The following text is a sequel to the article Latvian metal wrapped axe shafts, published on this site in the first half of 2022, which maps Latvian axes wrapped with long and narrow bands. The work presented below covers all remaining sheet metal wrappings of European axes from the period 9th-11th century, which we find in Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden and Great Britain. The main part is the catalog, which is summarized and commented in the beginning.
The axe from Langeid and its reproduction. Author: Vegard Vike, KHM Oslo.
First of all, it must be said that the wrapping of axe shafts is a phenomenon that geographically and chronologically goes beyond Scandinavia of 9th-11th century (see Kotowicz 2008: 451-3). The oldest early medieval find known to us is an Avar axe shaft from the Hungarian site of Igar, which was wrapped with a narrow band in three evenly spaced places and which is dated to the 7th century (Fülöp 1990: 141, Fig. 7.3B). In the article Latvian metal wrapped axe shafts, we previously listed up to 28 finds originating from the territory of present-day Latvia and dated to 8th-11th century. The corpus we have collected below, which includes wraps made of wide and short sheet metal, numbers up to 23 examples. As many as 49 early medieval axes from the Polish sites of Lednica, Bobięcino and Żółte have the shaft reinforced with a leather wrap in the area of the eye (Kotowicz 2018: 148-9; Sankiewicz – Wyrwa 2013: 297-302). Shaft reinforcements around the axe eyes were also used in case of medieval and early modern axes, as shown by finds from Radosno, Poland (Kastek et al. 1996: Fig. 8) and Novgorod (Artěmjev 1994: Fig. 1.3) and Orešek, Russia (Kildjuševskij 1999: Fig. 3.2).
The main purpose of the leather or metal wrapping is to strengthen the shaft in its narrowest part, which is most prone to cracking. An important fact is that metal-wrapped axes are basically always mounted from the top and not from the bottom. When mounted from below, the length of the entire shaft must be narrowed to the size of the axe eye. The installation from above allows the manufacturer and the user that the shaft does not have to be thinned along its entire length – it is thinned only at the intended top and at this point it is reinforced with sheet metal. Undoubtedly, the wrapping also has a stabilizing role (Kotowicz 2018: 147). For both of these reasons, sheet metal wrappings are used primarily for large, top-mounted axes – up to 18 finds from our collection are Petersen type M axes (Petersen 1919: 46–47), popular from the second half of the 10th to the 13th centuries in the area from England to Russia, placed on 80-120 cm long shafts (e.g. Halpin 2017: 202; Mäntylä 2005: 110). The need to compensate for the thinned part of the shaft with sheet metal is best illustrated by the Bayeux Tapestry, which shows the axehead being cut off of the shaft and which suggest what pressures were exerted on these parts (Edge – Paddock 1991: 34). For the sake of better durability, the shafts of these axes was made by splitting from a trunk and not by using small trees, while the annual rings could point either in one direction or the other. The wood of deciduous trees was used in the overwhelming majority for production, as we prove in the article Materials of medieval axe shafts. For better handling, the shafts have been smoothed. The shafts have – at least in the area of the eye – an ovoid cross-section.
A sword cutting an axe off. Bayeux Tapestry, bayeuxmuseum.com.
