Military Review

Vikings and their axes (part of 1)

And it was that in my childhood, even when I did not read books myself, but they were read to me, my mom read the book “Viking Trek” by Jean Olivier and ... my life immediately changed to “before this book” and “after”. I immediately began to cut out the images of the Vikings from old textbooks, which I had in my house full of, made models of their ships from plasticine, rolling thin straws into oars and masts so that they would not bend, made a Viking helmet out of cardboard and an ax from myself wooden stick and plywood. The shield, however, I had a rectangular, not round, but there really was nothing to do was impossible - I had to use what was. That's how the Viking theme came into my life, and the books about them were put on the shelf one by one.

Vikings and their axes (part of 1)

"Viking hike" Jean Olivier - the book of my childhood.

And then came the moment when it came the feeling that “you can write about them yourself too!” Because each time has “its own songs”. Some books are “too childish”, some are poorly translated, while others are frankly abstruse and it is best to read them for the night in order to quickly fall asleep. So now, you, dear visitors of VO, will periodically get acquainted with the articles about the Vikings, which after some time will become the basis of the new book. I would just like to warn you that they are not written according to plan, but by what material you can get before. That is, in theory, it should start with historiography and the source base (and it will be necessary!), But ... it does not work out that way. Therefore, do not be surprised that the cycle will have some fragmentation and inconsistency. Alas, it is the cost of production. Right now, for example, I had under my arms a very interesting material about ... the axes of the Vikings, and why not start with him, because you still have to start with something?!

The famous "ax from Mammen." (National historical Museum, Copenhagen)

If we turn to Jena Heath’s book “Vikings” published in Russia (Osprey Publishing House, “Elite Forces” series, 2004), we can read there that before the Viking era began weapon, as an ax, in European military affairs was almost forgotten. But with the advent of the Vikings to Europe in the VIII - XI centuries. they re-entered into use, since it was the ax that was the second most important weapon in their arsenal.

Viking swords and axes at the National Historical Museum in Copenhagen.

According to, for example, Norwegian archaeologists, on 1500 finds of swords in the burials of the Viking era accounts for 1200 axes. Moreover, it often happens that the ax and the sword lie together in the same burial. There are three types of axes used by the Vikings. The first is “bearded”, in use from the 8th century, an ax with a relatively short handle and a narrow blade (for example, “an ax from Mammen”), and an ax with a long handle and a wide blade, so-called "Danish ax", with a blade width up to 45 cm and crescent shape, according to the Lexedale Saga, and called "breydox". It is believed that axes of this type appeared at the end of the tenth century. and gained the greatest popularity among the Anglo-Danish warriors of the xuskarls. It is known that they were used in the Battle of Hastings in 1066, but then quickly disappeared, as if they had developed their resource, and, most likely, this is exactly how it was. After all, it was a highly specialized type of ax, designed exclusively for battle. He could easily compete with the sword, as the main symbol of the Viking warrior, but they needed to be able to use it and not everyone could do it.

"Ax from Ludwigshar" with a wide slotted blade. (National Historical Museum, Copenhagen).

Interestingly, the Vikings gave the axes female names associated with the gods or the forces of nature, as well as the names of the trolls, while King Olaf, for example, gave his ax the name Hel, very meaningfully calling him the name of the goddess of death!

Ax from Langeida. (Museum of Cultural History, Oldsaksamling University, Oslo).

In 2011, during the archaeological excavations at Langeid in the Setesdalen Valley in Denmark, a burial ground was discovered. As it turned out, it contained several dozens of graves of the second half of the Viking era. Grave # XXUMX was one of the most remarkable, although its wooden coffin was almost empty. Of course, this was a big disappointment for the archaeologist. However, as the excavations continued, a richly decorated sword was found around the outer part of the coffin, along one of its long sides, and on the other, a large and wide ax blade.

Axes in Denmark used in the Bronze Age! The image on the stone from Fossum, Bohuslan, Western Sweden.

The blade of the “ax from Langeid” was relatively little damaged, and the damage that was done was fixed with glue, while the rust deposits were removed using micro sandblasting. It is quite surprising that the remains of a wooden handle of length 15 cm were preserved inside the butt. Therefore, in order to reduce the risk of wood destruction, it was treated with a special compound. However, the strip of copper alloy that surrounded the handle in this place helped the wood to survive. Since copper has antimicrobial properties, this prevented its complete decay. The strip had a thickness of only half a millimeter, it was highly corrosive and consisted of several fragments that had to be carefully glued together.

Micro sandblasting was used to clean the ax blade from rust. (Museum of Cultural History, Oldsaksamling University, Oslo)

It used to be that archeologists sketched their finds and had to be included in the expeditions of professional artists. Then a photograph came to their aid, and now the findings are completely x-rayed and use the X-ray fluorescence method.

X-ray of the "ax from Langeyd". You can see the blade thickening behind the cutting edge and the butt-weld line. Also the hairpins fastening a brass tape on the handle are visible. (Museum of Cultural History, Oldsaksamling University, Oslo)

All these studies confirmed that the linings on the pole consisted of brass, a copper alloy containing a lot of zinc. Unlike copper and bronze, which are reddish metals, brass has a yellow color. Untreated brass is reminiscent of gold, and this, apparently, was important at that time. The sagas constantly emphasize the magnificence of the weapons that belonged to their heroes and glittering with gold, which undoubtedly was the ideal of the Viking Age. But archeology proves that most of their weapons were actually decorated with copper — a kind of “gold of a poor man.”

