The helmet from Lokrume, Gotland

Since I am deeply interested in Viking Age helmets, I realized there is no comprehensive article about the helmet from Lokrume. That’s why I decided to translate my Czech article, “Přilba z Lokrume“. I believe this might help to reenactors looking for new kind of helmet evidence.

The first information about the fragment from Lokrume, which is deposited in Visby museum with the sign GF B 1683, was first published by Fornvännen journal in 1907:

„The helmet fragment (consisting of eyebrows and the nasal) from iron is coated with silver plate decorated with niello ornaments. The item, which belongs to Visby Fornsal and which was found in Lokrume parish on Gotland, is the only Viking Age helmet fragment ever found and it is an interesting parallel to several hundreds older helmets from Vendel. (Fornvännen 1907: 208, Fig. 8)

1

Taken from Fornvännen 1907: 208, Fig. 8; Lindqvist 1925: 194, Fig. 97.

Some time later, in 1925, Sune Lindqvist discussed the helmet in his essay on Vendel Period helmets (Lindqvist 1925: 192–194, Fig. 97): „it is made of iron and it is most likely made on Continent, because it is decorated with a thin layer of silver. In Scandinavia, this method was first used in the Viking Age“ (Lindqvist 1925: 192–193). He noticed also the fact that eyebrows do not have animal head terminals, like the helmet from Broa (Lindqvist 1925: 194).

Sigurd Grieg, who studied the helmet from Gjermundbu, reacted to Lindqvist in his book:

In this moment, is is also interesting to mention the Viking Age fragment from Lokrume, Gotland, which was discussed by Lindquist, together with some other helmets. The piece is dated to the Viking Age and the decoration also shows it belongs to the period. The fragment consists of eyebrows and a part of nasal. The fragment is very interesting for us, because its ornaments show the similarity with ornaments known from the sword from Lipphener See (…).
Lindqvist presumes the fragment is an export from the Continent, because the thin silver plate decoration was not used in Scandinavia before the Viking Age. Gutorm Gjessing critised this, when he truthfully said: ‚In our opinion, the helmet fragment from Lokrume can not be understood as a predecessor to Vendel Period helmets, as Lindqvist did (…). The technique – coating with thin silver layer and niello decoration – is very well known from the Viking Age and it is obvious that this technique was very popular on Gotland during its quite extensive production of weapons in the Later Viking Age (…).’“ (Grieg 1947: 44–45)

Grieg, who quotes Gjessing, finds the analogies of the helmet fragment in the 10th century, more precisely, Saint Wenceslas helmet and Petersen type S sword from Lipphener See (Grieg 1947: 45).

lokrume_motiv

The reconstruction of the motive, made by Jan Zbránek.

Elisabeth Munksgaard, who wrote a paper on the helmet fragment from Tjele in 1984, mentioned the fragment from Lokrume without any detail (Munksgaard 1984: 87). Almost the same did Dominik Tweddle (Tweedle 1992: 1126), who mentioned the facts the fragment is decorated and does not have animal head terminals.

The most important work presents Die Wikingerzeit Gotlands, written by Lena Thunmark-Nylén. It consists of a detailed photo, dimensions and a commentary (WZG II: 264:1; III: 317; IV: 521–522):

Lokrume parish, GF B 1683
An eyebrow protection from a helmet; made of iron inlayed with silver and nielloed with decoration in shape of airborne braided bands and intertwined circles ; the lenght of 13.2 cm.“ (WZG IV: 521–522)

An eyebrow part of a helmet, without any knowledge of the find context, represents the only example of the Viking Age helmet on Gotland. The item is made of iron, decorated with square inlay, to which a niello band motive is placed. There are transverse bands in the other areas around eyes.“ (WZG III: 317)

Thunmark-Nylén seeks analogies within the corpus of Norwegian swords, and she comes with the conclusion that the dating to the Viking Age is more than clear and without any doubt (WZG III: 317, Note 75).

2

Taken from WZG II: 264:1.

Mattias Frisk, the author of a very good university essay on Scandinavian helmets from the Younger Iron Age (Frisk 2012), wrote the same information as Lindqvist:

„The fragment consists of eyebrows and a short, broken nasal. It is made of iron, coated with silver plate, which is inlayed with square ornaments (…).“ (Frisk 2012: 23)

To my knowledge, the last book to mention the fragment is Vikinger i Krig, written by Kim Hjardar and Vegard Vike (Hjardar – Vike 2011: 188, 190). The book presents a different lenght (12.8 cm), a quite detailed photo and a short comment:

The second stray find is the mask fragment from Lokrume, Gotland, which is decorated with an ornament, that could be dated to 950–1000 AD. (…) The mask from Lokrume is made of iron, coated with silver and inlayed with square ornament and transverse bands of copper.“ (Hjardar – Vike 2011: 188)

vikingerikrig190

Taken from Hjardar – Vike 2011: 190.

We can see that different authors hold different opinions on the method of the decoration:

  • coating/plating with silver + niello inlay (Fornvännen 1907; Lindqvist 1925; Grieg 1947; Frisk 2011; Hjardar – Vike 2011)
  • silver inlay + niello inlay (WZG IV: 521–522; WZG III: 317)

When I discussed the fragment with blacksmith and jeweller Petr Floriánek (also known as Gullinbursti), the living legend and the best knower of the Viking art in the Czech republic, he explained to me that the decoration could be made in two possible ways:

  • inlay method: grooves are cut to the surface of the item, and they are filled with contrastive material (precious metal) in a desirable shape. Grooves correspond to the motive. The example can be seen here.
  • overlay method: a grid is cut to the surface of the item, and the material is hammered to the grid in a desirable shape. Grooves of the grid do not correspond to the motive. An example can be seen here, or below.
lokrume_muzeum

The fragment, deposited in Visby Fornsal.

According to Petr Floriánek, both methods were popular in the Viking Age and they can be seen applied on many pieces of art, mostly weapons of the second part of the 10th century. The usage of niello, proposed by researchers, is not so likely, in Petr’s opinion. The reason for that is the fact that grooves (with missing material) have the uniform width, which rather suggests the usage of wire. The material could be copper, because copper is more like to fall off, since it has worse adhesion than silver. As Petr says, broad transverse bands are most likely not made by niello method.

It is important to stress that it is not known to which type of helmet the fragment belonged. Researchers tend to say it was a spectacle helmet, which seem to be a more reliable variant, judging from shapes and dimensions of analogies (Broa, Gjermundbu, Tjele, Kyiv). Petr Floriánek guess the thickness of the mask can be cca 3 mm. The usage of nasal without ocular parts is known from Saint Wenceslas helmet, which was also made on Gotland and its decoration is very similar (see here). That’s why we should not dismiss the nasal variant.

My Belarusian friend Dmitry Hramtsov (also known as Truin Stenja), a very skillful blacksmith and jeweller, made a quite interesting variation of Lokrume helmet. Me and Petr consider this version to be very well done. Dmitry used the overlay method – in photos, you can notice the cut grid with silver and copper wire hammered to the surface. The mask is hollow inside; we do not know, if the original was hollow as well, but the helmet from Broa has this feature. The mask is riveted with four rivets to the dome of the helmet; two rivets are invisible and soldered with silver. The rest of the mask is based on Kyiv mask, which was made in the same period. The dome of the helmet is based on the construction of Gjermundbu helmet.

 

In the very end, I would like to thank to Dmitry Hramtsov for the chance to publish his photos. My deep respect belong to Petr Floriánek, who gave me many good advices and ideas. Finally, my thanks go to Jan Zbránek for the redrawn motive. I hope you liked this article. In case of any question or remark, please contact me or leave a comment below. If you want to learn more and support my work, please, fund my project on Patreon.


Bibliography

Fornvännen 1907 = Ur främmande samlingar 2. In: Fornvännen 2, Stockholm 1907, 205–208. Available on: http://samla.raa.se/xmlui/bitstream/handle/raa/5533/1907_205.pdf?sequence=1.

FRISK, Mattias (2012). Hjälmen under yngre järnåldern : härkomst, förekomst och bruk, Visby: Högskolan på Gotland. Available on: http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:541128/FULLTEXT01.pdf.

GRIEG, Sigurd (1947). Gjermundbufunnet : en høvdingegrav fra 900-årene fra Ringerike, Oslo.

HJARDAR, Kim – VIKE, Vegard (2011). Vikinger i krig, Oslo.

LINDQVIST, Sune (1925). Vendelhjälmarnas ursprung. In: Fornvännen 20, Stockholm, 181–207. Available on: http://samla.raa.se/xmlui/bitstream/handle/raa/796/1925_181.pdf?sequence=1.

MUNKSGAARD, Elisabeth (1984). A Viking Age smith, his tools and his stock-in-trade. In: Offa 41, Neumünster, 85–89.

TWEDDLE, Dominic (1992). The Anglian Helmet from 16-22 Coppergate, The Archaeology of York. The Small Finds AY 17/8, York.

WZG II = Thunmark-Nylén, Lena (1998). Die Wikingerzeit Gotlands II : Typentafeln, Stockholm.

WZG III = Thunmark-Nylén, Lena (2006). Die Wikingerzeit Gotlands III: 1–2 : Text, Stockholm.

WZG IV = Thunmark-Nylén, Lena (2000). Die Wikingerzeit Gotlands IV:1–3 : Katalog, Stockholm.

Petersen Type O sword replica

Bringing a thousand years old sword to life

In this article, I would like to present the work of my friend and colleague, craftsman Jan Zbránek from Marobud group. With my cooperation, he made an excellent blunt version of the Petersen type O sword from Dukstad (B 1103).

mece5

 

The start

The whole project started in spring 2016, when Jan ordered a blunt blade from swordsmith Ondřej Borský, aka Ernest’s Workshop. The idea was to create a more quality and unique sword than the average standard in the Viking reenactment. Another criterium was the fact the sword should be suitable for the impression of the 10th century Norway. Jan had no experiences with swordmaking, but he has bronze casting skill, since he makes jewelry for his store Skallagrim – Viking Jewelry. That’s why Jan asked me whether there are any Norwegian swords with bronze cast hilts.

 

The initial research

Bronze cast sword hilts occur in every corner of the Viking world. Basically, bronze cast hilts are typical for Petersen types O and W swords, as well as for some type Z swords, Late Vendel period swords and for rare types beyond the Petersen typology. Even though both types O and W date to the first half of the 10th century, Jan decided for the type O, because it has more examples in Norway and it is more decorated. Examples of the type O were found in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, France, Germany, Great Britain and Ireland, while sword of the type W were found in Norway, Sweden, Germany, Great Britain and Eastern Europe (Androshchuk 2014: 71–72, 79–80; pers. comm. with Lars Grundvad).

Petersen type O is described as the sword with the hilt that consist of the lower guard, the upper guard and the five-tongue-lobed pommel. The type is considered to evolve from the Carolingian type K (Żabiński 2007: 63). Even though Petersen divided the type O into three subtypes (Petersen 1919: 126–134), his typology was recently upgraded by Androshchuk (Androshchuk 2014: 71–72). As a result, type O is now divided into two main subtypes. The subtype O1 is characteristic by the pommel and guards that are cast in bronze (/made of iron core covered with bronze), often decorated with various knots. There are at least 12 examples of this subtype in Norway (Androshchuk 2014: 71). The subtype O2 is remarkable for the pommel and guards that are made of iron and decorated with silver plaques with engraved interlacing or animal motifs. There are at least 8 examples of this subtype in Norway (Androshchuk 2014: 72). While the subtype O1 is more or less evenly distributed in Norway, the subtype O2 has more coastal concentration, suggesting the higher probability of being imported objects (Żabiński 2007: 63). All swords of the type O are two-bladed, and there is a sword with an ULFBERHT inscription on the blade (C 16380) and two other swords with pattern-welded blades within the Norwegian material (Androshchuk 2014: 71).

Jan made up his mind to recreate the a relatively unknown find B 1103 from Dukstad mound, which belongs to the subtype O1. Together with the sword, an axehead and two spearheads were found. The Unimus catalogue has only vague information about the sword and quotes a book which is about 150 years old. Unfortunately, we have not contacted the museum of Bergen, so we had to improvise. Still, I dare to say that our improvisation is based on scientific knowledge.

Photos of the original sword from Dukstad (B 1103), Universitetsmuseet i Bergen.

mec_geibig

Geibig’s typology of blades. Taken from Geibig 1991: 84, Abb. 22.

For example, the catalogue contains the information that sword is “30 inches [76 cm] long and intentionally bent“, but the attached picture of the sword clearly shows the blade belongs to the Geibig’s type 2, which is dated to period between 750 and 950 AD and is characterised by a gently tapering blade with long fuller of near uniform width, blade length between 74 and 83 cm, blade width between 4.8 and 6.2 cm and fuller width generally between 1.7 and 2.7 cm (Geibig 1991: 85, 154; Jones 2002: 22–23).

The size given by the catalogue is not impossible – there is a Petersen type O sword in British Museum collection (1891,0905.3.a), which has the same lenght – but this sword is described to have an “extremely short blade” (Pierce 2002: 90). The fact that the blade is bent complicated our chances for closer estimation and we rather used average, typical parametres of original Geibig’s type 2 blades; 77 cm long and 5.5 cm wide blade. This fact makes the complete sword 92 centimetres long, which is not so far from several type O swords (Kaldárhöfði: 91 cm; Berg: 95.8 cm; Eriskay: 97.5 cm).

