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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.
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 became established.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 man.
The Vikings or Norsemen consisted of Danes, Swedes or Norwegians that lived along the coasts of Scandinavia. They mainly survived by farming, fishing and piracy. The reasons why the Vikings began to expand are unclear, since they left no record of their intentions. There is, however, broad agreement among historians, from the artifacts left by the raided peoples, that looting was the primary motive behind their raids.
Fearsome figureheads would be raised at stem and stern as a sign of warlike intent, underlined by rows of shields mounted along the sides for defence or show. These could be removed while at sea. Raids in single ships were quite frequent and, before around 850, fleets rarely comprised more than 100 ships. Much larger fleets of 200 and upwards were recorded later, but it is difficult to know how accurate the reports were.
The most notable attack was on the monastery at Noirmountier. This island monastery was attacked every summer. The monks tried many defenses, but they eventually left the island for safer lands. The trading centers in Frisia, particularly Dorestad, were a favorite targets of the Vikings in 834-839.
In preparation for battle the younger warriors would draw up in line, with their shields overlapping in a 'shield-wall' for better protection; their chiefs were well defended by a close bodyguard. The older veterans formed up in support behind them. Battle then began by throwing a spear over the enemy line to dedicate them to Odin, it is said, and this was followed by a shower of spears, arrows and other missiles.
Part of the popular image of the Vikings is that they were all pagans, with a hatred of the Christian Church, but this view is very misleading. It is true that almost the entire population of Scandinavia was pagan at the beginning of the Viking Age, but the Vikings had many gods, and it was no problem for them to accept the Christian god alongside their own.
It was believed that the world would end with the final battle of Ragnarok, between the gods and the giants. Loki and his children would take the side of the giants. Thor and Jormunagund, who maintained a long-running feud with each other, would kill each other, and Odin would be killed by the Fenris wolf, who would then be killed in turn. A fire would sweep across the whole world, destroying both the gods and mankind. However, just enough members of both races would survive to start a new world.
Viking women accompanied their male partners to Britain in far greater numbers than had been previously thought, a study has shown.
- source in link below
Originally posted by pikestaff
Great thread, although I presume you mean AD and and not BC? "viking" means 'to go raiding, they were known as 'Norsemen' in the old English bible. the Norsemen settled in that part of France called Normandy, from the word Norsemen. They also invaded parts of the Mediterianen sea coast, and Islands. Their trading expeditions took them through whats now known as Poland and Ukraine down to the Black sea.
Originally posted by ollncasino
At the end of the day, man for man, it is not unreasonable to deduce, bar the fact that their long boats allowed them to attack civilians unexpectedly, that the average viking was no more effective on a battlefield than their opponents.