Reconstruction showing the main design features of the “ax from Langeid”. (Museum of Cultural History, Oldsaksamling University, Oslo)

Unlike powerful landowners, who emphasized their social position and used the sword as a weapon, less wealthy people resorted to using axes designed for working with wood as a combat weapon. Thus, the ax was often identified with a landless working man engaged in the household. That is, at first axes were universal. But in the second half of the Viking era, axes appeared, designed exclusively for battle, whose blade was finely forged and, therefore, relatively light. Small and not so massive was the butt. This design gave the Vikings a truly deadly weapon worthy of the professional warriors that they were.

Almost all the illustrations of Angus McBride, made them to the books about the Vikings, there are various battle axes.

In the Byzantine Empire, they served as high-ranking mercenaries in the so-called Varangian Guard, and were bodyguards of the Byzantine emperor himself. In England, these wide-blade axes became known as “Danish axes” because of their use by Danish conquerors at the end of the Viking Age.

Viking in a long-haired mail (in the center) and with a wide-breasted battle ax "breydoks". Fig. Angus McBride

Archaeologist Jan Petersen in his typology of Viking weapons classified broad-blade axes as type M and believed that they appeared in the second half of the X century. The “Ax from Langeyd” has a slightly later origin, which is connected with the dating of the grave, where it was found, in the first half of the 11th century. Since the initial weight of the ax itself was initially around 800 grams (now 550 grams), it was clearly a two-handed ax. However, it is lighter than many woodworking axes that were previously used as weapons. It is believed that the length of its arm was about 110 cm, but it is shorter than many people think. The metal ribbon on the handle is unusual for finds in Norway, but at least five other similar finds are known. Three ax handle with brass stripes found right in London in the Thames.

It is often quite difficult to distinguish between a working ax and a battle ax, but the Viking era battle ax, as a rule, was smaller and slightly lighter than a working ax. The butt of the battle ax is also much smaller, and the blade itself is much thinner. But it should be remembered that most of the battle axes, presumably, in the battle held with one hand.

Another Viking battle ax with a relatively narrow blade and handle for one hand. Fig. Angus McBride

Perhaps the most famous copy of the ax of the Viking Age found in the town of Mammen in Denmark, on the Jutland Peninsula, in the burial of a noble Scandinavian warrior. When dendrological analysis of the logs, of which the burial chamber was folded, it turned out that it was built in the winter of 970 - 971. It is believed that one of the closest associates of King Harald Sinezubiy was buried in the grave.

This year was very eventful for the entire “civilized world”: for example, Prince Svyatoslav fought the Byzantine emperor John Tsimishey that year, and his son and future baptist of Russia, Prince Vladimir, became a prince in Novgorod. In the same year, a landmark event happened in Iceland, where the future discoverer of America, Leif Eriksson, nicknamed "Happy", was born in the family of Eric Red, the adventure of which is exactly dedicated to the book of the Vikings by Jean Olivier.

A page from this book ...

The ax itself is not large in size - 175 mm. It is believed that this ax had a ritual purpose, and was never used in combat. On the other hand, for the people who believed that the valalla were taken to the Viking paradise, only those warriors who died in battle fall, therefore the war was their main life ritual and they belonged to it, and also death, accordingly.

"Ax of Mammen." (National Historical Museum, Copenhagen)

First of all, we note that the “ax from Mammen” was very richly decorated. The blade and ax of the ax were completely covered with a sheet of blackened silver (thanks to which it would remain in such a beautiful state), and then trimmed with inlaid silver thread, laid out in the form of a complex pattern in the style of the “Big Beast”. By the way, this Old Norse ornamental pattern, common in Denmark in 960-1020, is today called “Mammen”, and precisely because of this ancient ax.

On one side of the ax is a tree. It can be interpreted as the pagan tree Yggdrasil, but also as a Christian "Tree of Life". The drawing on the other side depicts the rooster Gullinkambi (Old Norse “golden crest”) or the Phoenix bird. The rooster Gullincambi, like Yggdrasil, belongs to Norse mythology. This rooster sits on top of the tree Yggdrasil. His task is to wake up the Vikings every morning, but when Ragnarok comes (“the end of the world”), he will have to turn into a crow. The phoenix is ​​a symbol of rebirth and belongs to Christian mythology. Therefore, the motifs of the images on the ax can be interpreted as both pagan and Christian. The transition from the ax blade to the sleeve is gold plated. In addition, on both sides of the butt, slits were made in the form of an oblique cross and, although they are now empty, in antiquity they apparently filled bronze-zinc foil.

Viking weapons (late era) from the exposition of the Museum of Cultural History, Oldsaksamling University, Oslo.

Another huge ax was found in 2012 in the construction of the highway. The remains of the owner of this huge ax were also found, and the tomb in which they were located was dated to about 950 year. It is noteworthy that this weapon is the only item buried with this departed Viking. Based on this fact, scientists conclude that the owner of the weapon of this, apparently, was very proud of him, as well as his ability to possess it, because the sword was not in the burial.

The Ax of Silkeborg.

The tomb also contained the remains of a woman, and with it a pair of keys that symbolized power and her high social position in Viking society. This gave scientists reason to believe that this man and this woman had a very high social status.

Interestingly, as a requisite for the costume of the Varangian Guest from the opera Sadko by N. Rimsky-Korsakov, in which Fyodor Chaliapin himself performed his part at the 1897 premiere, the Vikings were clearly prepared to emphasize this mind the weapon!

