Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > So, Langseaxes? Reply to topic
This is a standard topic Go to page 1, 2  Next 
Author Message
Nick Bourne




Location: London, United Kingdom
Joined: 09 Nov 2008

Posts: 44

PostPosted: Thu 27 May, 2010 2:58 pm    Post subject: So, Langseaxes?         Reply with quote

Good day everyone,
So, I'm depicting a Danish Viking from the southern Danelaw region of late 9th early 10th century and I'm thinking, should I have a langseax?
I know the weapons were popular among Anglo-Saxons, but am also aware of the Norweigan langseaxes used by Vikings as a primary weapon. However, I'm thinking more of a back-up or short sword for use in the close-up press of the shield wall.
Any and all knowledge on the subject will, as always, be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance,
Nick
View user's profile Send private message
Neil Langley




Location: Stockport, UK
Joined: 23 Jan 2006

Posts: 112

PostPosted: Thu 27 May, 2010 3:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nick,

A good start is here: http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...eax+charts

Kirk has provided some great charts on a number of topics - all worth reading!

Neil.
View user's profile Send private message
Jeroen Zuiderwijk
Industry Professional



Location: Netherlands
Joined: 11 Mar 2005

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 740

PostPosted: Thu 03 Jun, 2010 11:59 pm    Post subject: Re: So, Langseaxes?         Reply with quote

Nick Bourne wrote:
Good day everyone,
So, I'm depicting a Danish Viking from the southern Danelaw region of late 9th early 10th century and I'm thinking, should I have a langseax?
I know the weapons were popular among Anglo-Saxons, but am also aware of the Norweigan langseaxes used by Vikings as a primary weapon. However, I'm thinking more of a back-up or short sword for use in the close-up press of the shield wall.
Any and all knowledge on the subject will, as always, be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance,
Nick


During the 9th-10th centuries, only the British still had long saxes. The longsaxes on the continent had gone out of use, and Scandinavian longsaxes had evolved into single edged swords, with standard sword furniture. Most swords in Denmark would be double edged though. Here's a single edged sword that used to be on display at the Vikingship Museum in Roskilde (was no longer on display last time I was there): http://1501bc.com/page/vikingship_museum/07150008.jpg (n.b. I don't know for certain whether that sword was found in Denmark).

Jeroen Zuiderwijk
- Bronze age living history in the Netherlands
- Barbarian metalworking
- Museum photos
- Zip-file with information about saxes
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Ken Speed





Joined: 09 Oct 2006

Posts: 656

PostPosted: Fri 04 Jun, 2010 10:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

OK, so long saxes had gone out of favor in Scandinavia and continental Europe. What did these warriors carry for back up blades? Nothing? Seems unlikely doesn't it?
View user's profile Send private message
Paul Mortimer




Location: England, Essex
Joined: 28 Aug 2003
Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 285

PostPosted: Fri 04 Jun, 2010 10:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
OK, so long saxes had gone out of favor in Scandinavia and continental Europe. What did these warriors carry for back up blades? Nothing? Seems unlikely doesn't it?


Smaller seaxes, of course.

Paul
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Ken Speed





Joined: 09 Oct 2006

Posts: 656

PostPosted: Fri 04 Jun, 2010 11:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Paul Mortimer wrote, Smaller seaxes, of course."


Just so I'm sure I understand; you think Scandinavian and Continental European warriors thought a knife was a sufficient backup weapon against an opponent armed with a shield and sword or spear. Confident fellows weren't they?
View user's profile Send private message
Jeremy V. Krause




Location: Buffalo, NY.
Joined: 20 Oct 2003
Likes: 1 page
Reading list: 1 book

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,499

PostPosted: Fri 04 Jun, 2010 12:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Also, I don't think "backup" weapon is really accurate. I think plenty of folks had a RELATIVELY larger seax, say 10-14 in and no sword at all. Probably a spear. Swords were not carried by the majority of soldiers, by any means.

I don't know but I believe that a seax could be used along side a shield.

I also don't believe that most folks had a sort of "collection" of weapons to choose from on their person. Nor during the period in question. Metal/steel was precious.
View user's profile Send private message
Petr Florianek
Industry Professional




Joined: 01 Oct 2008

Posts: 136

PostPosted: Fri 04 Jun, 2010 12:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

swords, spears and axes as weapons, seaxes for close combat. It was not the only matter of preference, but also of economy - seax i better than nothing
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Ken Speed





Joined: 09 Oct 2006

Posts: 656

PostPosted: Fri 04 Jun, 2010 6:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeremy commented, ".... I think plenty of folks had a RELATIVELY larger seax, say 10-14 in and no sword at all. Probably a spear. Swords were not carried by the majority of soldiers, by any means."

OK...so not a LONG seax but a sort of long seax, I see!

Frankly Jeremy, I don't think anyone really knows, almost everything seems to be more or less educated guesswork. As long as we're guessing, my guess is that a more experienced warrior had more and better weaponry than most newbies. I don't think thinking of them as soldiers is a helpful image, many of the concepts we associate with being a soldier were lacking, many of the concepts we associate with a military were lacking.

