Combat in the Viking Age

Viking warfare is at the heart of what we do. From sword and shield, to spear and dane axe; archery, javelin and sling; the song of the shield wall and the discipline of the dark age warrior – these skills we train for and demonstrate upon the field of battle. In order to bring dark-age battles to life, safely and skilfully, we train regularly in a range of different arms and armour.
Something we’d like to emphasise is that everyone who takes the field must have passed a rigorous safety test and certification before they are allowed to use their weapon of choice. This is a martial art and we take safety seriously.

Blood and Iron on the Field of Crows

Weapons of the Dark Ages

According to their status, all free men of the late Viking period were expected to own their own weapons, typically these would be modifications of the usual tools of farming and hunting for commoners and would include swords or daneaxes for those of wealth and status.
In  times of war, leaders would also be expected to equip their men with arms.
Weapons were carried not just for battle, but also as symbols of their owners’ status and wealth. They were therefore often finely decorated with inlays, twisted wire and other adornments in silver, copper and bronze. included.

Defences of the Dark Ages

Unlike the middle ages, where advances in metallurgy and changing tactics allowed for  widespread use of armour. Warriors on the dark age battlefield looked remarkably similar, regardless of status. For most soldiers, A round shield of linden wood  and a few layers of woolen tunic would be their only defence; with only the welathiest in society able to afford a maille shirt or iron helm. It was to the unbroken ranks of the shield wall – and stout comrades at their side that  afforded a warrior their  best chances of surviving on the field
“A lone warrior shall soon feast with the gods, no matter how impressive his skill.” Fergus the leper 806 AD

Viking Tactics & Dark Age Warfare

The Vikings and Saxons took great pride in their ability to fight as a unit. Viking warfare was built around the Shieldwall – how to keep it strong and how to break the enemy’s formation. That Harold’s shieldwall held unbroken for nearly 13 hours against the might of Norman cavalry and massed ranks of archers at Hastings, is testament to the strength and staying power of this formation when deployed on good devensive ground