To be continued ...

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  1. Vard
    Vard 12 June 2018 05: 20
    An ax, unlike a sword or a bow, did not require special skills in its application ...
    1. Golovan Jack
      Golovan Jack 12 June 2018 05: 55
      Quote: Vard
      An ax, unlike a sword or a bow, did not require special skills in its application ...

      My doubts. Well, it’s not chopping wood yet ... they don’t know how to shrug off firewood, and they are also not used to dodging ...
      1. Cat
        Cat 12 June 2018 07: 10
        Quote: Vard
        An ax, unlike a sword or a bow, did not require special skills in its application ...

        Classic delusion!
        The owners of axes, axes, and cannons had their own highly specialized tasks in the ranks.
        For example, in the above-mentioned Vikings, the owners of axes walked in the second row and struck at the enemy’s shields from above, diverting the enemy’s attention. If possible, the edge of the shield or helmet clung to the edge of the ax, and the enemy was crippled. Inexperienced, the possessors of axes were formidably called shatterbreakers. As an impact weapon, an ax is more effective against a hardened opponent. The only minus with an ax is uncomfortable
        block blows.
        1. Snail N9
          Snail N9 12 June 2018 07: 42
          The ax was driven into the enemy’s shield and left him there, making it heavier and unbalanced, which facilitated further sword fighting.
        2. Same lech
          Same lech 12 June 2018 08: 03
          Classic fallacy

          Totally agree with you. hi
          I have three types of axes in my country house ...
          one bungled himself ... and each ax requires a different scope, different concentration of the blow and different accuracy of the blow.
          I’ll tell you this killer weapon and in the capable hands there are very few chances to survive against a soldier armed with such an instrument.
        3. Weyland
          Weyland 12 June 2018 13: 34
          Quote: Kotischa
          As an impact weapon, an ax is more effective against a hardened opponent.

          only if it is not a wide ax, but a narrow slander with a bevel of the blade. But the slander against the shield is useless - it perforates, but gets stuck tight!
        4. Mikhail3
          Mikhail3 12 June 2018 19: 31
          Right. Here are just the photos shown in the article depicting NOT poleaxes. An attempt to cut something solid with this strange blade will result in either this hatchet popping off a tiny ax or breaking it. The axes are depicted exclusively in artistic drawings. Interesting, right? Imagine that you are trying to strike a solidly shielded at least copper shield "ax from Langeida." How is it? The tiny eye will not hold the hatchet for anything. For that matter, the “ax from Mammen” is much more like an ax (although it wasn’t used to at least), at least its blade is correctly beveled to concentrate the chopping blow, but its eye is strangely small. Shieldbreakers? What were the shields made of paper from? Of course, it can be assumed that the axes were made of titanium, which was delivered to the brave Vikings at a reasonable price by Velund. But the ax itself is in stock! And he still does not suit against armor. Where is the defense in front of the ax? Even a carpentry ax has a beak partially covering the tree from a meeting with the edge of a log. And here...
          In general, there is a more viable version. These thin little blades cannot be adapted for “crushing” anything. But they are easy and convenient to chop something soft! But this is closer to life. Mighty Vikings caught unarmed peasants. And bravely fleeing, it was worth the local lord send them to meet a couple of combatants. And they also had a nice habit of killing unarmed (and armless!) Captives, if they could not be taken away with them. Women, children, the elderly, related men ... these things fit perfectly for this.
          And in beautiful drawings, yes ... there are axes. Artists are great.
          1. Vard
            Vard 13 June 2018 10: 09
            I honestly was afraid to voice this version ... It was like at a reenactment event ... the axes are not quoted there ... It is precisely because the blow comes from above ... A simple thrusting attack of the sword and one more corpse ...
          2. brn521
            brn521 13 June 2018 13: 22
            Quote: Mikhail3
            What were the shields made of paper from?

            These were relatively lightweight laminate shields. Behind them they did not hide from chopping blows, as behind a wall. They shocked or deflected these blows. Due to the fact that the shield was light, it succumbed to the load, making it difficult to pierce it with a spear or cut it with an ax. Those. it’s not even close cutting wood and chopping firewood, because the shield is not mounted tightly on the block, but is suspended relatively freely, resisting shock only by its inertia.
            To combat this phenomenon, you need a combination of speed and a sharp cutting edge. A light wide semicircular blade on a long handle is quite suitable for this purpose. And sit on the shield so that the whistle from the swing stood.
            Quote: Mikhail3
            The tiny eye will not hold the hatchet for anything.

            Tiny eyes, however, are an archaeological fact. Apparently, these were special axes, completely unsuitable for felling trees. When chopping a tree, recoil will quickly break the mount to the pole, no matter how you contrive with this mount. Actually because the term "axes" suggests itself to them. They do not chop, but cut.
            Quote: Mikhail3
            Even a carpentry ax has a beak partially covering the tree from a meeting with the edge of a log.

            A beard (not a beard) is used for a denser landing of an ax on an ax, which is important for a full-fledged carpentry ax - he has this mount loaded more than other types of axes. Logs in this area can not crawl in any way, even if you specifically try, because the beard is in the recess behind the blade. As for the full protection of the ax, it was done separately, in the form of a metal strip, if at all.
            Quote: Mikhail3
            And bravely fleeing, it was worth the local lord send them to meet a couple of combatants.