While the original handle is “3 1/2 inches [9 cm] long“, Jan made his handle 1 cm longer for comfortable usage, which is a necessary compromise. Androshchuk lists 140 swords with the the lengths of handles ranging from 6 to 10.8 cm: “Most swords have grips 8.5-9.5 cm long, which could be estimated as the average width of a human palm. However, there are also other lengths of grips, which evidently means that sword hilts were assembled with taking into account the physical data of the customers.” (Androshchuk 2014: 105). The rest of the sizes on the sword recreation were proportionally estimated. The decoration, which is not well preserved in the case of B 1103, was carefully redrawn and compared to other known decoration of type O swords. It has to be stressed we had no chance to examine the sword personally, so we could miss some details that are invisible on the photos, like the side decoration of both guards.

typO

Some examples of the decoration of subtypes O1 and O2.

The recreation

The result of the research was put to the graphic visualisation. Jan´s brother Jakub made a 3D layout under our detailed supervision. When both visualisations were made, Jan could better imagine the finished sword. After unsuccessful tries to make models of wood, Jan decided to order plastic models from a Czech company called MakersLab. What a fascinating experience to hold in hands the object which was on the paper seconds ago.

 

Models were brushed, polished and prepared for casting. Jan used the simpliest method, the casting into two-piece sand mould. During the first casting, two of three components were successfuly cast. The last component, the upper guard, was cast during the second try. It was a good experience for Jan, because until that time, he cast only small pieces of jewelry. Subsequently, metal fittings were shaped to the desired form; the sand mould casting is not perfect and a cast object requires a lot of additional work.

 

typeOwire

Examples of the applied wire on the pommel, B 4385, B 1780 and C 13458.

Afterwards, the chiselling of the ornament followed. When the work was done, it was necessary to put the fittings onto the tang. To reduce the risk, Jan used a modern drilling-machine and a file. After the work was successful and aesthetic, Jan fixed the twisted silver wires around the pommel and in-between lobes of the pommel. In case of original sword, the wire was missing, but five holes for the wire are still visible. Various methods of the applied bronze or silver wire can be seen on some type O swords (for example, the sword from Eriskay; or B 1780 and B 4385 within the Norwegian material).

 

The final phase consisted of woodworking and leatherworking – the handle and the scabbard. Regarding the handle, the original sword had no traces of the handle; however, several swords of the subtype O1 have relatively well preserved oval handles of wood, including swords from Kaldárhöfði, Eriskay or Rossebø. The wooden handle was then covered with leather for a better grip; the application of the leather corresponds to the Androshchuk type I: “grips with oval-shaped cross-section, made of wood; in some cases there are traces of leather and linen wrapped around the grip” (Androshchuk 2014: 104). When the handle was done, the sword was finished. It weighs 1280 grams; the balance point of the sword is placed 15 cm from the lower guard.

 

The core of the scabbard was made of two sheets of spruce wood covered with cow leather decorated with raised lines and mouth. Each wooden sheet is less than 5 mm thick, which seems to be a thickness of some preserved pieces (Androshchuk 2014: 43). The leather was sewn on the inner side and was stained in the end. The baldric can be suspended thanks to the ash wood bridge-like slide with animal head terminals, which is attached to the scabbard by twisted yarn. Such a method is highly dubious, but possible, if the extent of our knowledge about Viking Age suspension methods are taken in account. Basically, two main methods are known:

  • slider method. This method seems to be typical for Pre-Viking and Viking Age Scandinavia and England. The scabbard has only one fixed point; the baldic goes through the slider that is placed on the front side of the scabbard, longitudinally positioned a bit below the mouth. The slider can be integral part of the scabbard (for example Broomfield, Wickhambreux), or it can be separate and fitted to the scabbard. Fitted sliders could be made or metal, horn, antler or wood, and could be placed under the leather cover (York, Gloucester) or onto it (Valsgärde). No preserved slider from the Viking Age is known; however, short longitudinal slits in the leather for letting a baldric pass through were observed during the examination of English scabbards (Androshchuk 2014: 105; Mould et al. 2003: 3355-3366).

    pochvy

    The diagram of visible slits on scabbards from York. Taken from Mould et al. 2003: 3363, Fig. 1688.

  • Carolingian method and Ballateare-Cronk Moar type. This method is about two fixed points on the scabbard. Fixed points could be achieved by many ways, but I prefer to point out that they were perpendicularly positioned. The usage of two fixed points was the reason why this method needs a strap-divider. Generally speaking, this method involve the usage of metal parts, and that´s why we can trace this method much better than the previous one, even though it was used in a limited way in Viking Age Scandinavia (see Ungerman 2011).

    pochvy2

    Carolingian type of suspension. Taken from Androshchuk 2014: Figs. 61, 67.

 

The sword and the scabbard were finished after a half of year in October 2016 and presented during the private event of Marobud group, Sons of the North.

 

Acknowledgements

The project involved many people who deserve our thanks. Firstly, we would like to thank to Ondřej Borský (Ernest’s Workshop) and his skill, because the blade is very well done. Secondly, our praise goes to Jakub Zbránek and his grafic skills. We have to mention also guys from MakersLab, who did a good job, and Unimus catalogue. We would like to also express our gratitude to Martin Zbránek and Valentina Doupovcová for documentation. The project would have not existed without the support and patience of our families.

In case of any question or remark, please contact us via Marobud page or leave a comment below. If you want to learn more and support my work, please, fund my project on Patreon. Thank you!

mece10

Bibliography

Androshchuk 2014 = Androshchuk, F. (2014). Viking swords : swords and social aspects of weaponry in Viking Age societies. Stockholm.

Geibig 1991 = Geibig, A. (1991). Beiträge zur morphologischen Entwicklung des Schwertes im Mittelalter : eine Analyse des Fundmaterials vom ausgehenden 8. bis zum 12. Jahrhundert aus Sammlungen der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Neumünster.

Jones 2002 = Jones, L. A. (2002). Overview of Hilt and Blade Classifications. In. Oakeshott E. – Peirce, I. G. Swords of the Viking Age, pp. 15–24.

Mould et al. 2003 = Mould, Q., Carlisle, I, Cameron, E. (2003). Craft Industry and Everyday Life: Leather and Leatherworking in Anglo-Scandinavian and Medieval York. The small finds 17/16, York.

Peirce 2002 = Peirce, I. G. (2002). Catalogue of Examples. In. Oakeshott E. – Peirce, I. G. Swords of the Viking Age, pp. 25–144.

Petersen 1919 = Petersen, J. (1919). De Norske Vikingesverd: En Typologisk-Kronologisk Studie Over Vikingetidens Vaaben. Kristiania.

Ungerman 2011 = Ungerman, Š. (2011). Schwertgurte des 9. bis 10. Jahrhunderts in West- und Mitteleuropa. In: Macháček, J. – Ungerman, Š. (ed.), Frühgeschichtliche Zentralorte in Mitteleuropa. Studien zur Archäologie Europas 14, Bonn, pp. 575–608.

Żabiński 2007Żabiński, Grzegorz (2007). Viking Age Swords from Scotland. In. Acta Militaria Mediaevalia III, Kraków – Sanok, pp. 29–84.

Interview with Rolf F. Warming

A few notes on Viking Age Shields

rolf

Rolf F. Warming. Photo taken by Jacob Nyborg Andreassen, Combat Archaeology.

Rolf Fabricius Warming is Danish archaeologist, whose studies have preeminently been on the subject of combat and conflict in the past, ranging from Mesolithic violence to organized state formation in the early modern period. He holds an MA degree in Maritime Archaeology and is currently finalizing his dissertation project for another MA degree (in prehistoric archaeology), which is focused on Viking Age shields and martial practices. He has the rank of sergeant in the Royal Danish Army and is a master and the chief instructor of a martial arts system, teaching classes and seminars on a national and international level. He is the founder of Combat Archaeology, an organization committed to researching and interpreting material and issues on the subject of combat in the past.


How many shield fragments have we found in Viking Age Denmark?

At the time of writing, we have exactly 40 positively identified shield remains from Viking Age Denmark (including Schleswig and Scania). There are an additional 3 miscellaneous or missing artefacts which may represent other shield finds but too many uncertainties exist as to the nature of these finds at this point.

rolf_shields

An overview of shield fragments from Viking Age Denmark.

What does the average shield look like?

Nu scolo menn vapn sin syna sem mælt er i logum. scal maðr hava breiðöxe.
æða sverð. oc spiot. oc skiolld þann at versta koste er liggia scolo
iarnspengr 
þriar um þveran. oc mundriði seymdr með iarnsaumi.
Gulaþingsl
ǫg hin fornu

rolf_shields2

A scheme of  the shield construction. Made by Sergei Kainov and Oleg Fedorov.

It is difficult to offer a simple description of what the average shield would look like. The shield remains signal quite individualized designs, both in terms of constructional elements and dimensions, at least as far as shield bosses are concerned. Some shields were fitted out with more reinforcing or decorative fittings while other shields differed in terms of shield boss morphology and dimensions. Several shield types also appear to have been in use during the Viking Age. The flat round shield is the most well-known of these, but convex round shields also appear to have been used. It is possible, too, that some forms of kite shields could have been employed as early as the 10th century, although these shields are conventionally understood to appear around the time of the Bayeux Tapestry (c.1070) which contains the earliest depictions of such shields.

However, at the risk of losing scientific rigor, the following observations may be given to offer a basic description of features that may be said to characterize the majority of the common flat round shields. The vast majority of Viking Age shield finds are sparse in metal. Often the shields are only recognized by the surviving fragments of the shield boss, the metal centerpiece of the shield, which frequently constitutes the only metallic part of the shield. However, it is possible that shields constructed of purely organic material may have existed as well, judging from the nearly intact shield from Tira, Latvia, which is dated to the 9th century and was equipped with a wooden shield boss. The iron shield boss of Viking Age round shields was usually fastened to the board with 4-8 iron rivets over a somewhat circular hole. The shield board itself consisted of c. 6-8 softwood planks which had a thickness of no more than 1 cm in the center and tapered gently towards the edges of the shield. In cases which have allowed for an estimation of shield board diameters, the measurements have yielded a range between c. 75 and 90 cm. Typically, the wooden handle, which could consist of hardwood or some more rigid timber compared to the planks, appears to have spanned across the shield board and riveted onto here in multiple places. For the sake of economy and ensuring a lightweight construction, it was desirable to let two of the rivets from the shield boss flange pass through the handle. The shields were most likely equipped with a thin leather facing which was applied to the front of the shield board; assumedly, a similar leather facing could also be applied to the back of the shield. A rawhide edge could be stitched to the shield rim with a thread of some organic material, perhaps sinew or leather. Later round shields of the Medieval period appear to have been of a more robust construction and included, among other things, more reinforcements of iron, if we are to judge from the historical sources.

rolf_shields3

A version of the shield construction suggested by Kim Hjardar and Vegard Vike.

What about more expensive shields?

Baugs þá ek bifum fáða       bifkleif at Þorleifi.
Þjóðolfr hvinverski : Haustlǫng

rolf_shields4

Typology and chronology of some types of Scandinavian shield bosses. Made by Kim Hjardar and Vegard Vike.

In the case of more expensive round shields, the fastening of the rawhide edge could be further enforced by use of a few bronze or iron clamps. In a few exceptional finds from Valsgärde and Birka in Sweden, however, the clamps cover larger parts of the shield rim, even its full circumference, in which case it is more likely that they have served to reinforce the rim as a whole. Other more elaborate shields are fitted out with trefoil-shaped handle terminals of copper-alloy which have been decorated with human masks and animal heads. These appear to have fastened the handle more firmly to the shield board. The back of the long handle and grip could be reinforced with copper-alloy or iron fittings which are sometimes seen decorated with silver plating, ribbon lacing or braiding patterns and human masks. Occasionally, the entire grip or handle appears to have been constructed out of metal. In only exceptional cases is the flange of the shield boss given a more elaborate shape – such as a toothed flange, or the shield boss adorned with non-ferrous metal – such as thin bronze strips – which could be fastened around it’s flange or the wall. So, although some of these fittings are of a more elaborate kind, there is no evidence for superfluous or purely decorative fittings, which, by contrast, are known from the war booty sacrifices of preceding periods. The fittings, or that to which they are attached, all have a function and are largely for the purpose of providing additional strength. However, when using such elaborate fittings, the Viking Age Scandinavians do not appear to have shunned away from the opportunity to display excessive decorative elements. The human mask, animal heads as well as the ribbon lacing and braiding patterns appear to have been recurring themes. Both historical sources and microscopic traces of color also indicate that the shield boards themselves could be decorated, although this is, strictly speaking, not limited to expensive shields.

Weaponry has throughout history been given as gifts. And judging from both the archaeological record and historical sources, there is no doubt that also shields could be perceived as highly valued objects. The shields could be painted and further accentuated by beautiful decorations. Associating a high quality shield with mythology or ancestral achievements would of course render the shield an object of much admiration and a fitting gift.

