticatedly practiced as that of the pre-third century A.D. Romans.

Nom de Forum
March 4, 2014, 10:43 PM
I doubt we'll make much sense out of the dramatic behavior seen on the show (even in combat), but if we stay focused on the weapons shown and their historical inspiration we'll be able to make sense of things a lot easier.

I haven't noticed any of the historically depicted long hafted axes in Vikings!. Is this because they aren't around in the period depicted or because ???

O.K., now you guys have made me get off my butt and find my copy of Ewart Oakeshott's The Archaeology of Weapons. While still very expensive, sword use by the Vikings was more prevalent than in previous Northern European cultures. Yes, the long hafted battle axe would be in use. I suspect the producers of the show find the use of the smaller hand axes easier to dramatize on a regular basis and save the large battle axes for special moments of spectacle. Any use of a sword in each hand is not historically correct and has crept into productions about European warrior culture because of the influence of Chinese chopsocky movies of the type that inspired the Kill Bill movies. This was most agregiously done in the recent Spartucus Series on cable.

desidog
March 5, 2014, 02:51 PM
Historical it ain't. The show depicts what were the most well travelled people of their era, or any era for hundreds of years before or after.

Most coastal-dwelling northern Europeans had a lot of time between when they planted their crops and when they harvested them; and instead of sitting idly by drinking mead, they put their war gear in the boat and went in search of another village to pillage. The term "viking" is a verb, meaning "to go raiding." It was not associated with a certain tribe of people, as it seems to be today. Some of the most feared vikings were the Rus, coming from the eastern side of the Baltic. It was a seasonal means of increasing wealth, getting stuff for free, and enslaving the conquered as well. Their ethics and morality was nothing like ours today....Arthurian romance did not exist yet.

kamagong
March 5, 2014, 04:00 PM
Ragnar's brother Rollo uses a Danish axe. In his hands it is an absolutely devastating weapon. Those with a sword and shield, or even hand axes, appear to be at a severe disadvantage. The best tactic seems to be to wait for the one with the Danish axe to overcommit, then quickly counterattack before he can recover.

Hometeached1
March 5, 2014, 08:25 PM
This show ain't got it. Historical accuracy is on par with Ridley Scott's Gladiator.
While it contains tropes and themes we are familiar with from history, the show is a low fantasy and we shouldn't take anything about it too terribly seriously.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ragnar_Lodbrok*
Note that the historical Ragnar died in Aella's snake pit nearly 70 years later than the most recent show was set.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low_fantasy
Don't forget Braveheart. The battle of Sterling bridge.... Where's the bridge? Since the bridge was key to the Scots winning. O wait the writer Randal Wallace said he does not let the truth get in the way of the story.:scrutiny: remind you of anybody else.

More on subject: Might just have to get one of those axes... just in case.:D

rondog
March 7, 2014, 01:33 AM
I've noticed a lot of shaved heads and shaved faces in the shows. Did they have anything back then actually capable of safely shaving with? Seems kinda far fetched to me, why would they even want to shave their heads? It had to be a massive PITA to do and maintain.

I know, I know - not weapons related. But it IS blade related!

And don't even get me started on all the tattoo work shown!

ugaarguy
March 7, 2014, 01:52 AM
I just had to delete a few posts that were discussing the show with no specific weapons references. Remember, we can talk about the weapons in the show, but aren't here to discuss the show itself. Let's keep this on topic for THR.

ugaarguy
March 7, 2014, 02:16 AM
I've noticed a lot of shaved heads and shaved faces in the shows. Did they have anything back then actually capable of safely shaving with? Seems kinda far fetched to me, why would they even want to shave their heads? It had to be a massive PITA to do and maintain.
Rondog, I don't know if the Vikings actually shaved their heads or faces. However, we do know that the Norse had contact with the Romans. Romans soldiers were required to keep their hair cut short and their faces shaved. This was done to prevent an enemy from grabbing a soldier by the hair or beard. A quick search of the web reveals that razors were documented by Roman historians to have first been introduced to Rome in the 6th Century BC.