            In fact, this remark applies only to ordinary sea robbers. And the problem of the Vikings was that they were not ordinary robbers. On the contrary, the Vikings were seriously trained fighters and were much more willing to rob combatants and their lords - it was with such trophies that they gained fame and fortune. The Vikings even arranged sieges. To cope with such raids did not have the usual garrisons, a military operation was required with a serious superiority in numbers. Moreover, with the use of naval formations comparable in characteristics with the Viking ones in speed and strength of the boarding team. Often it was simply unrealistic.
            Quote: Mikhail3
            And they also had a nice habit of killing unarmed (and armless!) Captives, if they could not be taken away with them.

            This is generally a common, unremarkable practice.
            1. Mikhail3
              Mikhail3 13 June 2018 13: 46
              Take the ax in your hand. And try to cut through them with a "relatively light laminate", that is, multi-layer plywood, at least a centimeter thick (I'm sure the Romans glued thicker, I wanted to live). And note that you have a modern ax in your hands! Well how? Is everything easy? Where there ...
              In fact, plywood was a considerable achievement of Roman civilization, which few could repeat. And did not repeat. So the shields were mainly made of solid wood planks, assembled on the base. Minimum - on leather strips, and much more expensive - on metal.
              I do not argue that tiny eyes are an archaeological fact. I drew attention to these eyes in my childhood, when I chopped firewood. I tried to imagine how I chop wood with these historical axes ... I can’t break anything with these axes. Nothing. And even more so a dense shield, from plywood or from dies.
              Regarding the fact that they deflected the blow with shields ... That's why I clearly do not like historians. For the lack of thinking as a fact. Have you ever seen fun called buhurt? You look interesting. How about deflecting your shield blows? Where to take there, tell me, please? In a mistake, a system for a system has no place for fencing at all! A powerful blow with these “moth wings” cannot be inflicted. Nothing. Neither mass nor form.
              These axes are only suitable for cutting and hitting softly. Unthreatening. To the unarmed ... Such is the reality as it seems to the engineer. Not the one you want and dream, but the one that is built from the facts presented. And even though you are cracking, it doesn’t come out in any other way, whether I like it or not, that there the “authorities” say that artists painted on artistic drawings ...
              It’s IMPOSSIBLE to cut through armor with these axes. It’s IMPOSSIBLE to break the shield. Well, if only it was all enhanced by magic. Factor of.
              1. brn521
                brn521 13 June 2018 19: 08
                Quote: Mikhail3
                Take the ax in your hand. And try to cut through them with a "relatively light laminate", that is, multi-layer plywood, at least a centimeter thick

                Ax with a thin semicircular blade. Where will I get one? A kitchen hatchet for chopping meat on a 1,5 m handle cut through a sheet of plywood resting on a bush. Well, leaning, if you step with your foot, you could put it on the ground. This is a very important point - the amortization of plywood did not help. The hatchet is not sharpened and notched. Carpenter’s off topic - his blade is straight and thick. At the same time, there is an important feature — the line connecting the center of mass with the point of impact should closely coincide with the trajectory of the impact. No matter how wise you are with a nozzle, you cannot plant a carpenter like that - any blow will go to the upper third, and a considerable part of the energy will go into recoil, loosening the mount and giving it to the hand. And the energy that remains will turn out to be blurry, extended in time, sharply reducing the breakdown ability. Is it possible to grind the top corner. I did not see other axes on sale.
                Quote: Mikhail3
                In fact, plywood was a considerable achievement of Roman civilization.

                Laminate - intersecting planks, filled with glue / var and pressed. Those. it’s impossible to split the bar. Especially true against spears and arrows. The technology for producing high-quality wooden parts by gluing from billets was known to everyone in a row, the Romans go through the woods. Just not everyone needed shields.
                Quote: Mikhail3
                I tried to imagine how I chop wood with these historical axes ...

                It remains only to imagine where it is on the battlefield will have to chop wood.
                Quote: Mikhail3
                Nothing to break through with these axes.

                As I mentioned, I have nothing to offer besides a kitchen hatchet. Nothing more with a thin semicircular blade came across. The hatchet chopped everything. Plywood, particleboard, fiberboard, automotive tin. The concrete did not master, the blade fastening could not stand it, but the pothole turned out to be notable. What is characteristic, a thin walnut handle with fastening on one screw - there was no return at all. Whereas the carpenter’s ax has little to break out the wedge, it also loaded the hook on the screws on the butt so that the screws were gradually twisted out of the wood.
                Quote: Mikhail3
                Regarding the fact that they deflected the blow with shields ...

                Well, yes, the soldiers stood with their spears against each other, and waited. The first one to spit on everything and move away to cast, he lost.
                Quote: Mikhail3
                Have you ever seen fun called buhurt?

                Exactly what fun. From the series, who will push someone or successfully stun with a club. Because there are no normal weapons, nor any realistic targets.
                To whom did this tightly packed line in several rows surrender? Lost in a bunch? Well, let them stand, they guard the clean field. While the Vikings will first rob at home, then the train of these clowns, and then maybe they themselves will be robbed, having tested their flanks and rear for strength .. If they want to do something sensible in return, they will have to break into groups, and to the fore personal combat training and the effectiveness of melee weapons will come out. Hence, by the way, the advanced military thought of that time is the advantage of chopping weapons over stabbing ones, and love for swords. I note for full-fledged swords, and not cleaver, gladiuses and other bits.
                Quote: Mikhail3
                It’s IMPOSSIBLE to cut through armor with these axes.