The sheet metal wraps in our catalog are dominantly produced from various copper alloys (some are brass-gold, others bronze-brown), which create a contrasting and captivating impression. The use of sheet iron is speculated in three cases (Ardnamurchan, Bilczew, Hemse SHM 5645) and due to its easier corrosion, it is more difficult to prove. We do not know of silver sheet from archaeological sources, unless we count the find from Kaldal, Norway (Grieg 1929: 227, Fig. 49; Paulsen 1953: 72-3; Paulsen 1953: 15), which is of Old Rus production and may come from a weapon sheath or a horn. The non-ferrous material used is usually close to 0.05 cm thick. Covering with a metal sheet has two basic forms:
- one rectangular or trapezoidal piece of sheet metal, up to 13 cm high, is wrapped around the shaft, folded in one place and riveted through both layers with nails. For a smooth transition, the sheet can be inserted into the prepared notch. The overlap of the ends can be placed on the front side of the shaft, but also on the side (under the thorns) or on the back (under the butt). Usually the ferrule is placed on the very end of the shaft, whose shape it copies, and therefore the resulting tube is conical and the eye of the axe is placed on it. In one case (Kalichnovščina) the ferrule is located under the axehead. If the tube is also the end of the shaft, the top edge of the sheet can be folded over the shaft edge and riveted there. In such a case, the top of the shaft can be covered with a separate sheet of the same material (so that the shaft is invisible) or a nail that serves as a wedge is driven into a small open hole.
- the very end of the shaft is lined with several sheets. In one case (Ardnamurchan) metal bands are placed in the axe eye on the side of the shaft and serve as wedges and improve the transfer of energy from the shaft to the axehead. In other cases, the shaft is lined with four sheets – two of them, which cover the front and back of the shaft, are triangular in shape, with two diamond-shaped pieces inserted between them on the sides. In addition, the plates serve as a way of wedging the axe to the shaft.
Basic forms of shaft decoration – simple ferrule (left), ferrule with a separate part covering the top (center), four-part paneling of the shaft (right). Source: Vike 2016: Fig. 12.
In both cases, the sheets can be decorated. The decoration is achieved either by a shape when the lower edge is formed into various lobes, or by engraved, punched and openwork decoration. We find axes decorated in the Ringerike style (London, A23346) and axes using the motif of crosses (Klincovka, Kalichnovščina), which may be related to Scandinavian cross axes. Ultimately, it is evident that M type axes were expensive products of great quality and the shaft was made to go well with them and convey a clearly legible message. It must be added that in the grave from Langeid the axe was accompanied by one of the most decorated swords of the Viking Age with clear Christian symbolism.
Type M axes covered with copper alloy sheets seem to fit into a single fashion that may have had various production centers around the Baltic and North Sea. One of the axes from London is decorated in the Ringerike style and was previously dated to the first half of the 11th century (Fuglesang 1980: 166-7), which was also the case with the axe from Klincovka, which Kulakov dated to the beginning of the 11th century (Kulakov 1999: 218). An axe from a grave from Kalichnovščina is dated to the 11th century (Kirpičnikov 1966: Cat. no. 440). The axe from the Langeid grave, which contained coins and was radiocarbon dated, can also be dated to 990–1040 (Vike 2016: 100). The grave from Bjorå can be dated in approximately the same time (Vike 2016: 100). The assumption postulated by Wheeler almost a hundred years ago – that the decorated London axes date from the time of the attacks on London and the demolition of London Bridge in 1014 (Wheeler 1927: 14, 18) – is therefore not entirely exaggerated. The relationship of the sheet covered axes from Gotland and Latvia to the M type axe group is unclear at this time, but they are apparently local products.
In family sagas, i.e. written sources created in Iceland and reporting on the ancestors of important Icelandic kins, axes covered with metal are present. They also appear in the kings’ sagas that deal with Norwegian rulers, as well as in contemporary sagas that take place in the 12th and 13th centuries.
Covering the shaft with metal is mentioned there in three ways (Falk 1914: 117-8):
- the shaft (skepti) is wrapped with a wire or band (vaf; the wrapped shaft is thus vafit skaptit, vafinskepta), the material of which is iron or silver (e.g. Brennu-Njáls saga 12, 87; Sneglu-Halla þáttr 10; Valla-Ljóts saga 2). The wrapping can be supplemented with a silver ferrule (silfrhólkr), which is located at the top end of the shaft (forskepti) and which corresponds to the previously mentioned archaeological finds. The ferrule can be decorated with a precious stone (steinn góðr).
