Source: Jonathan Chng (2018)
The Vikings were known as formidable warriors, striking fear into the hearts of the towns they raided. Read through these resources to learn more about the armour and weapons the Vikings used, and the battle tactics they used in war and on raids.
Head armour of the period consisted of helmets sometimes including a mail coif. Helmets were made in a variety of ways and from several materials, with the single objective of deflecting or completely withstanding a blow from a sword.
This article discusses examples of Viking shields found in archaeological digs, including how they were made and decorated.
As well as their ships, weapons are also popularly associated with the Vikings. Indispensable on plundering raids and for self-defense, they were an important part of the daily lives of Scandinavians. We are familiar with a number of types of weapons, which demonstrate how war was waged 1000 years ago. Archaeologists find them in graves, lakes, near fords and at battlefields from the Viking period. Each find is a small piece in the large jigsaw puzzle of Viking warfare.
Our knowledge of Viking weapons comes chiefly from archaeological finds. Weapons were often buried with their owner as grave goods, and offerings of weapons – probably made to one of the many Scandinavian war gods – were deposited in bogs and lakes, where they can be recovered today. Literary sources help to round out the picture.
A Viking raid nearly always came as a total surprise. This article describes how Vikings were so successful at conducting raids across Europe.
This website provides a list of major Viking military confrontations, occupations and explorations. It is not comprehensive, but will give you an idea of just how successful the Vikings were as raiders. The battles listed in red are the ones the Vikings won, the ones in black are the ones the Vikings lost.
This resource is about Viking conquests in the British Isles. It includes text and some images. The resource is organised under seven topic headings: Terror from the sea; Lindisfarne sacked; Who were the Vikings?; Ships and navigation; A fair wind for raiding; The need for more land; and Find out more.
In the early Viking period the basis of the army was the hirð (pronounced - heerth), the men of the lord's hearth who had sworn loyalty to him. Many would be fellow countrymen drawn by a lord's reputation for valour and generosity, but some would be professional fighters seeking the best rewards. In peacetime they acted as the lord's or king's officials, forming embassies, exacting tribute, recovering dues, and acting as messengers; in war they formed the core of his army. In addition the lord could call upon his estates to provide ships and crews (the coastal nature of Scandinavian warfare meant that armies were often calculated in terms of ships' crews). This article describes how the military was organised and the different names for different fighters.