                What kind of spherical armor in a vacuum is this? It is not necessary to cut through chain mail and skin, there will be enough pure kinetics. Good plates appeared much later than the Vikings, already at the time of the firearm. And only they coped well with the crushing armor effect. And before that, powerful armor at the same time meant overload and complete futility in battle.
                Quote: Mikhail3
                It’s IMPOSSIBLE to break the shield.

                A heavy shield can be broken, but with a light shield, the owner of the shield himself will not be exposed to the blow. Because sorry for both the shield and the hand.
                In general, the ax is a good weapon. But the sword in experienced hands is faster and more accurate, although weaker. In a duel, the sword wins. Therefore, the sword was valued in the Middle Ages.
        5. Trilobite Master
          Trilobite Master 13 June 2018 11: 39
          Quote: Kotischa
          For example, in the above Vikings, the owners of axes walked in the second row and struck

          That’s how I imagine everything. The first row - shield bearers in tight formation, the second - warriors with two-handed axes or axes on a long ax. The former hold the line and protect the latter, which, in fact, are the main destructive force. Even a 15th-16th century armor didn’t save a good hit from an ax, what can we say about the protective equipment of the Viking era ... Of course, if you break through the shield shield system, then in two-handed melee axes are not very useful, but you still need to break through it under a hail of heavy blows, and this is difficult, and most importantly, very scary ...
        6. voyaka uh
          voyaka uh 13 June 2018 16: 18
          I can not imagine the use of a battle ax
          in a closed stream, For an ax, unlike a stabbing sword,
          requires a mandatory backswing. And in a tight formation swing
          impossible - destroy your comrades.
          More realistically, very physically strong warriors acted
          at a distance from others (and from each other) and, waving axes, they chopped down the armor, shields and bodies of enemy soldiers.
          1. brn521
            brn521 14 June 2018 13: 54
            Quote: voyaka uh
            I can not imagine the use of a battle ax
            in a closed stream, For an ax, unlike a stabbing sword,
            requires a mandatory backswing

            So also without piercing swords dispensed. The same Ulfbert pierces chain mail with great difficulty. Until normal armor appeared, the chopping / crushing properties of the sword were enough. In the same way, they managed with axes, until halberds were needed against the armor.
            Quote: voyaka uh
            And in a tight formation swing
            impossible - destroy your comrades.

            Apparently, therefore, all presented samples have a clean butt without damaging elements. Although in the event of a duel, they would be useful. Again, we can recall the halberdists, which quite normally existed as part of the dense system of pikemen.
      2. Weyland
        Weyland 12 June 2018 13: 32
        Quote: Golovan Jack
        they don’t know how to firewood,

        this is how to say ... laughing If a poor man undertakes to chop firewood - with a high degree of probability he will fly off with his half flying to his forehead (and this if he doesn’t cut off half his foot foolishly!)
    2. Weyland
      Weyland 12 June 2018 13: 30
      Any weapons require considerable skills - just in Scandinavia and in Russia, where the huts were chopped, he had serious ax skills any peasant! But the Czech peasants did not have such skills - therefore. Жižka armed the militia not with axes, but with flails, which any peasant could work!
      1. Mikado
        Mikado 12 June 2018 21: 13
        Zizka armed the militia not with axes, but with flails that any peasant knew how to work!

        if you want to train a mass army - give him that weapon to which it is habitual! soldier and five hundred years later, the bearded partisans took grandfather’s double-barreled shotguns in their hands, and the merry Fritzes were not even happy about this, and rightly so! soldier
        By the way, there weren’t a lot of swords in Russia ... what
        Dear Author - sincere thanks for the article. hi
        1. Weyland
          Weyland 13 June 2018 16: 23
          Quote: Mikado
          By the way, there weren’t a lot of swords in Russia ...

          Not an indicator. 80% of Caroling finds are from Scandinavia. But not because they really had dofiga there, but because the pagan Scandinavians put them in the graves, but the Christian Franks did not! As Kotische has already unsubscribed,
          Quote: Kotischa
          And if objectively, well, it wasn’t customary for our ancestors to bury weapons wars, and Christianity didn’t encourage this!

          Nevertheless, the tradition among the Scandinavians died off very slowly - for example, the same bastard sword Svante Nielson Sture (1460-1512): it would seem that the Swedes have been Christians for 500 years, but here you go ...
          1. Mikado
            Mikado 13 June 2018 17: 11
            Konstantin, I bow for the educational program! hi It's nice that the forum brought together experts and connoisseurs, sincerely, I'm talking about everyone. The eye rejoices. good
            1. Weyland
              Weyland 13 June 2018 21: 28
              Quote: Mikado
              Konstantin, I bow for the educational program!

              you're welcome! hi
    3. Vend
      Vend 13 June 2018 10: 03
      Quote: Vard
      An ax, unlike a sword or a bow, did not require special skills in its application ...