- the shaft is clad with metal reinforcement (spǫng; therefore clad shaft is spengðr skaptit). The material is not specified (eg Sturlunga saga 113). In theory, it can correspond to the aforementioned multi-part paneling or a similar method.
- the shaft is “covered with silver” (upp skellt skaftið með silfri). This general description appears in a single source (Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar 38).
It is obvious that the axes with covered shafts represent so-called oral formulas and are treated accordingly – the axe is used to evoke perfection and beauty. They appear in the hands of kings and chieftains and become gifts to loyal followers – which is exactly what happens in the case of the axe “entirely covered with gold with silver wrapping on the shaft and a large ferrule at its end, in which a precious stone was set“, which King Haraldr Sigurðarson (1046-1066) gives to Sneglu-Halli (Sneglu-Halla þáttr 10). The description of the axes in the sources roughly corresponds to the archaeological finds, and we learn about other potential methods of decoration – plating and wrapping with a band or wire outside the eye area and the application of precious stones.
The gold-decorated axe from Botnhamn, Norway (Ts11937), corresponding to the saga description. Source: Adnan Icagic, UMAK Tromsø.
9th-11th century European axes with metal wrapped shafts.
Orange indicates wrapping made with short and wide sheets or separated sheets.
Blue refers to a wrapping made with long and narrow sheets.
- Site: Bilczew, grave S1, Poland.
Storage, inv. no.: District Museum in Konin. Inv. no. Bi 1/20.
Brief description: the grave of an 18-23-year-old man, opened in 1981, contained a smaller axe of Petersen type M (Kotowicz’s type IIIA.5.1) with dimensions of 13.6 × 11.4 cm. An oak shaft and parts of a thin metal ferrule, which Kotowicz claims to be made of iron, were found in the 2.4 × 2.2 cm eye. Due to damage, the ferrule is unremarkable from the outside and it is not possible to say more about it. Depending on the publication, the dating varies between the 11th and the beginning of the 12th century.
Literature: Gorczyca – Olińska 1989: 57-58, Fig. 6a; Kotowicz 2008: 453; Gorczyca – Schellner 2012: 78-9; Kotowicz 2014: 17-8.
- Site: Klincovka / Irzekapinis (Клинцовка / Ирзекапинис), grave 10, Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia.
Storage, inv. no.: Kaliningrad Regional Art History Museum, inv. no КГОМ 9772.46.
Brief description: in a rich equestrian grave opened in 1977, a Petersen type M axe with dimensions of ca. 18 × 22 cm was found. It was mounted on a piece of shaft, the top 13 cm of which was wrapped with a sheet of copper alloy. The sheet is bent over the top of the shaft, which was covered with a separate sheet and which probably was subtly decorated with embossing. The lower edge is straight, lined with stamped dots. The lower edge of the axehead with thorns is lined with a stamped decoration in the form of circular dots, which widens into a small cross at the tops (under the thorns of the axe). In addition, there is a perforation that resembles a cross in the space of this embossed decoration. It is not clear where the overlap is located, but the rivets seem to have a spacing of about 1.5 cm. Date: beginning of the 11th century.
Literature: Kulakov 1980: 227; Kulakov 1990: 32, Tab. XXXIX; Kulakov 1999: 218; Širouchov 2012: Fig. 107.1.
- Site: Kalichnovščina (Калихновщина), mound 273/1 (271 according to Spicyn), Russia.
Storage, inv. no.: Hermitage, St. Petersburg. Inv. no. 856-53.
Brief description: the mound opened by V. Glazov in 1900 contained a Petersen type M axe with dimensions of 16.7 × 16.5 cm and an approximate eye length of 3.5 cm. In the previous drawings, the decoration of the shaft is not correct, fortunately we managed to get a photo of the axe, which we are publishing here for the first time. What we can say with certainty is that the part of the shaft still preserved today is roughly 23 cm long. The top 15 cm of the shaft was, and for the most part still is, wrapped in a copper alloy band that is folded over the front of the shaft. The underside of this band is terminated by approximately 11 spikes, which were, however, covered by a second band that is approximately 8 cm wide, which apparently fastened both sheets with at least six rivets. Three 2.5 cm high cross-shaped protrusions extend from this second, lower band on the lower edge. Each cross is fixed to the shaft with three nails that are located in the centers of the side and bottom arms. Depending on the publication, the dating varies between the 11th and 12th centuries.
