Viking Sword

Posted by Ms Elly on

Viking Sword

Viking sword was the most valued and respected weapon that the Vikings often desired to have one in their life. The bitter truth was that not every Viking man could afford a sword because of its expense. Thereby, the swords became the Viking emblem of wealth, fame, and, generally, their status.

Description of Viking Sword

An ideal Viking sword was a double-edged weapon which was light enough to handle and flexible use but still strong enough to shred the enemies down to their knees. The Viking warriors might use one or both of their hands to control their swords Thereby, if the swords were not light enough, the warriors might soon get tired and lose the battles. Most Viking swords were light, weighing around two pounds (nearly one kilogram); however, there were swords which were as heavy as four pounds (approximately two kilos).

Image of Viking sword

Viking sword unearthed

The normal Viking blades would range from 24 to 36 inches ( around 60-90 centimetres) in length and approximately 1.5 to 2.3 inches (4 to 6 centimetres) in width. The common design of the Viking blades was in the tapering form, this would help the Viking swords gain the center of balance to the grip.

Another part that was attached to the blade was the sword hilt. The hilt of the Viking sword, like many other weapons, included many parts such as guard, pommel, grip, shoulder, and tang. As the sword creators changed the shape and size of the swords, there would be a change in the Viking hilt that followed.

Making a Priceless Viking Sword

The main task required when producing a Viking sword was to keep them both light and strong. This task sounded quite conflicting but that was what needed. Not all the Viking blacksmiths were capable of producing a good Viking sword and many swords unearthed evidenced this. Accordingly, a skilled blacksmith and good material were necessary in this case.

Image of Viking shieldmaiden with Viking sword

Lagertha wielding Viking sword in TV series "Vikings"

The skilled blacksmiths often chose the method of pattern welding to forge a sword. The primary tactics of this method were heating and twisting many iron bars, making them stick together, and constructing a real sword. The method of pattern welding not only made the swords flexible and light but also beautiful. But when the blacksmiths and warriors realized that this method required too much metal, the practice of pattern welding fell out of fashion. Later, the common design of the swords was much narrower and more tapering, changing the point of balance towards the hilt.

How the Vikings Maintain their Swords

As in the hands of the warriors who took part in many battles, the swords definitely experienced many actions. Day by day, even the well-constructed swords could not handle the situation and got dull, dented, or even worse, broken. Many Viking swords discovered were broken into pieces. However, there were traces of the Vikings maintaining and repairing their swords. The Viking often sharpened their swords. This task was carried out by the warriors themselves. There were some people known as the professional sword sharpeners in the Viking age though.

Image of Ragnar Lothbrok Viking Sword in TV series Vikings

Viking sword and Ragnar Lothbrok in TV series "Vikings"

Anyway, the Viking warriors spent many hours sharpening their swords to always get ready to the battles, not only to protect themselves but also to claim the lives of their enemies. Many Viking warriors would also stand on their swords so as to straighten their swords.

If you are interested in Viking weapons, check out BaviPower blogs about Viking Axe and Viking Spear

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  • Hi Tom,
    As far as we know, the handle of the sword could have been made from many metal pieces. Because the common sword-making technique was the pattern-wielding which forged metal pieces together.
    Yet, the sword artifact shown in the photos dated back to the 10th century (pattern-wielding fell out of use in the 9th century), so chances are that the swords (including the tang or the handle) were made of high-quality steel.

    Ms Elly on

  • What the handle made of on the old sword in the photo?

    Tom on

  • Hi Tor Nordve,
    Thanks for sharing your opinion. You have put forward a very good point.
    Yet, the photo shown in my blog post is the two Viking sword hilts dating back to the 10th century and two modern reconstructions with Jelling style decorations on the crossguard. They are on display in Hedeby Viking Museum.

    Ms Elly on

  • I believe these are not viking swords, but rather dobble edged roman swords.
    The viking sword was normaly one-edged and quite thick on the other side, making them much stronger than the roman sword, which would breake in the encounter, one of the reasons why the the vikings were superior to the roman soldiers in battle.

    Tor Nordve on

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