      Well yes. Any weapon requires skill and a battle ax is no exception.
  2. Cat
    Cat 12 June 2018 05: 37
    Good morning Vyacheslav Olegovich, once again you managed to please us (VO readers) sincerely.
    I’ll supplement the author a little. The ax of small axes basically had a round or oval diameter in cross section. Medium and large battle axes for a long time maintained a triangular cross-section of the shaft and a characteristic bend like that of working axes, which indicates their universal character. And only by the middle of the XNUMXth century did a round ax in section become widely used.
    1. Lekov L
      Lekov L 12 June 2018 07: 56
      Greetings colleagues!
      I will join the gratitude of Vladislav to you, Vyacheslav Olegovich! hi
      Vladislav, how does the sense of orientation of the weapon (instrument) relate to the round section of the ax?
      Even they try to make a kitchen knife so that the usual grip always determines the location of the cutting edge and prevents the knife from turning.
      And in battle in general, all this at the level of reflexes should be. Can still the oval section is not round ??
      Vyacheslav Olegovich, and the double-edged axes in the hands of the Vikings - is an invention of the "creative intelligentsia", like horned helmets? Or am I running ahead?
      Sincerely, colleagues!
      1. Cat
        Cat 12 June 2018 09: 00
        I will try to answer!
        As far as I know, double-sided axes did. For example, the Carpathian wall with two narrow blades. But in most cases, the development of the second side received an asymmetric spike, anvil or hook. A classic example of a swag or English halberds.
        Now for the cross section of the pole. If we open the work of Kirpichikov, then we see the following: all universal axes have a triangular section of the shaft. Long-tree weapons - bereshi, glaive, sovni - round section. Like most small and throwing axes, including riders. The same picture is shown by the diversity of other striking weapons on the shaft from minting to flails.
        Only medium-tree weapons abound with such a variety of perusal that somehow it is very difficult to systematize.
        I dare only to assume that the gradual transition to hatchets with a round shaft was experimentally determined, the closer the shaft to a circle, the stronger it is with a minimum weight. As with minimal processing, wood is corny stronger. Regarding the intuitive grip, the professionals were apparently no difference.
        All this does not apply to axes with a curved ax.
      2. Weyland
        Weyland 12 June 2018 13: 40
        Quote: Lekov L
        the two-blade poleaxes in the hands of the Vikings is an invention of the “creative intelligentsia”, like horned helmets

        Rather, imports from the south. Double-blade poleaxes were in vogue in the Mediterranean - especially among Cretans and Hittites. Actually, both the Greek word "labris" and the Russian / Persian / Indian "ax / tabar / teber" originate from the Huttian "tablar" (two-blade poleaxe).
        1. Mikado
          Mikado 13 June 2018 23: 10
          Actually, both the Greek word "labris" and the Russian / Persian / Indian "ax / tabar / teber" originate from the Huttian "tablar" (two-blade poleaxe).

          HM interesting! hi
  3. Korsar4
    Korsar4 12 June 2018 06: 26
    Already in college, I read the book Gulia.

    Until now, it seems most vividly: "Your sword, cutting a feather."
    1. Cat
      Cat 12 June 2018 07: 30
      Carolings used by the Vikings were better suited for chopping blows, many even had a rounded tip, a small hilt with a large top not giving the possibility of stabbing. There were even swords with one cutting edge. So they were not able to cut a feather, a silk scarf or a leaf of currant in a stream in flight. But breaking armor or breaking a shield is work for them!
      For close combat, the self-respecting Viking had Scramasax. Here it was used for close combat and sharpened under piercing attacks.
      So the dictum of the Irish sagas as a sword cut a drop of rain or a fuzz, apparently should be attributed to the beauty of the word skalda, and not historical truth.
      1. Weyland
        Weyland 12 June 2018 13: 54
        Quote: Kotischa
        So they were not able to cut a feather, a silk scarf or a leaf of currant in a stream in flight.

        a feather and a handkerchief - no, but a floating leaf - yes. "Higher" varieties of damask cut the hair of a fine-fleeced sheep three times thinner than a human) and a silk scarf (silk is 5-6 times thinner than a hair) - but they could cut bone and bronze, even dull on a soft piece of iron (not by chance in Walter Scott Saladin’s story cut a handkerchief - but didn’t even try a piece of iron laughing ) The English ulan saber of 1796 cut the cuirassier’s head in a brass helmet - but glided over the Russian overcoat, which is also not ice! But the "lower" varieties of damask steel, as well as good Damascus (Solingen, Toledo or Genoese - as well as carolings from Ulfbercht) sharpness were comparable to a good razor - i.e. dissected a floating sheet or a tuft of wool, a standing cloak (felt 20–25 mm thick), a felt ball the size of a head — as well as 99% of chain mail. And what would you choose: a blade chopping silk - or a cloak with chain mail?
        1. Cat
          Cat 12 June 2018 18: 17
          On the blades "+ ulfbert +"!
          If I am not mistaken, at least 170 swords with a similar stigma were found. Of these, about 30 are on the territory of the former Soviet Union, of which two-thirds are on the territory of the Russian Federation.
          It is believed that the earliest samples found date back to the middle of the 10th century, and the latest to the end of the 12. How many of them are fakes damn him, but the originals are supposed to be forged from three rods of steel and four - iron. Although there are deviations.
          In general, they are all categorized as “Z” according to Kirpikov's catalog. Although you can call them chopping weapons with a stretch. The shape of the blade “ulfs” allowed stabbing, and the material “low damask steel” made it possible to deliver cutting blows with such a sword. In addition, the evolution of such a blade over a century and a half of history tended precisely to the latter properties.

          A replica of the Caroling “Ulf” of the early (the sword from Skane - the beginning of the 11th century).