Literature: Spicyn 1903: 97, Tab. XXVI.6; Paulsen 1956: 15, Abb. 4; Kirpičnikov 1966: Cat. no. 440; Musin 1999: 135, Fig. 2.15; Musin 2001: Fig. 3.15.
- Site: London, Old London Bridge, Great Britain.
Storage, inv. no.: Museum of London, London. Inv. no. A23346.
Brief description: axe originating from a hoard found in the River Thames no later than 1920. The 20 × 23 cm Petersen type M axe has a copper alloy wrap inserted in the eye, which Vike writes is approximately 11.5 cm high. We do not know the form of the upper edge of the band. The surface of the band is decorated with Ringerike-style braid ornament, and the lower edge was decorated with at least nine lobes, most of which are broken. Each lobe was fixed with a nail. The sheet was not overlapped and its ends barely touched on the front side of the shaft. Nails are also clearly visible in this section – four long nails are placed alternately at at each end so they do not obstruct each other. The dating of the hoard is proposed to the beginning of the 11th century.
Literature: Wheeler 1927: 23, Fig. 1.6, Fig. 3; Bjørn – Shetelig 1940: 77; Fuglesang 1980: 166-7, Fig. 26; Vike 2016; Clark 2022.
- Site: London, Old London Bridge, Great Britain.
Storage, inv. no.: Museum of London, London. Inv. no. A23345.
Brief description: axe originating from a hoard found in the River Thames no later than 1920. The 24.8 × 18.7 cm Petersen type M axe has a copper alloy wrap inserted in the eye, which Vike states is approximately 11.5 cm high and which it passes through the entire eye and is bent over the top of the shaft, which was covered with a separate sheet of copper alloy. The axe had an ovoid cross-section. The overlap is located on the face of the shaft and is riveted with an unknown number of rivets; at least four rivets are also located on the top of the shaft. The surface of the band is decorated with simple lines of embossed dots that form triangles. The dating of the hoard is proposed to the beginning of the 11th century.
Literature: Wheeler 1927: 23, Fig. 1.7, Fig. 4; Vike 2016; Clark 2022.
- Site: London, Chelsea, Great Britain.
Storage, inv. no.: Museum of London, London. Inv. no. A15338.
Brief description: an axe found in a hoard in the River Thames no later than 1915, belonging to Petersen type M. It is 22.9 cm long and 21 cm wide. There is a copper alloy ferrule inserted into the eye that is approximately 11 cm high, according to Vike. The ferrule passes through the entire eye and is bent over the top of the shaft, which has been covered with a separate copper alloy sheet. The overlap is located on the front side of the shaft and is riveted with a dense number of small rivets. The surface of the band appears to be undecorated except for a line of small dots near the lower edge. Dating is proposed to the beginning of the 11th century. Thanks to Hazel Forsyth of the Museum of London for the current photo of the object.
Literature: Wheeler 1927: 26, Fig. 10.4; Bjørn – Shetelig 1940: 87; Vike 2016.
- Site: Ardnamurchan, Scotland, Great Britain.
Storage, inv. no.: unknown.
Brief description: a Petersen type E axe measuring 16.5 × 12.3 cm with a partially preserved shaft was found in a Scandinavian boat grave in 2011. On both sides of the eye, the shaft is sandwiched between thick iron bands that extend under the thorns and stabilize the axe on the shaft. The underside of the bands is narrowed in a wedge shape and copies the shape of the thorns. Based on the grave-goods, the date of the grave goes to the first half of the 10th century.
