Viking Swords

Viking Swords

Viking Sword ImageMost experts agree that Viking Swords as they are commonly recognized grew out of interactions between the Roman Empire and Germanic Cultures that made their way North. The earliest finds of were single-edged, like the cramasax, a short, single-edged blade common across Europe but especially with Viking and Germanic cultures. After the 8th century the Spatha was introduced to Norway, and the development of doubled-edged swords began. In fact, some believe that it was out of these 'Viking' designs that the classic Medieval Sword grew. While Viking Swords may appear to be the same across the board, Petersen identified 26 different types in common use from the 8th century and onward. These were mainly defined by their hilt and pommel variations, as the blade types were quite similar - averaging 94 cm in length, deep, wide fullers, and yet almost exclusively one-handed (Vikings tended to fight with a sword in one hand and an axe, buckler or other weapon in the other hand). The blades also began showing signs of early distal tapers, which led to them being quite well-balanced and comparatively light to later Medieval Two-Handed Swords.

Viking Swords

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Although popularly called "Viking sword", this type of sword was produced in the Frankish Empire during the Carolingian era. The association of the name "Viking" with these swords is due to the disappearance of grave goods in Christian Francia in the 8th century, due to which the bulk of sword blades of Frankish manufacture of this period were found in pagan burials of Viking Age Scandinavia, imported by trade, ransom payment or looting, while continental European finds are mostly limited to stray finds in riverbeds. The swords of the 8th to 10th centuries are also termed "Carolingian swords", while swords of the late Viking Age and the beginning High Middle Ages (late 10th to early 12th centuries) blend into the category of Norman swords or the early development of the knightly sword.

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An important aspect in the development of the European sword between the early and high medieval periods is the availability of high-quality steel. Migration period as well as early medieval sword blades were primarily produced by the technique of pattern welding, also known as "false Damascus" steel. Blooms of high-quality steel large enough to produce an entire sword blade were only rarely available in Europe at the time. 

Carolingian scabbards were made of wood and leather. Scabbard decorations are depicted in several manuscripts. A number of miniatures also show the system of suspension of the sword by means of the sword-belt. While the scabbards and belts themselves are almost never preserved, their metal mounts have been found in Scandinavian silver hoards and in Croatian graves. A complete set seems to have included two to three oval or half-oval mounts, one large strap-end, a belt buckle and a trefoil mount.

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