The Viking battle axes were probably the most used weapon of the Vikings, possibly apart from the spear. The Viking warriors were mostly farmers and farmhands without huge budgets to buy weapons.
When going off to fight the Viking would pick the tool he had close at hand, and the axe was something everyone owned.
The Viking axes are also popular in modern myths when it comes to misinterpretations of the Vikings and the way they were. Quite often Vikings are depicted with horned Viking helmets and double bladed axes, when in fact they had neither.
Most Viking axes that have been found in excavations are single bladed and look like normal wood chopping axes.
Even though the basic form was the same, the axes did change with time. Early forms of the Viking axes show a close resemblance to the typical woodcutting ax, while later models began to take on special shapes more convenient to the fighting man.
The Form of the Viking Axes
The Viking axes became more specialized as time passed with the blade becoming bigger and wider. Some of the Viking axes had a hook form on the lower end of the blade, something that made them convenient to hook the enemy, such as by the feet or the rims of the shield.
There are excavations that show decorated axes, but there is no evidence that these were used in actual combat. Most likely these axes were only used for decorative or ceremonial purposes.
The length of the shaft was usually about a meter (3 ft.), but some axes had longer shafts which made them ideal in battle where they could strike a blow from a distance.
The head or the blade was made in two ways, either by folding the metal around the shaft, or by punching it out with a drift.
As a weapon, the Viking axes were quite convenient and a very well balanced weapon. They could strike a deadly blow, both from a distance as well as further away. The Viking axes where very well formed for cutting the enemy, though there are few evidences that the axes where thrown at their opponent. In some of the Viking sagas, there were Vikings that threw their axes at their opponents, but mostly these were retaliations after having been hurt in an attack.