Yes, metal and steel were precious but there were probably a lot of bodies to loot too.

Yes, I suppose a seax could be used with a shield, so could a club. The point I was trying to make is that a warrior probably wouldn't want to have only one weapon available to him.
View user's profile Send private message
R D Moore




Location: Portland Oregon
Joined: 09 Jun 2007
Likes: 7 pages
Reading list: 11 books

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 425

PostPosted: Fri 04 Jun, 2010 7:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This links to a seax typology posted by Kirk Lee Spencer that illustrates sizes and time periods:
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/download.php?id=26738

And if you'll click on the zip file link under Jeroen's signature, a whole new world of seax history will open up to you.

Cheers

"No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation" ...Gen. Douglas Macarthur
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Jeroen Zuiderwijk
Industry Professional



Location: Netherlands
Joined: 11 Mar 2005

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 740

PostPosted: Mon 07 Jun, 2010 2:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The sword already is a back up weapon. The spear is the primary weapon. Long saxes were alternatives to swords (unlike earlier saxes, which are often combined with swords). There are Viking saxes, but they are far less common compared to swords, and I don't know if they were found in combination with swords.
Jeroen Zuiderwijk
- Bronze age living history in the Netherlands
- Barbarian metalworking
- Museum photos
- Zip-file with information about saxes
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Ken Speed





Joined: 09 Oct 2006

Posts: 656

PostPosted: Mon 07 Jun, 2010 7:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeroen, thanks for the clarification. I have to admit I always visualized the seax as a backup to a sword. But thatís the thing, everyone has a visualization of how things looked and how warriors were equipped.

First, Iím sure you know your field very thoroughly and I think the typologies that Kirk has put together are wonderful tools; I have no reason or intent to disparage anybody or their work. There is, however, a thread about recent archeological finds here in which an archeologist laments the fact that they are trying to draw general conclusions from small samples. That's one of the things I'm talking about. Secondly the world doesnít work in as clear cut a manner as typologies tend to lead you to believe. We have all read about swords handed down for generations and, for that matter, looted from tombs. There is no reason to assume that weapons of a given type virtually disappeared on a given date. Some people talk and behave as though someone said ď OK, guys, itís the start of a new millennium, everybody put away their lang saxes right now!Ē There were, Iím sure, anachronisms( by our standards) and by the standards of the time they may not have even been anachronisms. I have a feeling that they werenít worrying too much about whether their weapon was ďup to dateĒ but if it could help keep them alive, you know? Just recently there was another thread about cross bows being used in southern Appalachia long after people would have thought they were obsolete. Anomalies just seem to keep cropping up and some people seem to have this almost religious orthodoxy in their sense of how warriors equipped themselves. I suspect that things were very much catch as catch can.
View user's profile Send private message
Anthony Savage




Location: England
Joined: 06 Jun 2010

Posts: 1

PostPosted: Tue 08 Jun, 2010 5:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeroen Zuiderwijk wrote:
Long saxes were alternatives to swords (unlike earlier saxes, which are often combined with swords). There are Viking saxes, but they are far less common compared to swords, and I don't know if they were found in combination with swords.


when you say "earlier saxes, which are often combined with swords", does that mean that the sax was used in the offhand and in combination with the sword or that saxes are found in burials goods along side swords?
View user's profile Send private message
Jeroen Zuiderwijk
Industry Professional



Location: Netherlands
Joined: 11 Mar 2005

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 740

PostPosted: Fri 11 Jun, 2010 4:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ken Speed wrote:
Jeroen, thanks for the clarification. I have to admit I always visualized the seax as a backup to a sword. But thatís the thing, everyone has a visualization of how things looked and how warriors were equipped.

First, Iím sure you know your field very thoroughly and I think the typologies that Kirk has put together are wonderful tools; I have no reason or intent to disparage anybody or their work. There is, however, a thread about recent archeological finds here in which an archeologist laments the fact that they are trying to draw general conclusions from small samples. That's one of the things I'm talking about. Secondly the world doesnít work in as clear cut a manner as typologies tend to lead you to believe. We have all read about swords handed down for generations and, for that matter, looted from tombs. There is no reason to assume that weapons of a given type virtually disappeared on a given date. Some people talk and behave as though someone said ď OK, guys, itís the start of a new millennium, everybody put away their lang saxes right now!Ē There were, Iím sure, anachronisms( by our standards) and by the standards of the time they may not have even been anachronisms. I have a feeling that they werenít worrying too much about whether their weapon was ďup to dateĒ but if it could help keep them alive, you know? Just recently there was another thread about cross bows being used in southern Appalachia long after people would have thought they were obsolete. Anomalies just seem to keep cropping up and some people seem to have this almost religious orthodoxy in their sense of how warriors equipped themselves. I suspect that things were very much catch as catch can.

That may be true, but based on dated finds, there seems to be a failry abrupt change at the end of the 8th, early 9th century. The developement of saxes is fairly accurately dateable, with major changes visible within a century, or even within half a century.

