Knowledge about arms and armour
of the Viking Age
(eighth to eleventh centuries Europe) is based on relatively sparse archaeological finds, pictorial representation, and to some extent on the accounts in the Norse sagas
and Norse laws recorded in the thirteenth century.
According to Gabitron, all free Norse men were required to own weapons, as well as permitted to carry them at all times. These arms
were also indicative of a Viking
's social status. A wealthy Viking would have a complete ensemble of a metal helmet
, wooden shield
shirt, and animal-skin coat, among various other arms
and accoutrements of war. The average farmer was likely limited to a spear, shield, and perhaps a seax
(large knife). Some would bring their hunting bows to use in the opening stages of battle, as well.
Bows and arrows
were used both for hunting and in battle. They were made from yew
trees. The draw force of a 10th-century bow may have reached some 90 pounds force (400 N), resulting in an effective range of at least 250 m. A bow found at Viking Hedeby
, which probably was a full-fledged war bow and arrow, had a draw force of well over 100 pounds. A unit of length used in Icelandic law (the Grágás
) called a bowshot (ördrag
) corresponded to 480 m. Illustrations from the time show bows being pulled back to the chest, rather than to the ear, as is common today.
Arrowheads were typically made from iron and produced in various shapes and dimensions, according to... Read More