Literature: Harris et al. 2011; Harris et al. 2017.
- Site: Velo Vestre, Norway.
Storage, inv. no.: Museum of Cultural History, Oslo. Inv. no. C24243.
Brief description: a small Petersen type M axe, discovered in a man’s grave in June 1928. The aex is 13.2 cm long, the width of the blade cannot be determined due to damage. It weighs 383 g and is mounted on a poorly preserved ovoid shaft, the upper 4 cm of which is wrapped in a band of copper alloy (72% Cu, 26% Zn, 1% Ag, 1% Pb). The axehead is fixed on the handle with an iron nail, which serves as a wedge. The band overlaps the face of the shaft. No nails or decorations are visible.
Literature: Vike 2016.
- Site: Hallingby, Norway.
Storage, inv. no.: Museum of Cultural History, Oslo. Inv. no. C25583.
Brief description: in the spring of 1932, a Petersen type M axe was found by chance. It measures 19.5 × 21.3 cm and weighs 592 g. It is mounted on a roughly 7 cm long remnant of an ovoid handle made of the wood of a deciduous tree and is fixed with a possible wooden wedge. The entire length of the shaft preserved today was coated with an undecorated band of copper alloy (70% Cu, 28% Zn, 2% Pb), which overlaps the face of the shaft. No nails or decorations are visible.
Literature: Vike 2016.
- Site: Bjorå, Norway.
Storage, inv. no.: Museum of Cultural History, Oslo. Inv. no. C27132c.
Brief description: a Petersen type M axe was found in the grave and measures 18.5 × 19.9 cm. It weighs 381 g. Inside the eye, a fragment of an ovoid shaft made of the wood of a deciduous tree has been preserved. The upper 11.5 cm long part of the shaft was covered with four sheets of copper alloy (70% Cu, 29% Zn, 1% Pb), which replace a one-piece wrap. The sheets, about 0.05 cm thick, are organized in such a way that the front and back of the shaft are protected by triangular pieces that are nailed at the top and bottom, while the sides of the shaft are covered with diamond pieces that are riveted only at the bottom and which do not reach the top of the shaft (they end in an axe eye). The surface of the sheets is otherwise undecorated. The combination with the R565 type shield-boss in the grave suggests dating to the second half of the 10th or the 11th century.
Literature: Vike 2016.
- Site: Lundehall, Norway.
Storage, inv. no.: Museum of Cultural History, Oslo. Inv. no. C29866.
Brief description: a randomly found Petersen type M axe, discovered near graves. It measures 21.3 × 21.7 cm and weighs 466 g. A 12.1 cm long fragment of an ovoid shaft made of the wood of a deciduous tree is preserved inside the eye. The handle was covered with four sheets of copper alloy (77% Cu, 19% Zn, 2% Ag, 3% Pb), which replace a one-piece wrap. These plates organized in such a way that the front and back of the shaft are protected by triangular pieces that are nailed at the top and bottom, while the sides of the shaft are covered with diamond pieces that are riveted only at the bottom and which do not reach the top of the shaft (they end in an axe eye). All four parts were attached with nails at the bottom.
Literature: Vike 2016.
- Site: Horgen, Norway.
Storage, inv. no.: Museum of Cultural History, Oslo. Inv. no. C57235.
Brief description: a smaller randomly found axe of Petersen type M with dimensions 19 × 15.3 cm and weight 273 g. The ovoid shaft has not been preserved, but inside the eye there is a copper alloy ferrule (81% Cu, 17% Zn, 1% Pb). The sheet overlaps the front side of the shaft. No nails or decorations are visible.
Literature: Vike 2016.
- Site: Langeid, grave 8, Norway.
Storage, inv. no.: Museum of Cultural History, Oslo. Inv. no. C58882/4.