          ..... and a replica of the “ulfa” of the late (the sword from the black grave - the end of the 11th century).
          Differences and kinship on the face!
          1. Mikado
            Mikado 12 June 2018 21: 17
            one comment - one photoVladislav! The first is not visible. hi Please repeat! wink
            1. Cat
              Cat 12 June 2018 22: 09
              Especially for you Nikolay!

              About the small number of swords found in Russia. Only the Ulfberts - 20 out of 170! This is almost every tenth sword! But there were other finds! Moreover, the territory of modern Russia is the backyard of Ancient Russia!
              And if objectively, well, it wasn’t customary for our ancestors to bury weapons wars, and Christianity didn’t encourage this!
  4. Korsar4
    Korsar4 12 June 2018 06: 43
    And an interesting fragment on the image of Igdrasil on an ax. Is there any information - from which rocks the ax was cut?
    1. Cat
      Cat 12 June 2018 08: 00
      Oak, ash, birch!
      Maple axes are also mentioned in the sagas.
      The British and French used beech for their brodeks.
      Byzantine sources mention oak and pear.
      By the way, at my place lies an old forged cleaver with an ax made of larch. The hatchet is not less than 70 years old, according to the family legend, this is the first thing that great-grandfather did when he returned home after the Great Patriotic War. But this is the specifics of the instinct or personal preferences of the great-grandfather. Since at one time he sculpted a lot of things from larch: braids, rakes and more.
      P.S. while writing a comment, understanding came that the most difficult subject of peasant household use is a rake. Four to five types of wood per product, even for a cartwheel three is enough!
      The shaft is birch or ash. The arc is a larch or a pear. Arc stops - spruce or pine. Teeth - juniper, oak, ash. Scratching (spacers of the arc stops) - linden or fir.
      1. Korsar4
        Korsar4 12 June 2018 08: 08
        Here, too, I think that ash. There is also a sacred meaning.
        And if the cap is birch - it can be even stronger.
        1. Cat
          Cat 12 June 2018 08: 37
          As far as I know, the Carpathian rolls were definitely made of ash. But this thing is more status, although it grew from a purely military weapon.
          Apparently it makes sense to take into account the geographical factor. In Russia, birch was used for the ax of both the carpentry and the military. This is noted by Kirpichikov, Rybakov and many of our other historians. And historically, in central Russia, axes are made of birch. Although at one time he was on vacation in the Temryuk region - the owner boasted of a working ax with a pear shaft.
          So we can confidently say that they didn’t make battle axes from linden and pine, like other soft wood.
          1. Curious
            Curious 12 June 2018 12: 47
            For hatchet, only hardwood of deciduous trees can be used.
            An ideal tree for an ax from those available in Europe is ash. In terms of wood density, hardness and durability, it approaches the oak tree, but at the same time is quite elastic. It is no accident that even in the era of polymers gymnastic bars are made of ash.
            Oak and beech have their drawbacks. Oak is too hard and dries the hand when cutting.
            Beech is too hygroscopic.
            Not bad maple.
            Birch wood is hardly the best option. Perhaps, if you use chipped dies of the butt part of the frizzy birch, chopped and dried in a certain way, you can get an excellent product. But the availability of such material leaves much to be desired: even if it is possible to choose a birch trunk cut in winter of the required quality, there is a place for drying with the necessary parameters, then the drying time will still be more than a year. In addition, birch easily absorbs water and is spoiled by microorganisms, so careful care is required during operation.
      2. Weyland
        Weyland 12 June 2018 13: 57
        Quote: Kotischa
        But this is the specifics of the instinct or personal preferences of the great-grandfather.

        personal preferences - a splinter really! The best material for an ax in the north is ash and mountain ash, in the south - a hornbeam.
        1. Cat
          Cat 12 June 2018 15: 34
          The mountain ash is elastic! From shock loading is stratified. It’s possible for a carpenter’s ax, but I don’t know for a battle ax.
          Oak and beech dry hand, I agree. Again, for military weapons, strength is more important. About larch - her arrogance is exaggerated. With normal drying is ideal. The only heavy to handle and heavy in itself.
          Out of all my “larch” inheritance, I broke only the tip of the scythe. But here, apparently, hands are not growing from there. The canvas of Lithuania 10, it was necessary to rarely, rarely tighten the mount. Over time, larch is polished with hands, better than birch. Although almost the entire carpentry tool made of birch seems to be better.
          The only where I suffered a fiasco with larch is with butts. After 100 shots, it necessarily gives a chip on the fibers.
          But the real purpose of larch is the lower corners of the log house. In Yekaterinburg, for almost three centuries, a larch dam has been standing. The maximum that was done in the last century was lined with granite and that’s it!
          1. Trilobite Master
            Trilobite Master 13 June 2018 11: 26
            Regarding the material for the ax, I, as a practically rural resident, had the following opinion: oak or birch do not fit perfectly - they are too heavy and tough, my arm gets tired very quickly. The ideal option is maple, walnut is also very good, I haven’t tried it from ash, it’s unfortunate in our forests, and it’s not very good to go into the city and chop a thick branch on the street smile I also tried to make juniper (in our places it is called "heather", I don’t know why), I liked it much less.
            In general, the main thing is that the tree is properly dried - the branch must be placed with a whole, not removed and not damaged bark in a cool place where there is no sun, but there is free air flow (in my case it is a wood shed) and after a year - excellent material for anything - light, dense, resilient wood without a single crack.
            Oak and birch make excellent handles for knives, files, even chisels, excellent malas, beautiful combs, hairpins, scallops, beautiful necklaces, chains, but I don’t like axes at all. request
  5. The comment was deleted.
  6. Adjutant
    Adjutant 12 June 2018 08: 17
    A bearded ax (skeggox) is, of course, a Viking qualifier.
    But it is the ax (breidox) - probably the worst weapon of the Middle Ages. After all, as I understand it, with skillful use by a healthy man - no armor is a hindrance.
    Thank you
    1. Cat
      Cat 12 June 2018 09: 05
      One can argue for a long time about the bearded ax as a purely Scandinavian weapon. More likely it is of Germanic (Gothic) origin. No less often he was found in Russia, even in Turkey and Greece. Though.....?
    2. Weyland
      Weyland 12 June 2018 13: 59
      Quote: Adjutant
      with skillful use by a healthy man, no armor is a hindrance.

