Anglo-Saxon Weapons and Armor

By Bo Echols
The Spear
 the main weapon of the period
 the spear was used by warriors of all ranks
Types of Spears
 the first type of spear is the
javelin, or light throwing spear
 some javelins were meant to be
thrown into an enemy’s shield,
which made the shield too much
trouble to carry around, disabling
him from battle
 most javelins, because of their
slow speed, were meant to be
thrown into large groups of men,
making it easier to kill them
Types of Spears
 the second type of spear is the
thrusting spear
 this spear had a stronger,
broader head than the javelin
that was attached to a wooden
 the thrusting spear was meant
for close combat because it was
nearly impossible to throw
 the length of the spear was
anywhere from five to nine feet
Types of Spears
 the last type of spear is the winged spear
 this spear was more of a defensive weapon
 the spear had two projections that were used to disable
an opponent by rendering his opponent’s shields
The Scramseax
 carried by ALL warriors
 a single-edged knife that ranged from 3”
30” long
used to finish off a wounded enemy
there are two types of scramseaxes that are
based on size
had a curving blade
blades often contained gold, silver, copper,
or bronze wire that were hammered into
small grooves on the blade
the grip was made of wood, bone, or antler
and sometimes had decorations carved
into it
many different shapes and sizes
 used until the blade was completely worn out
The Hadseax
 usually about 3”-14”
 these were usually used as
simple everyday tools
 such as butcher knives, eating
utensils, pocketknives, and
woodwork tools
The Langseax
 usually about 22”-30”
 very heavy and broad
 unlike the Hadseax, the Langseax was used as a
 had a wooden shaft (2’-3’) that was welded to a steel
blade (3”-6”)
 made for attacking someone, not defending
 many different types of axes
The Skegox
 also known as the bearded axe
 popular during the early Viking period
 had a long lower edge
The Francisca
 popular among the Franks
during the early AngloSaxon period
 very small with a thick
triangular section at the
socket, which made it an
extremely top heavy axe
 designed for throwing in
mass numbers
 this would be enough to
distract the enemy so that
one side could charge at
The Broadaxe
 also known as the Dane-axe
 a two handed axe that was
invented by the Vikings in the
late tenth century that was later
used by the Saxons
 used to slaughter animals
 the blade was about 9”-18” long
and the wooden haft that was
Bows and Arrows
 a weapon that was used not only for
warfare, but hunting too
made of yew, elm, or ash
usually were 66”-76” long
the draw weights ranged from 50lb-70lb
every shield contained a soft spot that
archers would aim at and shoot through
to try to kill the enemy
arrows had a broadhead tip that were
made of iron or antler
Bodkins were arrows that were made to
pierce armor
arrow fletchings were made up of three
to four goose or swan feathers
 the sling was used mostly for
 only a direct shot to the face
of an enemy would be
enough to harm him
 round stones from river
basins were used for
ammunition for the sling
 the staff sling is a sling which
had its actual sling placed on
the end of a shaft
 used as a slashing weapon
 most prized weapon of the Anglo-Saxon warrior
 the blades were usually double-edged and were 29”-32” long and about 3” in
 had pommels and crossguards made up of layers of wood, bone, or horn
 these layers could be covered by a sheet of gold, bronze, or silver
 some special sword’s fullers were engraved with a warrior’s signature
 swords were carried in a leather scabbard
 Hrunting, the sword that Unferth lends Beowulf to fight Grendel, and Nagling,
the sword Beowulf uses to fight the dragon, are two swords described in
Beowulf that are examples of the typical Anglo-Saxon sword
Anglo-Saxon Sword Diagram
The Sutton Hoo Sword
 part of a huge ship grave in Suffolk, England
 the hilt of the sword is made up of gold
 the sword has a cloisonné garnet pommel and cross
 many scholars regard the sword as a decoration, not a
The Sutton Hoo Sword
 the most common type of armor was
the riveted chain mail
mailshirts were short-sleeved and
reached just below the waist
the mail would stop the penetration
of a weapon, but it would not stop
the crushing effects of it
padding, called gambesons, was worn
under the mail to offset the crushing
effects of a weapon
mail coifs were worn on the back of a
warrior’s head and stretched around
the face to protect the chin
these coifs were attached to the
helmet of a warrior
 helmets were made of
either iron or bronze
 usually dome-shaped
 some rare helmets
include the Sutton
Hoo Helm, the
Wenceslas Helm, the
Benty Grange Helm,
and the Jorvik Helm
 a coif was attached to
the helmet, as you can
see in this picture
 shields were usually watchglass shaped
 metal bands were attached to the back of a shield to strengthen
they were constructed of lime wood, which is not inclined to
split easily
shields could be up to four feet wide
a kite shield was used by a warrior riding a horse
smaller shields were worn over the shoulder of warriors and were
used when their main shield broke
a round shield was also used as an umbrella, a chair, and a dining
if a shield was struck by a winged spear, the warrior would just
leave his disabled shield on the battle field

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