Weapons used in Viking battles

Our topic for today is about the weapons used in battles for the Vikings. Viking is the term used to refer to the Norse who inhabited Scandinavia in a period spanning the years AD 793 to AD 1066, known as the Viking Age.

This period was marked by sea expeditions organized by Vikings to various regions of Europe.  

The incursions carried out by these towns could have different objectives, such as the colonization of lands, the creation of commercial ties, or they could only be aimed at looting.

According to their language and mythology, the Vikings are considered to be peoples of Germanic origin, originating from Scandinavia, the current region of Norway, Denmark and Sweden.

As the Vikings gained nautical skills, they carried out sea voyages, allowing them to reach places quite distant from Scandinavia.

Little by little, the Nordics settled in England, Scotland, northern France, Russia, Ireland, Iceland, Greenland. In the year 1000, they arrived in North America and established a small colony in Canada.

War was very important in Viking society, as it played an important religious role.

It was believed that the dead in battle would celebrate the ages in Valhalla until the call for the final fight, which would be fought when the Ragnarök occurred. Being a warrior in Viking society brought status, since if they killed him, his trip to Valhalla would be celebrated; if he won, his acts in battle would be celebrated.

The main weapons used by the Vikings in battle were the sword and ax , but other weapons such as bow and arrow , knife and spear were also important.

The main defense weapon was the wooden shield, used in the main Viking battle tactic: the shield wall. Vikings often used the heads of defeated enemies to scare their opponents in battle.

These are the weapons used in battles by the Vikings


A warrior receives it as a gift from a boss, and then passes it from father to son, for generations. The most precious of all Viking weapons was the sword, a double-edged sword with a long iron blade and a handle usually decorated in shiny bronze.

Vikings liked their swords so much that they even named them.


Cheaper and a common weapon, the metal tip was between 20 and 60 centimeters, the wooden handle can reach up to 3 meters. The narrowest and lightest were used for shooting and the heaviest for close combat.

The well-trained Vikings managed to launch two at a time, with one in each hand, and also even managed to catch the ones the opponents threw and use them to counterattack.


The blade was between 30 and 60 centimeters, the handle was made of wood, horns or even bones, it was also very cheap and popular.

They managed to hide behind the shield, using it as a surprise attack.

Bow and arrow

The length of the bow varies from 1 to 1.8 meters in length, and they were able to hit targets up to 200 meters away, made of wood.

The arrow, on the other hand, measured about 70 centimeters.


They all had one, to cut the wood, consequently most took it into battle, and that became a trademark of the Vikings. They were simple, with blades and wooden handles, then they perfected it, the cable measured approximately 1 meter.


They were not metal armor, as most of us think, in fact, they fought in thick leather clothing , and the wealthiest a robe covered with interlocking metal rings.


Circular and wooden, it was up to 1 meter in diameter and three centimeters thick, several were covered in leather to cushion the impact. They were colored, usually painted green, yellow, red, and black.

Viking society

Viking society was stratified, that is, it was divided into social classes, with the richest, most influential and least favored classes. In general, this society was organized as follows:

Rei (konungr): was the administrator of the kingdom. Its power was hereditary, that is, it remained in the family, but not necessarily with the eldest son;

Nobles (jarls): they had large armies and had great political influence;

Freemen (karls): Every Norse who was neither noble nor slave was considered a karl. This class includes farmers, fishermen, merchants, etc.

Slaves (thrall): Considered property, slaves could be prisoners of war or even indebted Norse who were enslaved until the debt was paid in full.

Since not all Vikings were warriors, this means that military training was not extended to everyone.

Among the gods that are part of the Viking religion is Odin , the father of all, considered the main god in Norse mythology , who also had other important gods, such as Thor , Loki, Heimdall, Týr, etc.

In addition to the gods, the Vikings believed in the existence of nine interconnected worlds through Yggdrasil, the tree of life.


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