      against Milan - does not channel. There only something beak-like helped, like a bill or a beak-like butt of a halberd or polex.
      1. Ayratelinsion
        Ayratelinsion 17 June 2018 05: 00
        When did the Milanese armor appear?
  7. andrewkor
    andrewkor 12 June 2018 09: 04
    Oh, sorry, the Vikings in America didn’t succeed, that would be the Country. What kind of passionate people to be, that would influence the whole of Europe !!!
    1. Cat
      Cat 12 June 2018 12: 00
      Good day, Andrey!
      The Scandinavians went to “Europe” first of all for silver and gold, and only the second for the earth! True, their skalds also mention fame and women, but let us leave it on their conscience, as the great Homer.
      All this is reflected in the Norman conquests of Britain and Normandy. Having conquered the country, the Danes and the Norwegians did not break its infrastructure, but simply replaced leverage over the underlying management systems.
      During the invasion of Britain, this is vividly confirmed. In the first place is a hand-made sax, in the shadow is a dan that pulls strings.
      In America, there was nothing to fight, there was no infrastructure for collecting taxes, so the meaning of the conquest was lost. As possible - Russia.
      1. andrewkor
        andrewkor 13 June 2018 17: 40
        And to you my big “Meow!” I agree with you in many ways, I’ll just add: before my eyes the map of the Viking campaigns. 1016 - floor of the boot Apenin, 1063 all of Sicily. Is anything known about these events?
  8. igordok
    igordok 12 June 2018 10: 54
    The blade and butt of the ax were completely covered with a sheet of blackened silver (thanks to which it will be preserved in such excellent condition)

    I doubt it. Silver and iron, as well as copper and iron, create a galvanic pair, where iron, as the "weaker" one, has a role in destruction. To protect against corrosion, galvanizing is used, but not copper plating or silvering. And the fact that the iron was kept in contact with silver, probably just luck, got into dry soil.
    1. Cat
      Cat 12 June 2018 12: 20
      Iron plate, often covered with silver and gold. The characteristic features of the early Carolingian elements are the guards and the finials of copper and bronze. Some swords even made silver, copper or brass cut-through with iron wire.
      The blacksmiths of the Middle Ages did not know about galvanic couples and the modern troubles of electricians!
      Although, just copper wires are connected to aluminum through steel adapters?
    2. Weyland
      Weyland 12 June 2018 14: 08
      Quote: igordok
      Silver and iron, as well as copper and iron, create a galvanic pair, where iron, as the “weaker” one, has a role in destruction. To protect against corrosion, galvanizing is used, but not copper plating or silvering. And the fact that the iron was kept in contact with silver, probably just luck, got into dry soil.

      But this is only in violation of the continuity of the coating - the same tinned cans perfectly resist corrosion, but only until the first scratch! laughing
      And in a galvanic pair, iron is destroyed. if both parts (iron and silver) are in contact with the same volume electrolyte. So this ax would not have lived in seawater for a year, and in dry soil gilding and silvering in no way do not affect corrosion resistance!
  9. Curious
    Curious 12 June 2018 12: 28
    "... before the beginning of the Viking era, such a weapon as an ax was practically forgotten in European military affairs. But with the arrival of the Vikings in Europe in the XNUMXth – XNUMXth centuries, they again came into use, since it was the ax that was the second most important weapon in their arsenal. "
    But what about Francis Franc? Explicitly not borrowed from the Vikings, as it were, not vice versa.
    1. Cat
      Cat 12 June 2018 17: 03
      I about the same Goths, Angles, Utes, Saxons widely used pole arms, including axes. You can say cheap and cheerful !!!
  10. Stilet
    Stilet 9 July 2018 22: 07
    An ax is a symbol of war. An interesting profile at the ax - made so as not to get stuck. About how to knock on enemy shields making efforts to split them - this is unlikely. Taking into account the studied armor of the 9-11th centuries, 1 out of 10 warriors had chain mail armor. The rest used leather armor, i.e. There were no proper protection of arms and legs except leather belts. Just as noble warriors had swords as chopping weapons, and they also did not try to hit the shield, because partly the sword could be broken or dull due to the not very good quality of steel. Incidentally, the mention of the one-sided sharpening of the sword just indicates that the blows were repelled not by the sharpened part, but by the sharpened part. Most of them tried to damage the arms and legs. I ask you to pay attention to the fact that the ax was held with one hand and the blow was applied by the upper edge of the ax blade. Considering a fairly thin (light) handle with a length of up to 110 cm and a small mass of the ax itself, quick and frequent strikes were made against the enemy in order to damage the limbs or, if it “opens”, to strike in the head or neck. Nobody hit the shield specially - there was no point.