Designs of shields based on pictorial evidence. Made by Marobud.

How could shields be used?

“Upp óxu þar      Jarli bornir,
hesta tǫmðu,       hlífar bendu,
skeyti skófu,      skelfðu aska.”
Rígsþula

Given the development and coexistence of different shield types and shield boss types as well as regional discrepancies in offensive weaponry preferences, it is clear that no single answer can be given as to how the shields were used. It is, in fact, even difficult to speak of a so-called “Viking fighting style”, as such! Instead, the material suggests that combative styles varied in the course of the Viking Age and across the various Scandinavian regions, expressing also influences from other cultures, such as the Carolingians. What also complicates matters is that the functional aspects of shields can be examined on many levels, including the operational, tactical and strategic levels of warfare. Nonetheless, it is evident that any inferences made into any functional aspects of shields must be grounded in knowledge about how the shield was used on an individual level.

Let us focus on the common flat round shield, which is commonly thought to characterize Viking Age combat, and how it was employed in the context of close quarter combat. Like the military combative systems and martial arts of the modern world, there probably existed various approaches to combat and even nuances of what some considered the same combative styles. Nonetheless, the construction of the flat round shields allows us to examine some of the main underlying principles that may have governed most combative uses of this shield. The flat round shield was a thin, lightweight shield which was held by the center grip, without any enarmes (i.e. straps that could fasten the shield more firmly to the forearm). This, along with the center hole (protected by the shield boss), which allowed the hand to grip the shield closer to its center of mass, and the circular shape of the shield greatly facilitated maneuverability. The fragility of the shield necessitated precisely such maneuverability since the shield-bearer would have to make use of the concept of deflection if he did not want the shield to break easily. Rather than a mere passive defense, the shield was used actively. This could be done with the shield held flat in front of one´s body or at an oblique angle with the rim facing roughly forwards. In both cases, however, practical experimentation with a sharp sword and round shield reconstruction indicates that there is a strong correlation between the degree of deflection and the extent to which the shield is actively thrusted forward. If this use of the shield did not contribute to the notorious aggressive behavior of the Vikings, it is at least very much in line with the bequeathed image of these light and aggressive infantrymen that assumedly reflect the nature of Scandinavian combatants throughout most of the Viking Age.

rolf-stit

Actively used shield. Reenactor Roman Král.

In short, what we have is a very actively used shield. In defensive situations the shield could be thrusted forward or maneuvered in a manner that would better deflect incoming attacks; in offensive situations, where the shield-bearer himself would attack, the shield could act as an offensive striking weapon that could be used to create openings for one’s axe or sword, particularly through powerful strikes with the shield rim. Assuming that round shield construction did not deviate to any extreme extent, the shields were employed by using these principles in both the context of single combat and in formation fighting; there is, to my knowledge, no supportive evidence of static shield use, even when speaking of such concepts as “shield-walls”. The case is different in the medieval period where more robust shields are used. Interestingly, there is also some evidence suggesting that this tradition of actively used shields continues beyond the Viking Age, now merging with some branches of the medieval sword and buckler tradition.


With all my respect and admiration, I would like to thank to Rolf Warming and his unique project Combat Archaeology for the interview. I hope you liked this article. In case of any question or remark, please contact me or leave a comment below. If you want to learn more and support my work, please, fund my project on Patreon.

Norské saxy a bojové nože

Nůž z Osebergu.

Po článcích o bojových nožích z Haithabu, Švédska a Ruska mám tu čest představit přehled norských dlouhých nožů doby vikinské. Každý exemplář je opatřen krátkým popisem a pokud možno obrázkem. Kromě nožů jsou rozebrány také pochvy.

Článek je možné prohlédnout či stáhnout zde:
Norské saxy a bojové nože doby vikinské



English summary

This article is a short summary of what we know about long knives in the Viking Age Norway. Two main sources were used – Petersen’s Vikingetidens Redskaper and UNIMUS catalogue. The result is only a representative number; the article is not complete.

In Norway, long knives were used until the 10th century. From 16 more or less preserved blades, 2 knives belong to the Merovingian type (ca. 100 years old by that time) and were deposited in 9th century graves. In the 9th century, Merovingian type was replaced with lighter, narrower and shorter knives. The typical knife used in Viking Age Norway had a straight blade with relatively uniform features:

  • 20–50 cm in length (ca. 10 cm long handle), 2–3 cm in width

  • in most cases, both blade and back are evenly straight; the blade tapers near the point

  • the wooden handle, sometimes with a bronze ferrule

Sheaths covered both blades and handles and were decorated sometimes. Sheaths show that Anglo-Saxon seaxes and Swedish scabbard knives were rarely used in Norway .

In 14 cases, knives were found in graves/mounds, eight times with a sword, seven times with an axehead, six times with a spearhead, sometimes with other tools. Graves belonged to women in at least two cases.

The function is difficult to guess. Merovingian type were probably deposited from symbolical reasons. Light long knives could serve as kitchen knives, hunting knives and weapons in case of need.

Two-handed axes

Introduction

For all my reenactment career (ca. 10 years), I encounter so-called Dane axes, two-handed axes used in second lines on the battlefields. These weapons are very popular and terrifying and the same time. What the most problematic part of fighting with this kind of weapon is the fact that modern warriors tend to implement their own ideas of what works on modern battlefields and they avoid of those ideas, which are, in their opinion, not functional. Historical background of this weapon is put aside, when the weapon is replicated and used; simply because modern rules of fighting are different and historical background is unknown or unattractive to many warriors.

There are many kinds of early medieval axes that could be considered as two-handed; however, there is no strict line between one-handed and two-handed axes and we can only judge by our common sense. This short overview will discuss two main types of two-handed axes that were used in Scandinavia; this time, we disregard Byzantian axes, Baltic axes of Kirpičnikov type IV etc., however, they can be added in the case of interest. I am absolutely aware of the fact that some reenactors and modern warriors will disagree with the result of this article. In such a case, please feel free to write your comments below and to bring your evidence.

13835486_1074730145895973_611471894_o

A replica of the type M, made by Petr Floriánek, carried by Petr Váka. Courtesy: Radka Opočenská.

Archaeology

In this chapter, axeheads, shafts and methods of fixing will be discussed.

Petersen´s axe typology.

Axehead (Petersen type M)

When talking about a “Dane axe”, we actually refer to axeheads of Petersen type M. The type M was introduced around ca. 950 and it was so popular it was used from England to Russia until 13th century (Petersen 1919: 46–47). The type was developed from older types of Scandinavian axes (like F, G, H), due to the need for bigger war axes that occured in 10th century in big part of Europe. One of the reasons can be associated with the fact that protective parts of war gear were used more often; Petersen type M should be seen as a reaction to usage of maille and helmets, or better, to the centralisation of power.

Petersen type M is defined as an iron broad axehead with expanded, wedge-shaped and very thin (sometimes 2 mm) blade and projecting lugs on either side of the head. Axes of type M from Birka are 20–22 cm long, 16–18 cm broad and they weigh 385–770 grams (Vlasatý 2016). 12 axes of type M from Danish graves are ca. 13–24.6 cm long and ca. 10–21.7 cm broad (Pedersen 2014: 131–134, Find list 2). Russian axes belonging to the type M are 17–22 cm long, 13–20 cm broad and they weigh 200–450 grams (Kirpičnikov 1966: 39). Baltic axes of the same type are 12.5–23.5 cm long and 12–22.5 cm broad (Kazakevičius 1996: 233). 13 Polish axes of type M (IIIA.5.1 and IIIA.5.3 according to Kotowicz) are 13.6–21 cm long, 11–20.6 cm broad and they weigh 200–450 grams (Kotowicz 2014).

The most massive example I am aware of comes from Wetrowo, Kaliningrad Region. The size of the axe, which is now deposited in Berlin, is quite impressive – 23 cm in length and 33 cm in width. Another big axe was found in the River Thames (see here); it is 24.4 cm long, 28 cm broad and it weighs 966 grams. It is needed to point out that such big axes are very rare. The given weight of axes is only partial; many axes are rusted, but the original weight can be counted from the amount of iron material that remained in axes to modern times. For example, the axe from Langeid (C58882/4; 20.7 cm long and 25.4 cm broad) weighs 550 g in current state, but it originally weighted ca. 800 grams. It has to be said that there are at least three phases in the evolution of the type M; the older versions are smaller and have narrower necks, while the more recent are bigger and more massive (see the chart). The type M is often mistaken for Petersen type L, which was developed at the same time (Petersen 1919: 45–46). Generally speaking, the type L is shorter (ca. 11–20,5 cm) and narrower (ca. 6.5–17 cm). Nevertheless, some bigger examples of the type L (like B 9694) can be easily mistaken, since they have average sizes of the type M. It is true that the line between types L and M is very narrow sometimes (and artificial!), but both types have their own specific nuances, when it comes to proportions (as well as the symmetry and thickness) of the blade, the neck and the eye.

It has to be mentioned that “In the 10th cent. in the northern part of our continent, especially after Christianisation, the number of axes in graves increases significantly. They often belonged to persons of lower social position. As a rule, they were the only military equipment of the dead” (Kotowicz 2013: 51-52). Piotr Kotowicz (2011: 52) pointed that axes became “a symbol of the warrior’s profession” by that time. It is true that most of axeheads are found alone in graves; on the other hand, I was able to collect at least 19 Scandinavian graves that contain axehead of type M together with another type of weapon or riding equipment (the list is here) – the spearhead is the most common second weapon (13), as well as shield boss (9), sword (7), the second axe (3), weapon knife (2) and arrows (2). In these graves, riding equipment occur in 11 cases. What is more, two Gotlandic axes of Petersen type M were put to graves with men wearing lamellar armours (Snäckgärde, SHM 484, see this article). That’s why I tend to say that Petersen type M axeheads are indicators of the high status, or at least warrior status.

A considerable number of Petersen type M axeheads are decorated. The decoration (often consisting of a cross) can be distinguished into five types:

  1. engraved ornaments. The axe from Blichowo (Kotowicz 2013: 44, Fig. 4; see here) has the butt carved with a Greek cross.
  2. punched dots and grooves. This type can be seen on one axe from the River Thames (Paulsen 1956: 87, Abb. 32; see here). Vertical pairs of grooves can (or could) be seen on axes from Kongsgården (Rygh 558; C 3210; see here) and Lednica (Sankiewicz – Wyrwa 2013: cat. no. 81; grooves are now invisible, see here).
  3. inlay. The axe from Hultsjö (SHM 737; see here) is inlayed with ornaments (including cross) in silver. The same method can seen on the axe from Skensta (SHM 6814; Paulsen 1956: 112, Abb. 48; see here). This method of decoration seems to be particularly popular in Finland, with at least three examples inlayed with silver found in Posio (KM 24379; Paulsen 1956: 116, Abb. 50, see here), Humikkala (KM 8656:H47:5; Paulsen 1956: 117, Abb. 51; see here) and Köyliö (Kotowicz 2013: 49, Fig. 9; see here).
  4. overlay. The famous axehead from Botnham (Ts 11937; see here) is decorated with Ringerike ornament in gold. The grid to which gold was hammered is still visible.
  5. The last kind of decoration is special and it covers so-called “axes with crosses” – axes with blades decorated in their inner parts with incised Latin crosses (and sometimes with grooves as well). There are 5 Scandinavian finds of the type with open blades, the list can be seen here; all of them are dated to the second half of the 10th century. Another example comes from the vicinity of Plock, Poland (Kotowicz 2013: 51, Fig. 11; see here).
decoration

Examples of decoration. From left: the axes from Thames, Skensta, Hultsjö, Bothamn and Närke. Taken from Hjardar – Vike 2011: 163.

There are at least two Swedish axes (Nässja, SHM 5237; Tåby, SHM 6126) that prove the mixing of Scandinavian and Eastern traditions. These two axes have Petersen type M blades, but instead of projecting lugs, they have an egg-shaped or rounded middle piece (sides the eye for the shaft) and a projecting butt with round or square cross-section. Axes like these show how variable this kind of weapon is, combining two functional elements into one piece.

Schematic pictures of both methods.

The axehead could be made by at least two methods. On the beginning of both methods, there was an iron ingot or a welded billet containing iron plates of different quality. The material could be folded several times for better quality. Afterwards, the body of the axehead was shaped. The first method, the easier one, is about forging the rough shape, splitting the frontal part, inserting the high-carbon steel blade and punching the eye for the shaft in the end. The second method lies in forging the rough shape in unwrapped (opened) symmetrical or asymmetrical shape – without the need to punch the eye for the shaft – and welding the frontal part, splitting the frontal part and inserting the high-carbon steel blade. On some examples, the ridge formed by inserted blade is very visible. In both cases, some finishing touches might be needed, as well as decoration, polishing, sharpening etc.

Very good example of the first method can be seen in the video below:

Axehead (Lunow type)

In my recent article “Axes from Birka“, I discussed a very interesting type of axehead, so-called Lunow type. The type is characteristic with its massive and long T-shaped blade, sometimes with four projecting lugs on either side of the head and a small butt.

taparox2

The distribution of Lunow type. Taken from Michalak – Kotowicz 2014: 112. Fig. 5.

