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Thread: Did Vikings use swords, or just wave them around?

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    The Gaze of the Abyss B. de Corbin's Avatar
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    Re: Did Vikings use swords, or just wave them around?

    It's a good observation.

    The sword - particularly if it has a straight blade - often seems, both in art and in life, to represent "civilization," with other weapons being "barbarian." It holds the primary place in European imagination, despite being a less effective, and even less common weapon - even in Europe. This might be tied to the mythos of the noble (but largely non-existant) knight (in medieval times, knights were much closer to organized bandits than examples of nobility).
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    Silver Member monsno_leedra's Avatar
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    Re: Did Vikings use swords, or just wave them around?

    Another item just for consideration is what does the average person imagine when they think of what an axe looks like?

    Lots of people probably think of the bi-pedal (double bladed) axe head you tend to see in the movies or a single pedal axe head that looks like something from LOTR's. Yet the average foot solider probably had something that looked nothing like the pedal headed axes but more like hatchet headed axe we are familiar with today. Maybe a bit longer on the head and thicker perhaps with a spike on the back but nothing like the bi-pedal or single pedal axe heads most people probably think of. Not to say those didn't exist but not as common as the movies and fantasy weapons makers make them out to be.
    Last edited by monsno_leedra; 18 Apr 2017 at 16:37.
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    Silver Member Tylluan Penry's Avatar
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    Re: Did Vikings use swords, or just wave them around?

    Even in ancient Greece, the bow was seen as somehow 'cheating' because it allowed archers to kill at a distance, while the armed hoplites tended to come from wealthy families (on account of their armour and weaponry being so expensive.) The Greeks did use archers of course, but rarely against themselves. They saw nothing wrong with using them against outsiders, since these were considered barbarians anyway. Of course, the Scythian archers - and the Greeks used these - went a step further with poisoned arrows...

    One point about the Anglo-Saxons - they didn't (generally) build stone castles. That was the Normans who didn't arrive until much later, 1066.
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    The Gaze of the Abyss B. de Corbin's Avatar
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    Re: Did Vikings use swords, or just wave them around?

    It's always important to kill politely...
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    Silver Member Tylluan Penry's Avatar
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    Re: Did Vikings use swords, or just wave them around?

    Quote Originally Posted by B. de Corbin View Post
    It's always important to kill politely...
    At least, when Greeks were fighting Greeks. I've gone off topic a bit though.

    I must say here that I'm not sure the original article is all that accurate. It does depend on the context of the find. Swords intended as offerings to the gods are never always all that good - they were intended to be symbolic with real swords used for fighting. Swords found in graves ought to be properly used for fighting - but of course, again they might have been symbolic of status.

    I've managed to find an interesting article about Viking swords and if anyone is interested do please pm me.
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    The Gaze of the Abyss B. de Corbin's Avatar
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    Re: Did Vikings use swords, or just wave them around?

    Huh... I wonder if burial swords might have been something like the paper money used in some Asian funerals - not intended to be real, but more symbolic?

    If so, that would mean that you can't judge tool swords by examining burial swords. You'd have to look at battlefeild artifacts...

    I think, maybe, we've hit the nail on the head..?
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    Opinionated Rae'ya's Avatar
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    Re: Did Vikings use swords, or just wave them around?

    What about the Ulfberht swords and crucible steel? Weren't they thought to be of Viking origin? Granted, I've never looked into this academically or done any particular fact checking, and weapons are well outside of my sphere of knowledge... so I could be completely and utterly misguided on this. But if the Ulfberht swords are truly Viking Age then we have like 150 or so examples of strong swords that were well ahead of their time, don't we?

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    Re: Did Vikings use swords, or just wave them around?

    There is a really good series called "The Saxon Tales" which is a series of historical novels set in the time of the Danish invasions of England. The author is Bernard Cornwell is famous for the Richard Sharpe series. He goes into fairly good detail on combat and has a section at the end of each book explaining the historical events and what he did and did not embellish for the sake of the novel.

    It was also turned into a BBC series which is really, really good and on Netflix. The television series is called "The Last Kingdom".

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    The Gaze of the Abyss B. de Corbin's Avatar
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    Re: Did Vikings use swords, or just wave them around?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rae'ya View Post
    What about the Ulfberht swords and crucible steel? Weren't they thought to be of Viking origin? Granted, I've never looked into this academically or done any particular fact checking, and weapons are well outside of my sphere of knowledge... so I could be completely and utterly misguided on this. But if the Ulfberht swords are truly Viking Age then we have like 150 or so examples of strong swords that were well ahead of their time, don't we?
    This is something I was actually thinking about when I read that article. There are examples of outstanding Viking swords - most notably those marked "Ulfberht," that are made from crucible (or wootz) steel, and are definitely usable. It's the same steel used in the Middle East to make the legendary scimitar blades, and it's not exactly rare, either (I have a Bedouin scimitar made of wootz steel in my collection).

    Anyway, they ARE of the right time period, and the right culture. The question about them is more about whether they were made of home-made steel or imported steel. The Norse could have learned to make the steel in the Middle East - they were there at a pretty early date, or they could have traded for it. The the swords were definitely usable, and of high quality.

    I think that the pop articles (I got to the Livescience article from a repeat on Fox) claiming that Viking swords were decorative are drawing overly broad conclusions based on a limited number of example. That's why I wanted to read the original article...

    (this is where Thalassa jumps in to talk about the deplorable state of science reporting in pop media. And would be absolutely right...)
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    Live and learn anunitu's Avatar
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    Re: Did Vikings use swords, or just wave them around?

    When you say "It's the same steel used in the Middle East to make the legendary scimitar blades",is that what is known as a Damascus blade?
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