Viking Greatswords

The difference between a longsword and a greatsword can be seen in their blades. A long sword was used to hew, thrush, slice during mediaeval Europe but some can also work with one hand. The great sword requires two hands to wield it because of its size.

During the 8th century, a Viking Age also called the Carolingian period was the time when the Viking sword was first created. When the 11th to 12th century came, it was a Romanesque period that gave rise to swords now used by knights and soldiers.

Many of the great Viking leaders were known to carry weapons, but one weapon that was favored among many Vikings during the Middle Ages was the Viking sword (also known as a Carolingian sword).

The term “Viking Greatsword” is misleading as these weapons were created in the Carolingian period, which preceded the Viking Age. The reason why this specific weapon became associated with Vikings is that many of these swords (created by the Franks) have been found close to Pagan burials dating back to the time when Scandinavia was overrun by Pagans. A great majority of the weapons discovered in this area are due to looting, importing via trade or being ransom payment. There was a substantial amount of production of swords during the late 10th-early 11th century Viking Age that often emulated Norman weapons.
Viking Greatswords

Carolingian Swords

When compared to basic weapons like lances, swords were precious commodities in the Carolingian military. In ancient times, the rich nobles were so wealthy that they could afford to own and wield swords. The fittings on these consisted of precious stones like diamonds or emeralds which you would see embedded in the hilt or scabbard.

The greatsword is a type of sword that could be between 75 and 100 centimeters in length. This type has a double-edged blade. The saxophone was initially common among Carolingian soldiers but by the late 8th century it had been effectively abandoned in favor of the more balanced greatsword. The use of decorations on a sword, such as inlaid inscriptions and pommels, was also common among Carolingian swords.

Materials and decoration

The handles of swords are usually made from bone, antler or precious metals such as gold and silver. The length of the handle is used by the person wielding it to properly balance a sword that might weigh more than two pounds. This is important because if you’re fighting with a heavy weapon and your grip slips on wet ground – you could get hurt (not just lose). The pommel can be inlaid with metal or feature intricate patterns for decoration. Blood grooves run along the blade to make it lighter and save valuable materials required throughout its construction like steel.

Terminology

Viking swords are often referred to as such, but they actually originated in the Frankish Empire during the Carolingian era. They were most popularly found in Scandinavia – not on the continent – because there had been a change in Christian burial ceremonies at this time. Swords from the 8th to 10th centuries are also classed as “Carolingian swords”, while swords of the late Viking Age and early High Middle Ages (late 10th to early 12 century) blend into the classification of Norman swords or the early development of knightly blades.

 

Morphology Types

Petersen(1919): Author and researcher Jan Petersen first developed the typology system for Viking swords that is still widely used across Europe. The original hilt type 26 was devised after studying about 1,700 finds of Viking swords in Norway. Known as Type A-Z, it’s been proven to be the most reliable due to its accuracy in identifying those found in Norway. The typology takes into account double-edged (40), single edged (67) and arguments over indeterminate sword types altogether

E. M. Wheeler (1927): Geoffrey Oakeshott’s typology is based on finds from Britain. It combines Petersen’s hilt typology with a blade typology. There are nine types, labeled I to IX. Recently, two more types have been added to Wheeler’s typology that bridge the gap between the Viking Age and the later mediaeval sword.

Geibig (1991): expanded their typology to include swords of the 8th to 12th centuries found in East Francia. The introduction of more different types gives people a clearer view of the variations on the popular weapon during this time, so they can identify mediums that are most appropriate for their needs.

Oakeshott (1991): Swords from the post-Viking age period are mainly dealt with. He classifies all of them as type X.

Jakobsson (1992): Recently, a map illustrating the distribution patterns of Petersen’s sword hilts across Europe was published. The conclusions were discussed by Ian Peirce in his upcoming book ‘Swords from the Viking Age’.

Peirce (2002): Peirce provides a catalogue of swords, detailing both razor-sharp “long swords” and beautifully decorated “broadswords.” Oakeshott provides an overview of typologies in addition to a discussion on inscribed blades.

The best Viking warriors wielded the Viking greatsword since it was considered the most prestigious weapon throughout history. These weapons were mostly beautifully-finished and vital for any warrior during battles, as well as to display his status and wealth.

When Viking armies wielded swords, they often had a double-edged blade. This meant that both the sharp edges could cause serious injury when stabbed with the sword – so warriors usually carried shields to protect themselves.

Viking Greatsword: Characteristics

The typical length for blades in the Viking era ranged between sixty and ninety centimeters, but late in the Viking period blade lengths reached a range of one hundred centimeters with an average width of four to six centimeters.

The blades on Viking swords traditionally had a slight taper to create balance, which resulted in the hilt and pommel also having some weight to ensure that the weapon could be effectively handled.

Development

Viking warriors used a sax, or short sword, as a predecessor to their greatsword. It was about twenty-four inches long rather than the forty-three inch length of its predecessor.

It also had a heavy hilt with an extended, double-edged blade and the ability to hold it in two hands. In other words, it looked like a bigger version of knives you might have seen before on your own dinner table.

The first example of the word derives from a sword that was developed in the Western parts of Europe during the eleventh century. This weapon featured a nut-shaped pommel, long and tapered double edged blade, and long straight guard which are characteristics that quickly distinguished and identified it as something new. The influence of Norman culture on weaponry and armor during their rise is indisputable. Though it can be argued that Vikings and Saxons also used the so-called saxibogan, or long swords, to success in battle.

Besides being excellent weapons of war, the Viking sword was also used by Norsemen as a ritual sacrifice to their gods. The earliest types of swords with these hilts were found in Norway’s 950 AD burials.

Viking Greatsword Story

Viking sagas have long been a source of inspiration to authors, historians, poets and filmmakers. The Icelandic Sagas and the Kings Sagas present some of the most culturally rich accounts of Viking life. Norse culture was summarized through their customs, traditions, and beliefs. Art played a central role in this culture.

The Vikings raided and colonized wide areas of Europe between the ninth to eleventh centuries. Though they are known for their brutal raids on other cultures, historians unanimously agree that these violent movements profoundly affected European trade during this time.

Vikings are widely known as craftsmen of superior works including jewelry, weapons and ships. One of the most famous Viking ships is the Drakk or Knarr. This ship was not only built for functionality but to be a work of art. The Viking Ships have anthropomorphic figures which show insight into their beliefs and superstitions. Complex wordplay was a strong part of Viking culture. The Vikings displayed their complex wording not only in poetry, but also on the ships they used to sail and accessories often worn or crafted by them.

In this fierce culture that was led by Viking warriors, the sword played an integral role in that time. With a blade that is broad and deep, the greatsword Viking illustrates just how fierce these people were. The Viking Greatsword, or Two-Handed  Viking sword, is everything a Viking weapon should be: strong, resilient, and built to last. Made to order by our staff, this sword is fitting of the warrior life and reflects Nordic artistry.

How the Viking Sword was Used

Based on records, some of the Viking fighters might have also used two-handed techniques, even though survivors tend to be too short to grip in both hands.

One a single hand but not two; this is the reason why it is unclear how a weapon with a very short grip can accommodate both hands.

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