Types of Norse Weaponry

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How did the Norse arm themselves? What we know of Norse weaponry and armor is from what we have found predominately in grave sites from the early periods. Additionally, from depictions that were carved on stones, tales in the Sagas, and from legal texts written in the later periods which give us a general idea and paint clues for us to piece together about how Norsemen armed for combat during the Viking Age. During the time the laws in Norway, Denmark, and Sweden required that every able-bodied man should own weapons according to his status. In Norway, a sword or ax, spear and shield must be owned and maintained. In Sweden and Denmark, this was a sword, spear, shield and iron helmet that was to be for each man. Additionally, it was common for some laws to required a mail shirt or protective jerkin and a bow and arrows be provided for each bench seat in a ship or that a local chieftain be required to provide these items. As part of a coming of age ceremony, a Norse freeman would receive an armring from his lord, pledging his loyalty and service to that lord. That is, to come to war or raid when that lord called them to. This was a standard practice and a part of Norse culture. Bearing an arm ring was also a status symbol. Some lords would also reward their new subjects awarded arm rings that had sworn oaths to them with weapons. The use of weapons was also apart of life. From an early age, a lad would train in the use of weaponry as a part of everyday life. So what were these weapons? The Shield There is Skaldic poetry that is specifically dedicated to shields. They are known as the "shield poems." The shield was as much a part of Norse culture as was the ax. The Viking shield was very different than that of ... ... middle of paper ... ...he sword under secret conditions. The word Ufberht actually had two crosses in it, one before the word and one at the ending before the “t.” Whereas it actually spelled “+-U-F-B-E-R-H-+-T.” Remains of an +Ulfberh+t sword in Denmark.vii Getting your hands on a real Ulfberht sword was difficult and extremely expensive and there were many counterfeits. Most swords of the time were made from low carbon steel by means of pattern welding. A method where the central section of the blade was made from twisted rods of iron and pounded together forming a strong and pliable core, then a harder (but more brittle) edge was then welded to the core. Example of pattern forged sword. When the quality and knowledge of iron smelting improved, in addition to purer and more regular sources of iron becoming more readily available, the method of pattern welding was discontinued.

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