Michalak and Kotowicz (2014: 112) register 22 finds of this type, coming from what is now Denmark, Germany, Poland, Russia and Sweden. It seems that the centre of this type was situated in Greater Poland, Brandenburg and Pomerania. They can be dated to ca. 940–1050 AD. Sizes varies between 13–21.4 cm × 13–29 cm. The best known examples were found in Lunow, Brandenburg an der Havel and Poznań-Dębiec. However, this type seems to be quite popular in Scandinavia in that type; there are 9 examples, mainly from Denmark and Sweden, including axes from Birka (SHM 35245:95), Haithabu (two examples), Over Hornbæk (grave BPW), Rosenlund (grave KR), Suderbys (SHM 11128), Lindholm Høje (grave 2149), Ulbjerg and Lund. The examples from Birka and Lund are very similar to the best known specimens from Poland and Germany; they are decorated with silver and copper inlays as well, the rest consists of typologically similar axes. I would like to suggest that examples from Dolmer and Trelleborg should be included among the rest as well, as they belong to the same tradition. The full list of Scandinavian finds with sizes can be seen here. Similarly to some axes of Petersen type M, the example from Rosenlund was found together with a sword, a spearhead, a shield-boss, stirrups and spurs.

lunow

Some axes of Lunow type 1 – Poznań-Dębiec (Luboń), Poland; 2 – Brandenburg an der Havel, Germany; 3 – Lunow, Germany; 4 – Lund, Sweden; 5 – Birka, Sweden; 6 – Over Hornbæk, Denmark; 7 – Lindholm Høje, Denmark; 8 – Haithabu, Germany; 9 – Suderbys, Gotland, Sweden; 10 – Rosenlund, Denmark.

Shafts

The question of shafts is problematic, since there are not so many complete examples from the period and those that survived are not well known. Let’s begin with the length.

Sankiewicz and Wyrwa (2013: 7778) made probably the most comprehensive list of complete axe shafts from early, high and late medieval Europe. From their list and some other finds these authors were probably not aware of, a very interesting result arises:

  • 2460 cm: 13 examples (18.31 %)
  • 6090 cm: 50 examples (70.42 %)
  • 90+ cm: 8 examples (11.27 %)

The length of 6090 cm (mainly 7080 cm) is the most common and both aforementioned and many other researchers consider this length to be a standard; Kirpičnikov (1966: 28) suggests 80 cm to be an average length, as well as Mäntylä (2005: 110) gives the length of 7090 cm and Kotowicz (2008: 447) writes that shafts varied between 60 and 80 cm. They agree on the statement that longer shafts should be seen as two-handed. In our simplified list, there are 8 examples of shafts longer than 90 cm, consisting of shafts from Behren-Lübchin (94 cm; 12th century), Lednica no. 85 (97 cm; 9501050 AD), Novyja Valosavičy (100 cm; the end of 10th century – the beginning of 11th century), Lednica no. 84 (107.5 cm; 11th century), Kirkkomäki (108 cm; 11th or 12th century), Pahošča (110 cm; the end of 10th century – the beginning of 11th century), Vorma (111 cm; 13th century) and Břeclav (115 cm; 9th or 10th century, see here). What is more, three Petersen type M axes found in Lough Corrib probably had shorter shafts, around 80 cm, as well as other finds, axes from the River Robe and the River Shannon (see here). As will be mentioned in following chapters, these lengths are most likely typical for two-handed shafts of battle axes.

Some axes with shafts: 1 – Vorma, 2 – Lednica (no. 84), 3 – Kirkkomäki, 4 – Lough Corrib.

Some shafts included to the list were simply made from young trees of various shapes, but shafts longer than 90 cm were as a rule made by splitting of massive log. Thanks to this method, shafts were (relatively) straight and hard. In spring and summer 2016, I made a research on what species of wood were used to construct shafts in Middle Age Europe (the result can be seen here – this research is not complete!). The result is that combination of hard and light wood growing in the vicinity of the site was the desired quality of the shaft material. Evergreen wood species were used very rarely (only 1 example). The most common species are hornbeam (61 examples; 29.19 %), maple (44 examples; 21.05 %), ash (36 examples; 17.22 %) and oak (19 examples; 9.09 %).

shaft_cross

Cross section of shaft fragments of axes from Lundehall and Langeid.

Shafts of three Petersen type M axes from Lough Corrib were made from cherry wood, as well as the fragment of wood found with type M axe from Langeid. The shaft of axe from Vorma is made from spruce. Shafts of axes from Lednica are made from hornbeam (no. 85) and maple (no. 84). The most common wood species found in Viking Age Scandinavia as materials of axe shafts are maple (6 examples: 2× Barshalder, 2 × Sønder Onsild, 1 × Grimstrup, 1× Træhede), birch (3 examples: 2× Oseberg, 1 × Sønder Onsild), alder (1 example; Fyrkat), elm (1 example; Nyrbo), beech (1 example; Haithabu) and cherry (1 example; Langeid).

The eye usually has an oval, egg (droplet) shaped or round cross section. Sizes of eyes varies between ca. 24.2 cm × 24.2 cm (Polish: 2.4–4.2 cm × 2–2.8 cm, Russian: 3.5 × 2–2.5 cm, Baltic: 3 × 2–4,22 cm). From my experience, most shafts have droplet shaped cross section and preserved fragments of shafts prove it.

The only type of decoration of shafts we are able to find consists of metal. There are only two kinds of such a decoration, including:

  • plate ferrules in the upper part of the shaft. The meaning of such a ferrule is obvious – it makes the axe firmer in the strained part and makes the axe to look more splendid.
    • made from iron. An iron ferrule was found with the Petersen type E axe from Hemse (Hemse annex; SHM 5645; see here), but is now missing. Another one was found with Petersen type M in a 11th century grave in Bilczewo, Poland (see here). For more Polish, Russian and Hungarian analogies from different periods, see Kotowicz (2008: 451453).
    • made from brass/bronze. Six examples of this decoration were found in Norway (C 24243, C 25583, C 27132, C 29866, C 57235, C 58882see here). The ferrule of axe from Langeid is made from rectangular plate that is 0.5 mm thick; the plate is nailed to shaft with 12 brass nails (11 mm long, 2.5 mm thick). It has to be mentioned that a slight layer of wood under the ferrule was removed, so there is no visible step between the undecorated part of shaft and the decorated one. At least two Norwegian ferrules (C 27132, C 29866) have four projections in the lower part peeping under the axehead. Another six examples come from Gotland (SHM 484 Gr. 4, SHM 4815, SHM 14855, SHM 14885, SHM 19273, SHM 22297). There are two more finds discovered in the River Thames, one of them is ornated with rich motives and has 9 projections in the lower part (see here). Another example of brass ferrule comes from Klincovka, Kaliningrad Oblast (see here, I am indebted to Piotr Kotowicz for this information). There are at least two finds of decorated shaft wrapping from brass plate from 10th century Latgalian graves in Lithuania (see here and here, Kotowicz 2008: 452453).
    • made from silver. A very nice example comes from Kalihnovščina, Nothern Russia (see here). The ferrule is placed below the axehead and ends in four cross-shaped projections in the lower part.
  • a butt on the bottom part of the shaft. The only find of this decoration comes from Barshalder (SHM 27778: 11, see here).

The schema of Langeid axe. Made by Vegard Vike.

Fixing of the axehead to the shaft

There are two major methods, how axeheads were fixed. The first one is mounting the axe head from the tapered bottom. This method could be combined with a kind of securing of the axehead, for example with leather. The second method lies in mounting from the upper end of the shaft and securing the axehead with a wooden or metal wedge or nail. Both methods were used in the Viking Age Europe; for example, the first one can be seen on one of Oseberg axes and on many axes from Lednica and Mikulčice. Since the upper end has to be thicker and forms so-called forskapti (for example axes from the River Robe and the River Shannon), the first method can be easily recognized. Axes with shafts decorated with ferrules were mounted from the upper end, but the wedges do not occur in their case. Even though wedges are not common, we can find some evidence. Three axes from Lough Corrib were secured with wooden wedges. The Petersen type M axe from Ballinderry Crannóg was secured with a wooden wedge and a metal nail (see here). One axe from Lednica (no. 102; Sankiewicz – Wyrwa 2013: 204205; see here) is secured with a metal wedge. The recently found axe from Hårup was secured with one big nail that goes through the eye (see here).

Sheaths

In one of my previous article, I mapped all finds of Viking Age axe sheaths (see here). To sum up, there are 13 finds of wooden sheaths from Haithabu, 2 finds from Schleswig, 2 finds from Dublin and 1 from Novgorod. They belong to two types and are made from willow, yew, oak, ash, spruce, juniper and birch wood. In our contexts, the most interesting one comes from Schleswig; the sheath is decorated with two pictures of two-handed axes, one of them belonging to the Petersen type M. Thus, the function of this object is clear and there is no doubt that sheaths like these served to protect blades from blunting and rust.

                           Type 1                                                                  Type 2
sekera4sekera_tom1

Literary sources

In this chapter, axeheads, shafts and methods of fixing will be discussed.

Sagas and chronicles contain some pieces of information that can be useful for comparing with what we know from archaeology. The most importantly, we can learn how two-handed axes were called, used and perceived.

It should be said in the first place that Old Norse people did not call these axes “Dane axes”. Petersen type M axes, together with axes of type F, belong to a broader term breiðøx. Literary sources work carelessly with terms, so it is sometimes hard to say which passage refer to two-handed axe. Terms like þunnsleginn øx (“axe that is hammered thin”), háskeptr øx (“long-handled axe”) or simple “big axe” are small clues that can refer to two-handed axes. Let’s have a look on The Saga of the Sworn Brothers (Fóstbræðra saga), where we can find typical passages:

Þorgeirr had a broad axe, a mighty weapon, keen-edged and sharp, with which he had sent many a man to dine [in Valhalla].” (ch. 3)

Bjarni forged a broad axe for Þormóðr, according to his will. The axe was hammered right down to the cutting edge, had no weal to obstruct it and was thus extremely sharp.”  (ch. 23)

Even though Þorgeirr´s axe is a mighty broad axe, he use it as a one-handed weapon in fight (for example ch. 8). As the result, to be sure we refer to two-handed weapons, we have to pick passages about breiðøxar that are held on both hands; even this approach can be wrong, because warriors, in case they had no shields, used weapons with both hands (see for example here). In such a way, only two axes in sagas can be named as two-handed – Hel, the axe of Óláfr Haraldsson (Saint Óláfr) and his son Magnús the Good, and Rimmugýgr, the axe of Skarphéðinn Njálsson.

Literary sources are far from being much descriptive. They contain information only about owning, carrying and fighting with what we could call two-handed axes. As we can see, axes have their own names and are owned by famous people. It corresponds nicely with what we can see from their occurrence in warrior graves and their decoration – Petersen type M axes are markers of the high rank, of a status similar to “hero”, “champion”, “professional warrior”. With no doubt, axes of this type were owned and used by noblemen and their hirðir (“retinues”).

One of the most interesting passages from Old Norse sources can be searched in Saga of Magnus the Good (Magnús saga góða), where King Magnús, just before the battle of Hlýrskógheiðr (1043), throws away his own chain-mail and runs to the array of enemy, starting the battle with two-handed axe Hel (tha axe that used to belong to his father) in his hands. I believe this mention corresponds to depicted fighting scenes that incude two-handed axes:

Then King Magnús stood up, and ordered the war trumpets to sound, and at that moment the Víndland army advanced from the south across the river against him; on which the whole of the king’s army stood up, and advanced against the heathens. King Magnús threw off from him his coat of ring-mail, and had a red silk shirt outside over his clothes, and had in his hands the battle-axe called Hel, which had belonged to King Óláf. King Magnús ran on before all his men to the enemy’s army, and instantly hewed down with both hands every man who came against him. So says Árnórr jarlaskáld:

‘The unsluggish ruler stormed forth with broad axe, and cast off his byrnie; a sword-clash [BATTLE] arose around the ruler of the Hǫrðar [NORWEGIAN KING = Magnús], as the prince clenched both hands around the shaft, and the shaping guardian of heaven [= God] allotted earth; Hel clove pallid skulls.‘’” (ch. 29)

At least two English sources mention “the apologetic gift” of earl Godwin of Wessex given to Harðaknútr, the last Danish king of England, in 1040. The gift consisted of a ship of 80 warriors equipped with gilded “Dane” axes:

Each of them had a gilded helmet on the had, a Danish axe on left shoulder and a spear in right hand.” (William of Malmesbury : Gesta regum Anglorum, II, § 188)

Also, each of them had a chain-mail, a partially gilded helmet, a sword with gilded handle by the waist and a Danish axe, decorated with gold and silver, hanging on the left shoulder. In the left hand, each of them had a shield, whose bosses and rivets were gilded as well, and they had spears in their right hands, the one, which is called atagar in English language.” (Florence of Worcester : The Chronicle)

runove

Axe-bearers from pictures stones from Tängelgårda I and Alskog Tjängvide I, Gotland.

It should be streesed that these are the oldest mentions of the Latin term “Danish axe” (securis Danica), together with the passage from De Miraculis Sancti Eadmundi (ch. 21), written by Hermannus The Archdeacon in late 11th century (“According to Danish fashion, Osgod Clapa had armrings on both hands and gilded axe was hanging on his shoulder.“). It is accepted (see for example DeVries 1999: 217) that Petersen type M came to England during the Conquest of Knútr the Great, and two-handed axes could be weapons of his troops called þingmenn. This elite retinue survived until 1066, as an be seen on the Bayeux Tapestry and skaldic poetry, and these troops were understood as very tough opponents by Norwegians in 1066 (see Úlfr stallari : Lausavísa). DeVries (1999: 217) thinks that English warriors used Petersen type M axes more commonly than Scandinavians. However, the Scandinavian origin of this weapon was still understood, as it was called “Danish axe”. In his major work The History of The English (Historia Anglorum), Henry of Huntingdon, 12th century historian, mentioned the popular story of Norwegian warrior, who killed more than 40 chosen Englishmen with the axe during the Battle of Stamford Bridge (1066):

Here a single Norwegian, whose name ought to have been preserved, took post on the bridge, and hewing down more than forty of the English with a battle-axe, his country’s weapon, stayed the advance of the whole English army till the ninth hour. At last some one came under the bridge in the boat, and thrust a spear into him, through the chinks of the flooring.” (Historia Anglorum, VI, §27; trans. Forester 1853: 209)

The same story, but with slightly different details, can be found in The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (version C) and Deeds of the Kings of the English (Gesta regum Anglorum) of William of Malmesbury (see here). Even though details vary – in other versions of the story, the axe and the number of slained opponents are missing, the Norwegian is equipped with a chain-mail and the way of his death is different as well – these passages are important proof of the skill of owners of these axes. I have to add that the popular theory that the Norwegian was a berserkr is rather a result of modern creativity.

“Danish axes” occur several times in high medieval sources, mostly in connection with King Stephen of England (Battle of Lincoln 1141; he allegedly fought with the axe until it was broken) and Richard the Lionheart (Battle of Jaffa 1192). Also, they are included in Old French romans in the form hasche Danoise (“Danish axe”).

irishmen

Irishmen equipped with two handed axes. Topographia Hibernica, Royal MS 13 B VIII, folio 28r.

What is insteresting is the fact that literary sources can show how axes were carried. In connection to “Danish axes”, Latin sources from England contain the phrase in humero dependente (“hanging on the shoulder”), in humero sinistro (“on the left shoulder”) and in sinistro humero pendentem (“hanging on the left shoulder”). In Old Norse literature, there is a quite nice parallel to this phrase, hann hafði øxi um ǫxl (“he had axe across the shoulder”) – one occurrence of the phrase is connected with Skarphéðinn Njálsson, the owner of two-handed axe Rimmugýgr (“Skarphéðinn was foremost. He was in a blue cape, and had a targe, and his axe aloft on his shoulder“; Njáls saga, ch. 92). The aforementioned quote from Florence’s Chronicle is important as well – we can see that warriors could have many weapons, including hanging axes, and could change them. The design of hanging device is unknown and to learn more, experiments are needed. The picture from Hunnestad Monument shows a warrior with his two-handed axe on the right shoulder. Similarly, Varangian guardsmen greeted the Emperor by axes raised on right shoulders:

Guardsmen were holding them in the right hand, leaning the blade against the left wrist. When the Emperor came, they brought up the axes to lean them on their right shoulders. During the time of the name-day of the Emperor, the Varangians saluted him and banged their axes, which emitted rhythmical sound.” (Kotowicz 2013: 52)

Slavic axes called taparøxar (from Slavic topor, “axe”, and Old Norse øx, “axe”) are mentioned in sagas and The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (version A) sometimes. In sagas (Ljósvetninga saga, Njáls saga, Vatnsdœla saga), they occur as prestigious objects among Norwegian-Icelandic elite. The shape is not know, nor the length of the shaft; however, I believe that Lunow type or Russian types of one-handed axes (like Kirpičnikov types I, II, III) are possible. I think the best mention of the axe comes from Ljósvetninga saga (ch. 2), where it occurs as a gift of jarl Hákon, the ruler of Norway in ca. 970995:

Jarl [Hákon] said he [Sǫlmundr] should first deliver his gifts, a Russian hat to Guðmundr the Mighty and taparøx to Þorgeirr Ljósvetningagoði.

langeid_rec

A replica of the axe from Langeid, made by Vegard Vike and Anders Helseth Nilsson.

In literary sources, axeheads and shafts are frequently decorated. We already mentioned English sources, where axeheads are gilded. In sagas, what is interesting is the fact that axes decorated with gold are mentioned as gifts from specific rulers (Haraldr hárfagri, jarl Hákon, Sigurðr Hloðvirsson, Haraldr harðráði) and are given to important Icelanders. It seems that mentions like these are oral formulas – for example, both Þorkell from Vatnsdœla saga (ch. 43) and Þorstein from Þorsteins saga Síðu-Hallssonar (ch. 1) receive øx gullrekna (“gilded axe / axe inlayed with gold”) from Sigurðr Hloðvirsson, jarl of Orkney, and in an analogical manner, both Brandr from Brands þáttr ǫrva (ch. 1) and Halli from Sneglu-Halla þáttr (ch. 10) get in possession of øx gullrekna thanks to generous Haraldr harðráði. My point is that the quantity of mentions is not so important, since it rather reflects features of orally-derived prose of high and late medieval Iceland. If we study material like this in order to get relevant information about weapons, we should focus on what parts of weapons are decorated and what is the context. To sum up, saga literature mentions axeheads decorated with gold (gullrekinn and gullbúin) and shafts covered with silver or iron wrappings (vaf) or plates (spengðr). The “fore-haft” (the part above the axehead) of the axe, that was given to Sneglu-Halli, was decorated with “a big silver knob [silfrhólkr] with a precious stone on it” (Sneglu-Halla þáttr, ch. 10). Let’s say that gold, silver and any other kind of decoration is mentioned as an indicator of the maximum richness and the status, and such a decorated gift is a proof of king’s favour, which gives the importance to the receiver of a gift, the character of the story, and his descendants.

Before we move forward to the next chapter, the last thing – the terrifying aspect of axes – has to be mentioned. Unlike swords, axes are named after Norns, troll-women and monsters etc. in poetry (for example Norn skjaldar, “the norn of the shield”, or brynflagð, “the troll-woman of the chain-mail”, and so on). One of the most illustrative mention I know comes from Halldórr ókristni’s Eiríkrflokkr (st. 7), it says: “slender monsters of the land of Þriði [ÞRIÐI = ÓÐINN, LAND OF ÓÐINN = SHIELD, MONSTERS OF THE SHIELD = AXES] yawned with iron-mouths at people“. In literary sources, axes are often synonyms of awe, brutality or hard power (“Even though we are not lawmen, we will solve the suit with axe butts” says Þorsteinn in my favourite sentence in Vatnsdœla saga, ch. 37). No wonder, because axes are very destructive tools and weapons, designed for chopping and they can not be easily blocked. On the other hand, facing to these deadly weapons is the feature of a brave man.

Depictions (pictorial evidence)

In this chapter, I divided the pictorial evidence between four groups from different areas and periods. Only those axes that resemble Petersen type M were included. Groups are:

  • Bayeux Tapestry. This group contains no less than 20 axes.
  • Scandinavian pictures. This group contains at least 3 axes.
  • Another (Byzantine and Russian pictures). This group contains only 5 depicted axes.
  • High Middle Ages pictures. 12 axes were selected to this group.

To sum up, 40 axes were included. 38 of them are depicted together with men. We can distinguish two basic functions and forms:

  1. standard axes, with the length varying between 3 and 4 feet (91122 cm). Sankiewicz and Wyrwa (2013: 76) suggested the length of approximately 3 feet and 6 thumbs (107 cm). Axes of this length are usually depicted in the fight. 34 depicted axes belong to this form.
  2. above-standard axes, with very long shafts reaching to the head of the wielder. Edge and Paddock (1988: 31) calculated the length to 4 or 5 feet (122152 cm). The axe depicted on Byzantine ivory plaque seems to be even longer. The context suggests they were used as symbols during ceremonies; these symbols are important for stressing the crucial persons in the piece of art and their sizes could be disproportionally enlarged. On the other hand, axeheads are not enlarged, so we can assume these symbolic axes did in fact have long shafts. 6 depicted axes belong to this form.

Axes of the first form seem to be weapons of renowned warriors. As the rule, wielders of axes are tall. In 23 cases, warriors with axes wear a better form of body protection (chain-mails, scale armours, gambesons) or noble clothing. Similarly, in 25 cases, warriors have helmets. Together with axes, 11 swords and 8 shields are depicted, what is in agreement with aforementioned statements (warriors could have many weapons […] and could change them). One axeman holds a blowing horn. Two depicted men from pictorial evidence are described as Leofwine Godwinson and King Stephen of England. On the contrary, five axes are shown in hands of men not dressed in armour; two of them seem to be peasants, not warriors.

In at least three cases, two-handed axes of the first form are depicted in hands of men leading the attack/defense (in one case, a flag is right behind the leader). Axes seem to be very good weapons during the siege, the fight against cavalry and during a charge or a defense. In one high medieval case, a two-handed axe is used on horseback. In a scene from the Bayeux Tapestry, a man holds a shield in the left hand, a spear in the right hand and the axe is hanging in his back or is hidden behind his kite-shield. Two depicted shields are located on backs of their wielders, and even though they are not actively used, they could give some kind of protection. In three cases, men carry a two-handed axe just in one hand in combination with a shield. One depicted axe had the axehead cut off by a sword.

A considerable number of warriors (12) hold the axe in the left-hand forward grip; however, we can find some men with the right-hand forward grip (8). It is speculative whether the artists wanted to show the real fighting techniques or the perspective of period style was more important. To avoid any misleading result, let’s say that the owners knew how to use these axes in the most effective way and probably changed the grip in order to gain the advantage.

Regarding the second form of two-handed axes, we can try to count all the contexts of their usage. Harold Godwinson is depicted to hold his axe during the meeting with messengres of Duke William. In two cases, axes are used during a meeting of King Edward the Confessor and Harold Godwinson. Another two axes are shown when Harold Godwinson is offered the English crown. In all five cases from Bayeux Tapestry, long two-handed axes are connected with the English ruling power, King Edward the Confessor and Harold Godwinson. The maker of the Tapestry probably wanted to stress their nationality and status by giving them the typical weapon (on the contrary, Normans are always depicted with swords as symbols). Finally, the sixth axe is depicted on a small Byzantine ivory plaque, dated to the 10th or 11th century (see here). The plaque shows a man in underpants, holding the axe in the right hand and (Petersen type X) sword in the left hand. The axehead seems to have the similar design to what we previously called “open blade”. In my article “Axes with crosses“, I agreed with Kotowicz (2008: 447-448, Note 16), who put these axes in connection with pelekophori (“axe-bearers”), Varangian guards. It seems probable this kind of axe served for ceremonial greeting of the Emperor, as mentioned above.

The most of depicted axes of both types seem to be top-mounted, since the shafts are thicker in the lower part. At least three (high medieval) pictures shows bottom-mounted axes. No visible decoration of both axehead and shafts is visible; the colour of axeheads can be interpreted in many ways. The bronze axe amulet from Haithabu shows the shaft with a large knob (the curved bottom end of the shaft).

A note for reenactors
scott

A replica of the type M, made by Scott Roush.

We can clearly see that original two-handed axes were used in completely different way than modern versions. The most visible difference is the length of the shaft, causing the need to fight in the first line with the lacking protection of limbs (gloves). Modern versions of two-handed axes are based on 6 aforementioned axes with very long shafts, which are not shown to be used on the battlefield. Such an approach is an ignorance of the majority (34) axes and archaeological material. In the real fight, two-handed axes require a lot of free space, so they have to be placed in the first line or on the side of the formation. The sharp axe is almost unstoppable, destroying both shields and bodies. The placing in the first line and the shorter shaft have to be compensated by quality armour that reduces the risk of mortal wounds. However, there are no period gloves able to give the protection against sharp weapons. From my experience, I can say that a man with a 110 cm long axe has to be enormously movable, in order to be safe and effective. If we are talking about the real fight, stopping in front of the enemy line is the worst idea, the best option is to run forward and attack. A combination of two-handed axe and a shield passively hanging in front of the warrior, which is a common trend today, is ineffective in the real fight (it can be pierced with a spear anytime), slows down the warrior and has no real support in historical sources (on the Bayeux Tapestry, warriors had shields on their backs). The act of deploying two-handed axes always has a great morale impact on both sides, and probably occured in special cases. As a result, warriors with two-handed axes, leaders, and their retinues belonged to the heaviest armoured infantry and the most skilled troops that occured on late Viking Age and high medieval battlefields.

ronan

A replica of the type M, made by Ronan Jehanno.

To be fair, modern versions (with 2.5 metres being the maximum length I have seen) are perfect weapons for a modern way of fight and its rules. In the “Eastern style”, rules are set to be “dead” after the first proper hit into the areas covered with armour – the system that is illogical from the historical perspective. Long two-handed axes are good for this purpose, as well as the hooking of shields and weapons. That’s why we should draw a very clear line between what is period and what is modern. However, when we make compromises, I tend to advise the length of the axe that reaches to the chest or the chin of the wielder. Such a length allows the wielder perfect control of the weapon. In any case, the length should be referential, not standardized to the particular number.

I hope you liked this article. In case of any question or remark, please contact me or leave a comment below. If you want to learn more and support my work, please, fund my project on Patreon.

Bibliography

Sources

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle = The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Edited and tranlated by Michael Swanton, New York 1996.

Florence of Worcester : The Chronicle = The chronicle of Florence of Worcester with the two continuations; comprising annals of English history, from the departure of the Romans to the reign of Edward I. Translated by Thomas Forester, London 1854. Online. Latin version can be reached here.

Henry of Huntingdon : The History of the English (Historia Anglorum) = The chronicle of Henry of Huntingdon. Edoted and traslated by Thomas Forester, London 1853. Online. Latin version can be reached here.

Hermannus The Archdeacon : Miracles of St. Edmund (De Miraculis Sancti Eadmundi) = Hermanni archidiaconi liber der miraculis sancti Eadmundi. Edited by Thomas Arnold. In: Memorials of St Edmund’s Abbey, vol. 1, London, 1890, 26-92. Online.

William of Malmesbury : Deeds of the Kings of the English (Gesta regum Anglorum) = William of Malmesbury’s Chronicle of the kings of England. Translated by John Allen Giles, London 1847. OnlineLatin version can be reached here.

Njal’s Saga (Njáls saga) = Njal’s Saga. Translated by Robert Cook. In: The Complete Sagas of Icelanders III Reykjavík, 1997 : 1–220. Icelandic version of the saga can be reached here.

The Saga of Magnús the Good (Magnús saga góða) = Sagan af Magnúsi góða. Edited by N. Linder an H. A. Haggson. In: Heimskringla Snorra Sturlusonar III, Uppsala 1872. Online.

The Saga of the Sworn Brothers (Fóstbræðra saga) = The Saga of the Sworn Brothers. Translated by Martin S. Regal. In: The Complete Sagas of Icelanders II, Reykjavík, 1997 : 329–402. Icelandic version of the saga can be reached here.

The Saga of the People of Ljósavatn (Ljósvetninga saga) = Ljósvetninga saga. Edited by Benedikt Sveinsson, Reykjavík 1921. Online.

The Saga of the People of Vatnsdal (Vatnsdœla saga) = Vatnsdœla saga. Edited by Einar Ól. Sveinsson. In: Íslenzk fornrit VIII, Reykjavík, 1939, 1–131. Icelandic version of the saga can be reached here.

The Saga of Þorsteinn Síðu-Hallssonar (Þorsteins saga Síðu-Hallssonar) = Þorsteins saga Síðu-Hallssonar. Ed. Jón Jóhannesson. In: Íslenzk fornrit XI, Reykjavík 1950. Icelandic version of the saga can be reached here.

The Tale of Brand the Generous (Brands þáttr ǫrva) = Brands þáttr ǫrva. Edited by Einar Ól. Sveinsson and Matthías Þórðarson. In: Íslenzk fornrit IV, Reykjavík 1935. Icelandic version of the story can be reached here.

The Tale of Sarcastic Halli (Sneglu-Halla þáttr) = Sneglu-Halla þáttr. Edited by Jónas Kristjánsson. In: Íslenzk fornrit IX, Reykjavík, 1956: 261–295. Icelandic version of the story can be reached here.


Literature

DeVries 1999 = DeVries, Kelly (1999). The Norwegian invasion of England in 1066, Woodbridge.

Edge – Paddock 1988 = Edge, David – Paddock, John Miles (1988). Arms and Armour of the Medieval Knight, London.

Hjardar – Vike 2011 = Hjardar, Kim – Vike, Vegard. Vikinger i krig, Oslo.

Kazakevičius 1996 = Kazakevičius, Vytautas (1996). Topory bojowe typu M. Chronologia i pochodzenia na źiemiach Bałtów. In: Słowiańszczyzna w Europie średniowiecznej, Wrocław: 233–241.

Kirpičnikov 1966 Кирпичников А. Н. (1966). Древнерусское оружие: Вып. 1. Мечи и сабли IX– XIII вв./ АН СССР, Москва.

Kotowicz 2008 = Kotowicz, Piotr N. (2008). Nie tylko żeleźca. O rzadziej postrzeganych elementach średniowiecznych toporów. In: “Ad oderam fluvium”: księga dedykowana pamięci Edwarda Dąbrowskiego, Zielona Góra: 441–465. Online.

Kotowicz 2013 = Kotowicz, Piotr N. (2013). The Sign of the Cross on the Early Medieval Axes – A Symbol of Power, Magic or Religion? In: Weapons Brings Peace? Warfare in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, Wratislavia Antiqua 18, Wrocław: 41–55. Online.

Kotowicz 2014 = Kotowicz, Piotr N. (2014). Topory wczesnośredniowieczne z ziem polskich : Katalog źródeł, Rzeszów.

Mäntylä 2005 = Mäntylä, Sari (2005). Broad-Bladed Battle-Axes, Their Function and Symbolic Meaning. In: Rituals and Relations. Studies on the Society and Material Culture of the Baltic Finns, Helsinki: 105–130.

Michalak – Kotowicz 2014 = Michalak, Arkadiusz – Kotowicz, Piotr N. (2014). Wczesnośredniowieczne cmentarzysko z okolic Bukowca w powiecie międzyrzeckim, czyli o pewnym odkryciu w archiwum w Wünsdorfie. In: Wielkopolskie Sprawozdania Archeologiczne, t. 15: 107–124.

Paulsen 1956 = Paulsen, Peter (1956). Axt und Kreuz in Nord- und Osteuropa, Bonn.

Pedersen 2014 = Pedersen, Anne (2014). Dead Warriors in Living Memory. A study of weapon and equestrian burials in Viking-age Denmark, AD 800-1000, Publications from the National Museum. Studies in Archaeology & History Vol. 20:1 2. (Catalogue), Copenhagen.

Petersen 1919 = Petersen, Jan (1919). De Norske Vikingsverd, Kristiania.

Sankiewicz – Wyrwa 2013 = Sankiewicz, Paweł – Wyrwa (2013), Andrzej M. Topory średniowieczne z Ostrowa Lednickiego i Giecza, Lednica. Online.

Vlasatý 2016 = Vlasatý, Tomáš (2016). „Sekeru s sebou“ – katalog seker z Birky, komentář a srovnání [“Carrying the axe” : a catalogue of axes from Birka, a commentary and comparison]. Projekt Forlǫg Reenactment a věda. Online.

novgorod

A 14th century depiction of both handed axe from Novgorod. Taken from Paulsen 1956: 99, Abb. 39.

Inspiromat #13, norský šlechtic

Ve třináctém dílu si představíme muže mnohých kvalit, přátelského a zručného řemeslníka, velitele skupiny Marobud a mého dobrého přítele, který je v českém „vikinském“ prostředí dobře znám. Nejde o nikoho jiného než o Jana Zbránka, alias „Jóna“.

Jan a jeho dvojče Jakub (Valgarð) se na české reenactorské scéně pohybují od roku 2007, respektive od roku 2010, kdy začali jezdit na historické festivaly. Od té doby si vybudovali solidní jméno díky svým bojovým a řemeslným dovednostem, které zahrnují zpracování kovu, dřeva a kůže. V současné době provozují Skallagrim – Viking Jewelry a Janovo zboží můžete zhlédnout v níže přiložené galerii. V současné době se Jan věnuje výrobě odlévaných replik a ražbě replik dobových mincí.

Jan se snaží rekonstruovat norského hersiho (dědičný titul nižšího šlechtice) v 10. století. Je si vědom, že jeho kostým obsahuje spoustu výpůjček z jiných částí Skandinávie, a dodává, že kostým je rozdělaný projekt, který neustále upravuje, doplňuje a který nebude nikdy hotov. Zpětně přiznává, že inspiromat mu pomohl uvědomit si řadu kostýmových nedostatků. Jelikož znám Jana dlouho, tak vím, že jeho kostým bude za dva roky vypadat úplně jinak, protože je člověkem, který se neustále přehodnocuje své názory a podle nich formuje vybavení.

Kostým se skládá z vlněné čapky lemované kožešinou (na fotkách též vlněná čapka s textilním lemem), lněné košile a vlněné tuniky lemované červeným hedvábím (na fotkách si můžeme také všimnout bílé vlněné nebo červené vlněné tuniky), úzkých kalhot (na fotkách širokých) stažených modrými ovinkami z ručně tkané a přírodně barvené vlny, které jsou fixované tkanicí nebo replikou háčku z norského Vesle Hjerkinn. Na nohou si můžeme všimnout kotníkové převrácené kožené obuvi. Tunika je přepásána opaskem s mosazným/bronzovým kováním zdobeným ve stylu Borre, na kterém je zavěšený nůž se širokým hřbetem v pochvě s bronzovým kováním a kožená brašna podle ruského nálezu (originál uložený v Moršansku). Civilní kostým dozdobuje stříbrný drátkový náhrdelník („knit“) s replikou kladiva z dánského z Tågesmosenu (kladivo odpovídá typu používanému v 10. a 11. století) a kladiva z norského Huse. Ručně tkaný modrý plášť je sepnut replikou spony z norské lokality Averøen.

Bojový kostým tvoří krzno s vlněné deky, nýtovaná kroužková zbroj s krátkým rukávem a sahající do půli stehen, meč typu O podle nálezu z Dukstadu s pochvou s dřevěným jádrem zavěšenou přes rameno, sekera typu Y, kopí typu G, prkýnkový štít s umbem zdobeným bronzovým plíškem podle nálezu z Birky, replika jednokusové přilby z Olomouci , která je opatřena nýtovaným závěsem přišitým na batvat, který je do přilby upevněn koženým řemínkem, a jednoduchý kožený nátepník.

Následuje galerie. Jan varuje, že některé fotky jsou zastaralé, neaktuální a neodráží současný stav kostýmu.

 

Za poskytnutí fotek a za popis svého kostýmu děkuji svému hersimu Janu Zbránkovi.

Přilba z Lokrume

Když jsem nedávno napsal článek o vikinských přilbách a uvědomil jsem si, že jsem zatím neviděl zrekonstruovaný fragment z Lokrume, nečekal jsem, že se repliky dočkám tak rychle. Můj běloruský přítel Dmitrij Chramcov (známý též jako Truin Stenja), zručný kovář a šperkař, o jehož variaci přilby z Tjele jsem již dříve napsal, vyrobil dle mého názoru zajímavou rekonstrukci lokrumského fragmentu. Ale nejdřív se pojďme podívat na originál.

O fragmentu z Lokrume, který je dlouhodobě vystaven v muzeu ve Visby pod inventárním číslem GF B 1683, poprvé napsal časopis Fornvännen roku 1907:

„Fragment přilby (obočí a nánosník) ze železa potaženého stříbrným plechem, do něhož jsou niellem vyložené ornamenty. Předmět, který náleží Visby Fornsal a který byl nalezen v okrese Lokrume na Gotlandu, je jediným doposud nalezeným kusem přilby z doby vikinské a představuje zajímavou paralelu k o několik století starším přilbám z Vendelu. (Fornvännen 1907: 208, Obr. 8)

1

Převzato z Fornvännen 1907: 208, Obr. 8; Lindqvist 1925: 194, Obr. 97.

Roku 1925 o fragmentu napsal Sune Lindqvist ve svém pojednání o přilbách z doby vendelské (Lindqvist 1925: 192–194, Obr. 97). Doslova o něm napsal to, že je „ze železa a se vší pravděpodobností pochází z kontinentu, protože je dekorován tenkou stříbrnou vrstvou, což je umělecká technika, která se na Severu začala uplatňovat nejdříve v době vikinské“ (Lindqvist 1925: 192–193). Všímá si také faktu, že obočí není zakončeno koncovkami ve tvaru zvířecích hlav, jako je tomu například u obočí přilby z Broa (Lindqvist 1925: 194).

Při publikování nálezu z Gjermundbu na Lindqvista zareagoval Sigurd Grieg, který napsal:

V této souvislosti je zajímavé se také zmínit o tom, že z gotlandského Lokrume se zachoval fragment přilby z doby vikinské, o kterém spolu s dalšími přilbami mluví Lindquist.
Kousek se datuje do doby vikinské a jeho dekorace rovněž naznačuje, že náleží do této epochy. Skládá se z obočí a části nánosku. Tento fragment je pro nás nesmírně zajímavý, protože ornamenty vykazují podobnost s těmi, které se nacházejí na meči z Lipphener See (…).
Lindqvist předpokládá, že tento kus je vývozem z kontinentu, protože dekorace užívající potažení tenkou stříbrnou vrstvou nebyla na Severu do doby vikinské používána. Proti tomu se vyjádřil Gutorm Gjessing, který s naprostou pravdou řekl: ‚Podle našeho názoru lokrumský fragment nemůže být chápán jako předstupeň vendelských přileb, jak jej chápe Lindqvist (…). Technika potahování tenkou stříbrnou vrstvou spolu se zdobení niellem je z doby vikinské dobře známa a je nad vše jasné, že byla velmi populární při poměrně rozsáhlé výrobě zbraní na Gotlandu v mladší době vikinské (…).’“ (Grieg 1947: 44–45)

Grieg, citujíce Gjessinga, hledá analogie dekorace lokrumského fragmentu v 10. století, konkrétně u svatováclavské přilby a meče typu S z Lipphener See (Grieg 1947: 45).

lokrume_motiv

Rekonstrukce motivu. Vytvořil Jan Zbránek.