Of post 8th century longsaxes outside the UK, there are some exceptions, but they are not common. Also if you look at the images in the 9th century psalters, so far I've only encountered two images of someone carrying a longsax, between many images of swords. Also keep in mind that single battle can sometimes completely change the equipement. The end of the longsaxes falls together with the first invasions of the Vikings. The two might be related, or might not, but it is something to consider.

Jeroen Zuiderwijk
- Bronze age living history in the Netherlands
- Barbarian metalworking
- Museum photos
- Zip-file with information about saxes
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Jeroen Zuiderwijk
Industry Professional



Location: Netherlands
Joined: 11 Mar 2005

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 740

PostPosted: Fri 11 Jun, 2010 4:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Anthony Savage wrote:
Jeroen Zuiderwijk wrote:
Long saxes were alternatives to swords (unlike earlier saxes, which are often combined with swords). There are Viking saxes, but they are far less common compared to swords, and I don't know if they were found in combination with swords.


when you say "earlier saxes, which are often combined with swords", does that mean that the sax was used in the offhand and in combination with the sword or that saxes are found in burials goods along side swords?

Buried together. There is no imagery from the period showing how they were used together. There is however a nice example in one of the psalters of someone wielding a sword and a broken back style sax. Broken back style saxes do occur in f.e. Germany, though I've not seen as many examples as from the UK.

N.b. something that's also worth noting is the change in custom to include weapons in burrials, which does occur around the same time. However double edged swords are still commonly found in rivers etc. after this, while long saxes disappear.

Jeroen Zuiderwijk
- Bronze age living history in the Netherlands
- Barbarian metalworking
- Museum photos
- Zip-file with information about saxes
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Ken Speed





Joined: 09 Oct 2006

Posts: 656

PostPosted: Fri 11 Jun, 2010 5:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

OK, so Nick's question was what would be appropriate equipment for a 9th or 10th century Danish viking. So? A sword? Maybe? a round shield? A spear? a shorter sax probably? An axe? What kind of axe. if any?

We all have these images in our minds of what these guys looked like and what arms they carried, I'm trying to get a more realistic mental picture.
View user's profile Send private message
Scott Woodruff





Joined: 30 Nov 2005
Likes: 8 pages

Posts: 601

PostPosted: Tue 07 Dec, 2010 1:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

From the standpoint of portraying the norm for the period, a spear and shield and maybe a handaxe or knife. If you're re-enacting combat, you might want to go toward the more heavily armed end of the spectrum. Most re-enactment groups look very a-historical with every single man in helm and armor, with shield, spear, sword, sax and/or axe. It may be worth looking like an army of kings if it keeps your head from getting broken. I have recently been checking out a local viking re-enactment group, but have not started fighting. I am going to try to portray a fairly low-class warrior to kind of balance out the group, with a helmet disguised as a hat, a simple tunic, shield and spear.
View user's profile Send private message
Connor Ruebusch




Location: Cincinnati
Joined: 10 Nov 2009

Posts: 97

PostPosted: Tue 07 Dec, 2010 3:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Personally, Nick, I think a great weapon would be a nice one-handed axe. If you're going to depict a typical Viking, then I think an axe would be more in-line with your rank than even a simple sword. Also, the Hurstwic site mentions how it is possible to hold an axe in the shield hand while fighting with the spear, so that if your spear were to get lost or broken, or if perhaps you threw it, you could immediately have a weapon to hand by just reaching behind your shield and grabbing the haft. A helmet, shield, spear, axe, and maybe a small belt knife seems to be a very cool kit, to me.
Ex animo,

Connor
View user's profile Send private message
Elling Polden




Location: Bergen, Norway
Joined: 19 Feb 2004
Likes: 1 page

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,576

PostPosted: Tue 07 Dec, 2010 4:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Large fighting knifes are not very common in the norwegian viking age material. There are some broken back seaxes in the early material, but in the later period they take the same form as medieval single edged daggers.

A large knife of this kind would definitely be appropriate for a warrior. I would however definitely be a knife, and not a sword. You might carry a sword as well. And an axe, for that matter.

Reeactment wise, a full "Warrior package" of spear, shield, sword, and knife is definitely very effective, in addition to being perfectly historically correct. If people complain that you have a sword, complain about their woman's jewlery (yea, that hammer.) and run them out of camp for crossdressing.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website MSN Messenger
Sam Gordon Campbell




Location: Australia.
Joined: 16 Nov 2008

Posts: 677

PostPosted: Tue 07 Dec, 2010 6:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling Polden wrote:
If people complain that you have a sword, complain about their woman's jewlery (yea, that hammer.) and run them out of camp for crossdressing.

I never knew that. Hm, I'll have to try it some day Laughing Out Loud

Member of Australia's Stoccata School of Defence since 2008.
Host of Crash Course HEMA.
Founder of The Van Dieman's Land Stage Gladiators.
View user's profile Send private message


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > So, Langseaxes?
Page 1 of 2 Reply to topic
Go to page 1, 2  Next All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2018 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum