The Vikings were a flimsy coalition between the Danes, Norwegians, and Swedes during 793-1066 BC. They were a group that was widely feared and
vilified. Like any other vilified group in history, historians have gotten a few things wrong. In the case of the Vikings, they won the wars and the
battles, but they lost in the religious struggle which has lead to a lot of trashing.
Viking horned helmets
During the Viking age, helmets were typically fairly simple: a bowl with a prominent nose guard, as shown in the photo of a reproduction helmet to the
right. One thing to note: Viking helmets had no horns. There is no evidence that Viking era helmets ever had horns.
Cut and dry truth of the matter. They didn’t have horns on their helmets.
The end of the article admits that iron helmets from the era are rare. Any wooden horned helmets may not have survived. That’s a pretty big leap
though, considering how many other wooden artifacts have survived.
However, there is a more likely explanation. Good evidence exists for horned helmets in Scandinavia during the Bronze and early Iron Ages, well before
the start of the Viking era. Stone carvings and sculpture (right) survive, showing these helmets, and bronze helmets found at Viksø in Denmark date
from around the year 900 BCE (left), about 1500 years before the Viking age.
These ancient bronze helmets are thin and far too fragile for battle. Almost certainly, they were used only for ceremonial purposes. In contrast,
surviving Viking-age iron helmets and helmet fragments are robust, and show clear signs of damage from weapons.
Perhaps during the Romantic 19th century Viking revival, this early evidence was misinterpreted, and the notion that Vikings all wore horned helmets
Horned helmets were used in the bronze and early iron age, but were not a part of the Viking-era. At least not with any sort of widespread presence.
Although the original debunk is true, the explanation of where the helmet idea came from is worth noting, even though the Viking-era horned battle
helmet never existed.
The mighty double bladed Viking axe and claymore
Laws of the late Viking period show that all free men were expected to own weapons, and magnates were expected to provide them for their men. The main
offensive weapons were the spear, sword and battle-axe, although bows and arrows and other missiles were also used. Weapons were carried not just for
battle, but also as symbols of their owners' status and wealth. They were therefore often finely decorated with inlays, twisted wire and other
adornments in silver, copper and bronze
A weapon was a very important and sometimes fancy possession for a Viking. The crude and ugly weapons probably existed, but they were not what a
Viking really wanted to use.
The spear was the commonest weapon with an iron blade on a wooden shaft, often of ash and 2 to 3m in length. It was used for both thrusting and
throwing. The blades varied in shape from broad leaf shapes to long spikes. Skilled spearsmen are said to have been able to throw two spears at once
using both hands, or even to catch a spear in flight and hurl it back with deadly effect.
These were the bread and butter weapons the majority of Viking history. You do have to ask yourself, is the thought of a warrior that’s quick
enough to catch a spear, and throw it back at you, any less scary than the so called “berserkers” of Hollywood?
It sounds like an
outlandish claim, but it’s actually pretty doable if the throwing of said spear is feeble and lack of skill.
Long-handled battle-axes might be used instead of swords, particularly in open combat. The famed, double-handed broad axe is a late development,
typical of the late 10th and 11th centuries. But as the owner could not hold a shield at the same time, he would take cover behind the front line
of warriors, rushing out at the right moment to hew down the enemy.
There is our famed berserker’s real identity and purpose! I can see why they have evolved to the legendary Viking warrior figure that they are in
our culture. They did not use double bladed axes though. Single blade only.
Vikings did nothing except fighting and pillaging.
This is probably the worst myth of the lot. It seeks to define Vikings, and comes from the recounts of surviving cowards. The Vikings made
meaningful contributions when they weren’t beating people up.
Another ship found during the excavations in Norway 100 years ago was the Viking knarr or heavy cargo ship. This ship was 54 feet long, 15 feet wide,
and 6 feet, 3 inches high from keel to gunwale. Eric the Red most likely used a ship of this construction to survive the beating waves of the long
Atlantic journeys. The merchant knarr would haul cargo long distances during voyages for the purposes of trade. The bigger the cargo, the less room
for passengers and crew. Animals, people, food, and cargo shared space in the middle of the ship under tarpaulins. The knarr had triangular spaces
fore and aft of the deck. These spaces would be wet and dark, but passengers probably preferred them as sleeping areas rather than sharing space with
the animals. The crew baled water from the center area. There was no means of cooking on the ship, so food brought aboard spoiled quickly or was
dried. The ship was of similar construction to the warrior longship, but was shorter and of deeper draft. It was also constructed in the clinker
planking method and had one mast and sail.
When people think of Viking ships, they generally invision a ship of warriors with a large dirty burly man standing over them cracking the whip as
they bend at the oars. Completely false. Vikings only used oars when necessary, and not every ship was a war ship. They had many types of ships.
Viking crews were often prepared for violence and gained their wealth through theft, trickery, or murder. These fierce warriors would undertake
voyages without provisions and go ashore to steal food and animals. The Viking Jarl or earl was master of his district and had to feed men and have
the largest ship, or be at the mercy of his neighbors. Crews consisted of freeborn men rather than slaves, because slave crews might rebel against the
Jarl. Free men lived with the Jarl and protected him when he was attacked. Vikings were very proud of their freeborn status and would not bow to any
Well, after telling us about how evil the big bad Vikings are, they admitt Viking ships had nothing to do with slaves. It sounds pretty civil to me.
People do fight you know. I guess it was because Vikings always made sneak attacks right?
edit on 28-7-2012 by AnarchysAngel because: (no