Když roku 1984 Elisabeth Munksgaardová napsala svůj článek o fragmentu z Tjele, pouze lokrumský fragment zmínila bez bližšího komentáře (Munksgaard 1984: 87). Totéž činí také Dominik Tweddle (Tweedle 1992: 1126), který pouze zmiňuje fakt, že fragment je zdobený a že není zakončen koncovkami ve tvaru zvířecích hlav.

Důležitou práci představuje Die Wikingerzeit Gotlands Leny Thunmark-Nylénové, která jako první přináší detailní fotografii, rozměry a komentář (WZG II: 264:1; III: 317; IV: 521–522):

Okres Lokrume, GF B 1683
Ochrana obočí pocházející z přilby; železo tausované stříbrem s vyrytým a niellovaným zdobením ve formě vzdušných splétaných pásek s poutky a proplétanými kruhy; délka 13,2 cm.“ (WZG IV: 521–522)

Obočí přilby, bez jakýchkoli informací o nálezové okolnosti, představuje jediný exemplář vikinské přilby z Gotlandu. Předmět je ze železa a je opatřen plošným tausováním, do něhož je na široké ploše proveden niellovaný páskový motiv. Na okolních plochách směrem k očím se nacházejí příčné pásky.“ (WZG III: 317)

Thunmark-Nylénová hledá analogie motivu na norských mečích, na jejichž základě dochází k závěru, že datace do doby vikinské je nezpochybnitelná (WZG III: 317, pozn. 75).

2

Převzato z WZG II: 264:1.

Mattias Frisk, který napsal kvalitní vysokoškolskou práci o severských přilbách z mladší doby železné (Frisk 2012), napsal o fragmentu z Lokrume prakticky totéž co Lindqvist:

Fragment se skládá z páru obočí a krátkého, odlomeného nánosku. Je ze železa a je potažen stříbrným plechem, který je vyložen plošným ornamentem (…).“ (Frisk 2012: 23)

Zatím poslední dílo, o kterém vím, že fragmentu z Lokrume věnuje větší pozornost, je kniha Vikinger i Krig od Kima Hjardara a Vegarda Vike (Hjardar – Vike 2011: 188, 190). Kromě toho, že uveřejňují rozdílnou velikost fragmentu (12,8 cm) a poměrně detailní fotografii, krátce komentují dekoraci a její dataci:

Druhým je bezkontextově nalezený nánosek z gotlandského Lokrume s ornamentem, jehož styl lze datovat do let 950–1000. (…) Nánosek z gotlandského Lokrume je vyroben ze železa, potažen stříbrem a vyložen plošným ornamentem a příčnými pásky z mědi.“ (Hjardar – Vike 2011: 188)

vikingerikrig190

Převzato z Hjardar – Vike 2011: 190.

Lze si povšimnout, že někteří badatelé zastávají rozdílné názory, pokud se týče popisu zdobných technik. Můžeme rozlišovat dvě stanoviska:

  • potažení / plátování stříbrem + vyložený niellovaný motiv (Fornvännen 1907; Lindqvist 1925; Grieg 1947; Frisk 2011; Hjardar – Vike 2011)
  • tausování stříbrem + vyložený niellovaný motivem (WZG IV: 521–522; WZG III: 317)

Když jsem tento fragment diskutoval s kovářem a šperkařem Petrem Floriánkem, bezesporu největším českým znalcem vikinského umění, vysvětlil mi, že dekorace může být vyrobena dvěma způsoby, a sice:

  • metodou inlay: na povrchu předmětu jsou vysekány drážky, které jsou vyplňovány kontrastním materiálem v určitém motivu. Drážky korespondují s motivem.
  • metodou overlay: na povrchu předmětu jsou pod úhlem vysekány drážky na způsob mřížky, do kterých je vtepáván drát v určitém motivu. Drážky nekorespondují s motivem.
lokrume_muzeum

Fragment vystavený v muzeu Visby Fornsal.

Podle Petra byly obě metody v době vikinské populární a lze je objevit na uměleckých dílech (zejména zbraních) z  2. poloviny 10. století, do které se fragment datuje. Metodu použití niella, kterou navrhuje valná část badatelů, Petr pokládá za méně pravděpodobnou, protože drážky, ze kterých je vypadaný motiv, jsou uniformní šířky, což by spíše nasvědčovalo použití drátu. Materiálem drátu mohla být měď, protože ta na povrchu drží hůře než stříbro a je náchylnější na vypadnutí. Příčných širokých pásků pak podle Petra dosti pravděpodobně nebylo dosaženo pomocí niella.

Je důležité zmínit fakt, že není známo, z jakého typu přilby fragment pocházel. Badatelé však k tíhnou z brýlové přilbě, což se na základě analogií (tvaru obočí na fragmentech přileb z Broa, Gjermundbu, Tjele a Kyjeva) zdá být uveřitelnější variantou. I rozměry masky jsou podobné rozměrům masek z brýlových přileb (šířka 12,8–13,2 cm a tloušťka, podle odhadu Petra Floriánka, kolem 3 mm). Samostatný nánosek bez očnic je znám pouze ze svatováclavské přilby, a přestože vše naznačuje, že obě masky byly vyrobeny na Gotlandu ve stejném období, tvarově se od sebe odlišují. To však neznamená, že bychom měli nánosek tvaru T ihned zavrhnout.

Replika, kterou vyrobil Dmitrij Chramcov a kterou Petr Floriánek i já považujeme za velmi kvalitní, používá metodu overlay – na některých níže přiložených fotkách si můžeme povšimnout vysekané mřížky, do které je vtepáván stříbrný a měděný drát. Maska je zevnitř dutá, stejně jako obočí přilby z Broa – přestože nám není známo, zda je dutý i původní nález. Maska je na zvon přichycena čtyřmi nýty, z nichž dva jsou zapuštěné v centrální části obočí a jsou zapájeny stříbrem, a tak nejsou na lícové straně vidět. Zbytek masky je dotvořen na základě masky z Kyjeva. Zvon přilby byl vyroben podle charakteristické konstrukce přilby z Gjermundbu.

 

Závěrem bych chtěl poděkovat Dmitrijovi Chramcovovi za možnost zveřejnit jeho fotografie a také Petru Floriánkovi, který si na mě udělal čas a podělil se se mnou o své zkušenosti a názory. Díky patří také Janu Zbránkovi, který ochotně vytvořil ilustraci s překresleným motivem.


Bibliografie:
Fornvännen 1907 = Ur främmande samlingar 2. In: Fornvännen 2, Stockholm 1907, 205–208. Dostupné z: http://samla.raa.se/xmlui/bitstream/handle/raa/5533/1907_205.pdf?sequence=1.

FRISK, Mattias (2012). Hjälmen under yngre järnåldern : härkomst, förekomst och bruk, Visby: Högskolan på Gotland [vysokoškolská práce]. Dostupné z: http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:541128/FULLTEXT01.pdf.

GRIEG, Sigurd (1947). Gjermundbufunnet : en høvdingegrav fra 900-årene fra Ringerike, Oslo.

HJARDAR, Kim – VIKE, Vegard (2011). Vikinger i krig, Oslo.

LINDQVIST, Sune (1925). Vendelhjälmarnas ursprung. In: Fornvännen 20, Stockholm, 181–207. Dostupné z: http://samla.raa.se/xmlui/bitstream/handle/raa/796/1925_181.pdf?sequence=1.

MUNKSGAARD, Elisabeth (1984). A Viking Age smith, his tools and his stock-in-trade. In: Offa 41, Neumünster, 85–89.

TWEDDLE, Dominic (1992). The Anglian Helmet from 16-22 Coppergate, The Archaeology of York. The Small Finds AY 17/8, York.

WZG II = Thunmark-Nylén, Lena (1998). Die Wikingerzeit Gotlands II : Typentafeln, Stockholm.

WZG III = Thunmark-Nylén, Lena (2006). Die Wikingerzeit Gotlands III: 1–2 : Text, Stockholm.

WZG IV = Thunmark-Nylén, Lena (2000). Die Wikingerzeit Gotlands IV:1–3 : Katalog, Stockholm.

Vikinské přilby

PHTO0338.JPG

Ohelmený námořník na gotlandském obrazovém kameni Smiss Stenkyrka I. Za fotografii děkuji Daliboru Grimmovi.

Téma vikinských přileb patří mezi populární a přitom neprobádanou kapitolu raně středověkého vyzbrojení. O problematiku se dlouhodobě zabývám, o čemž svědčí také mé články o fragmentech přileb z Tjele („Přilba z Tjele“) a Birky („Fragmenty přilby z Birky?“, „Další fragment přilby z Birky?). Proto jsem se rozhodl sepsat ucelený článek, který by mapoval všechny doklady skandinávských přileb používaných během let 800–1100. Práci jsem pojmenoval „Grafnir hjálmar“ : Komentář k vikinským přilbám, jejich vývoji a používání a můžete si ji stáhnout prostřednictvím následujícího odkazu.

VLASATÝ, Tomáš (2015). „Grafnir hjálmar“ : Komentář k vikinským přilbám, jejich vývoji a používání.

Jsem si vědom, že otázka přileb není zdaleka uzavřená, a jsem ochotný o jednotlivých bodech článku vést debatu.


For English-speakers

The article Grafnir hjálmar : Komentář k vikinským přilbám, jejich vývoji a používání („A Comment on the Viking Age Helmets, Their Developement and Usage“) aims to summarize known sources concerned with early medieval Scandiniavian helmets. The article comments not only the shape of helmets, but also their ownership and symbolism.

Náhrdelník ze Senji

senja

Náhrdelník ze Senji. Převzato z portálu Unimus.no.

Roku 1905 byl na severonorském ostrově Senja (lze též objevit jako Botnhamn či Hillesøy) objeven velkolepý poklad, který sestával ze dvou masivních stříbrných náhrdelníků a dvou stříbrných řetízkových náhrdelníků se sekerovitými přívěsky a křížkem. Menší z masivních náhrdelníků vyvolal a dosud vyvolává velký zájem. Jeho unikátnost spočívá v tom, že má na spodní straně rozšířených plošek u zapínání runový nápis, který i přes svou poněkud spornou interpretaci dává možnost nahlédnout do světa starých Seveřanů na počátku 11. století, jejich zahraničních kontaktů a šperkařského umění.

Srovnání
Náhrdelník ze Senji spadá do specifické kategorie západoslovanských náhrdelníků se zapínáním. Nejprve se blíže podíváme na tuto kategorii a posléze zařadíme náhrdelník ze Senji do zmíněných kategorií.

Untitled 2

Rozšíření západoslovanské skupiny náhrdelníků (Wiechmann 1996: 594, Karte 50). Náhrdelníky ze Senji nejsou zakresleny.

Náhrdelníky jsou obecně definovány tak, že mají nejméně 100 mm v průměru a jsou opatřeny otvíratelným zapínáním (Hårdh 1976: 47; Wiechmann 1996: 39). Skupina, do něhož náleží náhrdelníky ze Senji, je poměrně homogenní. Tato skupina čítá přes sto náhrdelníků či jejich fragmentů, z velké části z území dnešního Německa, Polska, Dánska, méně často pak Švédska a Norska (přičemž norské náhrdelníky jsou obzvláště zachovalé a těžké). Skupina je pokládána za západoslovanskou či velkopolskou (Wiechmann 1996: 39ff.; titul byl použit i pro následující odstavce).

Náhrdelníky zmíněného typu jsou charakteristické třemi kategoriemi – krouceným tělem, jehož konce jsou rozklepány do plošek zakončených háčkem a očkem (viz obrázek níže).

Untitled 1

Tvary drátů, plošek a háčků u západoslovanské skupiny náhrdelníků (Wiechmann 1996: 41, Abb. 9).

Tělo může být vyrobeno z prutů o kruhovém (I) nebo méně častěji čtvercovém (II) průřezu. U některých náhrdelníků jsou pruty na koncích kruhové a v prostředku čtvercové. Tělo může být vyrobeno z jednoho prutu (A), dvou prutů (B) či více prutů (C). Běžně se užívají párové pruty (párový prut označuje dva zkroucené pruty).

Můžeme rozlišovat dvě formy těla:

  1. masivní náhrdelníky, jejichž pruty jsou natěsno zkroucené (obrázek níže, vlevo). Vždy jsou vyrobeny ze dvou a více prutů nebo z většího množství párových prutů. Některé kusy jsou u konců hustěji kroucené, zatímco uprostřed je kroucení řidší. Nejstarší nálezy této formy pocházejí z doby kolem roku 940 a používaly se ještě na začátku 12. století. Kulminace této formy nastala během let 1000–1050. Náhrdelníky s těly této formy se vždy nacházejí jako fragmenty či náhodné nálezy, nebo se stávají součástí větších depotů.
  2. náhrdelníky, které jsou spleteny volněji (obrázek níže, vpravo), takže se v jejich středu nachází nevyplněná dutina (ve které se původně nacházel rovný organický materiál – nejspíše dřevo, který byl oplétán). Jsou zásadně pletené z většího počtu párových prutů, který převyšuje počet prutů u formy 1. Tato forma byla datována do 1. pol. 11. století. Náhrdelníky s těly této formy jsou nalézány jako součásti depotů, ale objevují se také v hrobech (přičemž pohlaví se v původní práci neuvádí).
forma1-2

Náhrdelníky s těly formy 1 (vlevo) a 2 (vpravo). Nálezy z Wangels I (Wiechmann 1996: 674, Taf. 24, Kat.-Nr. 43 A 5; 684, Taf. 34, Kat.-Nr. 43 A 17).