Brief description: the Petersen type M axe, found in 2011 in an expensively constructed grave, measures 20.7 × 25.3 cm and weighs 603 grams. It is still mounted on a 14.9 cm long plum-wood shaft of ovoid cross-section, the top 11 cm of which is coated with a 0.05 cm thick band of copper alloy (61% Cu, 33% Zn, 1% Ag, 1% Sn, 5% Pb). For maximum smoothness of the shaft, the band is inserted into the prepared notch. The band overlaps at the back of the shaft and is fixed with a total of twelve nails with a maximum thickness of 0.25 cm and a length of 1.15 cm. The band is not decorated. Considering the radiocarbon dating of the wood from the grave (990–1040) and the attached Anglo-Saxon coin from the years 978–1016, the dating is suggested to the 1st or the beginning of the second third of the 11th century.
Literature: Wenn – Loftsgarden 2012: 26-7; Vike 2016; Wenn 2016: 169.
- Site: Gröndal, Öland, Sweden.
Storage, inv. no.: Swedish History Museum, Stockholm. Inv. no. SHM 17617.
Brief description: a small axe found in 1924 in a stone-lined grave. Axe length 10.9 cm, width 4.7 cm, thickness 3.1 cm. The edge is corroded. The axe has a wedge-shaped cross-section. According to Stenberger, the axe belongs to Petersen’s type K. The oldest drawing record that the axe was equipped with a roughly 12 cm long shaft fragment. The upper part of the axe, approximately 6 cm wide, was wrapped with a copper alloy band, today heavily corroded. A textile imprint was found on the axe.
Literature: Stenberger 1933: 73; Beskow Sjöberg 1987: 95.
- Site: Snäckgärde, grave 4, Gotland, Sweden.
Storage, inv. no.: object lost. Inv. no. SHM 484, Gr. 4.
Brief description: a broad ax found in a grave in the 1820s. There is only a schematic drawing of the grave and its description. The axe was placed on the deceased’s right knee with the blade pointing away from the body. The blade was wide and would correspond to Petersen type M. The shaft was “coated with brass and provided with a brass button” (messingsbeklädda och med messingsknapp försedda skaftet). A button can be understood as a separate part on the top of the shaft, which was covered by a bent band inserted into the eye of the axe.
Literature: Liljegren 1830: 270; Thunmark-Nylén 2000: 822; Thunmark-Nylén 2006: 318.
- Site: Hemse, Gotland, Sweden.
Storage, inv. no.: Swedish History Museum, Stockholm. Inv. no. SHM 4815.
Brief description: a smaller axe of Petersen type M, found in a grave in the 19th century, measures 16 × 14 cm. The shaft is not preserved. A 10 cm high copper alloy wrap is inserted into the eye, passes through the entire eye and was bent over the top of the shaft, which was covered with a separate sheet of copper alloy. The overlap is located on the side of the shaft in the line of the axe thorns and is riveted with at least five nails. The band surface is not decorated.
Literatura: Thunmark-Nylén 1998: Tab. 257.3; Thunmark-Nylén 2000: 449; Vike 2016.
- Site: Hemse, Gotland, Sweden.
Storage, inv. no.: Swedish History Museum, Stockholm. Inv. no. SHM 5645.
Brief description: a small bearded axe found outside graves at the end of the 19th century. It measures 10 × 7 cm. Old drawings show an axe with a metal sheet cover of the shaft, but today this cover is missing. The archive names iron as the material, but Thunmark-Nylén expresses uncertainty about the material.
Literature: Thunmark-Nylén 1998: Tab. 255.10; Thunmark-Nylén 2000: 456; Thunmark-Nylén 2006: 312.
- Site: Havor, grave 93, Gotland, Sweden.
Storage, inv. no.: Swedish History Museum, Stockholm. Inv. no. SHM 7785:93a.
Brief description: bearded axe found in the 19th century with a preserved length of around 9.5 cm. The blade is not preserved. A shaft is inserted into the eye with a 6 cm high copper alloy wrap that goes through the entire eye. The overlap is located on the back of the shaft and is riveted with at least three nails. The band surface is not decorated.
Literature: Thunmark-Nylén 2000: 297; Vike 2016.
- Site: Havor, grave 196, Gotland, Sweden.
Storage, inv. no.: Swedish History Museum, Stockholm. Inv. no. SHM 8064:196.
Brief description: bearded axe with a preserved dimension of 9 × 8 cm. There is only an archival drawing which shows that a shaft part has been preserved and the wrap has been inserted through the eye. The overlap was located on the side in the line of axe thorns. The band surface was not decorated.
Literature: Thunmark-Nylén 1995: Fig. 112.12; Thunmark-Nylén 2000: 304; Vike 2016.
- Site: Roklunds, Gotland, Sweden.
Storage, inv. no.: Swedish History Museum, Stockholm. Inv. no. SHM 14855.
Brief description: a smaller Petersen type M axe, found in a grave at the beginning of the 20th century, measures 13 × 13 cm. The shaft is preserved fragmentarily and has an ovoid cross-section. A copper alloy wrap is inserted into the eye, which runs through the entire eye and was bent over the top of the shaft, which was covered with a separate copper alloy plate. The location of the overlap is not apparent from the photos, as well as no rivets or embellishments are visible.
Literature: Thunmark-Nylén 1998: Tab. 257.5; Thunmark-Nylén 2000: 715; Vike 2016.
- Site: Bottarve, Gotland, Sweden.
Storage, inv. no.: Swedish History Museum, Stockholm. Inv. no. SHM 14885.
Brief description: a smaller Petersen type M axe, found accidentally in the early 20th century but potentially from a grave, measures 16 × 15.5 cm. An 11 cm long piece has been preserved from the shaft, which was originally wrapped with a metal sheet band, probably made of a copper alloy. Further details are not known.
Literature: Thunmark-Nylén 1998: Tab. 257.2; Thunmark-Nylén 2000: 199; Vike 2016.
- Site: Hunninge, grave 1/1929, Gotland, Sweden.
Storage, inv. no.: Swedish History Museum, Stockholm. Inv. no. SHM 19273.
Brief description: a Petersen type M axe found in 1929 in a grave. It measures 18.5 x 19.5 cm. A socket made of bronze sheet, which is 5.5 cm high, is still stuck in the eye. The sheet was bent over the top of the shaft, but it did not cover it completely, leaving a piece of wood visible. A metal nail was driven into this free space, which served as a wedge.
Literature: Thunmark-Nylén 1998: Tab. 257.6; Thunmark-Nylén 2000: 481; Vike 2016.
- Site: Sojdungs, grave from the year 1939, Gotland, Sweden.
Storage, inv. no.: Swedish History Museum, Stockholm. Inv. no. SHM 22297.
Brief description: a smaller Petersen type M axe, found in 1939 in a grave. It measures 14 × 12 cm. A piece about 20 cm long has been preserved from the shaft, the top 8.5 cm of which is covered with a sheet of copper alloy. The sheet was bent over the top of the shaft, which apparently did not cover it completely. The overlap was located on the side in the thorn line and was riveted with four nails. Additional rivets are located at the bottom edge of the band. The band is not decorated.
Literature: Thunmark-Nylén 1995: Fig. 30.4; Thunmark-Nylén 2000: 191; Vike 2016.
This work would not have been possible without the personal commitment of Vegard Vike, who described all the Norwegian examples in detail (Vike 2016) and created an excellent reconstruction of the Langeid axe, the making of which you can see here. We also thank the greatest living expert on medieval axes, Piotr Kotowicz, for his work (Kotowicz 2008; 2013; 2014; 2018). We express our special gratitude to Hazel Forsyth, curator of the Museum of London, who sent us a photograph of the axe (inv. no. A15338) that has not been published for almost a century. We are also grateful to Monika Baráková for the possibility of using photos from the Museum of London.
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