Razors were made from bronze, and then iron, and finally steel in modern times. Apparently, though, razors have existed since pre-history, and even been depicted in cave drawings. These early razors were made of clam or oyster shell, or obsidian, and perhaps even flint. Early man used simple stone and shell knives to skin game and flesh hides, so it isn't that far fetched to think that some groups would eventually start using similar knives to shave.

Although shaving razors aren't intended as weapons, their development does parallel fighting and general purpose knife development. After all, a razor is just a very specialized knife. Shaving in and of itself would be off topic here, but I see no reason to exclude razors from the discussion of the history of the development of edged tools and weapons.

hso
March 7, 2014, 06:33 AM
Did they have anything back then actually capable of safely shaving with?

People have been shaving as long as the bronze age and before.

1400BC bronze razor and mirror
http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/images/h2/h2_36.3.69,.13.jpg

Dave Markowitz
March 7, 2014, 12:34 PM
I haven't noticed any of the historically depicted long hafted axes in Vikings!. Is this because they aren't around in the period depicted or because ???

I think Rollo used one in the first episode of season 2.

Nom de Forum
March 7, 2014, 01:30 PM
What I find interesting is that if we had Vikings armed with modern weaponry raiding our country in 2014 we would all be far less admiring of their martial ability and motivations.

As far as the use of the ax versus the sword, the ax and ax-like weapons never lost effectiveness as a primary weapon even during the early years of the gunpowder age. The same cannot be said of the sword. Less than three hundred years from the time this series is set, the Saxons would nearly defeat the invading Normans (descendants of Vikings living in northern France) using large two handed axes. The Saxons defeat very nearly did not happen. Perhaps if they had not been fatigued by the long and fast march south after defeating another invading Scandinavian army in the North; they would have maintained better discipline and not have broken their shield wall in pursuit of a Norman feigned retreat. That break from their defensive formation cost the Saxons the battle and ultimately their country. The Normans are presumed to have had the superior weapons and weapon systems, but they still nearly lost to a small core of ax armed professional soldiers supported by variously armed militia.

goon
March 7, 2014, 01:35 PM
If you all are into vikings and historical fiction, check out some of the stuff Bernard Cornwell writes. Get acquainted with Uthred, son of Uthred.

On the scarcity of iron and Norwegian swords, I've read that single edged swords were more common in Norway. It's thought that they may have been a little more useful for utilitarian tasks that a less well-off Jarl may have had to do for himself. I've seen a couple online and find them highly cool.

http://www.myarmoury.com/review_cerv_vikse.html

http://www.albion-swords.com/swords/albion/nextgen/sword-viking-berserkr.htm

It's also worth a look to just check out Albion's offerings in general.

http://www.albion-swords.com/swords/albion/swords-albion-mark-nextgen.htm#Viking

http://www.albion-swords.com/swords/albion/squire/sword-squire-viking.htm


Last, overall I like the show.
It portrays Norsemen as they likely were - people. Some are good, some are bad, some are trustworthy, some are not, and even the best of them aren't perfect. But they did make a significant stamp on history.

rcmodel
March 11, 2014, 12:45 PM
Great stuff from the British Museum.
http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/10/world/europe/awesome-viking-warship/index.html?hpt=hp_c3

http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/dam/assets/140307114615-viking-axe-british-museum-horizontal-gallery.jpg

http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/dam/assets/140307120509-viking-sword-horizontal-gallery.jpg

rc

Shanghai McCoy
March 12, 2014, 08:24 AM
Nice pictures there rc. I wonder what the dimensions are on that axe head ?

Dr.Rob
March 20, 2014, 12:52 AM
Years ago I got a good looking axe from Kult of Athena... they don't sell that particular head anymore but its a respectable belt axe somewhere between shave/bearded.

The bearded axe as I have seen it demonstrated as a tool, can be used to protect the hand doing delicate work.. or the gap allowed for more cutting head with less weight...

or in war be used to pull DOWN/hook an opponent's shield, sword, whatever.

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