Kroucení párových prutů a kroucení celého náhrdelníku je obvykle opačné. U náhrdelníků z párových prutů jsou pruty obvykle zapletené po směru hodinových ručiček a následně pokračují v protisměru. Mezi tlustší párové pruty jsou často vplétány úzké drátky šňůrkovitého nebo šroubovicovitého tvaru (viz obrázek níže vlevo). Toto vplétání nacházíme pouze u masivních náhrdelníků formy 1, ale nikdy ne u volněji spletených náhrdelníků formy 2. Tenké drátky se používaly také na dekorativní oplety (viz obrázek níže vpravo), které byly umístěny na již hotové výrobky a které se nacházejí pouze na několika náhrdelnících z polského pobřeží a severního Německa, datovaných do 1. pol. 11. století.

dekorace

Vlevo: náhrdelník, mezi jehož pruty jsou vplétány ozdobné drátky. Vpravo: oplety z ozdobných drátků. Nálezy z Wangels I (Wiechmann 1996: 681, Taf. 31, Kat.-Nr. 43 A 13; 682, Taf. 32, Kat.-Nr. 43 A 15).

Co se týče plošek, je obvyklé, že v rámci náhrdelníku jsou obě plošky stejně tvarované, ale existují i výjimky, které se od sebe odlišují. Plošky lze roztřídit do tří typů:

  • Typ 1: plošky tvaru pravidelného oválu; nejširší bod plošky leží uvnitř střední třetiny.
  • Typ 2: plošky tvaru kosočtverce; nejširší bod plošky leží uvnitř střední třetiny.
  • Typ 3: rovné plošky s krátkými rovnoběžnými stranami.

Většinu prostoru těchto plošek zaplňuje ražená dekorace. Hlavními používanými vzory jsou trojúhelníčky, čtverečky a kroužky.

Háčky se objevují ve třech různých formách:

  • Forma a – kulovitý háček.
  • Forma b – ohnutý a srolovaný háček.
  • Forma c – jednoduše ohnutý háček.
plosky

Fotografie spodních stran plošek. Převzato z portálu Unimus.no. Fotograf Leif Pedersen.

Jednotlivé typy plošek a formy háčků od sebe nelze chronologicky rozlišit. Kombinace 1a (oválná ploška a kulovitý háček) je rovnoměrně zastoupena během celého období výskytu, zatímco 1c (oválná ploška a jednoduchý háček) je zřejmě o něco mladší než 1b a 2b (oválné a kosočtvercové plošky se srolovanými háčky). Zároveň ploška typu 2 se ve většině případů vyskytuje s háčky formy b, pouze v jednom případě s háčky formy c.

Popis náhrdelníku ze Senji
Náhrdelník je vyroben ze stříbra, má 19 cm v průměru a váží 296 gramů (Samplonius 1998: 90). James Graham-Campbell (1980: 87; Cat. no. 303) zmiňuje, že náhrdelník má průměr 17,4 cm, a je možné, že první badatel počítal průměr vnější, zatímco druhý badatel průměr vnitřní.

Untitled 3

Kroucení čtyř párových prutů na náramku z Nore, Vamlingbo, Gotland (Kóčka-Krenz 1983: Tabl. VII: 3, dle Stenberger 1958).

Tělo je vyrobené z pěti párových prutů kruhového průřezu a dodržuje formu 1 (viz ilustrační obrázek vpravo). Párové pruty jsou vyplněny pěti ozdobnými drátky (Graham-Campbell 1980: 87; Cat. no. 303). Kroucení je provedeno bez viditelných chyb a plynule přechází do plošek.

Je obtížné stanovit, zda plošky přináleží k typu 1 či typu 2, ale vzhledem k ostrým vrcholům a rovným stranám se domnívám, že jde o typ 2. S tím souvisí i háček formy b, ačkoli musíme připustit že kombinace 1b a 2b jsou možné. Na vrchních stranách plošek lze spatřit raženou výzdobu, která byla prováděna razidlem z trojúhelníkovým profilem; trojúhelníčky jsou opatřeny třemi hrbolky, „kuličkami“. Ražba lemuje okraje plošek, přičemž v jejich středech jsou vyraženy dva útvary (na plošce s háčkem jde o dva čelící si trojúhelníky s pěti kuličkami a slabě viditelná rytá triquetra, na druhé plošce jde o křížový motiv, který je tvořen sedmi raženými kolečky). Na spodní stranách plošek se nachází runový nápis, o němž ještě bude řeč.

Náhrdelník lze na základě analogií datovat do 1. pol. 11. století. Již dříve došlo k datování nápisu do roku cca 1025 (Olsen 1960: 137; Samplonius 1998: 89).

napis

Kresba spodní strany plošek s runovým nápisem (Graham-Campbell 1980: 263, Cat. no. 303).

Runový nápis
Runový nápis je bezpochyby tím, co činí z náhrdelníku výjimečný nález. Nápis nese označení N 540. Je rozdělen do dvou polovin, přičemž jeho začátek se nachází na plošce s háčkem.

Přepis runového nápisu:

Transliterace:
furu- trikia frislats a
uit auk uiks fotum uir skiftum

Transkripce:
Fóru[m] drengja Fríslands á vit, ok vígs fǫtum vér skiptum.

Při bližším pohledu si můžeme povšimnout, že jde o aliterační verše:
Fórum drengja                 Fríslands á vit,
ok vígs fǫtum                     vér skiptum.

Co by se dalo přeložit jako:
„Šli jsme smělým         Frísanům vstříc,
válečnou jsme                   dělili výstroj.“

Nyní se dostáváme k problému interpretace. Existují totiž přinejmenším tři možná čtení této polostrofy v metru fornyrðislag. První, tradiční výklad vykládá nápis jako důkaz pirátských aktivit ve Frísku, které lze na počátku 11. století potvrdit skaldskou básní Vestrfararvísur. Tento náhled zastával například Magnus Olsen (1960: 127ff.) a je i v dnešní době nejpopulárnější. Roku 1997 přišla Judith Jeschová (1997: 7ff.) s novým čtením, podle něhož nápis svědčí o obchodních aktivitách a kooperaci Seveřanů s frískými obchodníky. Svoje tvrzení zakládá na dvou nápisech z upplandských runových kamenů (U 379, U 391), jejichž zadavateli byli „fríští cechovní bratři“ (Frísa gildar). Zároveň kritizuje chápání slova drengjar jako „protivníci“, protože podle ní se tento termín používá vždy jako pozitivní označení. Fríslands drengjar by proto mělo označovat spřátelené fríské obchodníky. Sloveso skipta zároveň chápe jako „vyměňovat“, v přeneseném slova smyslu jako „nakupovat“, „prodávat“. Spojení vígs fǫt rozumí jako „válečné vybavení“, které interpretuje jako zbraně.

Na práci Jeschové navazuje Kees Samplonius (1998: 89ff.), který se snaží najít kompromis mezi oběma tezemi. Zastává názor, že nápis je důkazem o společných pirátských aktivitách Seveřanů a Frísů. Podobné spolupráce jsou podle něj písemně podložené.

V tomto bodě bych se také rád vyjádřil a přiklonil k jedné z vyslovených teorií. Důležité je zmínit, že pojem drengjar není ve všech případech použit v souvislosti s vlastními jednotkami, jak tvrdí Jeschová. Například skald Vigfúss Víga-Glúmsson, bojující v norských řadách, jím označuje dánské bojovníky, kterým má čelit. Jeschová (2001: 232) sice v tomto případě tvrdí, že použití drengjar je zde podivné a že strofa nemusí být autentická, ale tento její závěr byl odmítnut jako nepravděpodobný, protože se spíše zdá, že drengr obecně označuje bojovníka hodného úcty (Whaley 2012: 364). I jiné závěry Judith Jeschové je možné zpochybnit – například vígs fǫt (doslova „bitevní odění“) zcela jistě odkazuje na kroužkové zbroje (viz analogie herváðir či herklæði). Sloveso skipta, jak ukazuje Samplonius (1998: 96–97), mnohem spíše odkazuje na dělení zisku, než na reciproční výměnu. Proto se zdá pravděpodobnější, že nápis odkazuje na proběhlý boj – dělení zbrojí zde může označovat jak dělbu kořisti, tak i bitvu samotnou (viz analogie skipta vápnum). Třebaže Samploniovu teorii pokládám za propracovanější než teorii Jeschové, osobně jsem nakloněn tradiční interpretaci.

senja2

Fotografie náhrdelníku ze Senji (Graham-Campbell 1980: 263, Cat. no. 303).

Používání náhrdelníků
Chtěl bych se také krátce zmínit o náhrdelnících jakožto špercích. Je až překvapivé, že náhrdelníky nebyly zahrnuty do některých přehledových pracích o vikinských špercích. Zároveň je zajímavé, že zde diskutované náhrdelníky jsou do velké míry nalézány pouze v pokladech. Toto platí zejména u velkých a těžkých náhrdelníků.

Opakovaně se poukazuje na to, že náhrdelníky byly ženskou doménou. Ukazují na to jak četné nálezy korálkových náhrdelníků v ženských hrobech, tak religionistické práce a písemná svědectví (tím nejlepším je zřejmě Ibn Fadlanova Risala). Na přináležitost náhrdelníků k ženám upozorňuje již četnost slova men- („náhrdelník“) v kenninzích na ženy menbrekka, menbrík, mendǫll, mengefn, mengrund, mengunnr, menhlín, menreið, menskǫgul, menskorð. V mytologii se objevuje dívka Menglǫð; také náhrdelník Brísingamen je vlastněn Freyjou. Pro sestavení úplného seznamu by byl potřeba samostatný článek. Přesto nesmíme vyloučit také mužské vlastnictví – mýtický král z rodu Ynglingů Agni měl být oběšen na náhrdelníku. Náhrdelníky se objevují také v Béowulfovi a celá řada výrazů (menbroti, menbrjótr, menfergir, menmyrðir, menrýrir, menstríðir, menvǫrðr, menþverrir) označuje panovníka jako dárce či ničitele náhrdelníků. Je však otázkou, do jaké míry lze brát tato označení doslova. Nejsem si vědom hrobu, ve kterém by náhrdelník součástí výbavy muže. Na druhou stranu je mi známo ugrofinské vyobrazení válečníka s náhrdelníkem, pobaltské kmeny pohřbívali válečníky s náhrdelníky a také náhrdelník ze Senji odkazuje na válečnou výpravu, a proto může být označen za mužský majetek.


Náhrdelník ze Senji nastiňuje šíři staroseverského světa na počátku 11. století – náhrdelník byl nalezen v severním Norsku, přičemž pravděpodobně pochází ze západoslovanské oblasti a nápis na něm odkazuje na aktivity ve Frísku. Je názorným svědectvím cestovatelského a šperkařského ducha doby, na němž lze demonstrovat mnoho dobových reálií.


Použité prameny a literatura:

Ibn Fadlan: Risala. Anglický překlad online zde.

GRAHAM-CAMPBELL, James. Viking Artefacts: A Select Catalogue, London 1980.

HÅRDH, Birgitta. Wikingerzeitliche Depotfunde aus Südschweden. Probleme und Analysen, Katalog und Tafeln. Bonn / Lund 1976.

JESCH, Judith. The Senja Neck-ring and Viking Activity in the Eleventh Century. In: Blandade runstudier 2, Uppsala 1997, 7–12.

JESCH, Judith. Ships and Men in the Late Viking Age The Vocabulary of Runic Inscriptions and Skaldic Verse, Woodbridge 2001.

KÓČKA-KRENZ, Hanna. Złotnictwo skandynawskie IX-XI wieku, Poznań 1983.

OLSEN, Magnus. Norges innsrifter med de yngre runer. Band V, Oslo 1960.

SAMPLONIUS, Kees. Friesland en de vikingtijd. De ring van Senja en de Vierentwintig Landrechten. In: It Beaken 60, 1998, 89–101. Online.

STENBERGER, Mårten. Die Schatzfunde Gotlands. Der Wikingerzeit. I. Text, II. Fundbeschreibung und Tafeln. Stockholm 1958.

WIECHMANN, Ralf. Edelmetalldepots der Wikingerzeit in Schleswig-Holstein. Offa-Bücher 77, Neumünster 1996.

WHALEY, Diana (ed.). Vigfúss Víga-Glúmsson, Poem about Hakon jarl(?) 1. In: Skaldic poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages. Vol. 1, [Poetry from the kings’ sagas 1 : from mythical times to c. 1035]. Ed. Diana Whaley. Turnhout 2012, 362–364.

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