Viking War Tactics: Svinfylking The Boar Formation

Posted by Ms Elly on

Viking War Tactics: Svinfylking The Boar Formation

To survive many battles, the great skill of a single warrior only was not enough. It required luck, attitude, and most importantly, the unity of the whole army. Without the harmonious collaboration of all warriors, the Vikings wouldn't have earned so much fortune and reputation. Of all the Viking war tactics that worked harmoniously, the Svinfylking was among the coolest. It was also known as the Boar Formation

Image of Viking War Tactic

Viking War Tactic

The main purpose of the boar formation was to break through the lines of the enemies. The Svinfylking was a battle tactic where the warriors armed to the teeth would take part in. The warriors would interlock their shields to construct a wedge pointing to the enemies' lines. The formed wedge looked somewhat like a tight spearhead. After managed to form the Svinfylking, the Viking warriors would head toward their enemies and break through the lines with sheer force. The sheer force was powerful enough to punch a hole right in the formation of the enemies' frontline. After breaking through the lines, the Viking warriors turned the battle into their favor. 

The practice of the Boar Formation was popular to the early German and the Norse of the time. Because the Roman didn't record this as a tactic of the Saxons or any other enemies they had encountered. 

Image of Viking war tactic Svinfylking

Thanks to the training and considerable amount of practice, the Viking warriors managed to demonstrate this war tactic in their battle. Because we have to remember that the majority of the Vikings were farmers and normal people. So it meant they might not have excelled in the army. Though the Vikings were trained to use weapons from their boyhood, the practice of a war tactic might be much greater than wielding an axe or shooting an arrow. 

Most of the time, there would be some archers behind the Boar Formation to aid the frontline warriors. They would shoot their arrows or their spear to protect other warriors if necessary. They were also supposed to shoot their enemies when the Boar formation was trying to break through the line of the enemies.

Image of Viking war tactic

The only weakness of this Boar Formation was to be hit from both sides. Because when forming the Svinfylking, the Vikings put their primary focus on the tip of the spearhead formation. Moreover, if the boar formation couldn't break the line of the enemies immediately, the warriors in the form couldn't hold it for long and they need to reform. 

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  • It’s my understanding the boar formation, like the the thorisaz rune consist not just of a vanguard with reinforcing rearguard, but a vanguard with a flank guard on each side, and then any rearguard to replenish them.

    the vanguard, as david shaffer pointed out, has been recognized throughoiut history as devistating for a line, but vulnerable to flanking.

    the preemptive flanks of the boar formation allowed the vanguard to rush forward, break the line, the flanks to counter any flank attempt made against the vanguard, shooting forward like the horns of a boar, or bolts of thors lighting if you will.


    Michael Anthony on

  • Great tactic, makes perfect sense.

    Mark on

  • This strategy was used by the Romans at Cannae, but Hannibals center held. He then enveloped his flanks, and with an army half the size of the Romans, he destroyed them.

    David Shaffer on

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