When The Vikings Went Off To War – What Did They Wear?

Long before Christopher Columbus found “America’, between the late 8th and into the early 11th century, a seafaring group of people called The Vikings would rule a part of the world. They were explorers, traders and warriors, and not necessarily in that order.

They were somewhat of a misunderstood group, with history books and movies showing them to be savages that raided the civilized nations, taking treasures and women as their own. In reality, if you were to get familiar with the Vikings more closely, you find there were a diverse group of people.

The Age of The Viking

Viking is a word derived from Vikingr, a Scandinavian term meaning pirate. While the term was meant as a verb such as referring to overseas expeditions, it would be a verb describing men that spent their summer “Viking”. The belief of many was that while the men were on these summer expeditions, they would be pillaging and raiding cities and monasteries all up and down the coast.  They were, however, actually enlisting foreign mercenaries and trading.

It is the 790s that is noted for the earlies Viking Age raid until 1066 and the Norman Conquest of England. It was then that all four corner of Europe’s northern part would have Vikings raiding and pillaging them. They would travel as far as Bagdad even to trade for fur, seal fat and tusks. In 793, when the Viking raided the monks of Lindisfarne in northeast coast of England, it would be the beginnings of the Viking migration from Scandinavia.

The Devastation and Killing

It was during this time that monks would be killed and thrown into the sea. In some cases, they would be taken along with treasures from their churches and turned into slaves. From that point on, Vikings would always have the reputation of being the savage warrior.

What Were Their Weapons Of Choice?

For the most part, the Vikings fought with axes, bows and arrows, spears and swords. Their helmets were made of iron or leather and despite popular belief they did not have horns on them.

Their swords were made of iron and would have double steel edges, but lightweight and approximately 90cm long. The handle would be made of gold and silver decoration and the Vikings would name their sword.


While today the term battle-axe isn’t a pleasant name, the Vikings had them as tools and were able to cut through helmets and shields of their enemy. These axes would have intricate design and the Vikings would name them as well.

Bow and Arrows

The Indians would use bows and arrows for hunting and war, and so did the Vikings. They were able to attack from afar with bows and arrows and bigger battles, the bowmen would stand behind the other warriors, aiming their arrows high, allowing the arrows to fall onto the enemy.

The Vikings also used spears, using them to stab as well as throwing them. Shields would be used for protection while at battle. They were made of metal or wood and held by a leather handgrip. The shield sometimes could be used as weapon as well.

The Vikings would wear a vest that was made of metal links that made if flexible.  This vest provided some protection against enemy arrows, blows and swords.  This was an expensive item and as such only the rich Viking would have a coats of mail.

It is our guess though, that no matter what is known to be true or what is said about these Vikings, they enjoyed a cool brew at the end of busy day!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

When The Vikings Went Off To War – What Did They Wear?