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December 19, 2021 9 min read

What Are Viking Axes?

You might have often seen Vikings holding large or small axes with them in their hands giving a threatening or wild look. The axe was indeed an important part of Viking life not just as a weapon but also as a tool for daily life chores. To survive in the snowy and forested homeland, every Viking needed to own and know everything about axes. They are historically related to Vikings. 

A Viking Axe is a hand tool that has a variety of uses both in the battleground and at home. Back in that era, swords were quite expensive and only wealthy warriors could afford them.On the other hand, an axe was something almost everyone owned as it was more of a common tool than a weapon.

Over time the design and the structure of the axes changed. Scandinavian people mastered the art of axe making. In the beginning, the head was made with stone but gradually it was replaced by iron and steel.

There are several different kinds of axes used by the warriors during the Viking age. Viking axes were generally lightweight so that warriors could easily handle and throw the axe. The edge of the axe was designed to be razor-sharp. There were also ax types that were indicated for close fighting as they had a short cutting edge. Among these, the most common4 types were the Dane axe and the bearded axe.

The size of Viking axes varied and they were commonly from one to five feet long. The size and thickness of the blade also varied. Dane axes are mostly known  to have a thin blade profile with a large, curving cutting edge which made them outstanding at cutting through leather protection and imposing serious wounds. On the other hand, bearded axes were heavier and thicker which made them a good choice for heavy-duty tasks such as wood-cutting and splitting, but which also helped them provide forceful crushing blows against an enemy.


From the end of the 8th century through the middle of the 11th century, the Vikings were a powerful and dominating force in Northern Europe. Through their raids and military movements, they vanquished new lands and ultimately settled in many of them. Much of their success can be associated with their stiffened, Norse mindset, brutal fighting style, privileged combat skills, and diverse weaponry.

Axes were the most common weapon of choice for the Viking soldier who could not afford to carry a sword into battle. These axes were light enough to twirl with one hand but still competent at delivering a mortal injury to combat the enemy. Viking axes were also instrumental in building the famed Viking longboats.

The biggest reasons that Vikings are so closely associated with axes are that these implements were practical, useful, functional and, perhaps the most important factor was their affordability.

Types of Viking Axes

Viking and throwing Axes are available in a combination of various sizes and shapes. Let’s have a look at the two most common types of axes that were used by Vikings and which are also famous nowadays in films and TV shows.

Although the Vikings used axes of various shapes and sizes in battle, two designs were significant during the height of the Viking Age for being highly wieldable and particularly lethal.

Dane Axe 

The other names of this axe are Danish axe or hafted axe, this was the exemplary Viking battle-axe, with its symbolic long cutting edge (typically measuring 8 to 12 inches) and a blade that tapered at the haft, which itself varied from 3 to 4 feet in length. Privileged Viking soldiers were armed with Dane axes with stiffened steel fastened to the blade for even harsher edges.

This weapon was so instrumental to Viking military movements that the personal escorts of King Harold II were equipped with them.

Eventually, opposing troops saw the benefits of this weapon, and they began arming themselves with similar armament (the Dane axe also came to be known as the English long axe).

The Dane axe was constructed to be wielded with two hands, and its head was created from narrow but strong metal, resulting in a surprisingly lightweight and portable weapon that could be swiveled with a great amount of control.

Still, it was perfectly capable of delivering a disastrous wound with a single blow from its razor-sharp edge.

Bearded Axe 

It is believed to have arisen somewhere in Scandinavia around 600 BC, the bearded axe (also known as the skeggox) accentuated a distinct blade design that proved to be beneficial in several ways. 

First and foremost, with its extended edge that declined down well below the butt or pole, a bearded axe presented a longer cutting edge as measured from toe to heel.

In the hands of an eligible Viking warrior (it could also be wielded single-handed), it could chop, tear, and chop with lethal force. Gripping the axe’s haft behind the beard also safeguarded the wielder’s hand.

The extraordinary beard design also fulfilled a defensive purpose. By latching an enemy’s weapon behind the beard, a Viking warrior could quick disarm and blow him down, and in a similar style, could pry a shield out of a soldier’s hand

How To Manufacture Viking Axes?

After having a look at 2 most common types of Viking axes, now we'll discuss the manufacturing process of Viking axes.

Axe heads generally had a wedge-shaped cross-section. The cross-section of the head near the edge was however frequently a diamond shape, providing enormous strength for the weight of iron. Some axe heads had a very thin, graceful cross-section. Although these axes were extremely thin and tricky to be used for splitting wood, they are outstanding for splitting craniums. 

When looking at original Viking axe heads from axe restorations, especially those that are wide and wedge-shaped, they simply show the fact of having been generated as a solitary piece. The cavity for the haft (also called the eye) was then punched out with a drift. 

With thinner blades, the blade is folded around what ultimately becomes the eye. A steel bit is then welded onto the iron head for the edge. The wrap was balanced in some cases, while in others it was asymmetrical, with the weld placed slightly forward of the eye.

Some original axe heads have a noticeable weld on the hammer (back) aspect of the eye. It is commonly believed that those heads were made by first forming the head and then dividing it at the back through its thickness. This would establish a cross-section that is Y-shaped.

Both of the Y’s arms were then fastened around to shape the eye, after which they were created and fastened together. These eyes were normally shield-shaped or D-shaped, and not round, and the hammer (back) was steady and thicker than the sides.

Interestingly enough, there does not seem to be any archaeological information for double-edged axe skulls, nor are they mentioned in any Viking stories.

It was also noted that sheaths were not generally used on axes in the Viking age to provide safety against spontaneous cuts, although there is some archaeological indication to infer that they were occasionally used.

The head of an axe can be stabilized to the haft in several ways. One way is to narrow both the eye of the axe head and the haft. This will happen in the head fitting firmly on the shaft and will prevent it from drifting off the end. However the head is fastened to the haft, the axe must be able to withstand both pushing and pulling forces.

Although there is almost no evidence on axe trunks used in the Viking era, it is believed that they were most likely built utilizing riving.

How To Use Viking Or Throwing Axes?

Axes with small shafts have a big benefit in that they can be disguised easily. A small axe can be hidden under a jacket and used for a surprise assault and was always held in reserve behind a shield.

Some people think that an axe was more tough to control than a well-balanced weapon like a sword. With a well-made axe, this is not the case. An axe also has a benefit over any other edged weapon in that the curved edge consolidates all the power of the blow into a small section of the edge. This gives the axe enough force to punch through mail or a helmet.

An axe can be utilized for a variety of motions due to the curved shape of the head.

The axe head can be manipulated to hook an enemy’s ankle, thus throwing them off balance and onto the ground.

It can also be hooked over another body part such as the neck, to force a person to move in a direction they don’t want to go.

The axe can also be used to hook the edge of a protection, pulling it away to press an attack, or to disarm the enemy.

The pointed tips at each end of a Viking axe head were harsh and could be used as part of an invasion. The tips can also be used for slashing assaults. The tips create horrible injuries when used for jabbing as the axe horn expands much more than a sword or spear point.

Axes were occasionally used to strike a non-lethal blow by using the axe hammer, the backside of the ax head. This was done to embarrass an enemy, or in some cases, was used against enemies considered so inferior that they aren’t competent of a proper blow.

It would seem unlikely that axes were often thrown in fights, but when desperate, men will do whatever is necessary to succeed, so learning to throw axes was a life-saving skill in itself.

Other extraordinary moves with axes are described in the Viking sagas. These include leaping up and hooking the head of an axe over the wall of a defense to get over the obstacle. Another procedure would be to use an axe left-handed, causing the blows to come in on the undefended side of an enemy.

Viking axe heads could be broken down, especially when a stone or any other hard object was attacked. other parts of the axe could be used for self-defense. 

How To Check Authenticity of Viking Axes?

Viking axes were once the most common weapons used by ancient medieval Norse fighters. These Norsemen utilized two fundamental types of axes as weapons, the long axe, and the hand axe.

Opposite to common belief, talking about a Viking tomahawk is not historically accurate as the tomahawk is a single-handed ax from North America corresponding to a hatchet with a straight shaft. These were utilized by Born Americans as general-purpose equipment. Despite this, and the reality that Viking axes were not generally tossed, there are axes available in our store that are described as a Viking Throwing Tomahawk and this Battle Ready Viking Axe.

A rune throwing axe or a rune thrown axe is also not a Viking tossing axe, but an imaginary weapon used in the game RuneScape.

When going off to a battle or war, most Vikings early in the Middle Ages did not have a particular weapon made for fights, such as a harpoon or sword. They often had no choice but to snatch the same axe used for slicing wood to use as a weapon. This is especially true in the early Viking age.

Although a hand axe was not very gorgeous as a weapon, it was very beneficial and lethal. Fighters with some skill could effortlessly turn an enemy’s shield into fragments with a hand axe and even kill them in close combat.

The everyday hand axe was however not outstanding as a weapon, although it was very powerful. As its main purpose was to cut logs and trees it was by nature extremely heavy. A lighter weapon could still be used for cutting down enemies they were easier to manipulate in battle, and twirling repeatedly would not tire the warrior as easily.

Final Thoughts

Whether it was used for splitting logs or striking down enemy forces, the axe was an instrumental part of Norse expansion during the Viking Age.

This history of Viking axes is totally wonderful. We hope that this article enables you to get an idea of those stunning times. The good news is that with contemporary technology and online shopping, you can get high-quality Viking axe replicas where in earlier years and decades it would’ve taken outings to specialized merchants or ordered it from a blacksmith to get your hands on something like that. In any case, the Vikings were an intriguing, enthusiastic, and energetic people with a craving for life, even with all of its blemishes. Their equipment and weapons were simple, but lethally effective. And they altered the course of Western history with their excursions, invasions, and raids. Not bad for a few farmers and fishermen from the cold north of Europe.

James Jone
James Jone

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